The Houseago Diaries: newts hit back

Here is the second episode of the Houseago Diaries – recently unearthed and presented exclusively here. They relate in astonishing detail the ongoing battle of Henry (Fred) “Shrimp” Houseago against great crested newts, who threaten to destroy the Norfolk way of life. More episodes will follow on a weekly basis.


October 10, 1996

According to conservationist Eileen Dagenstit, we in Wymondham are only remaining enclave of real Norfolk people. Find this hard to believe. Find conservationists hard to believe generally, like environmentalists. Probably same thing.

October 17, 1996

Quiet week, until read in EDP that Prime Minister John Major was right behind us and anti-newt. Since he also said he was proposing to privatise them, suspect he doesn’t really understand the problem, like most politicians (whatever the problem). Reporter said I was unavailable for comment, which is fair translation of what I actually said. Some things cannot be commented on. 

October 24, 1996

Astonished to see that great crested newts had hit back at suggestions they were harassing Norfolk people. Apparently they made pledge to preserve us and said: “We might even charge an entrance fee.” Did not know newts had sense of humour, but can’t believe they’re serious. Obviously no-one believes anyone who makes a pledge; so they really are threatening us with extinction. Pledge to fight to the last sand dune. They shall not pass. Dorothea agrees.

November 3, 1996

In pro-active mode, released news to press that newts were appearing on residents’ doorsteps and offering to cut down trees. Pointed out that many real Norfolk people were to be found in trees. This stretching truth a trifle, but in war against newts anything goes. No-one likes strangers – newts or not – appearing on doorstep, especially while television on. Suspicious. Could be religious, or selling windows, or both. Think I’ve got public opinion on my side. Dorothea critical, but she has integrity problem. Even persuaded gullible journo that newts had applied for planning permission. Public always panicked by idea of planning permission: they suspect planning committee will pass anything it can’t understand, which is nearly everything. So more anti-newt feeling generated. Good day’s work. Should be in paper tomorrow.

November 4, 1996

Was. Excellent. 

November 11, 1996

Another public relations coup. Managed to persuade EDP to print that great crested newts drank too much, and were ambitious. War going very well. 

November 12, 1996

May have overplayed my hand. Dorothea points out that people who drink too much are folk heroes, unless they kill someone. Everyone who appears in court for violence and says they drank too much gets sentence halved. Strange. Should also not have said no-one knew what newts would do next. Makes them sound exciting, unlike Norfolk people, who talk about doing different, but do the same. Except me, obviously.