Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Exotic species

Isn’t Davy Attenborough wonderful? I’m not just saying so because he makes us laugh by mimicking our grunts. There’s a lot more to life than being funny. We gorillas have always admired the righteous human who does good deeds and stands serene in the shadow of the hippopotamus. The comedian may excite our sniggers, but we only suck our teeth in reverence for the Gandhis, the Christs and the Spielbergs. “Blessed are the do-gooders for they shall be done good,” as we say in the jungle.

Anyway, Davy got in touch with me a few weeks ago with a revolutionary idea. He said that although many humans were eager to see their ape cousins in the wild, few had the time or the cash to visit us in the Mother Continent. So he proposed installing webcams in the favourite jungle haunts of me and my tribe. People could then watch us live, in the comfort of their homes, instead of paying a fortune to wade through the undergrowth while being molested by creepy crawlies. He envisaged a kind of wildlife reality TV show – more Hairy Cousin than Big Brother.

“Davy,” I replied, “if anyone else had thought of this, I would have said it was a stroke of genius. As you yourself have done so, I will describe it merely as brilliant. Unfortunately it won’t work. Our corner of the jungle, you see, is like Los Angeles. Every simian in the neighbourhood would play up to the cameras in the hope of catching the eye of a movie producer. The chimpanzees would tap dance and do slapstick. The gorillas would put on costumes and imitate famous Dickensian characters – Mr Pickwick in his waistcoat, Scrooge in his nightgown, Miss Havisham in her wedding dress. What you’ll end up with is a jungle talent show rather than a wildlife documentary.”

I might have added that the baboons, being spoilers by nature, would moon and flash in front of the cameras, possibly exhibiting their infamous “handpump the hornpipe” spectacle. But there was no need to dirty Davy’s ears with such sordid possibilities. He saw straight away that there was little point in a Nature programme featuring animals with show business ambitions. He said he’d try pitching his idea in other parts of the globe, and I’m delighted to report that it has
proved to be a goer in the rainforests of Ecuador. Incredibly, it is hoped that human couch potatoes might actually discover new species by obsessively ogling their laptops.

When I say “new species”, I mean new to humanity of course. The mysterious little critters of the Amazonian jungle are certainly well-known to themselves and their neighbours on the food chain. I sometimes think there are new species of human that have yet to be discovered by apes. I get this feeling whenever I see Björk, the pixie pop-star from Iceland. Although not unpleasant in appearance, she does seem to be part elf or something. Her voice evokes the image of a 5-year-old girl singing a lullaby to her Teddy Bear. After listening for a few minutes, I want to tuck her up in bed and switch off the lights.

Björk has recently been
in the news for tearing the shirt off a man who took her picture against her wishes. A British tourist at the safari camp blamed the incident on the vanity of celebrities. They were so used to having their pictures touched up, he said, that they couldn’t bear to be photographed as they really were. To prove his point, he showed me two recent photos of the English model Twiggy. The first, which was used in an advertising campaign, was of a good-looking blond woman. The second, which was taken secretly in a shop, was of a frightful old belter. Case proven, he seemed to think.

I was far from convinced by his theory. Björk may be a funny-looking imp, but her natural features have not degraded to a condition that would require her to choose between digital prettification or a paper bag over the head. I interpreted her reaction to the paparazzo as that of a territorial primate whose privacy had been violated by an uppity intruder.

“The photographer should think himself lucky that he was not snapping a gorilla,” I informed the tourist loftily, “for then he would have lost not only shirt, but vest, trousers and briefs as well!”

That was telling him.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Poles apart

I’m putting the finishing touches on a letter to the president of Poland. Here’s what I’ve written so far:

Dear Mr President

A great statesman forgives those who insult him. Julius Caesar spared the wag who mocked his baldness. W.E. Gladstone pitied the prostitute who showed him her knickers. The Nawab of Pataudi laughed at the elephant who farted in his face.

I implore you to join the ranks of these titans of history by pardoning Marek W, the penitent young man who languishes in prison for a thoughtless prank at the expense of your webpage.

Your respectful petitioner

G. Bananas
Republic of Congo

I did consider adding a postscript to the effect that my friend Dr Whipsnade has hired some builders who worked on your summer retreat and we know about the toys in your bedroom, you kinky swine. But I decided against it. Blackmail should be a last resort when you’re dealing with politicians – always give the man a chance to be magnanimous and do the right thing before bringing out the heavy guns.

