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Posts Tagged humour

Barry Brill and Anonymous: U R A Fraud Gareth Renowden Jul 22

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People send me things. Brightening my email inbox last week was a pithy little email, headed U r a fraud. It didn’t have much to say. Here it is, in its entirety, exactly as it appeared:

Please take down your posts about barry brill or Anonymous may have to

Make some “unauthorized” changes to your shitty website.

I had to laugh. Barry Brill — the man who formed a charitable trust in order to avoid the financial consequences of a failed legal action against the New Zealand temperature record — must have some very strange friends1. The idea that hacktivists like Anonymous would side with Brill and his climate crank pals against climate reality strikes me as drawing a very long bow — but there are certainly hackers for hire in Russia and China who might be prepared to repeat their efforts against the Climatic Research Unit’s email servers2 in order to take down this little web site. But who would fund that? Not Brill, I’m sure. He’s too busy taking the Heartland shilling, campaigning hard for a worse future for the world, and avoiding payment of court-ordered costs.

Meanwhile, I shall watch my server logs with interest (but I won’t be holding my breath, and certainly won’t be removing any posts about Brill).

[Sheer Heart Attack]

  1. Indeed, he does – as shown by his attendance at the recent Heartland-funded climate crank networking event in Las Vegas, where he rubbed shoulders with all the luminaries of the crank pantheon, from Monckton to Don Easterbrook.
  2. aka the so-called Climategate hack.

How to become a climate change denier (in 4 easy steps) Gareth Renowden Apr 24

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Cakeburgerdenial

Cartoon drawn by Joshua Cakeburger Drummond as a contribution to the High Water Project, and rooted in bitter experience, I suspect…

A lot of hot air: High Water group confronts climate change through comedy Gareth Renowden Mar 15

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Auckland will go on without us

This guest post is by Damon Keen, one of the founders of new creative group High Water. Artwork by Lei Wen. If I were in Auckland, I would certainly be in the Classic Comedy Bar this Thursday…

The election is now firmly on the horizon, and despite a raft of extreme weather events globally, reporting and discussion about climate change seems to be quieter than ever.

That’s why a small group of artists and myself have decided to stop sitting on our hands and try to do something about it. We’ve set up a new group called High Water – to get creatives producing art and performance about climate change. And we’re kicking things off with a comedy night – focused entirely on our impending weathery doom!

We’ve convinced some fantastic comedians to get involved, including Michele A’Court (Female Comedian of the Decade 2010) and Jeremy Elwood (Best MC 2007), Mark Scott, Tim Batt and Maarten Idema. The show, named Hot Air, will run at the Classic Comedy Bar on Queen Street, Auckland on Thursday, March 20th.

Comedy might seem like a strange approach to such a daunting issue, but hopefully it’s a new way to broach the subject and get people talking about it again.

That’s why we want to do something different from what everyone else is doing. Artists – be they musicians, performers, designers, photographers, illustrators, or film makers – are natural communicators, and like many people are more and more anxious about the complete lack of progress on global warming. Our hope is that by creating a new platform for them to work with, we can find new ways to cut through the apathy and get climate change back onto the public agenda.

We have a number of projects planned for the year, including a climate change poster competition, a hard cover comic anthology and a play. But our first event is Hot Air – and hopefully creatives, greenies – and everyone else – will come along to find out more about the collective – and have a good laugh while they’re at it.

Find out more about High Water at:

www.facebook.com/highwaternz

www.twitter.com/highwaternz

Tickets for for Hot Air here:
http://www.eventbrite.co.nz/e/hot-air-comedy-night-tickets-10613157239

Denial Tango 2014 Gareth Renowden Dec 27

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Here’s a new recording by Aussie group Men With Day Jobs of their climate classic The Denial Tango, accompanied by a rather striking video. Men With Day Jobs are Rod Crundwell, Stafford Sanders and Kim Constable (from left to right in the pix in the video) and their new album “Deep in Denial” is due for release early next year.

