Tag: floods

Questions Asked

                                                                                  Answers Promised

There are those who believe the recent floods in Bafflesby may have a significance outside the town boundary. One of these is our own trainee reporter, Jason Wildgoose, who has put in many unpaid hours to investigate what he calls ‘the wider picture’. So let us lay aside our beloved Bafflesby connection awhile and allow this eager young beaver his own moment of dam-building up in the hills.

The owners of this publication, Offshaw & Gonn Holdings Inc, wish it to be known that they do not necessarily endorse any of the views expressed in this article.

I followed the turbulent waters of the River Baffle to its source in the Bareback Hills where the old hunting, shooting and fishing traditions are proving ever-more lucrative in the global leisure economy. Grouse-moor owner Lord Byrd-Schott was quick to contest claims that his practice of burning vegetation and digging drainage ditches had caused water to run off his land more quickly.

“If these climate-change crackpots had to run a business,” his lordship told me while cleaning a huge shotgun, “they’d go bust in no time. My clients are busy people with international perspectives. They don’t want to hang around in the pouring rain while the grouse play peekaboo in the bushes. And try bagging a brace of birds, young feller-me-lad, with your wellies stuck fast in a swamp. I don’t think so.”


His neighbour, landowner Sir Filbert de Fleece, can trace his family back to the Norman Conquest but there the trail goes cold. He was contemptuous about European proposals for planting forests on upland fells to retain rainwater.

“What these tree-huggers won’t understand,” he bleated into the mic on my new Smartphone, “is that my tenant farmers are wool-shearers, not wood-shepherds. The last thing we need in this country are boffins from Brussels coming over here and telling us what to do. Besides, we’ve not had trees up this way since the Middle Ages.”

I had a sudden thought. Surely such a staunch supporter of old country traditions would be interested in this short video-clip about a successful flood-prevention scheme in North Yorkshire?

Sir Filbert watched the film in silence but when I asked an apparently innocent question his stormy reaction, as this transcript of my recording shows, came as a complete surprise.

  • So is it time to bring back the old skills, do you think?
  • Listen, son, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks … or old tricks … er, old skills, I mean  … well, new to him, that is … are you with me?
  • You could teach him to fetch sticks … or plant them.
  • What I want to know is who is going to pay for him … er, them to be re-trained? This isn’t just a walk in the woods, you know!
  • It’s tree surgery, not brain surgery …
  • Are you trying to be funny?
  • Horticulture, not rocket science …
  • Damn it all, you snotty little whelp, get off my land!

His meaning, so far as I could tell, was that no money could be made by mediaeval methods unless it came from the government. I obviously needed advice from the experts and when I got my breath back after running down the farm track, I dialled the next number on my list.



  • Is that the environment agency?
  • Er, yes …
  • This is Jason Wildgoose from the Bafflesby Bugle. I was wondering if –
  • We’re not making any press statements until the chairman comes back from the Seychelles.
  • To whom am I speaking?
  • This is Faschia Burble. How may I help?
  • I’ve just watched a lovely little film about traditional approaches to flood prevention in North Yorkshire.
  • Oh, the Pickering Pilot Scheme …
  • Yes, I was wondering if you could comment.
  • Well, we’re all for pilot schemes.
  • Splendid … so is there any chance of this one being rolled out across the nation?
  • Er … subject to rigorous independent scientific scrutiny … perhaps.
  • Perhaps?
  • Well, possibly.
  • Only possibly?
  • Have you any idea, Mr Mongoose, how much these science firms charge for their services?
  • An arm and a leg?
  • We’re still paying for them to finish finding out about bee collapse.
  • Really?
  • And don’t get me started on genetically-modified crops!
  • OK.
  • Between you and me, they’ve kicked that one into the long grass.
  • Right … unnaturally long grass?
  • I’m not competent to say anything about the science.
  • It was a joke. I’m more interested in the floods.
  • I  wouldn’t call flooding a joke, sir. From what I’ve seen, the waters have risen to Biblical proportions. Are you a Bible reader, by any chance?
  • Well, it’s not at the top of my reading list, but I –
  • Which of us can know the why and wherefore of it, sir, much less the who and when?
  • Sorry?
  • No need to apologise. We are all to blame at some point down the line. Though some more than others, in my humble opinion.
  • Tell me more, tell me more!
  • Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. I will say no more than this world is awash with heathen ways. Still, mum’s the word. No names, no pack-drill. And don’t rock a leaky boat.
  • A wet bird never flies at night.
  • What?
  • No, wet
  • Oh, wet … yes, we can only pray it stops raining.
  • Is that the official policy?
  • What?
  • Pray it stops raining?
  • Er, well, we are waiting for the chairman to get back from the Seychelles.
  • Perhaps he’ll bring the sun with him …
  • I can’t comment on his travel arrangements. Is there anything else you need help with today?
  • Everything, really, though I doubt whether you’d be much use.
  • Thank you for your call. This answering service has been provided by Ear Line, a subsidiary of Offshaw & Gonn Holdings Inc. Goodbye.

Feeling a little dissociated, I needed to plant my feet on solid ground. First, however, I had to paddle a small dinghy through the waterlogged roads of Bafflesby Business Park in search of a company that would welcome new – or perhaps old – ways of improving flood protection.


