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I’ve soared o’er snow-capped mountains in a tangerine balloon,
I’ve dived for pearls with dugongs in a dreamy deep lagoon.
I’ve sailed to lotus-blossom islands through wild and stormy seas,
I’ve crossed cutlasses with pirates and had tyrants on their knees.
THE ENIGMATIC ECSTASY OF WERTHER HEDGEHOG
Now i’ve had to subtly disguise the name of the man in question, for fear of irrevocable harm to his reputation and ensuing court action. But i can no longer desist, so great has been the pain which i endured and which still plagues me day and night though many moons have passed.
Werther Hedgehog is one prickly customer. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly. As i found to my cost. One day- was it in a February? (it was bleak, it was grey, i have not forgotten the weather then, though my mind has been dazed since)- he certainly made me look foolish on an internet question and answer session. Some cynic might say he didn’t need to work hard to do so. Oh how i came to wish they’d chosen one of the alternative questions i’d sent. But such is fate, for all is predestined and free will is but a myth.
I made the mistake of using the word “adventures” relating to his life; grave mistake indeed, for he connects that word with colonialism. I’d merely intended it to mean unusual experiences (as is only right and proper, according to my dictionary, i must hasten to add). But there i was, shamed before a multitude for inadvertently promoting colonialism.
My other error; well i admit i must have been dumb. Mindful of his statement that his well-known character Kipper Hauter’s lack of spiritual-religious awareness proves God doesn’t exist, taken together (quite intriguingly, i thought) with Hedgehog having just done a documentary on Buddhist monks, i asked what expectations he had of an after-life- to which he simply replied “how should i know?”.
Now usually i try not to take offence, am quite an easy-going chap, but in this case i’m sure you’ll understand. Oh, the derisive hoots of laughter his reply must have caused, replicated at so many thousands of computers, and all at my expense! The porter in Murnau’s Last Laugh had an easy time of it in comparison. Well of course such ignominy is far too much for any self-respecting fellow, however thick his skin, to bear. It will come as no surprise to the discerning reader that i slept not a wink for a week.
And so, I challenged Hedgehog to a duel with Conquistador pistols at an agreed spot on the Matterhorn, for having spitefully and egotistically caused me such deep public embarrassment. He at least condescended to afford me a brief discussion on the merits of Barry Lyndon, and i can tell you at that moment i was less sympathetic than usual to Ryan O’Neal’s come-uppance from the snivelling step-son, but the coward never turned up. Yeah, that’s right, Macho man didn’t show. I didn’t even get to enjoy the views and the famous shape of the mountain cos it was in cloud. My second, a local i’d chanced to meet, a fearless ski-jumper of unusually hirsute appearance, miniature stature, limited mental development, with one eye and poor hearing, 2 projecting canine teeth possibly developed during his upbringing by wolves in Transylvania (how i’d all too briefly relished the delicious irony of it all!) was not amused. And who could blame him? He was so upset he flung himself off that narrow ridge without checking his hang-glider properly- i’d very considerately thought it would be a fitting end for Hedgehog and his precious image if we conducted the duel airborne from our hang-gliders, strapped on the backs of ponies. He, the second, left behind him not only a grieving widow, who i later learned was a mute albino sculptress of Guatemalan Indian extraction he’d somehow rescued from a gang of Hanover pimps on the day of the Mount St Helens eruption, but also- imagine the bad luck of it!- quintuplet babes. And Hedgehog has carried on his illustrious career without so much as a backward glance. A cad and a bounder if ever there was one.
And now we come to the most painful part of this tale, an act of ignominious betrayal. The Puzzle of Kipper Hauter has for several years been one of my wife’s favourite films. A very sore point between us, i can tell you! She, and i know this will take some believing, she actually refused to accompany me up the Matterhorn, on the grounds (how those piercing words still ring in my ears!) that “well darling of course i love you, you know that, but would it really be proper to cut down such a daring visionary? And mightn’t you catch cold?”. Well i hardly need add that since then, you only have to bring to mind that famously edited sequence of marital breakfast scenes in Citizen Kane to imagine the frosty descent of our relationship! Kane was lucky to have such a long table.
I was only glad Hedgehog didn’t agree to my original suggestion of Macchu Picchu, that would have been an expensive trip. He has the cunning of a fox, that one; his refusal led me to believe he was serious about the Matterhorn! Give him credit for wit and ingenuity if not for honour. I sent him 3 white ostrich feathers (had to be big to mark the extent of his cowardice) and i heard later he was allergic to ostriches, had come out in a rash, couldn’t stop sneezing for weeks, and his intended film on a tribe of head-hunting pygmies in the Congo was cancelled as a result. Take that, smart arse. And it proves there is a God after all.