Now what did this fellow Marek W do? Basically, he
linked the president’s homepage to a whole bunch of sites with the Polish word for “cock” in them. The result was that anyone who googled this word found the president’s site at the top of the list. This practice, known as “google-bombing”, seems to be a way of insinuating guilt by association. But if the intention was to make a joke, I’m pretty sure that it bombed.

The problem with the concept is that people who put dirty words into search engines are rarely interested in humour. Hundreds, if not thousands, enter this blog by googling phrases such as “crazy ape sex” and “women who seduce gorillas”. Are they interested in the jokes they find? Are they heck! Virtually all of them leave after a few minutes of futile clicking, presumably in a state of heightened frustration.

People who google the word “cock” have no interest in political satire, even of the most vulgar sort. The appearance of the president’s website probably irritated rather than amused them. No serious political damage would have been done, even if they’d entered the site in the hope of finding a few dicky pictures. There are worse things for a head of state than having his webpage scrutinised by someone with a penile fixation. Sitting next to such a person at a state banquet, for example, which would be risky without a bodyguard.

It must have been a terrible shock for Marek (aged 23) to find himself in jail as a result of this ineffectual lampoon. Experiences like this can destroy a young man’s confidence and propel him towards a career in the Roman Catholic clergy. I should imagine the prison chaplain is already prodding him in that direction and discussing the fringe benefits. It can’t be long before a deacon comes round to measure him up for the holy vestments. They’re entitled to recruit who they want, of course, but taking advantage of a vulnerable practical joker strikes me as manipulative and short-sighted. What will happen when he meets the Pope in full gear and gets the giggles?

I’m going to ask Dr Whipsnade to arrange a prison visit from a pair of famous comedians. They could inform Marek of our campaign on his behalf and encourage him to keep working on his comedy. Jackie Mason and Bruce Forsyth might be the perfect duo to perk him up. They’ve both told many jokes that misfired, so they’ll sympathise with his predicament. And being Jewish, they won’t waste time trying to make him a rabbi.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Dog Day Afternoon

News arrives of a man who got beaten up by his girlfriend for trying to force her into a threesome with his dog.

The couple were showering together when he called the hound to join them, in spite of the woman’s clear warning that this would be viewed as an unfriendly act (not to say casus belli). Heaven knows what possessed the fellow. Perhaps he thought she would change her mind on seeing the animal’s eager face and long wet tongue. She didn’t, and the man ended up in hospital with a dislocated shoulder for his matchmaking efforts.

This sorry incident shows what can go wrong when a man’s best friend really is his dog. He takes the pooch bowling and buys it a beer, and before anyone can call a shrink he’s invited it to copulate with his girlfriend, quite literally treating the woman like a bitch. Even if she had acquiesced, I doubt the mutt would have enjoyed it much. It may well have gone through the motions to please its master, but a woman’s body probably seems like a rubber dinghy to a dog – too smooth to get a good grip of and too easy to puncture in the wrong place. The absence of a bitch-in-heat smell wouldn’t have helped either. You can’t expect a hound to be a demon in the sack under those conditions, no matter how horny it is.

Now I’m not opposed, in principle, to humans having pets. It’s all a question of choosing the right animal and having the right sort of relationship with it. An American woman once asked me if gorillas made good pets. “Not for humans they don’t” was my reply. It is always a mistake to share your home with an animal stronger than yourself, as it inevitably leads to confusion about who is the master and who is the pet. Even very young gorillas don’t know their own strength where humans are concerned. I remember a judo black belt saying he’d like to wrestle with an infant female in my band who was making eyes at him.

“Put on a jockstrap first,” I advised. “She doesn’t know what testicles are, and if she thinks yours are gooseberries you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.”

He decided, on reflection, to settle for a handshake.

The best sort of human-pet partnership is exemplified by the 18th century pirate and his parrot. The bird is not held captive and can fly away whenever it wants. It only opts to stay perched on Blackbeard’s shoulder in return for high-quality grub from the cook’s table and a prime view of the action. It can also speak its mind freely and contribute its two cents at crew meetings. Incidentally, it is a myth that a parrot will only parrot the views of its owner. These shrewd little creatures always mimic the phrase that will have the most impact.

