Diktats By Blodgett

Blodgett went to the library one day and borrowed Heart Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. He took it home, read it at one sitting, and was never the same man again. He identified so closely with the character of Mister Kurtz that he hit upon the conviction that he actually was Kurtz. Reincarnation is a foolish idea at the best of times, and to imagine oneself to be a fictional maniac reborn is doubly foolish, but that was Blodgett for you.

Over the following day he put his affairs in order, having resolved to set out for his very own heart of darkness. Lacking the means to travel to somewhere remote, he trudged across the cow-strewn fields until he reached the village of Much Snuffling, where he barged into the tavern and installed himself at an empty table in the snug. From here, he issued diktats, beginning with the announcement that he was a charismatic demigod to be worshipped by the Much Snufflingites. They rapidly fell into line, impressed by Blodgett’s booming voice, great hairy fists, velveteen cummerbund, and the headdress of glittering beads and bones and teeth and feathers he adopted.

At first, his diktats were surprisingly sensible, relating as they did to such matters as animal husbandry, crop rotation, rural post office opening hours, and other mundanities of countryside subsistence. How Blodgett knew about these things in the first place is an ineffable mystery. One is tempted to think he had a concealed laptop and was sneakily looking things up on the wikipeasantry website, but later, when it was all over, he was injected with a newfangled truth serum and passed muster when denying such subterfuge. Perhaps, as he claimed, it was simply that he was imbued with the spirit of his fictional alter ego, a multitalented polymath, rather like the late Anthony Burgess. Incidentally, I have always wondered if it is true that, when casting Apocalypse Now, his film adaptation of Conrad’s novella, Francis Ford Coppola’s first choice to play Kurtz was Burgess rather than Marlon Brando.

Anyway, as is the way with these things, Blodgett’s initial common sense soon gave way to demented megalomania, and his diktats became ever more ludicrous. He took to commanding not merely the sulking peasants of Much Snuffling but the sun and the moon and the planets. Celestial bodies tend not to adjust themselves in obedience to the ravings of a wild-eyed loon sat in the corner of the pub, and their lofty indifference first baffled Blodgett and then enraged him. So thunderous did his mood become that the Much Snufflingites held a secret meeting one night when Blodgett had taken to the hills to shout at the sky. With great presence of mind, they sent for heroic infant Tiny Enid, who arrived the very next day and booted Blodgett all the way back across the cow-strewn fields to his hovel.

He spent a day muttering to himself, and then returned Heart Of Darkness to the library, dutifully paid his fine for it being overdue, and chose another book. Next week, you shall learn what a pickle he got himself into after reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and convincing himself he was the reincarnation, not of Mister Kurtz, but of Hester Prynne.

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