George Moonbat, suspecting the bewitching Miranda of being a police spy, is forced to flee the Climate Conference at the Hampstead home of Green millionaire Tom Huntingdon. Returning to his Welsh cottage to fetch his passport before fleeing the country, he is accosted by Miranda. A blackout caused by the arrival of a sudden low pressure area causes confusion, and they discover that they are not alone in the cottage. Now read on:
“Damian!“ exclaimed George, “And you Leo! and John! What are you doing here?”
The three figures lounging behind the desk in George’s tiny office looked at each other in the faintly superior way of conspirators who’ve just pulled off a rather good coup.
George looked from one to the other . There was Damian Carrington, the Guardian’s ace environmental journalist; Leo Hickman, green agony aunt and author of How I murdered Nemo – Climate Change for Kiddies, which had reduced thousands of nine-year-olds to fits of uncontrollable sobbing; and John Vidal, Guardian Environment editor. John – so often and so irritatingly confused with his more famous namesake Al Gore Vidal – was the habitué of a thousand international poverty conferences. On a single flight to Johannesburg, over a Chablis and a plastic-wrapped caviar sandwich, he could summon up half a dozen eyewitness reports on the climate-induced sufferings of the peasants in Zaire, Nigeria, Angola, Botswana, and even Bolivia, just by gazing out of the airplane window – a handy talent in a writer for the cash-strapped Guardian.
Vidal was the first to break the silence.
“Good to see you, George. We”ve been trying to get through to you for a long time.”
“What do you mean, ‘trying to get through to me’?” George reacted angrily. “You email me every bloody day correcting the mistakes in my articles.”
“You’re quite right. That’s not what I mean,” replied Vidal, ever patient in the face of Moonbat’s unfailing talent for getting the wrong end of the stick. “We’ve been trying to make you see the error of your ways. The error of our ways,” he corrected himself. “We knew you’d never listen to a reasoned argument, so we tried more subtle methods.”
George gazed in respectful silence at the man who, though so evidently his inferior in intelligence and journalistic talent, was, after all, his meal ticket.
“After your flash of insight following Climategate, we thought you’d seen the light. But something in your makeup… We did everything we could to make you realise, bending over backwards to turn Guardian Environment into the laughing stock of the nation. We hired a guy with a music degree to compile our data base. We wrote insane articles about how the coal burnt in Britain was making the Bolivian peasants nervous and threatening to drown the Maldives. We published a poem beginning: “I am your inner polar bear...”. We commissioned articles from John Cook and Bob Ward. We sent science editor Robin McKie to the theatre and got theatre critic Michael Billington to write science articles…”
“We were taking big risks that the Editor or the Board of Trustees might smelI a rat,” said Damian nervously. “I was worried even Rusbridger would notice something funny about that.”
“Rusbridger wouldn’t notice a forty-ton truck running over him,” growled Hickman, “Unless the driver fagged for him at Cranleigh.”
“Anyway,” continued Vidal, attempting to reassert his authority over the conversation, “When we realised that no amount of ridicule heaped on the media in general, and the Guardian in particular…”
“…and you most of all,” chimed in Hickman –
“…that no amount of ridicule would change your mind, we decided to use the Nuclear Option.”
Just then, Miranda emerged from the bathroom, clearly envigorated by the cold shower. She’d been rummaging in George’s wardrobe looking for something dry and wearable. After discarding his extensive collection of hair shirts, she’d stumbled on his dayglo lycra cycling costume. It fitted her like a glove, which is to say it didn’t fit her at all, but the way it didn’t fit was a delight to behold. Whether or where it was too big or too small or just right was the kind of question to drive a philosopher to hemlock or put Goldilocks off her porridge.
She ignored the solemn trio behind the desk and sidled up to George. “I’ve been reading your books while I was waiting in the car,” she mumured confidentially, as if continuing the conversation interrupted all those hours ago. “I’ve finished Captive State, and now I’m on Heat.”
The four English public school boys, conscious of the respect for the fair sex which they’d imbibed at the finest seats of learning in the land, ignored her.
“What do you mean, ‘Nuclear Option’?” asked George.
Vidal turned to a figure who had been sitting unnoticed in the shadows. “Andrew, come here and explain things to George.”
A mild-mannered, round-faced, slightly balding man emerged, sat down in front of George, and began patiently and carefully to explain the Facts, as they pertained to Life, the Universe, and Everything, starting with a simple graph…
His explanation was clear, precise, and incontovertible. Andrew had read the climate science which George the climate activist had been meaning to get round to. He’d followed the trails that George the investigative journalist had let run cold, fearing where they’d lead him.
As Andrew’s explanation became more technical – far more subtle and sophisticated than anything he was used to hearing – George’s mind wandered back to that day in November 2009 when he’d first glanced at the Climategate emails and realised that the scientists at the heart of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were frauds and liars. He remembered how he’d blurted out his doubts in a comment on his blog, then realised what he’d done. Then the long painful process of backsliding – no – backtracking. The Maoist-like confessions, the careful fixing of the Guardian debate, the swift intervention of Fred Pearce and that brilliant man from the News of the World who told him what to say and put his world to rights. Stifling a sob, George made a silent decision to mend his ways. Though he’d only been half listening to the patient, even-toned explanation of the quiet accountant, he made a decision. The struggle between the inner journalist and the outer activist was over. The journalist had won.
