IN the spirit of enviro-togetherness, while attempting to propel a perceived success for COP26, Alok Sharma, president for the conference, told delegates: "We are all Swampy now”. The minister recently announced his conversion to vegetarianism “to do his bit for the planet”.

You speak for yourself ‘Al ‘, because I have no desire or intention to go underground and live off sorrel leaves, pig nut and chucky cheese. However, I have much difficulty imagining you and your boss Boris Johnson perched high in a doomed Ancient oak near the HS2 railway construction.

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And visualising your good-self nibbling on a veggie burger and sipping rainwater, while Boris bites on a Big Mac and ‘necks’ a glass of good claret.

To be fair you may not be even be talking about ‘enviro-enthusiasm’ but pointing instead to the recent ‘sleazy and swampy shenanigans’ in the House of Commons when the government tried and failed to scrap the independent system which scrutinises MP’s behaviour and financial dealings.

Remember that clearly successful slogan dreamt up by ‘Trumpy’ during the 2016 US Presidential Election – ‘Drain the Swamp’.

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Please stand up the real and authentic Swampy, Daniel Marc Hooper (born 1973) and an iconic environmental campaigner who was active in a number of protests during the 1990s. Alok Sharma’s comments were attacked by Dr Larch Maxey, a fellow campaigner of Swampy, who accused the minister of 'appropriation'.


Common sorrel – Rumex acetosa – has a sharp, acidic taste because it contains oxalic acid (plant family Polygonaceae).

Pig nut is the swollen, underground tuber of a wild carrot-like plant called Conopodium majus in the plant family Apiaceae (Umbelliferae). Eaten raw its flavour and consistency  is described as something like celery heart crossed with raw hazelnut or sweet chestnut, and delivering a spicy aftertaste reminiscent of radish or watercress.

Chucky cheese – red-ripe hawthorn berries, so-called because the flesh is pale-yellow, gelatinous and looks and feels like ‘soft cheese’.

These three plants are documented as edible, but I would definitely not recommend anyone to try them for a variety of reasons.

  • The oxalic acid in common sorrel can cause distress for people with kidney problems.
  • Common sorrel has been confused with a number of other plants including Arum lily (Arum maculatum – plant family Araceae and commonly called jack- in- the-pulpit, lords and ladies and cuckoo-pint).  All parts of this common wild plant are highly poisonous if ingested, and even life-threatening.
  • The plant family (Apiaceae) to which pig nut belongs has many plants which are edible, including carrot, celery, parsley, and fennel, but also contains some that are lethal if ingested. Wild hemlock (Conium maculatum) is the prime aexample
  • The typical British hedgerow will contain a variety of plants bearing red berries which could be confused with hawthorn by the uninitiated observer.  Many are toxic to a greater or lesser extent. These include black bryony (Tamus communis ), woody nightshade (Solanum dulcamara), Arum lily/lords and ladies (Arum maculatum), common honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) and even English holly (Ilex aquifolium).

‘Swampy’ (Daniel Marc Hooper) was active in a number of environmental protests during the 1990s. He became nationally famous after spending a week in a tunnel trying to stop the expansion of the A30 in Fairmile, Devon in 1996.