[This story was written as part of a fundraising drive for ResonanceFM, and broadcast today on Hooting Yard On The Air. Listeners were invited, in return for a donation, to provide a sentence, a phrase, a string of words or a name which was then incorporated into the text. A list of those who so generously handed over their cash follows at the end.]
Now, it has been pointed out to me more than once that I am hardly qualified to talk about extreme weather conditions, as the only weather we get at Hooting Yard is rain, sometimes torrential, sometimes a drizzle, and this is true. What my critics fail to note is that, ensconced in a cabin somewhere over by Blister Lane Bypass, we have a superb forecaster. I speak, of course, of Little Severin, the Mystic Badger. When it comes to predicting the weather, Little Severin is second to none, not even to the BBCâ€™s magnificent Dan Corbett. If you have not watched Dan, visit Thatâ€™s The Weather For Now and be amazed. Little Severin the Mystic Badger has not yet been blessed with a fan site all his own, but it can only be a matter of time.
Before we go on, I want to make it absolutely plain that there is neither a jot nor scintilla of truth in the rumours that have been flying around. Little Severin did not pass through the catflap to the afterlife. In any case, he would have eschewed a catflap and sought a more appropriate badgerflap. Flaps for badgers, and indeed for stoats, pigs, wild hogs, otters and curlews, some of which are flaps to the afterlife and some not, are easily available, for example from Zip Nolanâ€™s Flappery in Basoonclotshire. (That spelling is correct, as the name of the shire derives from basins, not from bassoons.)
Little Severinâ€™s method of weather divination is simple yet brilliant. He is not known as the Mystic Badger for nothing. At various times of day or night, he emerges from his cabin and scrubbles around in the muck, like badgers do. Then he goes back indoors. Voila! Those able to read the omens and portents of his scrubbling know whether tomorrow will bring rain, downpour, or drizzle, and not only that, for Little Severin can predict more than just the weather. Few people are aware that he forecast both the Cod Wars between
It is the mysticism which so upset Braithwaite, the one-time bus-seat companion of Clytemnestra Duggleby. It was Braithwaite, with his pipe, his face, his cheese, his keys, his rissoles, his cup, his roll-on-roll-off rim-fire thiamin, and that lip on him, the lip and the sculptured boy-hair, Braithwaite who called into question the accuracy of Little Severin the Mystic Badgerâ€™s paw-scrubbling weather forecasts. But what did he know? As Clytemnestra Duggleby attested in court after the incident with the wheezing scrivener and the invalid postscript font, he spent most of his time slumped in front of the radio, like some antediluvian beast, listening distractedly to The Sagans, (or Les Sagans) a long-running serial about husband-and-wife team Carl and FranÃ§oise and their thrills, spills, window sills and gas bills as they bring up their papoose Boo Boo. The showâ€™s theme tune features the papoose Boo Boo singing â€œMeinen Mootzenzimmerâ€ backed by an orchestra of massed banjos and ducks with electronic implants. Clytemnestra hated the drama, but adored the music, and hummed it as she went about her many and various janitorial doings in the town aquarium. It was a submerged aquarium, hewn out of the geological strata underneath the abandoned zoo, and it was rife with weird tentacled aquatic beings (actual size) including squid. According to the aquarium guidebook, â€œSquids are mammals, just like plants and cloudsâ€, for the book had been compiled by Zip Nolan (he of the Flappery) in a break from writing his pot-boiler series of animal-flap related thrillers such as Creepy Raoul And The Partridgeflap, Creepy Raoul And The Beeflap (serialised in Harpy magazine), and the million-selling Creepy Raoul And The Ineffable Mystery Of The Pentecostalist Cormorantflap, which famously begins â€œRendered placid by the sickening stifle, this cumbersome vision of Britney lolled like some spastic hound, a revolutionary Lolita trying in vain to calm my wayward reflexesâ€. Quite why Zip accepted the commission to compile the guidebook is as much a mystery as one of his thrillers, for he was no lover of waterworld â€“ and I am not talking about the Kevin Costner film. Zip was a dry land sort of person, so much so that he avoided ponds and puddles, and made daily treks all the way from his Flappery in Basoonclotshire to consult with Little Severin The Mystic Badger about the weather, the weather, the weather.
[Those who donated money to help save ResonanceFM, and whose suggested words appear in â€œIce Chaosâ€ are, in alphabetical order: Pansy Cradledew, William English (on behalf of Fotheringay), C J Halo Goat Luncheon (anagram), aka John â€˜Alcohol Nutâ€™ Cage (also an anagram), Sandra Harris,
NOTE : The episode of Hooting Yard On The Air including this story has been given an early podcast release. Go to the podcast archive to listen or download.