I’d go with Tony Abbott, It’s just a load of crap

This round-the-world disaster is an evil greedy trap

‘Cause everybody knows the world is flat

I posted the full lyrics back in 2011

Monckton and the big waka Gareth Renowden Apr 25

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Monckton tried to blink. His eyes were gritty and he could barely focus on the scribbled formulae on the pad before him — his crucial contribution to the redesign of Britain’s nuclear deterrent. The tiny screen of his Osborne transportable computer blinked lazily at him. His back was sore. The air in No 10 was very dry, and there was a racket going on outside the Cabinet Room. It sounded as if the functionaries were running every vacuum cleaner in Whitehall over the new dark blue carpets the blessed Margaret had installed. The scruffy red shagpile left by Callaghan was in a skip in Downing Street, and the Laird was glad to see the back of it. He was rather pleased with the shade he’d chosen, and even happier that Margaret had liked it. The shining light of modern conservatism entered the room, her bright halo and blue crimplene dress throwing a magical illumination onto the oak panelling. She strode to Monckton’s side and put her hand on his shoulder. A frisson of almost erotic excitement coursed down his spine and disappeared down a trouser leg. He dressed to the right.

“Chris. Wake up.” He opened his eyes and the recurring dream turned into the stuff of nightmare. The whiskery face of Bryan “British” Leyland, his devoted minder on this barnstorming tour of New Zealand, leered beerily into his face. Every bump of the ageing Toyota ute brought Leyland’s face ever closer to the Laird’s nose. He recoiled, elegantly.

“You feeling alright?” Leyland asked. “You were looking a bit peaky, and moaning.”

“Fine, thank you,” Monckton sighed deeply. “How far to the next barn?” He was becoming rather fed up with the succession of shearing sheds he was being required to storm. Bloody smelly places, acrid with sheep piss and stale shit, and bereft of decent chairs.

“Not far. Bit more than a barn this time. You wait. I’ll tell Henderson to step on it.” Leyland’s face cracked into what passed for a smile in NZ climate sceptic circles.

Up on the back of the ute Scrotum, Monckton’s wrinkled retainer, clung on to the roll bar for dear life, legs akimbo, bracing himself against the brutal bumps delivered by the rutted rural track they were hurtling along. The wind whistled past his large ears, and what was left of his silver mane streamed out behind him. Leyland’s dog, a miniature poodle with a shaved head called Rodney1, normally a restrained and refined little thing, was channeling every huntaway it had ever sniffed and barking blue murder. The wrinkled retainer gave it a swift kick, but it wouldn’t shut up. Two weeks of travelling down the length of New Zealand had woken atavistic memories in its tiny brain. They’d had to pull it off Gibbs when it had fastened its teeth into his crotch at the wine and sculpture party, and that tedious bearded scrivener had looked none too pleased when it had pissed on his winklepickers at the Auckland yacht club.

The ute pulled up outside a long, low, undeniably stylish stone building, a relic of the days when young British men came to New Zealand to sow their wild oats and make a fortune off the sheep’s back. Some who got it the wrong way round were forced to stay, and went on to lay the foundations of New Zealand conservatism. Dunleavy was at the door, waving a bottle of red wine and a glass. Monckton jumped down from the ute, instructed Scrotum to set up the laptop and projector, and walked unsteadily over to the grinning doyenne of NZ wine journalism.

“Gidday, Chris. Enjoy the ride?”

Monckton smiled wearily, and took the proffered glass. “What’s this stuff, Terry?”

“Waitaki pinot noir2. Limestone country, cool climate. Going to be the next Burgundy, if we can stop the wallabies eating the grapes.”

“Wallabies?” Monckton started, and looked around nervously.

“Local pest,” said Dunleavy. “Not going to bother us tonight, though. Much too shy.”

***

Monckton cantered through his usual repartee, carefully tailored to the local market, honed and refined by weeks of constant repetition. Slides came and slides went — there were even a few stifled laughs at his witticisms. Gone were the Gillard and Flannery jokes of his Australian tour, replaced by elegant barbs about Salinger, NIWA and the Greens. The elderly audience looked suitably horrified when he told them that Helen Clark was plotting to have them all rounded up and placed in concentration camps on Waiheke Island, and there were none of the dreadful Green Nazi youth pretending to be the Flat Earth Society hanging around the door tootling on strange instruments to upset proceedings. Their dress sense was terrible. Almost as bad as the audience’s.