My friend Smacker Ramrod, the circus vet, once kept a parrot in his trailer. After many weeks of trying to get it to say things like “Pretty Polly”, the bird stayed resolutely mute. Then, quite unexpectedly, it spoke its first words when Smacker was with a woman who’d agreed to spend the night with him. Just as they were starting to undress, the parrot got their attention by clicking its tongue.

“I love your boobs!” it squawked.

Smacker’s delight at hearing the bird talk was tempered by the fact that it had stolen a favourite line he was about to deliver himself. The girl laughed and said “Thanks”. She then reflected on what she had heard and stopped undressing.

“Hang on a minute!” she exclaimed, giving Smacker the evil eye.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I am astonished to find myself referenced in Wikipedia. The following text appears in a discussion about Adolf Hitler amid the reference-desk entries on Christmas Day:

“There are plenty of web pages that proposed that Hitler was the most evil human being that ever lived, e.g. [1]

The footnote links directly to a post I wrote over two years’ ago, in which I did not argue that Hitler was the most evil human that ever lived. I merely short-listed him in the top three. The silly clots must have linked to my essay without reading beyond the first paragraph. Once again, the bogus scholarship and slipshod methods of this electronic encyclopeestain are exposed.

It’s a pity the dilettante who referenced my piece didn’t study it properly, for he would have found a profound meditation on the nature of evil, the flaws in consequentialist moral theories, and the unparalleled wickedness of Captain Black, Mysteron agent (pictured above).

It’s annoying to have one’s argument misrepresented, and I regret that this is typical of the way humans behave when tackling a controversial subject. They pretend to know more than they actually do; they cite sources which don’t say what they claim; they hiss and piss like snakes in a hissing-and-pissing content. That’s why I choose my words very carefully when commenting on topics that agitate my hairless cousins.

Here’s an example of what I mean. A retired British army major asked me a question about the European Union last year. He said that although he’d voted to join Europe over 30 years’ ago, he was now having second thoughts. Apparently, a Bulgarian man had stared at his wife while massaging his groin in Weston-super-Mare. (I assumed the Major wasn’t referring to his own groin, as he would have surely whacked the man with his cane.)

“You seem like a wise ape, Bananas,” he said. “Do you think we British should leave the EU and banish the Bulgarians from our shore?”

It would have been all too easy to answer him off the top of my head, clouding the issue with spurious waffle about the Mousetrick Treaty, Mandy Peterson and the integrity of the British sausage. But I refused to countenance such a masquerade and replied as follows:

“Frankly, Major, I don’t know. This is not a question that can be settled by wisdom alone. One must first assemble the facts and then weigh the pros and cons. How many groin-rubbing Bulgarians are counterbalanced by one Polish builder? How does the meat content of the British sausage compare with its German counterpart? Which course of action would most annoy the French? I’m afraid you will have to sort this one out for yourself.”

The Major nodded gravely in appreciation of my honest circumspection. “There is much in what you say, Bananas,” he replied, “but who can be trusted to give us the unvarnished facts?”

I stroked my chin and answered as follows: “As I see it, Major, no one with a strong opinion can be trusted, even if that opinion happens to be correct, for strong opinions originate in gall bladder. Seek out the diffident scholar, pottering about in the college library, who studies the current squabbles of humanity as if they were battles between Romans and Carthaginians.”

The military man thanked me for my advice and drew up a target list of universities. For my own part, I hope that I am never asked to adjudicate a human dispute. It is forbidden for the gorilla to change the course of human history, and vexatious for him to check all the sources to determine who the bigger humbuggers are. If it ever came to pass, I would be forced to put on my black circus robe and hold court, picking apart the evidence submitted by both sides – but under no circumstances would I wear a wig.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Bad vibrations

I arrive at the safari camp for lunch with the manager, our first meeting of the year since his return from holiday. As we sit down to dine, I notice a wart on his nose.

“A bad omen,” I think.

“Don’t worry about my wart,” he says, touching it with his forefinger. “I’m getting it seen to this afternoon.”

“Why would I worry?” I reply nonchalantly. “I barely even noticed the little noseberry.”

