A couple of days ago, we looked at angles of hats, and today we turn our attention to angels of huts. One of the least rewarding periods of Blodgettâ€™s life was when he had a job managing a collection of huts, each of which had its resident angel. These were battered and dilapidated rustic huts, rather than more well-appointed beach huts, or chalets, the type of hut Blodgett understood them to be when he accepted the post. Imagine his distress when the train taking him to his new office delivered him not to a sandy stretch of coastline but to a filthy countryside backwater ankle-deep in muck.Â This was particularly galling because at the time he was being followed about by a film crew working on a documentary called Blodgett On The Beach. The film had been commissioned by an ambitious but airheaded young git from Channel Bilge, and once it became clear that Blodgett was not going anywhere near the seaside, the airhead cancelled the project and sent his crew to cover a dramatic reconstruction of the credit crunch instead.
So it was a solitary Blodgett who was deposited from the train at a deserted railway station in the middle of nowhere. He fumbled in his pocket for the hand-scrawled map his masters had given him and set off on his squelchy way to a distant barn, in a corner of which a desk with an anglepoise lamp and a pencil sharpener and a vase of spurge had been provided as his operational base. Just as the United Nations has its special rapporteurs, and Olympic teams have their chefs de mission, Blodgettâ€™s job title was French and sounded important, and he was, at least at this point in his life, naÈ‰ve enough to swell with pride as, approaching the barn, he paused to pin his badge on his lapel. To their credit, his employers had no truck with such execrations as the contemporary laminated name-badge, and Blodgettâ€™s badge was brass and heraldic and lively with beaked and taloned and winged beasts of myth and with Latin inscriptions. Blodgett had neither French nor Latin, so he had no idea of the meaning of either his job title or of the motto upon his badge. What he did have were unparalleled map-reading skills, and he was soon installed at his desk in the corner of the barn, having improvised a crate as a chair, and plugged the anglepoise lamp into a generator.
The many huts for which Blodgett had responsibility were scattered all over the place, in no discernible pattern. This rapidly became apparent to him when he stuck pins into a map tacked up on the barn wall, each pin representing one of the huts. Blodgett did this, with much enthusiasm, as preparation for what he foresaw as regular rounds of visits to his huts and to their resident angels. So great was the distance he would have to travel that he wondered if he could afford to rent a horse or a jalopy. He was counting out his coinage on the desk, just hours after his arrival, when he was interrupted by a visitor, who brought news that blasted Blodgettâ€™s plans and left him sobbing.
â€œHow now?â€ shouted the newcomer as he burst into the barn, â€œYou must be Blodgett! I am Simon Sebag Costanza and this is my theme tune!â€ He pulled a portable parpophone from his pocket, depressed a knob, and a short burst of Hindemithâ€™s Concert Music For String And Brass Instruments, Op. 50 (1930) roared at deafening volume and made the barn shake. It also made Blodgett shake, so much so that he lost his footing and toppled to the floor, where he remained hidden from his visitorâ€™s view as Costanza continued, having redepressed the knob and popped the parpophone back into his pocket. â€œThere is much you will need to know as the new manager of the many scattered huts with their resident angels, and I am here to tell you whatâ€™s what, even though you are crumpled on the floor behind your desk. It is all the same to me if you stay there throughout your tenure, so long as you keep up with your paperwork. I will be out and about on my visits to the huts, for I am the Milk Man. No, no, not the sort of milkman you may think, pootling around the lanes in an electric float delivering bottles of milk, as happened in days of yore. A pox on such ninnies! No, I am the Milk Man who calls upon the angels of the huts and monitors their intake of angel milk! There are recording angels and fumigating angels, there are angels of mercy, moon angels and archangels, but what all angels have in common is that they are reliant upon angel milk for their sprightliness and spark. Thus it falls to me to keep a proper check on the angels of our huts, lest they fall prey to ennui and Weltschmerz through neglecting their milk diet. Your job, meanwhile, is to sit at your desk, or crumpled on the floor behind it, and, by the light of the anglepoise lamp, to enter my daily dictated reports into a ledger. We measure milk by the pint here, Blodgett, so you will need no knowledge of fractions. But you must tally up the daily pintage and do much other tiresome and exhausting drudgery, and never once set foot outside the barn, not even to contemplate the cows in the fields or to chuck breadcrumbs on to the duckpond, for at any time of day or night I, the Milk Man, may come a-calling with my reports, and you must be at your post, diligent and miserable, for such is the way we do things in these parts and if ever you forget that you will be at the mercy of the cacodaemons, Blodgett, the cacodaemons with their curdled milk and their unspeakable yoghurts.â€
With a second blast of his theme tune from the parpophone, Simon Sebag Costanza, the Milk Man, swept out of the barn. From behind the desk came the sound of sobbing, as Blodgett realised the full horror of his situation. He was stuck there for years, for years and years, at a desk in the corner of the barn, in the middle of nowhere, when all he had ever wanted was to stride purposefully from hut to hut, huts he was in charge of, preferably at the seaside.