The Laird had prepared carefully for this trip. Leyland had assured him that his fans would be dressed in moleskins, so Scrotum had perforce spent a muddy few months hunting moles around the stately lawns of old England until sufficient skins had been assembled to make a serviceable pair of trousers. He cut a fine dash in them, Monckton thought, stroking the fur clinging to his shapely thigh before taking the stage at his first gig in Matakana. There was some laughter, but no sign of mole skins anywhere. Dull brown trousers and check shirts, yes. He’d been set up, he decided, and it took the best part of a week before Leyland could calm him down. Eventually, Scrotum had suggested that he should write a letter of complaint to the purveyors of said “moleskins”, Messrs Rodd, Cannon and Ball, pointing out that they were in breach of the trade descriptions legislation, and that if they did not immediately cease the misuse of the proper name of old mouldywarp, Talpa europaea, in relation to nondescript, if admittedly hard-wearing trousers much beloved of the farming communities of New Zealand, he would bring an action for consumer fraud, and possibly lay a complaint with the police.

***

Scrotum sipped at a glass of wine and looked up at the splendid array of stars arching from coast to distant alp. Inside the hall, the Laird was waxing lyrical about world government and ponds in Wagga Wagga. A gentle vibration at his hip jerked him from his revery.

“Yes. OK. On the island. Not tonight?” Plans were being rearranged. The New Zealand climate science cabal, controlled by the infamous triumvirate of Boston, Frame and Renwick3 were plotting a special send off for the Laird.

Applause echoed across the valley. Monckton stepped out of the hall, snatched Scrotum’s glass and downed the wine in an eager gulp. A big old harvest moon was rising above the ridge behind the grand shed. The man in the moon was upside down, he reflected, running through some astronomical calculations in his head, stopping only when he’d disproved the theory of gravity and became nervous about falling off the planet.

Silhouetted against the orange orb was a row of bouncing marsupials, looking cross. The Laird coughed up the wine, gave a little scream, and ran back indoors.

***

Te waka-a-Brash was bobbing at its mooring in Bluff harbour. The southwesterly wind was whipping at little waves, make them froth and foam in excitement at the gale to come. Scrotum watched from the shore, guarding the Laird’s fashionably battered leather luggage, hand-sewn from red deer hides sustainably harvested by his grandfather4. On the back of the yacht, a tall, bald-headed old man greeted the dinghy with a merry wave. The Laird looked a little pale, Scrotum thought, as the curse of hereditary seasickness struck his master. Monckton erupted explosively all over Brash’s trousers, but still managed to scramble onto the transom without getting his spats wet.

The sail over to Stewart Island was… exciting. Brash cut a fine figure in his yellow souwester and smock, gimlet eyes peering into the spume whistling past the bow as his spatulate hands kept the great silver wheel under control. Leyland, Dunleavy and Henderson had joined the Laird at the lee rail. All were being copiously and loudly sick.

“You’re OK, Scrotum?”, Brash asked. “Sailor, are you?” Scrotum thought he detected a note of admiration in the old banker’s voice.

“Brought up on boats, sir,” he said, “but don’t get out much these days.”

“Good stuff. This is going to be fun. This is the real thing. Blue water, big wind, none of that Hauraki Gulf wine and wheezy-breezy nonsense. Out here it’s man, man’s man, and ocean.” He started singing a shanty of great vulgarity. Scrotum made his apologies and retired below to fry some bacon rinds for the Laird.

***

The swell dropped away as Te waka-a-Brash swept in towards Oban. Monckton recovered his composure within minutes.

“Oban, eh!”, he pronounced triumphantly. “I’ll bet none of you buggers have been to the real Oban, in Scotland, bonny Scotland, where men in kilts eat haggis and deep-fried Mars bars.”

“Sounds like Dunedin,” said Henderson grimly. “They’re all called Jock there.”