“Oh?” he remarks quizzically, raising his eyebrows. “You don’t think it’s a bad omen?”

“Poppycock!” I exclaim. “It takes more than a bean on the beak to spook a gorilla. I’ll send round a chimpanzee tomorrow to check you’re OK.”

I leave the safari camp, pondering the year ahead. I won’t deny occasionally having strange gut feelings (other than wind), but I never let them affect my plans. Let the premonitions of ape and man stay in the large intestine, where they belong. I remain confident of a bountiful year in the jungle. The barometer of my well-being is set fair, and will remain so unless I am ogled by a vulture laying an egg, which won’t happen.

I expect 2008 to be an eventful year. My dear human cousins will be holding their Olympic Games (heh!) to show the world what wonderful runners and jumpers they are (heh!). And
Sassy Miss Kara, the Feisty Filly of the Far-west, will be attending her 10-year high school reunion. Speaking as a gorilla, I don’t quite see the point of these get-togethers. If I haven’t kept in touch with someone for 10 years, there’s normally a good reason for it – a lack of common interests, perhaps, or the failure to establish a friendly rapport. I see no reason to re-acquaint myself with such people, and disapprove of those who do so in a spirit of one-upmanship. We gorillas despise all forms of gloating and never hesitate to ostracise the gloater.

With former high-school classmates there is another complication. Their past association occurred within a mixed-gender group engaged in the rituals of first-time courtship. This is a setting in which rivalries, jealousies and intrigues are surely rife. Can girls who competed for the attention of the same beefcake footballer truly let bygones be bygones and happily swap recipes for savoury pies? And what about high school sweethearts who severed relations because one of them was tempted to philander with a classmate? I can’t see why a cuckold would want to catch up on old times with the person who did the cuckolding.

We gorillas know all about cuckolding, of course. Any alpha male with a harem is going to get cuckolded from time to time, so he may as well learn to live with it. He can’t watch his females 24 hours a day, and there are bound to be occasions when an audacious young ape slips one past him while he’s busy patrolling the estate. Even so, inviting your cuckolder for an amiable rendezvous would be out of the question, even after a hiatus of 10 years. The only possible reason for such an encounter would be for the purpose of ramming a pineapple up the cuckolder’s hairy arse.

I’m not suggesting that these issues have any personal relevance for Miss Kara. She doesn’t strike me as the kind of young lady who goes around cuckolding people, and I can’t imagine anyone daring to cuckold her. Yet it would surely be bad for her soul to hobnob and gossip in an assembly where such discontents are seething beneath the surface. She would be well advised to heed any ominous portents before electing to participate this event. Beware of women with moustaches…and men with warts on their noses.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

The alien menace

A Japanese government minister says he believes in UFOs. Hats off to the man for speaking his mind rather than telling people what they want to hear. He may still be talking codswallop, of course. If alien spaceships have visited the Earth, their occupants have been pretty cagey about the whole thing. I don’t know about you, but if I’d travelled half way across the galaxy to a new world, the first thing I’d do is make contact with the local chiefs. I’d present them with the finest gifts that the Solar System has to offer – sparkling gemstones, pompadour wigs, antique nose-hair clippers and so forth. If they had any sense of hospitality, they’d then feel obliged to give me a suite in their swankiest hotel with 24-hour room service.

Anyway, I announced this piece of news at the safari camp, whose guests included the American comic Orlando Jones. Professional comedians go on vacation to take a break from being funny, so I wasn’t expecting anything more than polite conversation. I told him Japan’s defence minister was mulling over the legality of using military force against flying saucers.

“If they’re not bothering people, why not leave them be?” asked Mr Jones. “Let them do their research and stuff and go home.”

“Some people claim to have been abducted by aliens,” I replied. “They say they were removed from their beds at night and taken to a spaceship.”

“No shit, what they do to them?” asked Mr Jones.

“They say the aliens surgically milked their gonads so they could use the sperm or eggs to make new humans.”

“Aww man!” exclaimed Mr Jones. “That’s a ASSAULT! First thing I’m doing when I get home is order a dessert from Burger King. If the aliens sneak up on me at night I’m saying ‘Hey man, there’s a whole ice-cream cup of my man-goo on the table. Take as much as you need, baby, coz I ain’t into your shit with the knives and the tubes.’”

How everyone laughed! Mr Jones quickly got into his stride to brighten up the evening with more jive-ass humour.

On due reflection, the aliens are probably wise not to give conclusive evidence of their presence. Just imagine how the devoutly religious would react, first conferring with their learned beardies about what it all meant, then proclaiming the aliens were fulfilling some ancient prophecy about Armageddon or the Horseface of the Apocalypse. If I were the alien leader, I’d be tempted to announce I was a prophet and give them a new holy book saying that God wants his children to pretend they’re atheists… apart from Dicky Dawkins, who has to host a new Praise the Lord TV channel.

Even the non-believing types would be pretty disturbed about the whole thing. Deep down, most humans are anthrocentric. For all their faux self-criticism, they’ve got used to thinking of themselves as the smartest dudes in the universe. Finding out there are 1000 more intelligent life forms in the galaxy, of which 921 are prettier and funnier as well, would be a crushing blow to the human ego. I bet a lot of these aliens also have incredible sex lives, with orgasms lasting over an hour. That might be the bitterest pill of all for humans to swallow – especially for a certain type of woman who is strangely jealous about that kind of thing. Don’t ask me why.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Prankster's art

A correspondent asks me whether I’m keen on practical jokes. I reply that I enjoy a harmless prank as much as the next ape, but keeping them innocuous is no easy matter in the wild. I recall the case of an infant gorilla who put a live frog inside his sleeping mother’s mouth. She was so shocked when the croaking awoke her that she swallowed the amphibian whole. It must have hopped about inside in her belly for a good five minutes before expiring. It sounds amusing, but what if the frog had been poisonous? The wrong sort of caper can be deadly in the jungle.

There were far more opportunities for this sort of thing in the circus. I remember a trick we played on an acrobat – a pretty girl who looked in the mirror a lot. We were watching a home movie of a recent show when she fell asleep in her chair. “Must have had a late night,” someone said. One of the clowns got a felt pen and was about to draw something on her face when I grabbed his wrist.

“What are you going to draw?” I asked softly

“A Hitler moustache,” he whispered in reply.

I immediately thought this was a bad idea. Who really wants to see a woman who looks like Hitler? Not even Hitler himself, I should imagine. Eva Braun might have, but she was a kinky mare. More to the point, there is a dearth of good quips to toss at a girl with a Hitler moustache. Asking her if she’s going to make Rommel commander of the Africa Korps is not particularly funny and tends to give the game away.

“I’ve got a better idea,” I said, taking the pen from the clown. With a few delicate strokes, I drew some very fetching cat’s whiskers on her face.

She woke up a little later and yawned with her hand over her mouth.

“How long have I been asleep?” she asked. “God, I must look awful!”

Sensing that a trip to the bathroom was imminent, I made eye contact with the clowns to signal that the wisecracks should commence without delay.

“Nonsense!” said one of them to her. “You look like an absolute sex kitten!”

“Thanks,” she said beaming, while everyone else smirked.

“Can I get you something to drink?” another clown asked her. “Tea, coffee…saucer of milk?”

Everyone laughed liked mad. After asking what the hell was going on, she went to the bathroom and found out for herself. I am pleased to say that she took the joke in good spirit, perhaps because she did look rather cute with those whiskers.

Now this was a genuinely harmless prank with no ill consequences, but many others have not been so benign. A sure sign that a joke has got out of hand is when someone calls the police. This is what happened when a 17-year-old girl in New Zealand sent lewd text messages to a 31-year-old man, promising him unspeakable debaucheries if he presented himself at a certain address. To speed things along, she advised him to strip naked when he got to the front door. He did as she suggested and rang the doorbell. The person who answered was not the girl, nor anyone else expecting the company of a naked man. Infuriated by the nude intruder, the householder called the police, who arrested both the man and the girl.

The moral of the story is that a good practical joke requires careful forethought. The Kiwi girl was clearly inexperienced and didn’t think through the consequences of sending a naked sex maniac into someone’s front garden. The man, of course, played a big part in the debacle. Based on what happened, I would describe him as a village idiot seeking promotion to the rank of moron. If you’re going to hoax people, you should choose your targets carefully. There’s not much kudos in making an arse look like an arse.

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