Follow the leader

Follow the leader

Follow the leader 222

They control people’s lives. They are unavoidable, they impinge on the population’s lives. The weak look up to them. The rebellious despise them. Some dote on their words, while others deplore them. Some are bewitched by them, others see through them. They rule with an iron fist. There is not enough solidarity or the will to rise up and other throw them. Their myth lives on long after their deaths. People are fearful of them. They have a well-oiled propaganda machine and supported an all seeing, all powerful Police force. They are leaders…

Look at a picture of Margaret Hilda Thatcher, that Buffon hairstyle, pearls, ladylike handbags and gloves, and you might imagine a soft woman, the perfect invite to a genteel tea party. The reality being she is one of the most demonized people in modern times. When she died, some would have her canonized, others joined the refrain of “ding dong the witch is dead” as if a cloud had been lifted, that had shrouded the country.

There was a King of England called Canute whose pride led him to believe his command could hold back the incoming tide. He may have failed to influence the rules of nature, but his power and authority is unquestionable, his dominion included all of Denmark, all of Norway, all England, as well as Scotland. His words to the sea were “You are part of my dominion, and the ground that I am seated upon is mine, nor has anyone disobeyed my orders with impunity. Therefore, I order you not to rise onto my land, nor to wet the clothes or body of your Lord”. All powerful leaders will at some point become delusional. Margaret Thatcher famously said she slept four hours a night, of course she had a strong work ethic, perhaps she thought the country would grind to a halt if she was not constantly working.

In literature, George Orwell’s Big Brother is a graphic description of tyranny, an all seeing despot, seemingly unbeatable, an absolute power, all citizens have to comply and even those with grave doubts about the system, will have their spirit pounded down, any defiance quashed.

With my book of short stories, I have a number of tyrants, in “Gomford”, the tyrant is a priest called Reverend Salmon. An ugly businessman “Gomford” arrives in a small remote village with a beautiful young woman, who he has allegedly married. The men of the village have never encountered such beauty and one by one each seduces the young woman, only to fall into a deep depression, due to their sexual failings as well guilt for cheating on their wives. The spirit of the village plummets, which is where The Reverend Salmon steps in. When the young woman undermines his authority, when he tries to exorcise the village, he concocts a plan and leads a group of village vigilantes, to perform the long outdated and outlawed practice of “dunking”. The Reverend takes the unusual step of having the victim dunked “naked” for his own sadistic pleasure. The villagers are gormless and compliant to every one of his dictates. Without him they are like a rudderless boat. Like many leaders he is capable of getting away everything and nobody will challenge him (apart from the young woman he feels obliged to crush). He knows what he needs to do preserve this village, which does welcome outsiders, that is in effect still living in the dark ages. The Reverend in the end of the story proves to be a flawed character, with a hefty skeleton in his past.

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