Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Leader of the pack

I hear that Dian Fossey’s old flame Titus has recently appeared on British TV. This silverbacked rascal rose to fame in Rwanda, his every move watched by a succession of female naturalists who fell hopelessly in love with him. Titus, you see, is one of those gorillas who can charm the knickers off a woman. He just gazes deeply into their eyes and they think he is noble and wise and a lot of other things he most certainly isn’t. Not bad for an ape who mates with his hands clasped behind his head. The profusion of words that these ladies have written about him can be summed up in the lyrics of a famous song:

They said he was bad
But I knew he was sad
That’s why I fell for the leader of the pack
(Vroom! Vroom!)

For my own part, I always take pains not to arouse the amorous feelings of female zoologists. Whenever one of these women appears with notebook in hand, I slip on a pair of dark glasses to avoid seductive eye contact. After formally introducing myself, I offer to check her notes for accuracy. One thing leads to another and I usually end up counselling her on personal matters, which puts our relationship on a professional basis. It seems that these ladies often develop an interest in gorillas after becoming disenchanted with men. Having been led down the garden path by deceitful hairless ones, they dream of being led up a tree by an honest hairy one. Or so they imagine. I make it my mission to put them straight on a few home truths about male gorillas, so they leave the jungle a little less starry-eyed than they entered it.

In some ways, of course, we are more reliable than men. One thing we would never do is secretly film our trysts with a lady in order to blackmail her. The latest woman to fall victim to this contemptible scam is Frau Susanne Klatten, Germany’s wealthiest woman (and a right little raver between the sheets, so they say). I greatly admire her for refusing to pay her extortionist a penny and instructing the local constabulary to frogmarch the miserable cur to the nearest gaol. May he be tarred and feathered until he resembles Mother Goose.

After an experience like that, I wouldn’t blame Frau Klatten for going off men completely. There is only so much chicanery that a lady can take before losing interest in suitors of her own species. It must be difficult for a well-to-do woman to have healthy physical relations with men who’d rather be loosening her purse string than her g-string. Alas, these despicable adventurers swarm around rich ladies like flies near a honey pot.

It goes without saying that Susanne would receive a warm welcome if she visited my band in the Congo. I’d extend her every courtesy and show her the glories of the African landscape from a suitable vantage point in one of our sturdiest trees. I don’t speak German, but when ape meets woman in the glow of a tropical sunset a few grunts are all that’s required to capture the mood of the moment. If she later insisted on writing a fat cheque to fund our worthy conservation efforts, I might find it difficult to refuse her generosity – these successful career women are used to having their way. Gorilla Bananas is no gigolo, but he knows when to bend with the breeze.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Icelandic Saga

Iceland’s red-nosed natives are protesting that they’re not terrorists. Did anyone actually accuse them of being so? Terrorists or not, they obviously have a guilty conscience about something. The ringleader of the movement is a photographer called Thorkel Thorkelsson. It sounds like the name of one of those rude characters who rowed about in a longboat looking for places to loot and pillage. A man of such ancestry ought to keep a low profile to avoid re-opening ancient wounds. Maybe they should change the slogan on their placards to “We are no longer terrorists!” They won’t win any sympathy by overstating their case.

I know next to nothing about Iceland and have no wish to stir the pot of discord or fan the flames of unrest. The only Icelander I ever spoke to was a pretty little woman I met in a park in London. She walked up to me while I was reading a comic and spoke to me in one of those sing-songy Nordic voices.

“I have had sex with Elvis.” she said.

“No you haven’t,” I replied. “You are far too young to have done that. There’s no point trying to impress people with blatant falsehoods.”

She seemed taken aback by my curt repudiation of her claim.

“I am not too young!” she insisted. “I am 22 years. That is not too young to have sex!”

“It is too young to have done it with Elvis!” I countered. “When he died, the gleam in your daddy’s eye had not yet become a wet spot on your mummy’s panties. I hope you’re not one of those silly people who thinks that Elvis is still alive and composing rock ballads with Buddy Holly somewhere in Wyoming.”

“Not EL-VIS!” she cried, doing a little jig to emphasize her point. “EL-VES! I have had sex with EL-VES!”

Her funny little accent had caused me to misconstrue her meaning. However the amended assertion was only slightly less far-fetched.

“Have you indeed?” I said. “Please describe these so-called elves on whom you bestowed your carnal favours. Men of low character often use deception to smooth the path of seduction. The impersonation of elves might be yet another devious tactic employed for that end.”

