The Houseago Diaries: newts could get nuclear capacity

Episode three of the recently unearthed Houseago Diaries, which chronicle the struggles of Norfolk hero Henry (Fred) “Shrimp” Houseago against an attempted takeover by great crested newts. Occasional reports of this struggle were published in the Eastern Daily Press, Norwich, between 1995 and 2006

Earlier episodes of the Diaries are archived on this site.


November 16, 1996

Not to be put off, have come back with fresh publicity coup, applying for protected status for colony of Norfolk people. Probably won’t get far, but satirically sound. In brilliant move (said Dorothea), pointed out that great crested newts in Suffolk had access to wartime bomb site, which could give them nuclear capacity. All Norfolk people suspicious of Suffolk. Combination of Suffolk, wartime, bombs and “aggressive” newts guaranteed to put me in best possible light. May be regarded as saviour of county. Will speak to vicar. Perhaps could stand for office of some kind. Would like to be mayor of something. Great crested newts could be blessing in disguise. Must not say so, obviously. They are evil threat to humanity. Probably Communist, or right-wing. Or both.

November 25, 1996

Feeling a bit strange after triumph of last week. Probably going down with something. Could newts be into biological warfare? Probably not, but must be careful. Must cut down on Real Ale, for instance, though more likely cheap Chardonnay which Dorothea brought home in burst of activity is to blame. Or something going round.

Got Ms Goodchild, 104, to issue statement as “deputy spokesperson” for Norfolk colony, saying influx of unusual birds into Norfolk, with accompanying twitchers, was newt masterplan. Probably not good idea, on reflection. Dorothea quoted as saying you could never tell how newts did things, which sounds like real politician. She must not get ideas above station. So told her off for suggesting nuclear story was smokescreen by newts – could have got much more mileage out of it. Birds not as frightening as nuclear device, on the whole. Nor twitchers. Just odd. No problem if you carry large stick.

December 2, 1996

Feel a bit better. Unexpected “help” from natterjack toads, who accuse expansionist great crested newts of giving wildlife bad name. Wildlife already has bad name. It is wild. Not sure about toads. Don’t know which way they’ll jump, though newts say they’re jumping to conclusions (very funny). What are they up to? Must ask Dorothea.

What shall I get Dorothea for Christmas? When you’re 104 you don’t want anything else. You want someone to take stuff away. Maybe will offer to take stuff away. (What stuff? Must be careful.)

December 9, 1996

Newt wrote letter to EDP, complaining that great crested newts threatened by Norfolk people, not vice versa. Bold move, but obviously incredible. No-one will take any notice. Norfolk people never threaten anyone. They do not move quickly enough. (Also Norwich City FC.)

December 16

Bought present for Dorothea, but cannot reveal what it is. She may read this. Quite excited because both to appear on television, explaining horror of newt expansion plans to veteran interviewer Jeremy Paxton, 89, of North Creake. Will suggest newts should be served with injunction and use several legal phrases which should impress viewers. May go for judicial review, or injunction. Will say res ipsa loquitur, in case lawyers are listening. Lawyers love that kind of thing. Would not want newts to get lawyer. Could blow whole thing wide open. Or not. Lawyers could avoid issue to get more money.

December 22, 1996

TV appearance cancelled to make time for extra darts. No point. Saw appalling nativity play at local church. Can only have been put on by consortium of newts. Left out all essential stuff: no angels with tinfoil halos, no cardboard animals, no plastic doll. Three wise men looked very much like toads to me. Well known that natterjack toads do not come from East and are not particularly wise. They just know which way to jump. In that respect they are very much like coypu, which I believe are slowly taking over our local government system. May have to tackle that issue one day, but mustn’t get sidetracked now. Have condemned newt play as “tasteless” on behalf of colony of Norfolk people.

“Tasteless” always good criticism: doesn’t mean anything, but you can’t reply to it without appearing to support tastelessness or having no taste of your own. Am feeling very much in Christmas spirit.