“Sad excuse for an Oban if you ask me,” the Laird continued. “Where’s the ferry to Tobermory and Tiree? Where’s the Bank of Scotland and the granite-clad walls of the Bonny Prince Charlie pub?” He sniffed, and wiped a tear from his eye.

Scrotum took Monckton gently by the elbow and sat him down in the cockpit. “Won’t be long now, sir. We’re staying in the pub over there.”

“Fine place,” said Brash. “Full of stout menfolk who know the meaning of liberty, fraternity and the price of fish. It’s going to be a fun few days.”

***

Brash touched a button, and rusty chain spooled out of a hatch on the deck and splashed into the turquoise water. Leyland, who had been reading the collected works of Fred Singer on a beanbag in the bow, was taken so much by surprise that he had to retire to the poop (as he called the blunt end) to recover. As the anchor bit into the white sand full fathom five below the keel, Te waka-a-Brash swung round in the wind and settled down to quietly ride the swell. Surf crashed on the white sand beach behind them, and the bush clad slopes of the little island glistened as the night’s rain dried off in the insistent, interminable, damnable breeze.

Monckton thrust his head out of the cabin and looked around. “What’s this place, Don?”

Codfish Island. Great fishing spot, good beaches, plenty of parrots.”

“Parrots?” The Laird looked uncomfortable.

“Kakapo. Ground parrots. Parrots that think they’re rabbits. Very rare. This is their last refuge, paid for by the long-suffering NZ taxpayer. Terrible waste of money, if they can’t cut it in the modern world they should be allowed to…”

“What Don’s trying to say,” Dunleavy interrupted, “is that the Department of Conservation is so strapped for cash that we’ve been able to slip the DG a wodge of used notes and got permission to take a few trophies, if you get my drift…” The wink transformed his roseate face into a grotesque leer.

“I’ve got the taxidermist all lined up,” said Henderson eagerly.

“Lets go stick it to the Green fascist conservationists,” Leyland urged excitedly, a gleam in his eye and a .22 in his hand.

***

The parrot hunt wasn’t going well. Every time they got sight of one of the pudgy green birds poking its head out of a burrow, a nonchalant DOC warden would emerge from the bush, and apologise profusely for spoiling their fun. It was a full two hours before Brash was able to line up a shot, but all he succeeded in doing was winging a foreign volunteer camouflaged as a flax bush.

Monckton was finding it all a bit boring, and had taken to carving crude lettering on to tree trunks. He was on his third UKIP when a loud toot rang through the forest gloom. The sceptic troupe immediately stood up, dusted themselves down and started back to the beach.

“What’s going on?”, Monckton asked, struggling to keep up as Brash bounded over fallen trees with gay abandon.

“Lunch,” Dunleavy replied. “Barry’s brought it round from the pub. Can’t hunt on an empty stomach.”

When the little party regained the beach, they found a second boat bobbing in the bay. A fire had been lit on the beach, and NZ’s senior climate inactivist was busying himself by frying fish. Camp chairs had been arranged in a circle, bottles of finest sauvignon blanc were chilling in an ice bucket, and a picnic hamper stood ready to disgorge crusty bread and pickles. Monckton plonked himself in a chair. Dunleavy handed him a glass of wine, and Brill passed him a plate of sizzling fillets. Things were looking up.

“This fish is good,” the Laird said, his mouth full.

“It’s brill,” said Barry.

“No. You’re Brill. What’s the fish?”

“The fish is brill,” the verbose old lawyer snapped.

“You’re a fish?”

Monckton was confused. Scrotum refilled his glass from a fresh bottle of Cloudy Bay, then retired to the edge of the bush, consulted his watch and sat down to survey the horizon to the north.