“Elves are tall, beautiful people with blue eyes and blond hair. They can make themselves invisible and are very gentle lovers. To have sex with an elf is like being licked by a hundred tongues.”

Had I been feeling sarcastic, I might have congratulated her on knowing what it feels like to be an ice-lolly in a bus full of Norwegian tourists. But I had grown rather fond of this earnest little madam and her elvish fantasies, so I decided to adopt a more avuncular tone. She told me that her name was Hallgerdur and that she planned to write a book about her sexual adventures with elves. I advised her to test the water by first documenting her experiences in a blog, and I’m pleased to say that she
acted on my suggestion.

These Icelanders are certainly an odd bunch. I put it down to living on a rocky island at the edge of the world. Humans in such far-flung locations often adopt strange habits to make people notice them. New Zealand is another place inhabited by a weird collection of humans. Many years ago, I remember seeing a TV clip of a Maori exposing his rump to the Queen of England, there on a state visit. It seemed an utterly futile act – the Queen had spent her entire life ignoring bottoms and certainly wasn’t going to inspect one that wasn’t part of her official itinerary.

When I later mentioned this incident to a New Zealander on safari, he said that the man had been protesting about the annexation of his ancestral land by an officer of the British Crown. Being a fair-minded ape, I revised my opinion of him. You can’t blame a fellow for mooning at people to draw attention to the theft of his property. If any henchman of the Queen of England stole my land, she’d be sniffing my hairy arse for breakfast, lunch and supper.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A new era?

I am surprised to see a white-haired, white-suited American gentleman at the safari guesthouse. I ask him whether he has submitted his ballot by post.

“No member of my family has participated in a presidential election since Mr Lincoln ran for office in 1860,” he declares in a wheezy Southern drawl. “Any poll that could make that long-legged Yankee jackanape its winner is no better than a pig-in-the-poke auction at a carnival.”

I suck my teeth and nod, as if his views were widely held among the gorillas of the Congo. It’s best to humour eccentrics when you’re tending bar. I once served an Italian who said that Mussolini was the greatest of men. He boasted that he’d licked the fingers of Il Duce’s granddaughter when she gave him her hand to kiss. Imagine being proud of something so yucky! I wouldn’t have done that if she’d just eaten Chicken McNuggets. As for President Lincoln, I have nothing against the man. He made a number of clever remarks in his career and was assassinated through no fault of his own.

So it looks like Mr Obama has won. Call me a sentimental ape, but I’d always rather hoped that Sidney Poitier would be America’s first black president. What a noble fellow he played in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner! My favourite bit was when he told Spencer Tracey that he’d ditch Little Miss Muffet if the old curmudgeon so much as whispered a word of disapproval. Manners of that sort are rare these days, even in the most exalted circles. President ‘Kiss-My-Willy’ Clinton would have probably asked the girl’s father to buy her a pair of knee-pads as an engagement present.

I can’t help sighing wistfully at all these fresh-faced young Americans who expect the world to love their country now that Morgan Freeman Junior is headed for the White House. If only life were that simple! They should consider what would have happened if Dirty Harry had started sweet-talking everyone and inviting them to settle their differences with him amicably. He might have initially impressed a few wishy-washy types in the DA’s office, but the carping would have resumed the very next time he fired his 44-Magnum in anger. As for the hoodlums and assassins, they would have hated him all the more for behaving like a pussy.

I’m not saying that President Obama has to punk anyone out himself to prove a point – that would be undignified. But he ought to make a few strong appointments to send the right signals. My recommendation for the top job at the Pentagon would be Oscar ‘Mad Coyote’ Johnson, the big cat trainer from Nevada. He was seconded to our circus in ’95 and the lions used to piss themselves whenever he entered their cage. He remains the only human I’ve ever seen kick a full-maned adult in the posterior. On getting the defence portfolio, he’d take the first plane to Afghanistan in full circus gear – I assure you that he'd unravel every turban in Paktia province.

Yet when all is said and done, the fate of a great nation lies not in the palm of any one man, nor even in his navel or armpit. From sea to shining sea shall the people renew the cryptic chords of union. The granite-faced farmer of Vermont; the powder-faced hoochie of LA; the folks in between with the big, wobbly bottoms – together they shall bring forth a new birth of shopping malls and condos for the honest real estate speculator to chance his remaining dollars on. And given the current state of the market, that would be no bad thing. E pluribus unum poonam bajwa as we say in the Congo.

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