Andrew finished his exposé. There was a long silence, which was interrupted by the deafening noise of a helicopter landing in George’s kitchen garden. The Guardian trio looked at each other nervously.
Seconds later, a tall, lean figure bounded up the stairs and burst into the office. Delingpole had abandoned his normal wear of WW2 battledress, and was attired in the full uniform of an MI5 operative – the torn t-shirt, twice-worn jeans and trainers of the star of a John le Carré movie. He greeted Miranda in the French fashion, with a peck on two of her cheeks and an affectionate pat on the others, and gave a curt nod to Moonbat. The three Guardian journalists stood nervously to attention. Delingpole acknowledged their faint bows of deference and eased himself into George’s ergonomically correct office chair behind the desk.
In the clipped tones of a busy man with the cares of the world on his shoulders and no time to lose, Delingpole came straight to the point:
“You’ve heard Andrew’s exposé I take it George. Things are coming to a head. We need your help. Only someone with your immense reputation for courageous investigative journalism will do.”
George blushed at the compliment from the rival he had once described as a scumbag.
“We’re sending you to the Amazon George – you and Miranda. She’s half Brazilian you know.”
George suppressed the obvious quip:- “Which half?” (he thought he knew) and asked: “Why Brazil?”
“Shale gas, of course. There’s masses of it, and British companies are well placed to exploit it. But the French are very busy there, stirring up trouble among the native Amazon tribes. You’ve been there, speak the lingo… thought you might be just the chap to go and sort them out”.
“The Amazon tribes?”
“No, the French. Miranda will be giving you an intensive course in all the skills you’ll need – jungle survival, unarmed combat, selective assassination – things like that”.
“But why are we prospecting for gas in Brazil?” George asked in the bewildered tones of the ever curious investigative reporter. “I thought we had all we needed under Blackpool.”
“Economics, George,” replied Delingpole briskly. “Also: Geopolitics, Science, and Business. Not things you’d understand. Stick to badger culling.”
Vidal intervened: “If you don’t mind me saying so, James, I think George needs to be filled in on the true purpose of his mission.”
You’re quite right John,” Delingpole replied. “And please address me as “Sir” while we’re on Company business.” He turned back to George.
“The Amazon, as I am sure you are aware, is in danger of being exploited by ruthless entrepreneurs who will stop at nothing to achieve their aims. You’ve heard of WTF?”
Of course George had heard of WTF. The Worldwide Trust Fund was one of the brave NGOs fighting the evil capitalist exploiters who were raping the planet. Delingpole continued: “Certain people, not unknown to yourself , are planning a coup which will result in unlimited supplies of official government funds flowing into their offshore bank accounts for ever more, to be used to finance their plans to dominate the planet. Only you can stop them.”
Delingpole paused. A quiver ran through the tense musculature of his noble features, indicating the firm resolve that lent his wiry frame the mysterious potency of a taut bowstring and caused women to fall at his feet and strong men to become strangely subdued in his presence.
“Do this right, George, and there’s a CBE in it for you… if you come back.” He paused, and, to break the unbearable tension caused by this sober warning, added:
“And do it sharpish, before Her Majesty pops her coronet and King Tampon the First takes over, or it’s no CBE for you, and I can kiss my seat in the House of Lords goodbye.”
Companion of the British Empire! Pride stirred the Huguenot blood coursing through George’s veins. He glanced at Miranda and then back at Delingpole, trying to meet the cool steely gaze of the younger man, so much his superior in wit and intelligence. He was suddenly filled with pride that this admirable patriot, some years his junior, yet so evidently senior in wisdom and character, had chosen him. He would do it. For Queen and Country. And for James.
* * *
At the same moment, a man of Jamaican origin carrying a briefcase got off the night bus at the Hampstead terminus and began walking up the hill towards Apocalypse Close. Two men emerged from the shadows behind the pub and accosted him.
“Excuse me sir, we’re police officers. Would you mind showing us the contents of your attaché case?”
“How do I know you’se police officers? You could be drug addits fo’ all I know man, lookin’ for a fix.”
The first shadowy figure shoved a card in his face. “Here”s the ID. We’re from the Met.”
“From de Met Office? Well why didn’ you say so man? Do you know dat Professor Betts what writes about de climate modellin’ an’ all dat at Bishop Hill? I’m a big fan o’ his.”
The second shadowy figure narrowed his eyes in suspicion: “You’re not Barry Woods are you, by any chance? Somet’in’ about de spellin’…”
“Oh, shit man,” exclaimed the Jamaican, “An’ you mus’ be Dung!”
And with a whoop of joy, as if greeting a long-lost brother, the Jamaican swung the briefcase twice around his head and sent it in a parabola into the night sky and raced off towards the Heath, while the dumbstruck policemen followed its trajectory with their owl-like gaze. It landed on the roof of the men’s public covenience, crashing through a skylight and forcing a gaggle of Hampstead’s finest Cottage Queens to bring a Right Royal Garden Party to a hurried conclusion.
The two policemen entered the toilets and surveyed the wreckage. The briefcase had exploded on landing, spilling its contents. There was nothing for it but to gather up the sodden documents and dry them with their hankies.
The documents included the title deeds to countless thousand hectares of tropical forest in Brazil, and a receipt for many many millions of pounds.