Houseago Diaries: anchor, comets and the Hingham problem

In this seventh episode of the Houseago Diaries, the recently unearthed publishing phenomenon of the decade, Norfolk hero Henry (Fred) “Shrimp” Houseago has various theories and finds himself involved with anchor, a comet riddle and the Hingham Autonomous Republic. Meanwhile, does Dorothea have a guilty secret?


May 24, 1997

Dorothea turned up. Had been on holiday at South Creake. She met wholefood chef Len “Kissme” Hardy in pub. Very suspicious. Must keep closer eye on her. She says book would not be long enough and will have to introduce sub-plots. Dorothea suggested secret history of wholefood chef. Even more suspicious. Decided to include riddle of Comet Hole-Bipp. Will claim key being guarded by secret society. Where?

May 25, 1997

Needs to be somewhere exotic, in the Fens. Maybe Three Holes. Key could be in one of them. Not sure if there actually are three holes: probably just bizarre Fen name, like Barroway Drove. Make it Ten Mile Bank. Must mention ancient star map. Everyone does. Can’t fail.

June 2, 1997

Have released news of book to press, but EDP rang me and asked me why I was writing it. Before had time to think, said I needed the money because marrying Dorothea. Totally out of my mind. Will have to go into hiding. Will write book at same time, if can concentrate. Newts seem to be lying low.

June 5, 1997

Decided to hide in Hingham. May be mistake. Met strange alleged scientist with German name in pub, who claimed town was centre of distortion in space-time continuum. What is space-time continuum? Suspect something to do with Europe, especially as worms seem to be involved. Probably shouldn’t have mentioned great crested newts. Scientist – name of Scheinlich – claims he has seen them gathering in Scout Hut. Why would newts gather in Scout Hut? Suspect Dorothea has been sneaking out to see someone.

June 9, 1997

Am convinced Dorothea is seeing wholefood chef with comet mania. Item in EDP claims Scheinlich (who is professor, apparently) has disturbing theory, but am not interested. Am interested in line mentioning exploding rabbits and wholefood chef, all of whom appear to be in Hingham. If “Kissme” Hardy in Hingham, then threat to life as we know it. Will have to watch Dorothea like hawk.

June 10, 1997

Book hard to write. Getting nowhere, because have to spend nearly all spare time watching Dorothea. Have not seen Hardy, but Prof V A R Scheinlich (discovered full name) seems more interesting than I thought. Apparently Hingham not in Norfolk at all, but Autonomous Republic. Good place to hide.

June 30, 1997

All going well, but bit nervous after reading in EDP of amazing scientific discovery called “anchor” – element which clings to geographical locations and pins them to the earth’s crust. Apparently Norfolk towns are susceptible to lack of anchor, which is a bit weak in certain areas, like Hingham. Suspect global warming, or hole in ozone layer. Now will have to check every morning to see if still in same place. How will I know? Hingham could move altogether; then you wouldn’t know until you tried to leave. Must ring Mrs Hicks, my aunt, who lives in Erpingham, to see if she is still there and I am still here.

July 14, 1997

Cannot settle. Hardy character seems to have vanished. Dorothea very quiet, even for someone of 104. No luck with book. Scheinlich rattles on a lot about mysterious happenings in Hingham, but what has happened to newts? Some people can’t get priorities right.

July 28, 1997

The nerve! Scheinlich writing book on Hingham and Wormhole Phenomenon. Presume work of fiction with philosophical overtones. Very German. Claims he does not know what is going on; so how can he write book? Should leave books to people who are experts in things like great crested newts. Went home after learning of Scheinlich presumption and wrote two pages. May call book “The Newt Crusade”. Will work hard on it and beat Scheinlich to publication.

The next episode will appear in two weeks’ time.