(the story so far:)
George Moonbat, investigative journalist, discovers to his horror that Miranda, the bewitching Green Activst who has pressed her copy of “Watermelons” on him, is in fact an Inspector in the Norfolk Constabulary.
George lay back in the deckchair, staring up at the bouganvillea and trying to take the information in. So Miranda, that apparent powerhouse of green activist engagement, was in fact a wolf in the nest, a viper in sheep’s clothing. Unbelievable.
He’d read about such people – in his own paper, as it happened. Police agents provocateurs in plain clothes sent to spy on environmentalist groups. It was a scandal, and it must be exposed immediately.
The first thing to do, as an investigative journalist, was to check whether she really was a policewoman. A simple call to the Norfolk police should clear that up. Decent Green activists being infiltrated by the fuzz in order to wheedle information from them. Why, they’d even been known to go as far as sleeping with their prey, in order to further their evil designs.
On second thoughts, perhaps he’d wait until after their evening meeting before phoning the police. Better not blow her cover before he’d investigated further, face to face. He’d get into that Delingpole book this afternoon (what made her press her wretched Watermelons on him, of all people?) Then he’d confront her.
“Not coming to the conference, George? It’s Lobachevsky on the psychology of deniers.”
George was awoken from his agonised musings by a familiar voice. It was Leo Hickman, the Guardian’s Environmental Agony Aunt. Many a nervewracked Guardian reader, distraught at the idea that her monthly trips to her Tuscan farmhouse were somehow immoral (they almost certainly were, but that wasn’t the subject of her impassioned outbursts in the Graun) had found solace in Leo’s confessional. He could measure your carbon footprint to the last speck of organic toe jam, and then comfortingly absolve you of your sins.
It was said of George Orwell that he couldn’t blow his nose without thinking about the conditions of the workers in the handkerchief factory. Leo couldn’t wipe his bum without weeping for the tree that had died in the service of his anal hygiene.
And weep he might, for Leo was a political activist first and last, and, a posteriori, as e.e.cummings elegantly put it, “an arse upon which everything had sat except a man”. (Not strictly true, since, as an underling at Guardian Environment, he had doubtlessly been sat upon many times, though by who or what is beyond our knowing).
George, distraught himself, his mind elsewhere, followed Leo into the lecture theatre.
* * *
Meanwhile, behind the closed door of the greenhouse, Miranda was plying Briffa for information.
“Mess ‘em bry an’ the mum,” he said slowly, savouring the word.
‘”Yes. It’s a prostrate succulent”.
“Oh aye,” said Briffa, brightening up. “I’ve got one of them. Doctor wanted to ‘ave a look at it. I said: ‘I’ll show you mine, doc, if you’ll show me yours.’”
“And did he?”
“No. She said she ‘adn’t got one.” Briffa eyed Miranda suspiciously. “But you’ve got one, ‘ave you?”
“I certainly have. It’s enormous.” replied Miranda proudly. “Now, going back to your research. When did you first get interested in Siberian larches?”
Forgotten behind the plant pots and sacks of horse manure, Professor Phil was feverishly taking notes.
* * *
The hypnotic drone of Lobachevsky’s lecture passed through George’s distracted mind, leaving few traces.
“My inbox has become a kaleidoscopic staging post of human diversity.… Mr. McIntyre’s dog misplaced an email under a pastrami sandwich, and I have grown at least one tail and several new horns over the last few days, all of which are frightfully independent… Finally this new friend from Conspirania is getting some legs… About time, too, I was getting lonely….”
And so on.
Not that it mattered. Everything Lobachevsky said was available at the website of Kookaborough University.* George could look it up, the next time he wanted to write an article exposing the perverse psychology of those denialist scumbags.
There followed a more reasoned talk by Little Jack Horner, psychology researcher from Cardiff. He described how he had taken 190 Welsh teenagers and fed them a battery of environmental questions, followed by a sheaf of editorials on climate change from the Irish Times and the Scotsman. Surprisingly, they went on believing what they’d believed before, even after reading a newspaper article about it. Some clever dick asked if the research had been conducted during the Five Nations Tournament, but Little Jack laughed off the diversion, referring the intrusive questioner to his website.**
During questions George crept out. A buffet lunch was being laid out on the patio by the Huntingdons’ small army of Slav labour. He grabbed a handful of tofu and cress sandwiches and retired to his room. Miranda wanted the book back this afternoon. He needed to examine it closely first. The spy spied upon.
Back in his room, fuelled with coffee from the handy machine by the bed, George opened the battered paperback and flipped through the pages in search of further evidence. No more incriminating papers fell out, but he noted that many passages were underlined, and there were numerous notes in the margin. This was going to demand his best forensic skills. George undressed, got into bed and, suppressing a natural desire to throw up, lay back to read the Delingpole chef d’oeuvre.
He was awoken from a long siesta by an urgent tapping at the door. It was already dusk. How long had he been asleep? In a panic, he leapt out of bed and opened the door. A formidable female form stood silhouetted in the doorway.
“Heelleaou, George. I was wondering if you could lend me some cocoa from your drinks machine?”
It was Juno Watt, the antipodean bovine flatuence expert.
It was then that George realised that he wasn’t wearing any trousers.
Not that Juno noticed. As she slid past him, heading for the bedside coffee dispenser, a figure passed in the corridor, smiled knowingly, and winked.
It was Miranda.
*Probably not dissimilar to
**To be compared with