Today we complete our publication of the revealing Houseago Diaries, only recently unearthed and restored from oblivion. Throwing what one academic has described as “light” on the critical years when Henry (Fred) “Shrimp” Houseago fought almost singlehandedly against a consortium of great crested newts and other sinister threats to the Norfolk way of life, they end tantalisingly with the word “Hindolveston”. Scholars are even now researching the meaning of this word, and the reason the diaries cease so abruptly. Some have suggested that it refers to a long-forgotten Norfolk village, but this seems far-fetched. Others hint that Houseago may have stumbled on a secret so iconoclastic in its implications that he had to be eliminated. Rest assured that any further discoveries will be published on this site.
June 15, 1998
Concerned to read that pressure groups are proliferating in central Norfolk: WeB2 (We’re Boring Too) and BOOOM (Bored Out Of Our Minds) have just been formed to promote high boredom factor of Norfolk towns, which most people find relaxing. Commendable in its way, but would prefer it if people joined fight against newts. Need to get priorities right.
June 24, 1998
Scheinlich came round last night, and we developed some new computer software.
June 26, 1998
Decided to call new software Houseago 99. Kicked Scheinlich off project because he is too interested in Hingham. Also wanted software to be called Scheinlich/Houseago 99, which is obviously ridiculous. Who would buy something called Scheinlich/Houseago 99? Obviously many blips in software, but will sell it first, then repair it, if can find bits.
June 27, 1998
Told EDP new software “would make Windows 98 look like chestnut bunting”. Cunning reference to bird which landed up in Salthouse while travelling from South-East Asia to Siberia, which seems easy mistake to make. Probably planned journey on Internet. But of course Houseago software knows where it’s going. Big advantage is it cannot be used by great crested newts under any circumstances. Idiot on paper asked if software had web browser. Told him was not interested in spiders, but software probably had bugs.
July 6, 1998
Heard that group of journalists was planning walk over Halvergate marshes; so dropped them note warning of great crested newt activity in the area. Going on general principles really. If there are marshes, there must be newts. Will work that into book, when I start it again. Felt sure I saw Dorothea going into Travelodge near Norwich, but no sign of Hardy. Perhaps he was inside. Beginning to get very annoying.
July 25, 1998
No inquiries yet for Houseago 99, suprisingly. Probably good thing, because only have two copies.
July 26, 1998
Disaster. Newts have persuaded environment minister Angela Eagle that their homes are under threat. Never heard such nonsense. Have done personal census of newt homes (ie ponds), and there are just as many as ever. Told EDP: “There is something fishy about this. I know for a fact there are the same number of ponds now as there were in 1990. And these newts are expanding all over the place.” Not impressed by information that research was carried out by something called Pond Life. Obviously biased, like most research. Said frogbit also threatened, whatever that is. Pointed out: “Frogbit is either a cross between a frog and a rabbit, which means it will take over the country in a fortnight, or possibly something eaten in France, in which case it doesn’t matter.” Researchers always trying to cloud issue. You have to watch them.
August 8, 1998
Melton Constable was getting a bit samey, so have moved to friend’s house at Norton Subcourse, which is even quieter. Don’t care what Dorothea is doing with Len “Kissme” Hardy, alleged wholefood chef of Hindolveston. She doesn’t know when she is well off.
August 9, 1998
Made strong protest at foolish move by Eastern Electricity to turn sub-stations into wildlife havens. Well know that newts want power, and this is just asking for trouble. Company seems to be welcoming them with open arms – outrageous. Told reporter it would not be long before smooth newts began cold-calling and offering cheaper electricity. Added: “They want absolute power.”
Dorothea, who was on rare visit, having tracked me down at Norton Subcourse, said this wasn’t funny. Would have thought anything was funny after Hindolveston. Wherever that is.
August 23, 1998
At last Dorothea has seen which side her bread is buttered. Following a suggestion of hers, have made scientific breakthrough. We have formed company to market wonder drug which will make Viagra look like – well, like chestnut bunting. We have called drug Goodo, after Dorothea (Goodchild). Have announced that we will be making it available for fee which will have to take into account difficulty of obtaining vital elements, which include samphire, various E-numbers and substance derived from great crested newts. Possibly blood. Has so many advantages. Dorothea over moon, or even higher. Hardy out of picture.
September 6, 1998
Excellent fortnight came to an end with inquiry from EDP about what they claim is my “long engagement” to Dorothea. Apparently a reader had asked whether parental disapproval had held us back. Absurd. Told reporter to make something up in reply. Added that engagement was not long at all, and I would not marry until great crested newt menace eradicated from Norfolk.
September 7, 1998
See from paper that Dorothea described my remark as “typical”. Wonder if she is serious about newts. No need for her to speak to newspaper at all. Should be tight-lipped. But they didn’t mention Hindolveston.