Arise, Sir Tom!

Splendid news from England! Tom Jones, the yodelling stud, has received his long overdue knighthood. The Japing Ape’s recent lobbying must have been the coup de grace that convinced the Queen of England to summon him for the shoulder-tap. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to witness Sir Tom ride off in his suit of armour after receiving his medallion, which he will no doubt forever display on that manly chest of his. But I sent him a telegram so he knew I was there in spirit.

Although the circus I belonged to gave countless shows in England, I never once met the Queen. Our paths never quite seemed to cross – I might be performing in Guildford while she was at the races in Epsom; that sort of thing. I did once meet her daughter-in-law, the Duchess of York, who rushed to meet me after a show in my final season in the circus.

“Gosh, Mr Bananas, you were so fantastic!” she gushed. “I almost wet my knickers laughing when you sat on that clown!”

“Thank you, Your Highness,” I replied. “I’m glad you enjoyed the show.”

“Oh just call me Fergie, everyone else does. I really wish my daughters could have seen you today. They’re away with their dad for the summer hols so they’ll have to wait until next year.”

“I regret that I will not be performing next year,” I said. “You see, Miss Fergie, this is my last season before returning to Africa. But do take your daughters to the show anyway, there will be many worthy acts to beguile and amuse them.”

“Oh you can’t be leaving us!” she wailed. “It’s really shocking that my relatives don’t know about you. I’m going to make sure my mother-in-law hears about what a great entertainer you are and everything you’ve done for the image of gorillas.”

I thanked Fergie for her kind words and watched her trot away with her chauffeur. I didn’t expect to hear from her again, so it came as a great a surprise when a letter arrived a week later with royal insignia on the envelope. It was from Fergie, who had been given the job of sounding me out on the award of a knighthood before departing for the Congo. Although I greatly appreciated this gracious gesture, I knew at once that I would have to decline. The problem was the likely reaction in the community I would shortly be joining.

If the simians of the Congo got to hear that a gorilla had accepted a knighthood, they would be quite merciless in their mockery. And by “mockery”, I don’t mean the good-natured ribbing that a man might get after being voted “sexiest bum” by his female co-workers. The monkeys would literally be queuing in the trees to piss on my head. The gorillas, meanwhile, would be dreaming up practical jokes to play on me, like putting a live scorpion in the coconut shell I use as a finger bowl. The parrots, of course, would be irresistibly drawn into the affair. They would gather around me at the crack of dawn, while I was still asleep, and shriek “Arise, Sir Bananas!” at the top of their voices. It would be more than an honest gorilla could bear.

The tricky question was how to reply to Fergie’s letter without seeming aloof or ungrateful. One does not want to appear too proud to accept a knighthood. I eventually settled on the explanation that accepting such a prestigious award would offend my fellow gorillas by violating our ancient customs and traditions. I thought this would play well in The Palace, given the current focus on multiculturalism.

I also suggested that an acceptable way of recognising my contribution would be for a royal spokesperson to speak out, now and again, in support of one of the causes I favoured. The mouthpiece wouldn’t have to be anyone too important – a butler or private secretary perhaps – and the cause could be something fairly uncontroversial like organic farming. Imagine my surprise when I found out that no less a personage than the Prince of Wales had been chosen to promote the Gorilla Bananas agenda! It’s a good thing they didn’t make the Queen do it! – I’m sure she has enough on her plate, what with one thing and another.

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