***

It had been a most excellent lunch, a welcome respite after the Laird’s grand tour of the land of the long white cloud. Sitting round the driftwood fire the men began to tell tales of their great battles against the global climate conspiracy. Monckton entertained them with the story of the night when Bast and the Heartland team, after rather too much bourbon at Bankroll Barry’s expense, had accidentally set fire to the pool table at Fred Singer’s secret Kennebunkport lair. Brill bored them all with a recounting of his interminable legal fight against warming in New Zealand, but British Leyland saved the day by singing the Ballad of the Lonesome Pine5 in his quavering tenor. As the last rousing chorus of Hang the Mann, hang the Mann, hang the Mann slowly, drew to a close, a strange rhythmic chanting could just be heard over the sussuration of the surf sucking on the sand. Around the headland to the east a long narrow canoe appeared, being paddled furiously by a dozen or more people, all yelling in time as their paddles splashed.

“What the hell’s that?” asked Monckton.

“Maori war canoe, a big waka.” said Dunleavy tersely. “God knows what it’s doing down here.”

“Maybe the tourist board have laid it on for our honoured guest,” Leyland offered, spotting the nervous glint in the Laird’s eye.

“Scrotum! Bring me my stab-proof vest and pith helmet immediately.” Monckton jumped to his feet, but his manservant was nowhere to be seen.

From his vantage point just inside the forest, Scrotum smiled, and set the video camera to record.

***

The elaborately carved prow of the waka ran up on to the beach, the staring eyes of a huge carved Polynesian Wratt6 looking fiercely down on the sceptic band. Scrotum recognised some of the faces of the paddlers. That was Salinger in the bow, his yarmulke looking a little out of place amongst the moko and full body tattoos of his fellow scientists. Frame was brandishing a mere of finest pounamu, his tongue extended so prodigiously in challenge that it almost reached his chest. Renwick was crouched over baring his bottom at the beach, while Hunter, Mullen and Manning were leaping up and down shouting incomprehensible imprecations. Boston was taking notes in the Stern, the sun glinting off the terrible shapes tattooed on his pate, while the fearsome female climate fighters Robyn Malcolm and Xena the Warrior Princess shipped the paddles.

Within moments, the war party had jumped through the surf and formed a phalanx in front of Monckton and the coalitionists. Frame began a terrible yell, and the others began to beat their chests and arms and jump up and down.

“It’s a haka. A challenge, a welcome, a celebration. Nothing to be worried about,” Leyland hissed into the Laird’s ear.

“From where I’m standing, it bloody well is,” Monckton barked. He began to move backwards, pushing Leyland between him and the stomping warriors. The others held their ground, but their smiles were not entirely unforced.

The haka ended. Monckton’s backtracking turned into a full blown backwards sprint until he caught a heel on a piece of driftwood and collapsed into the sand. Leyland stood over the prostrate peer, his bearded chin thrust out and his arms crossed defiantly, but he was no match for Lawless and Malcolm. Within seconds they had him on the ground, gagged and trussed. Manning and Hunter threw a rope around Brash and the others, and tied them up into a sheaf of angry denial.

Frame and Renwick pulled Monckton upright and manhandled him roughly to the waka, where Salinger was waiting. Within minutes, the task force from the rational world were all aboard and the great canoe was heading out into the bay.

“Not my boat,” Brash cried. “Not my beautiful yacht.” Te waka-a-Brash had been scuttled by Salinger, and was settling down into the cold southern ocean.

Scrotum emerged from the bush, went over to Leyland and undid his gag.

“What was all that about?” Leyland asked. “Where are they taking him?”

“I have no idea,” Scrotum replied, “but I think he may be some time…”






Everything in this story is true, except the bits that aren’t. No endangered birds were harmed in the making of this tale. Stewart Island is not at all dangerous to visit. In fact, it’s a very nice place indeed, if you like rain, wind, fishing and NZ native flora and fauna.

This is the seventh tale in The Monckton Files.

Previous episodes:

Monckton & The Case Of The Missing Curry,

Mycroft Monckton Makes Mischief,

Something Potty In The State Of Denmark,

Monckton in Australia: Picnic at Hanging Sock.

A Carol for Monckton,

Monckton and the Mob.

