The sixth episode of our fearless revelation of the Houseago Diaries, whose existence until now has been a well-kept secret. They reveal the gradual infiltration of Norfolk by great-crested newts, under the guise of an endangered species, and the heroic fight by Henry (Fred) “Shrimp” Houseago to thwart their evil plans. This week sees the unexpected, possibly sinister, arrival of a wholefood chef on the scene, and the approach of a comet.
March 17, 1997
Had bout of flu during week, which accounted for ludicrous story appearing in EDP today. At least, assume it was some kind of delusion. Newt rock group supposed to be touring country. Dorothea took advantage of my sickness to give press quote: “You can never tell with newts. We’re more middle of the road ourselves.” What does she mean? Am not middle of road. Am more middle of field, or up hill – given the chance. Feeling bit depressed, Possibly flu. Possibly not.
March 22, 1997
Bit concerned about suspicious crowd called Suffolk Amphibian and Reptile Group. Can it be missing newts? Thought their group was called Newt. (Should have been Blur, but already taken.) Decided not to comment to press. Do not want to give impression have no idea what is going on, or care. Still feeling dodgy. Will be unavailable for comment. Sounds as if doing something important. Hingham very quiet.
March 30, 1997
Decided to take initiative and announce that newt consortium which threatened to overrun Norfolk people had been disbanded. Said: “This is a triumph for common sense, persistence and threatened species everywhere. Well, almost everywhere. Wymondham, anyway.” Possibly could have left out last bit, which sounded not quite as statesmanlike as first sentence. Still, strikes nice victorious note. Dorothea impressed. Wonder if paper will print it.
March 31, 1997
Did. Also disturbing item on comet headed for North-West Norfolk. Apparently spotted by Hindolveston wholefood chef called Len “Kissme” Hardy. Odd name. Could be in code. Wonder if newts involved. No, of course not. Getting paranoid.
Hardy says comet called Hole-Bipp and heading for “Stanhoe and South Creake, or possibly Birmingham”. Suspect Hardy has problem with Global Positioning System he got for Christmas. Cannot expect much more from chef, especially wholefood one. Perhaps I’ll write to him. Hole-Bipp said to be orbiting black hole near Reepham. Do not know much about astronomy, but this seems impossible. Must check.
April 7, 1997
More bizarre stuff about Hingham in paper. Don’t pretend to understand it. Something to do with Scout Hut and new form of democracy. Sounds newtish. Still, have no plans to go to Hingham. Chef claims error in comet calculations. No surprise to me. But where newts?
April 14, 1997
Still no sign of newts. But idiot chef putting together expedition to find Comet Hole-Bipp, which he claims has landed in murky area called The Saints, near Bungay. Have no desire to go to Saints. Have heard stories of people missing there for weeks, maybe years. Chef says comet difficult to pin down. Would have thought comets easy to pin down. Does chef know what he’s talking about?
April 21, 1997
Turning out to be strange month. Dorothea missing; also newts. Can’t both be hibernating. “Kissme” Hardy apparently lost in The Saints. No surprise there.
April 28, 1997
No newts – but EDP reports exploding rabbits on Beccles Common.
Strange development in field of small mammals, which so far have shown no tendency to blow up. Suspect involvement of newts, aiming to destabilise life as we know it. Rabbits should be docile creatures disappearing into distance. Must get some sleep.
May 5, 1997
Errant chef emerges from Bungay badlands, apparently unscathed. Not sure if this good thing. Claims to have found no trace of comet, amazingly. EDP has gone into prophecy mode, predicting that temporary closure of Castle Meadow, Norwich, to cars is example of Hingham Democracy. Will never open again. Do not believe EDP on this one. If cannot trust city council, who can you trust?
May 19, 1997
Must have dozed off. According to someone called Toadof (obviously pseudonym), great crested newts interfering with elderly drivers in Wymondham area. Have doubts about this. Sounds like excuse by elderly drivers to explain dithering. On other hand, am elderly driver myself. Maybe something in newts theory, but don’t recall seeing any for long time. Maybe don’t exist. Feel tired. Must do something.
May 21, 1997
Got it. Will write book.
May 22, 1997
May 23, 1997
Of course. Will write about disappearance of great crested newt colony. Am expert on newts. Will expose fearlessly. Publish and be damned. Well, prefer not to be damned. Just publish.