Geoff Chambers' magnum opus on life behind the scenes in the green movement continues to a fifth instalment, featuring investigative reporter George Moonbat:
“How are the bonsais?” asked George, in order to break the silence, and peering into the freezer chest where Briffa’s collection of miniature Siberian larches twisted vainly towards the sunlight.
“Whitherin’, replied Briffa, whitheringly. “Whitherin’ nicely, thank ‘ee.”
“Mind you,” he added after a pregnant pause, “There’s one o’ them I sampled t’other day, got a ring on it like a donkey’s bum’ole. Think I might write up to that Nature magazine about it. With a photograph.”
“What fertilizer do you use?” asked George, eager to change the subject. Briffa’s colourful imagery was blending disturbingly with his recent vision of Miranda leading him up the garden path.
“Yuman Yurine”, replied Briffa, “They likes an acid soil.”
“You mean, you – pee on them?” asked George.
“Not directly, of course,” replied Briffa, seemingly offended that he could be suspected of such crude behaviour. “I empties the bucket there behind the door from toime to toime.”
“Mind you,” he added, “I ‘ad that Guardian journalist chap Ben Goldacre in ‘ere once. He tried the direct approach, peed right on them. Lid of the chest came down. Bang! Caught his delingpole a terrific whack!” He broke into a chuckle, which died away in a fit of wheezes and coughs.
George laughed nervously. “I bet that’s the last time anyone tried that trick!” he ventured.
“Funny you should say that,” said Briffa, “Only the other week I ‘ad that writer chap, Ian McEwan in ‘ere…”