  1. It can run, but it can’t Hide.
  2. Hot Topic strongly recommends the John Forrest Collection Waitaki pinot noir — absolutely nothing to do with any Dunleavy, and almost as good as the Limestone Hills pinot.
  3. More degrees than NZ vodka, and vicious when cornered.
  4. Affectionately known to the Tannochbrae staff as “Machine gun” Monckton because of his propensity for carrying an old Gatling gun when stalking stags on Rannoch Moor.
  5. Trad., arranged McIntyre and McKittrick.
  6. A mythical beast, brought with the first waka from Hawaiki.

Climate lulz: Rings around Antarctica Gareth Renowden Apr 16

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Two things made me laugh out loud today — great gusts of guffaws enough to wake the trufflehound from her slumbers. The first was a perfectly pitched piece of satire in the Southland Times, the second a reinvention of the ocean atmosphere interface by astrological long range weather forecaster Ken Ring. Both are worth your [...]

Prat watch #10: the ice age is here! Gareth Renowden Mar 20

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Forget all that nonsense about “no warming for 16 years”, to be a real sceptic these days you have to insist that the climate’s currently cooling. But why stop there? To show your real commitment to the coolist cause, you have to go BM (Beyond Monckton) and insist that the next ice age is descending [...]



[Get the full story at Hot Topic...]

Prat watch #9: Ring’s wrong again Gareth Renowden Mar 17

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New Zealand’s favourite astrologer, the self-appointed “long range weather forecaster” Ken Ring — who is wrong about everything — has not been having a good start to the year. He’s having trouble reconciling NZ’s record drought with the forecasts he’s been making. Here’s Ring on February 26th, in an opinion piece headlined Hang on farmers, rain is coming, published at Yahoo News:

So the question being asked is whether or not a drought is imminent. The answer is no.

Compare and contrast with this news report from Friday last (March 15th):

The entire North Island has been declared a drought zone this morning.

Every time anyone other than Ring takes a look at his forecasts, they are found to be useless1. But Ring is working hard to rewrite history to his advantage. His Yahoo News column was posted on Feb 26th, but the same article seems to have been posted to his website a few days earlier2. He’s revisited the piece, and added some notes in red attempting to justify his failed forecasts. But there’s one other change he’s made. Here it is:

So the question being asked is whether or not a lingering drought is imminent. The answer is no.

Of such little dishonesties are Ring successes made. He remains a charlatan, and is — as ever — wrong about everything.

  1. In January, the Greymouth Star noted:

    Self-proclaimed weather guru Ken Ring is wildly astray in his January predictions for the South Island hydro lakes region, in his 2013 weather almanac. His summary for January, based on lunar patterns, says “the driest regions for the South Island for January may be the hydro lakes”.

    But Environment Canterbury flood controller Tony Henderson said the 500mm of rain in the Waitaki and Rangitata river catchments over four days was “probably the most we’ve had over the summer in several decades”.

  2. The datestamp says Feb 22nd.

The last climate denier in New Zealand Gareth Renowden Nov 22

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My entry for the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Manhire Prize for science writing (in the fiction category), made the shortlist but didn’t win. My congratulations to Brian Langham for his story Fourteen [pdf] (and to Renee Liang for her winning non-fiction piece — Epigenetics: navigating our inner seas [pdf]). For the sake of posterity, here’s my little tear-jerker. Some might do well to remember that it is intended as satire.

The last climate denier in New Zealand slapped his battered old panama hat on to his balding head, adjusted the bulky wrap-around sunglasses over his bifocals and stepped out into the hot morning air. He groaned. His car, the last petrol V6 in the city — a classic, his wingèd American chariot made stationary by lack of fuel — slouched under a coat of red dust. Again. Some urchin child of an Aussie refugee had written “wash me, fossil fool” on the back. The letters were ill-formed and childlike. You could say the same for the parents, he thought. Could there be any soil left in Australia, now that so much of it was blowing over the Tasman to coat the city? Come to that, were there any Australians left in Australia? It didn’t seem like it. The rich ones had bribed their way in, bought big properties well inland and built mansions. The poor were huddling in their masses in the abandoned beachfront baches, camping out on the top floors when the spring tides lapped around the gardens, trooping inland with tents when storms brought waves washing through the eroding dunes to pound at their doors.

