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A quick recovery

Rory's was worried about parachuting, but both his parachutes open properly, and we watch with interest as he safely drifts gently down on to the burning wreckage of my aeroplane and immediately becomes entangled in flaming parachutes. After Fatty and I pull Rory from the wreckage and kick him around in the dirt, to put the fire out, I point out that there are more warplanes flying overhead, and more troops approaching, so we should head for the nearest Agency club, as I have better things to do than hang around, trying to calm down people who are nervous, heavily armed, stupid, drunk, and confused.

Fatty says that, just because the soldiers are American, it doesn't mean they are stupid. Juan says that American soldiers aren't stupid, it's their leaders who are stupid, but, after medicating the stunned soldiers with Vintage Loch Dhu Special Reserve, which Juan keeps for such occasions, and taking their guns away, the soldiers aren't nervous and they aren't armed, but, Juan admits, they are drunk and confused.

I tell Juan that I was not referring to the soldiers, I was talking about us, but not including me. Motivated with the promise of a well-stocked Agency bar, and, noting Rory and Fatty's reluctance to engage with the approaching troops, we chuck the soldier's rifles and ammunition on to the burning wreckage of our aeroplanes and, under cover of the smoke from the resulting explosions, we run like maniacs, hurling our caltrops behind us.

Because we get lost several times and have several more heated encounters with the American authorities, we arrive at the Agency Club hot, bothered, and desperate for a drink; we immediately pile into the bar where we are surprised to see both George and Albert, especially as the last time we saw them, they were falling from an aeroplane with only one parachute between them. Juan orders Vintage Bladnoch, Scapa, Lochside, Balvenie Special Reserve, to celebrate both Albert and George's survival. They tell us that, although they failed to come to a gentleman's agreement about who should get the parachute, Aodhàn regained control of The Lion, swooped down, rescued them before they hit the ground, and dropped them off at the club. I tell George and Albert that they are lucky that Aodhàn has discovered that, when people fall out of an aeroplane, it's is better to rescue them before, rather than after, they hit the ground. Albert says, somewhat accusingly, that he and George did not fall out of an aeroplane, they were pushed. I am slurring slightly but I am quite clear in assuring them both that I pushed them out of the aeroplane because I had no choice, it was not malicious, it was them or me, and, if they consider that to be a selfish act, they should remember their own primeval instincts in that, while they were plummeting earthward, they fought over the parachute like rats over over a dead dog's eye, which is hardly, I point out, an example of magnanimous behavior towards fellow beings, however, irritatingly, the word magnanimous defeats me.

Albert says that, to thank Aodhàn, he will dedicate his next theory to him, and George tells us that, as a gift for Aodhàn, he is painting a picture of an oyster-catcher. Fatty says that the oyster-catcher is lucky, so it is a good bird choose as a gift. Albert tells Fatty that he didn't know that the oyster-catcher is meant to be lucky. Fatty explains that, because oysters don't have legs, they can't run, so, luckily, any bird can catch them very easily, but the oyster-catcher is specifically designed to catch oysters, so it is particularly fortunate, unless it doesn't like oysters, and it is also very tasty. Juan says that he knows a woman called Pearl, and she is easy to catch, and very tasty as well. I don't see what this has got to do with anything, so I remind everybody that we can't sit around wasting time. Fatty says that we are not wasting time, we are recovering after being attacked.

I remind Fatty that, in that case, we had better recover quickly, and, if we stopped for a drink every time we were attacked, we would never get anywhere, besides which, I add, we weren't attacked, the American authorities saw a gigantic craft materialise over the White House and they tried to shoot it down; they were simply defending themselves, which is quite reasonable. Then, I explain, when they saw us drop down from the craft they wanted to ask us some questions, which is natural, under the circumstances. Fatty says that he would have answered their questions if they had stopped shooting at us. I remind Fatty that, in America, the rule is 'shoot first, ask questions afterward', Albert says that, in Germany, they do it the other way around, Rory says that it's best to shoot and ask questions at the same time. I don't ask questions, because the answers might conflict with my opinion, and, normally, I only shoot people by accident, so, with nothing to add to the conversation, my only means of drawing attention to myself is to fire my blunderbuss into the ceiling and yell at everybody that we can't sit around gabbling and wasting time. Our mission, I remind them, is desperately urgent, we are being hunted by the authorities, we are gallivasterishly behind schedule and somebody should do something about it, now.

Everybody ignores me, except for Rory who is rolling around in pain, shouting that I have shot him, but this, I tell him, is patently absurd, I can't possibly have missed the ceiling, Albert says that he has thought of a good theory, but nobody cares, Fatty says that he will go to the kitchens and help rustle up a quick meal before we go. This is a good idea and Juan and I ask Fatty for salmon, from Aberfeldy Loch. Fatty says that he might not be able to find salmon from a specific loch but, if he can't, he will try and be creative. George says that he wants to be creative as well and, he tells us, he is going to paint some tits. Juan say that it's about time George painted something interesting. I tell Juan not to be so stupid, George, I inform Juan, wants to paint something like the poecile palustris, from the paridae family of birds, which have nothing to do with whatever it was that Juan's tiny, delinquent, mind was thinking about. Juan looks disappointed but George, rather foolishly, says that, actually, rather than paint the poecile palustris, he was thinking of painting great tits. Juan cheers and orders Vintage Alt-a-Bhainne, Royal Lochnagar, Glenturret and Drumguish Private Reserve, to celebrate, then, offering toast after toast to America and saluting the American way, we inflate our bagpipes, play 'America the Beautiful' at maximum volume while, crashing off tables and chairs and bouncing off the walls, we reel around in loud, enthusiastic, confusion, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary