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28.6.11

Washington









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Looking down at the White House, George says that he hopes that our arrival will not alarm the President. George says that we should hang a flag out of the window, to indicate our peaceful intentions. Personally, I doubt that Juan has peaceful intentions, however, Albert says that this is a good idea, and goes off to find a flag. I tell George that, until Albert finds a flag, he should paint a picture of an American bird and we can hang it out of the window, to show that we appreciate American birds. Juan says that that is a good idea, but Rory says that, flapping, and seen from the ground, any bird that George paints might be mistaken for a British bird, and Americans and the British are at war. Fatty tells Rory that the Americans and British aren’t at war but, to be on the safe side, George should paint a Scottish bird because Americans understand that Britain does not include Scotland. George is not sure that this is true until Fatty explains that Scotland is the ‘Great’ in ‘Great Britain’, without Scotland, he explains, Great Britain loses its greatness, and is simply called Britain, a country that has nothing to do with Scotland.

Rory says that he is worried because, as we arrived unexpectedly, in an unusual aircraft, the authorities will want to question us. I tell Rory that he has nothing to worry about because, when the authorities notice that a giant airship has materialized over the White House, they will be too busy shooting at us to ask questions. Rory says that he doesn’t want to be shot, I tell him that he is not alone, nobody wants to be shot, unless they are seeking work as a human cannon-ball.

Albert returns, dragging a wooden flag-chest marked ‘United States’. Juan shoots the padlock off and kicks open the chest. I tell Juan that he didn’t need to shoot the lock off, the key was in the lock. Juan says that, in America, it is against the law to use a key, when you’ve got a gun. George tells Albert to pick out the American flag, but Albert says that there are a lot of flags, and they’re all different. I tell him not to be stupid, there’s only one American flag. Albert shows us some flags, but George points out that the flags are the Hudson’s Flag and the flag of the Dutch West India Company and they have got letters on them whereas the proper American flag should have stars on it. Albert holds up another flag that only has stars on it. George says that it’s the Confederate Jack and it’s out of date. I tell Albert to find a flag with bars as well as stars. Juan says that this proves that America is an advanced civilization, they put bars on their national flag. Albert holds up the Confederate 'Stars & Bars', but George says that the American flag does not have bars, it has stripes. I can’t believe that the simple action of picking the American flag out of a flag-box full of American flags seems to be an impossible task and I shout at Albert to stop being a complete moron and just find the star-spangled banner, I remind him that we are about to be blown out of the sky, so we don’t have time to sit here while he messes around like a befuddled baboon.

George says that I have got the flag confused with the national anthem, and tells Albert that, as we are over Washington, we should fly the Washington flag. Feeling offended, I tell George that I am not confused, the Star-Spangled Banner is the name of the anthem and the flag. I am not sure if I am right because I don’t know anything about anthems or flags, so, before anyone can challenge me, I challenge them to tell me why the Star-Spangled Banner is unique amongst anthems and flags. George says that it is unique because it is a both a flag and an anthem. I tell George that he’s wrong, in fact, I inform him, smugly, what makes the Star-Spangled Banner special, is that no other flag and anthem contains a hyphen.

I am pleased at myself for making such a insightful observation. However, instead of listening to me, everyone has lost interest in flags in favour of shouting and screaming and banging the bar; loudly participating in a beard-flea wrestling match in which, it seems, Juan’s beard-fleas are making mincemeat out of Rory’s whisker-nits, but there’s a lot of riding on Fatty’s hair-bugs. Fatty says that he picked them up in the Congo, he doesn’t know exactly what they are, but they are ferocious, and they have a vicious bite. Considering that Fatty is a chef, I am not certain that this is entirely hygienic, but Fatty tells us that he always wears a hair-net in the kitchen. George asks if the hair-net stops all the bugs from escaping. Fatty says that some of the bugs do escape, but it doesn’t matter if they fall into the food, as they are very tasty, in fact, he says, none of the bugs are wasted; under the net, he explains, in the heat and the dirt and the sweat, they breed quickly, so every few months, when the hair-net is full, he boils it with oats to make a nutritious bug porridge for the crew. Rory looks horrified, but I explain that Fatty is a master chef whose genius would only be hampered by irrelevant concerns such as hygiene. Fatty says that a chef who has the time to clean things is not giving enough attention to the food. Food produced in a clean kitchen always tastes soapily bland, whereas, claims Fatty, a rancid kitchen and a filthy chef will produce a variety of interesting flavours and unusual odours.

Albert hangs the Washington flag out of the window, hopefully, the incoming American aircraft will see the flag and realise that we are friendly. George says that, as we are in the vicinity, we should land on the White House lawn, but Aodhàn says that we can’t land as we are, temporarily, stuck. I tell Aodhàn that there’s no point in engines that are meant to transport us around the planet at high speed when all that happens when we arrive is that we get stuck. Not only that, I add, we took over a week to get here, so the engines aren’t as powerful as Aodhàn said, now we are trushelishly behind schedule and stuck again. Juan shouts that he is fed up with being stuck, especially over cities full of beautiful women. Aodhàn says that, while we wait to become unstuck, Juan and I should take the slip-coaches, small aircraft carried on the underside of The Lion. Juan asks why Aodhàn didn’t tell us about the slip-coaches before, Aodhàn takes us to the slip-coaches and explains that this is the first time he has flown The Lion, and he only just discovered them.

I tell Aodhàn that it’s a fantastic discovery, Juan agrees and opens a barrel of Special Reserve, to celebrate, while I collect cases of Vintage Glenesk, Longmorn, Edradour, and Glen Elgin Private Reserve, to take with us. We raise our glasses and offer toast after toast to our fellow passengers and crew, then, after wishing them the best of luck against the armed might of the United States, we clamber into the aeroplanes and, shouting with excitement and bellowing with fear, we dive toward Washington, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary