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The Green Man and Still

Frantic with haste, running past the Green Man and Still, Fatty remarks that it is a pub that, for hundreds of years, has epitomised all that is the very best in traditional British culture and pub food and, if we can’t spare two minutes to pop inside and have a quick look round, then what are we fighting for? I point out that we aren’t fighting, but we are sloungeshly behind schedule, and can’t afford even the slightest delay, however, Fatty is correct, to pass by such a venerable institute without making the effort to experience the ambience for a moment would be an educationally criminal act.

In the bar, Juan order crates of Vintage Tulibardine Special Reserve and thirty two pub lunches for Fatty. Tam shows us a picture in a society magazine and tells us that it was this picture that alerted his suspicions. He explains that the picture was taken in the drawing room in Windsor Castle, he happens to know that the drawing room is decorated with many valuable ornaments, but, in the photograph, the room is bare. I tell Tam that it isn’t suspicious, aristocrats purloin everything that isn’t nailed down, a party of aristocrats can empty a room of ornaments in seconds.

We look at the picture and comment on the Teutonic princess in the front row with the rabbit on her head, the Italian Duchess with a pointed nose and scary eyes, the vodka-soaked Russian Grand Duchess, winking at the cameraman, the Siamese twins, a fat man holding on to his wallet and the dwarf. I tell Tam that the Princess Royal’s see-through blouse is a bold fashion statement, Juan agrees, adding, unnecessarily, that her magnificent, thrusting, breasts set it off to perfection, George tells Tam that to see the Queen of Spain eating an Italian duchess’s hat while balancing a dead cat on her head is unusual but doesn’t prove anything, I agree with George, adding that the Queen of Norway’s moustache is striking and the German Emperor looks unusually pretty, but that, I remind Tam, is not evidence of any wrongdoing.

Tam says that we are idiots, we have got the people all wrong, if we want to know who the people are we should read the caption below the photograph. Nobody wants to know or shows any interest in reading the caption so Tam, despite us shouting at him that we don’t care and not to do it, reads the caption out loud: “Eight of the leading European sovereigns in the drawing room at Windsor castle. This remarkable photograph was taken during the festivities arranged to mark the state visit of the German Emperor to England in 1907. Many of the royalties present were in England to attend the wedding of Prince Charles of Bourbon and Princess Louise of Orleans at Wood Norton on November 16th. Reading from left to right are, standing: Princess Royal, (Duchess of Fife), Duke of Connaught, Queen of Norway, Prince Olaf, German Emperor, Princess of Wales, Princess Patricia of Connaught, Prince of Wales, King of Spain, German Empress, Prince Arthur of Connaught, Queen Alexandra, Grand Duke Vladimir of Russia, Queen of Spain, Duchess of Connaught, Princess Victoria of Great Britain and Prince Johann of Saxony. Seated in the front row are: King Edward, Infanta Isabella, Princess Henry of Battenberg, Grand Duchess Vladimir, Queen of Portugal, Duchess of Aosta and Princess Johann of Saxony.”

This is all so dull and pointless that, by the time he finishes, we are so bored that we have lost the will to live and, to recover, have to order crates of vintage Inchgower Special Reserve, and bourbon and beer for everyone in need. Tam suggests a song appropriate to the true British atmosphere of the place and we all sing ‘God Save the Queen’ at the top of our voices, Tam reminds us that we are in Britain and Britain is a kingdom, so it must have a king, we aren’t sure he is right but, to be on the safe side, we sing ‘God Save the King’, then Tam says that, if the king is married, then there will be a queen as well, so we sing ‘God save the King and Queen’ then, in case the monarch is single we sing ‘God Save the King or Queen’, this is a lot of fun but possibly not a good idea in what turns out to be an Irish Republican pub.

We are attacked on all sides, there is an extended brawl, some shooting, an explosion or two, Tam is alarmed but I explain that this is normal in an Irish pub of any denomination. I fight my way to the bar and order a bottle of the best Irish whisky for everyone, to calm everything down. In the few seconds of amazed silence before everyone starts cheering as they get their whisky, I apologise to everybody for Tam’s stupid and offensive behavior and offer toast after toast to the revered memory of Saint Patrick or King Muirecan or whoever it was who started whatever it is that generations of our Irish friends have enjoyed fighting about. Then, demonstrating our solidarity with our valiant colleagues by firing our weapons into the ceiling, the walls, the floor, random strangers and each other, cursing our oppressors and singing wild rebel songs, we link arms with our heroic comrades-in-arms and stagger around in riotous circles, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary