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« More soft totalitarianism | Main | Not right, not right at all - Josh 189 »

Howling at the moonbat

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…”


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Reader Comments (25)

'The lid on the chest came down.'

Oh, Snap!

Nov 25, 2012 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter

Seems rather crude - and utterly irrelevant: why is this here?

Nov 25, 2012 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan E

Oh come on Ian E - One can't be serious all the time. If you took the current state of idiocy and green troughing seriously all the time you would get quite depressed.

I had a good few laughs yesterday - it made me feel better - some of it was at my own expense even.

Nov 25, 2012 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered Commenterretireddave

Ian E doesn't know his Climategate very well, there's an e-mail asking if Briffa's sure that "The One Tree" didn't get its growth spurt due to a reindeer crapping by it!

Nov 25, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

Pure Bronte,
Loved it.

Nov 25, 2012 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterLevelGaze

Anyone who’s looked at the cross section of a Siberian larch or bristlecone pine will recognise Briffa’s description as being perfectly accurate. (of course, that’s only a few hundred dendrologists and a few thousand climate sceptics, but maybe others will have their curiosity aroused and check it out).
Incidentally, anyone noticed how the well-known photo of Dr Mann posing alongsided a dendro sample tends to support the observation about owners growing to resemble their pets?)

Nov 25, 2012 at 11:46 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Funny :) Can someone explain to a non-native, what Briffa's accent is referring to?

“I empties the bucket there behind the door from toime to toime.”

“That’ll be noine point noine below, then,” said Briffa, satisfied. “They likes it chilly up there in the Yamal,” he said.

Nov 25, 2012 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJean S

Jean S, that is mummerset, the fake accent london-based actors use to imitate someone from the backwoods when they can't actually do the accent. It is based on the accent of the south-west of england, Somerset to give an approximate area. English/British accents can be amazingly localised and mystify most of us. As a non-native, you re not even supposed to understand. We have it for the Irish too. Stage Irish bears no relation to how anybody speaks.

Are there equivalents in other countries? I'm sure there must be.

Nov 25, 2012 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda Klapp

Contextual translation for Jean S:

In olden times (arrr) houses may not have had indoor lavatories, so the bucket would have to suffice, emptied 'from time to time'.

'Noine point noine below' would be -9.9C, so definitely on the chilly side.

Rhoda's right about regional accents. When I first went up to university I stepped into a lift to go up to the admin offices to collect my grant cheque. The chap in the lift asked me what floor I wanted, and I said "Third floor please". That was enough for him to make a guess that I was from Neath. He was wrong, but only by about 10 miles!

Nov 25, 2012 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

You’re right about mummerset, and my apologies to East Anglians for any unintended offence. My knowledge of E Anglian accents is limited to recordings I used to own of singers like Sam Larner and Joseph Taylor (the latter from a recording made by Percy Grainger in 1899!) But of course it gets confused with the SW English accents I’m more familiar with.

Are there equivalents in other countries?
Germans seem quite happy to make fun of each others’ accents. The French, not. There’s a soap on French TV set in Marseille where everyone speaks perfect Parisian, with no attempt to imitate the distinctive local accent.

Nov 25, 2012 at 2:51 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Rhoda and Cumbrian Lad, thanks!

I have been travelling all over the English-speaking world. Some accents are easier to me to understand than others, but generally I feel one is capable of adapting to the local dialect quite fast. American dialects are in general easier for me probably due to fact I've spent quite a lot of time in (different parts of) the US and those are also what I most often hear (TV). Probably the hardest dialect I've encountered so far is the one in Glasgow that I visited a few years back. After a couple of pints in a local noisy pub I could swear people around me were speaking something close to German not English. :)

Nov 25, 2012 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJean S

Jean S, even the English find it almost impossible to understand the Glaswegians! I know a Glaswegian that has few teeth, and when he's had a few drinks it's almost impossible to understand a word he is saying.

Nov 25, 2012 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterSunGCR

Geoff - brilliant episode, well up to standard.

I've been meaning to mention though - I think Briffa is Maltese originally.

You might want to spice up the varmer Giles stuff with a few excitable hand gestures, followed by exclamations of "mur hudu f'sormok!" or "busli sorm!" .

Nov 25, 2012 at 4:48 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose


As a Lancashire lad I have no trouble with Glaswegian. I watched all the Rab C Nesbitt series!!!

Geoff Chambers

Don't feel bad - I read a novel recently (quite a treat as it is usually some non-fiction) and it was set
near Cambridge. The author wrote the plebs as people who pronounced "i" as "oi" throughout. And of course Brummies say "noine" as well.

Cumbrian Lad (I hope you don''t live in the bit of Cumbria that is really Lancashire)

About 30 years ago I came across a guy who got you to read one sentence of about 7 words (old age precludes remembering what it was) and he could determine where you were brought up. Straightaway he stated accurately in my case "Fylde coast of Lancashire" .

Nov 25, 2012 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterretireddave

Theres this clip on WUWT. Some little Girl girl doing a Science project on Global Warming.Shes got an electric fan And a watering can to illustrate extreme weather.She set fire to a couple of plastic dolls.

Thing is with all that flooding in the West Country they can put the Doll fires out.

All that money they spent on Wind Turbines they could have spent on Gated Dams Flood Defenses
Very disappointing for everyone massive and heating Electric Bill and it still rains like it always has.

Stop building on the Flood Plains Cant do that because population keeps going up Or else dig Overflow Tunnels and Pumping Stations next to the rivers.

Been having floods since Noah

Nov 25, 2012 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Caught his delingpole a terrific whack, if only!

Nov 25, 2012 at 6:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete

Jean S
I grew up from the age of 5 in Perthshire. When I started working in Stoke-on-Trent a Geordie from Ashington (a mining community north of Newcastle famous for Jackie Milburn and the Charltons) started on the same day. He wasn't going to change his accent for anybody, so for a while I had to act as a translator, as people from the potteries could understand my Tayside Scots accent but couldn't make head nor tail of his Geordie. I guess he got bored of not being understood outside work and gradually softened his accent

Nov 25, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Re Jean S

Try this

Nov 25, 2012 at 7:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Atomic Hairdryer
I downloaded the Mac version of your app, but, as with every app I ever downloaded, can't make it work. Pity. I like the idea of a crowd-sourced work of litrachur

Nov 25, 2012 at 10:14 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Jean S,
The West-Country accent described is not wholly dissimilar to what many would imagine is the "international pirate accent", though some may disagree. Arrrghhh.

There are instructional courses available.

Nov 26, 2012 at 12:13 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

@ Nov 25, 2012 at 2:54 PM | Jean S


just kidding from a scot Jean (talking fast seems to be a scottish trait).

as to moonbat he should for ever be remebered for his 10 card post (just rewatched his take down re glacier loss/gain with x), dont let him worm his way out, as he his now trying to do.

Nov 26, 2012 at 1:32 AM | Unregistered Commenterdougieh

I can manage sober Glaswegian OK, through years of training via Taggart. But even slightly drunken Glaswegian is all Gaelic to me.

Nov 26, 2012 at 3:09 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna


" (talking fast seems to be a scottish trait)."

When it's brass monkey weather up there, talking fast sounds like a good survival strategy ;-)

Nov 26, 2012 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterSunGCR


A sober Glaswegian accent is one thing, but garlic just complicates things.

Nov 26, 2012 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterSunGCR

A lot of in jokes here. For the last bit, you have to have read Ian McEwan's book Solar. And for one of the earlier paragraphs (not quoted here) you need to know that some of Adam Corner's "research" involved getting his own almost entirely female psychology students to fill in a questionnaire. And Alex said he liked the 'Melincourt reference' which means nothing to me!

Nov 26, 2012 at 12:46 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

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