The dairy was only a hundred meters away on the street corner, but the heat was already beginning to beat up from the pavement and the tar on the road was tacky under his old leather sandals. He wished he hadn’t put his socks on. The sun struggled to cast shadows through the waves of wispy smoke spreading undulating fingers down from the alps and over the plains to the sea. More fires in Victoria, more refugees in boats heading east over the Tasman. There would be unpleasantness at the barricades on the West Coast beaches. He pulled a grubby handkerchief from the pocket of his baggy shorts, lifted his hat and wiped the sweat from his brow before it could burrow down through shaggy eyebrows and drip into his eyes.

Two youths sucked ice cream cones outside the dairy. They stared at him, passing the time with uninterested eyes. He pulled a carton of milk out of the fridge, paid the girl behind the counter, and set off for home.

***

He liked his tea hot and strong, a little splash of milk to tame the tannins that browned his teeth while the caffeine scared his thoughts into action. He took his second cup of the day into his little book-lined office and lifted the ageing ‘pad off the desk. The air conditioner creaked into life, and blessedly cool air began to trickle down to the scuffed old leather chair that was his workplace. He pulled his silver neck chain over his head, and plugged the data stick disguised as a St
Christopher into the ‘pad. His fingers began to chase arthritically after the dancing icons, but with the remnant dexterity of long practise he was quickly tunnelling his way through virtual networks and secret anonymising proxies to log in to the denier underground. It was time to do his duty, to play his small part in the continuing fight against the dark forces of totalitarianism and socialist environmentalism.

He flicked through the daily newsletter, looking at the talking points he was expected to post
under alarmist news items about weather disasters and sea level rise. It was his job to point out the facts — the real truth. It’s all a natural cycle. Nothing we can do about it. The cooling will come. It’s not carbon or coal or oil’s fault. It’s not our fault. It’s not my fault we’re all hurting. The denier trials in the Hague are a travesty, the victimisation of coal companies a rejection of capitalist freedoms. He felt his temper rise, the old rage flood back into his system. His motivation returned refreshed as it always did at this time of day. He tapped at the screen for an hour, pausing only for a pee and another cup of tea.

Lunchtime approached. The air conditioner struggled to cope with the heat, and the room was stuffy. His eyes unfocussed from the bright little images of floods in Europe and icebergs
cascading out from Greenland glaciers. His mind wandered back to the good old days when to be a climate sceptic was to wear a badge of right wing honour, when the force of a rapid fire of carefully calculated pseudo-scientific non-sequiturs could baffle people into inaction. Serious emissions cuts had become politically impossible. He smiled, remembering the days when MPs would stand up in Parliament and read the lies he’d written for them. His American friends, still the core of the dwindling movement, had made the world safe for fossil fuel companies for decades. It wasn’t their fault that the cooling hadn’t come, that some strange and unidentified wrinkle of solar physics had warmed the planet. It wasn’t fair that they’d had to hide themselves away in the new settlements in Greenland and Canada, that they had to cower in their beds at night fearing the knock on the door that would mean they’d been found by the climate gestapo. He wiped a tear from his eye, shook his head slowly, and pushed himself up out of the chair. He would feel better after something to eat.

***

He clambered off the biofuelled bus and began the slow walk up the hill towards the cemetery. As he climbed, the city opened up behind him — the hateful green city of low rise, low carbon buildings that was the legacy of the great quake. The afternoon tide was lapping at the steps of the pathetic cathedral, its cardboard walls already beginning to swell and distort. Over the foothills to the west and the plains to the south great towers of cumulus were marching steadily north, signalling a change in the weather. Lightning flashed in the distance. He felt the thunder rumbling in his viscera, and quickened his step. It would not be a good idea to be caught in the open when the front arrived. He clutched the bunch of flowers to his chest and steeled himself against the muggy air. There was vigour still in his old legs, and another duty to perform.

