The U-Bend #40: It’s Not Easy Being He Who Must Not Be Named

by Lord Voldemort (as told to Robbie Fischer)

Good evening! Oh, for mercy’s sake, wipe up that spill. You would think you had never seen anyone Apparate before. Get a grip on yourself! Oh, yes, of course, of course. It’s the face, isn’t it? Well, how do you think I feel when I catch the first glimpse of myself in the mirror each morning? It takes some getting used to. Is this better? I hope you appreciate this. This cloak gets rather stuffy when the hood is pulled up.

What? For my interview, of course! Don’t pretend you didn’t get my owl. No one with an ounce of breeding would be caught undead, showing up unannounced!

All right, let’s get started. Where’s your quill and parchment? Eh? All right, if you really think that thing with the buttons is faster. Are you sure the screen isn’t harmful? It really does have an unwholesome glow about it. Not that I should really worry about that, I suppose.

No, no, there’s no time to go over that. Really, you should have paid more attention to the letter I sent by owl. All right, have it your way. (Sigh.) It’s because everyone knows you’re such a joker, they’ll read the interview and think you just made it all up. So the joke is on you! I do SO love to see a fellow impaled on his own sword, so to speak. Almost as much fun as seeing it happen literally! And besides, no one at the Times can get their facts straight about me or the lot of us. Wizards, you know.

Oh, you ARE funny. No, really. What ever gave you the idea that being a Dark Lord is a bed of roses? No one has any respect these days. Last week I was window-shopping in Piccadilly Circus when a cheeky youngster approached me, tugged on my sleeve, and begged for my autograph! At first I tried to convince him that he had me mistaken with someone else, but he wasn’t buying any. Forced me to write, “To Billy: We all start with a seed of evil in our hearts. Cultivate it, and it will grow. All the best, You-Know-Who.” Wouldn’t even let me sign my actual name, the little blighter. I got him, of course, with a whooping-cough curse that followed him home and infected the whole family. But there was no satisfaction in it. Nobody takes me seriously.

Don’t give me that. Anyone can see through it. I’ve been reading Her books, too. You know who I mean. So now everyone expects me to pop my clogs in the next two or three years. After all that I’ve sacrificed, all my hard work to achieve immortality! What nonsense. But you’ve all bought it, haven’t you? No one knows it better than my accountant. I should have listened to him, but no. I HAD to make my initial public offering the same week that Her sixth book came out. It was a disaster! The stock opened in the toilet, and it’s been swirling down the drain ever since. When you’re expected to hop a twig in three to five, no one cares to buy stock in you.

What has the world come to? People used to BELIEVE in the power of evil. Greed, anger, lust, fear … they used to have a real hold on people, spiritually as well as financially. Even when things were going well, they still expected and prepared for the worst. I knew a rich man who could have clothed every naked savage in Southern California, yet he would never buy new clothes. Saved every rag that he owned, constantly having them patched and darned, against the day his money might not be there to clothe him. Well, that day never came. After refusing to give his spare handkerchief to an urchin who had a nosebleed, he slipped on a puddle of the child’s blood and broke his neck. Left a quarter of a million pounds to a goatherd who was his last surviving relative. That’s what I call going out in style! Groundless fear, avarice, self-love, leading to … no, stop putting words in my mouth. Just comeuppance, indeed! I was GOING to say, utter extinction. Pointlessness. Futility. It’s the way the whole world should be …

But look at it now. People who barely have a roof over their heads, after being flooded out by one hurricane after another, are writing checks they can barely cover, to support other people who have been shaken out of house and home on the other side of the world! What is that? Where is the self-interest in that? Don’t people recognize where their priorities lie? That’s what the word PRIORITY means, after all – first, foremost, number one! So it stands to reason they should be looking out for number one! But people these days seem to be losing touch with their inner evil. It’s a pity. In my younger days, there seemed to be so much potential for evil in the world …

Well, there’s still hope. Pockets of it, at any rate. You can still find neighborhoods, cities, even entire countries … well, not all the people, but enough so that one never seems to run out of them. You know, those splendid fools whose idea of giving meaning to their lives is to end their lives with a bang, taking along as many innocent bystanders as possible. This madness spreads with a fervor, with a self-justifying conviction that can only mean evil has not entirely released its grip on mankind.

Of course that isn’t funny. Lord V—all right! All right! He Who Must Not Be Named does not do stand-up comedy. Do you know that my bank actually wrote to me and asked me to stop signing my full name? They said it gave their tellers the heebie-jeebies. If you think being a Dark Lord is all fun and games, try writing He Who Must Not Be Named on all of your checks. I get hand cramps every month, at bill time. It took me four hours to sign all the closing documents on my Florida time-share. Zounds, man! Do you think a man with my complexion can put up with the Florida sun all year round?

Well, I’m off to that other interview now. That one with all the theatre people in the audience, where they ask everyone the same questions at the end of the program. Well, they’re not to know I’m not Ralph Fiennes, are they? Besides giving me a chance to see if my Confundus Charm is effective via Muggle broadcast media, it also gives me a chance to develop a much-overlooked instrument of evil. Oh, you’re safe of course; you spend too much time reading those daft storybooks to watch the tube. But where else can cruelty, avarice, and lechery slip in under the covering fire of such profound, mind-sapping indifference? Ah, television … perhaps the darkest wizardry yet invented, and to think the Muggles have it all to themselves! We’ll have to see about that …

I beg your pardon? Autograph THAT? That’s a low blow, Muggle. You should be grateful that I’m not in a cursing mood today. Well, let’s see. I suppose I can get some satisfaction by scribbling He Who Must Not Be Named across one of your precious pages … wait … what’s this? A chapter titled Horcruxes? What does She mean by it? Where did she get that from? Whose head is she trying to put ideas into? I TOLD that rat Wormtail to read the blasted book. Why didn’t he tell me about this … ? Well, I’m sorry, young man, I’m afraid I’ve quite lost my appetite for fame just now. You’ll call the Actors’ Studio to let them know I can’t come? I must get back to Boca Raton. I thought all that bother about the IPO was plain silliness, but now … (Shudder). May I take this? Thank you. My compliments to your cats. Farewell.