Conservationists have stepped in to help prevent the small Norfolk village of Reepham from dying out as its inhabitants are lured away by the bright lights of major metropolitan centres such as Fakenham, Norwich and King’s Lynn. The move is a last-ditch attempt to return Reepham to former its glory days when it boasted a population of several hundred and up to five distinct family names.
‘The programme will draw on the region’s age-old customs,’ said Steve Jones today, professor of genetics at University College London. ’Adolescent brothers, sisters and cousins will be brought together in a specially designed enclosure called a family home, safe from the distractions of modern life such as skipping ropes and the wireless. We are confident that in these excellent inbreeding conditions, it will only be a matter of time before nature takes its course and a new generation of Reepham-ites come paddling forth.’
Sociologists have warned that if the people of Reepham were allowed to die out, generations of proud heritage would be lost, including the practice of calling newborn babies Lesley until their gender can be determined and families using their members’ IQ scores as their lottery numbers. The future also appears uncertain for the thousands of special needs teachers and biologists employed in the region to teach children about the birds and the birds, while some are concerned that the extinction of Reepham would halt advances in our understanding of how things were a rung or two down the evolutionary ladder.
But conservationists are confident that the scheme will be a success. ‘It’s exciting to be involved in a project to preserve such a really close-knit community,’ said Professor Jones. ‘All the residents have their fingers crossed, many since birth, and every face seems to carry that same look of dreamy hopefulness. Plus it’s great for us as scientists. For many of our team, this will be their first exposure to reproductive theory since GCSE biology.’