In fine drizzle I shouted into several locked industrial premises and was eventually rewarded when an old man waded across a factory yard and regarded me warily through a padlocked gate.  I pressed Record and prayed my Wi-Fi waterproofing was working.

  • Flooded out, are you?
  • Cleared out, mate, twelve month ago last Friday.
  • Did you take note of advance weather warnings?
  • You could say that. The holding company what took us over saw which way the wind were blowing, so to speak, and wound down the business.
  • You went into liquidation?
  • Haha, sir, that’s very droll under the circumstances! You could’ve cheered us up no end last year, when we was all give the elbow.
  • You’re still working, though …
  • I got took on by the security firm. It’s an offshoot of the holding company, as it happens. Wheels within wheels, you might say. It’s who you know, nowadays. Your face fits, you’re laughing.
  • Holding company?
  • Offshaw & Gonn.
  • Goodness, they’re my employers!
  • Join the club, sunshine. Turns out they own most of Bafflesby. First in line for any government flood compensation, of course, though they don’t pay no UK taxes. Last thing I heard, they was buying up grouse moors.
  • Not much point asking my next question, then …
  • Whassat?
  • Would you be happy to pay a business tax to fund new flood prevention meth –

At this point I dropped my Smartphone into the water. Turns out they’re not waterproof. Still, I won’t be needing it now that I’ve lost my job in Offshaw & Gonn’s latest economy drive. And at least now I can spend my unpaid days at home, out of the wet. Swings and roundabouts, as they say.

Offshaw & Gonn have decided to overlook the downbeat tone of this article because it features some useful examples of product placement. They have no comment to make on redundancy, blood sports, asset stripping, global warming, tax avoidance or indeed any other issue arising from its publication.


Baffle Bursts Banks

                                  On-The-Spot Flood Special From Our Helicopter Team


Much of Bafflesby is underwater today after weather conditions described by an official source as “exceptional and unprecedented” caused the River Baffle to overflow in what locals say is now an annual event. When asked why the department of forecasting science had been axed in the austerity cuts, an Environment spokesperson said: “Nobody could have predicted this.”

Mobile-phone footage sold to the media by distraught residents has brought the rising floodwater into millions of homes nationwide. One dramatic clip captured the moment a newspaper reporter asked for a house-owner’s reaction:

… (sound of rushing water) … “So how does it feel to watch the river swirling up your garden, pouring through your back door, streaming through your lovely home and ruining all your gorgeous furnishings and precious family keepsakes?” … (sound of lachrymose sobbing) …

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. One enterprising organisation has managed to turn tragedy into triumph. Shard & Froyd Travel Tours Inc. has taken the plunge where others shiver on the side, bringing a cascade of visitors to the most severely flooded areas where they can experience all the torment and misery at second-hand. “There’s always somebody worse off than you,” said Hugo Smirke of hilltop village Upper Crustleigh, “and this is a welcome break from campaigning against wind farms.” The tour company said the catastrophe had come in the nick of time. “To be honest,” said their spokesperson, “it’s a case of sink or swim. Luxury travel has been in the doldrums since the recession. After this deluge, we’re home and dry.”


The firm who built many of the swamped estates was Floodplain Fabrications Limited Liability Company. They declined to comment and told us to contact Bafflesby and District Council who had put the land out to building tender. No council spokespersons were available but an automated message referred us to the national government agency that originally approved planning permission. The only person actually authorised to comment was the head of the agency but he was still on holiday in the Seychelles and pending his return we were advised to check back with Floodplain Fabrications that they had adhered to official guidelines.


Back in Bafflesby, confused residents awaited the arrival of a swat-team of junior government ministers on an urgent fact-finding mission.  A rain-soaked crowd perched on duckboards in the town square, all eyes peeled for the ministerial convoy. The cry went up but cheers turned to jeers as fingers were pointed across the still-swollen River Baffle at the politicians and their frantically-phoning aides – 20 minutes later than promised – gazing down with apparent surprise at the impassable wreckage of the town bridge.


Their reset SatNav route took a further 20 minutes, by which time most residents had wearily resumed their property reclamation leaving a few stragglers to heckle the motorcade. The ministers leaped from their cars, donned brightly-coloured protective-wear and began to point in all directions with expressions of decisive intent and looks of pained empathy. Another mobile-phone recording captures the responses of one minister to inquiries from disgruntled bystanders:

” … and so at the end of the day, madam, when push came to shove it boiled down to hard choices and I have it on unimpeachable authority that allowing Bafflesby to flood in order to save Nobsford made perfect economic sense under the circum … (muffled interruption) … well, yes, Bafflesby does have more homes than Nobsford but when you consider market value it’s crystal clear that … (muffled interruption) … ah, yes, I see where you’re coming from but … (muffled interruption) … no, madam, what I meant was that I understand your point of view but we have to consider the British taxpayer in every … (muffled interruption) … oh well, sir, as a Nobsford taxpayer you will certainly appreciate your brand-new state-of-the-art high-water flow-containment spill-proof flood-barriers … (muffled interruption) … dear me, flooded too, you say … well, let’s not forget we’ve had exceptional and unprecedented weather conditions and I’m sure your flood defences performed brilliantly right up until the point where they failed … “

Here water penetration appears to bring the recording to an abrupt end.

Coming Soon

We seek answers to the key questions – why, what, where, when and who?