The cemetery was quiet. A few graves sported fresh flowers vibrant against the faded and colour-shifted photographs of loved ones long gone. He walked along the rows looking at the names. He’d known some of these people. Been at school with this one, slept with that one when she’d been a lissom young student. He stopped for a moment and looked around. A small ripple of pain crossed his chest and buried itself in his armpit. He shivered. There was nowhere to go beyond here. He would never see the cooling come, never experience the vindication that was rightfully his. A draft of cold air rustled the flowers in his hand and a large drop of cold rain hit his nose and rolled down to dangle off the tip.

The grave had been disfigured again. Crude fluorescent yellow letters spelled CLIMATE CRIMINAL across the marble, which had been pitted in places by blows from something — a hammer perhaps? He’d expected no better. It happened every year around this time, when some of the wilder young people sought vengeance for the lives they were living, the future they faced. A few years ago he’d tried to argue his friend’s case, pointed to the signs of imminent cooling, the negative feedbacks starting even as the temperature climbed, but all he’d got for his troubles was a good kicking. Now he kept his peace, and tended the grave once a year. Someone had to keep the flame burning, parade the torch that had been lit so long ago by the sheer force of this man’s television presence. He pulled the bottle of solvent from his bag and began rubbing at the letters with a rag. The paint wouldn’t shift.

Waves of particulate water began to pummel his coat, as if someone were shaking a hose around the ranks of stones. He rubbed harder and harder, down on his knees on the wet grass, the floral tribute forgotten as he bent to his task. The drops turned to soft hailstones and grew larger. He looked up and saw white curtains of ice sheeting down in the stiffening southerly. The hail was bouncing off his hat, pummelling his shoulders and back, as big now as broad beans and as hard as stone chips on the highway. He pushed himself to his feet, and began to stagger towards the lychgate over the cemetery entrance, holding his hat on to his head against the gusting wind. A great tearing noise ripped the air around him. Bright light flashed in his eyes and he fell to the ground, his St Christopher clutched in one hand. The lightning blasted his hat to charred straw, but left his coat untouched and his skin unblemished. He was dead before the hailstorm reached its apocalyptic peak, at peace before ice balls as big as grapefruit made his body jump and turned his upturned face to a bloody pulp.

***

Outside the last climate denier’s house, the last petrol V6 in the city gave in to the hail and subsided in a heap of battered sheet metal and red mud. It no longer had a driver. Its world had gone. There was no need to stick around.

The Aviator: new book now in flight Gareth Renowden Aug 20

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At last it can be revealed — the project that’s been swallowing most of my writing time over the last year. The Aviator is a work of speculative fiction1, the first in a series set in The Burning World, and it’s my first foray into extended fiction — in which a plot idea borrowed from a bloke called Swift is wrapped around a dystopian vision of a climate-changed near future, all garnished with tales of strange people with even stranger ideas. This is how the great NZ comics artist Dylan Horrocks, who provided the book’s magnificent cover, describes it:

The Aviator is a light-hearted journey (by state-of-the-art airship) around a world transformed by climate change and subsequent political collapse. Rock God Evangelists, super-rich survivalists, back-to-nature primitivists, heavily armed luddites, goats with the secret of eternal youth, and a horny artificial intelligence with a taste for bluegrass and classic Hollywood films; The Aviator is a Gulliver-esque romp through a future we hope won’t come to pass.

I’m grateful to Mike Mann (yes, that one) for a generous note of approbation, and to sci-fi author2 Sonny Whitelaw for describing it as “a brilliant and wickedly satirical romp.” The first extended review — by my fellow sciblogger Ken Perrott of Open Parachute — has just been published, and provides an interesting and very positive take on what I’ve been up to.

The Aviator is currently available via Amazon for Kindle readers, and as an epub for other devices. You can download a free sample of the book — roughly 10% of the 100,000 word total — at Amazon. Editions for sale via Apple’s iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kobo are in the works, and a paperback edition will be available in September. All digital editions are DRM free. When the publishing process is done and dusted, and I’ve stopped jumping through promotional hoops, I’ll be starting on book two. I have lots of ideas I want to explore from the vantage point of Thunderbird (the airship), if she’ll let me.

Buy now:

  1. Which I have sometimes described as a science fiction adventure comedy satire, or, via a tweet of Margaret Atwood’s, cli-fi.
  2. And regular HT reader.

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