Comrade Bananas

A correspondent asks me whether any human clubs are open to gorillas. A surprising number of them are, in my experience. A few of them, in fact, were quite eager to enrol me once they got over the initial shock.

I very nearly joined the Communist Party. It all started when I read one of their pamphlets, which said that workers were being short-changed by greedy capitalists living off the fat of the land. As a hard-working circus ape, I thought I’d go along to their next branch meeting for some tips on how to get a pay rise. When I arrived at the mostly-empty hall, I found a gang of humans who were as sullen and sinister as the crocodiles of the Congo. They turned in my direction as I entered, glaring at me in suspicious silence.

I decided that a big gesture was required to break the ice with these grim-faced zealots. “Power to the workers!” I shouted, punching my fist in the air. “Fraternal greetings from apes toiling in the circuses and safari parks!”

After some confused muttering, a balding chap with a thin moustache took the floor. “Comrades!” he proclaimed, “our hairy friend is a natural ally of the working classes. Who would know more about our struggle against oppression than he? – an ape who was abducted from his rightful habitat and forced to perform bourgeois tricks in front of an audience of sell-outs and lackeys!”

How everyone applauded! His potted biography was not entirely accurate, but I wasn’t going to risk the goodwill of the assembly by quibbling about minor historical details. I basked in the adulation of the moment and declared that a broad popular front of workers and apes would terrify the powers-that-be. At the end of the meeting, the chair proposed a motion making me a provisional party member – and it was carried unanimously!

Before getting my party card, I had to take some lessons in Marxist theory from my assigned mentor. This fellow, called Bert, had a scruffy beard and spoke with a northern accent. He seemed to have a lot of time on his hands, because he’d turn up at the circus almost every day and invite himself to lunch with the performers. He spoke a lot about coal miners, benefit cuts and the evils of international capital. When we were doing a show, he got a free seat as my guest and stayed for supper. But after a couple of weeks of indoctrination, I was still none the wiser on how to get more money. It’s all very well learning about class struggle, but what purpose does it serve if you’re no richer at the end? After being entertained generously at our expense, I felt it was about time that Bert came up with some practical suggestions – and after a particularly boring lesson on dialectical materialism, I told him so.

“Being a communist isn’t about feathering your own nest, GB,” he opined. “We’re a vanguard movement that protects the interests of all the workers.”

After a dozen free meals, this sort of talk was wearing very thin. In fact, I lost all patience with the bearded git. “If the workers had more money, maybe they wouldn’t need a movement looking after their interests!” I blurted out irritably. “And I’m fed up with all your talk about the workers anyway. You’re the first human I’ve met who’s always going on about workers but never does any work!”

Bert tugged his beard furiously and glowered at me as if I’d peed in his soup. “I should have realised that a species renowned for chest-thumping and polygamy would be reactionary to the core!” he snapped. “Come the revolution, you’d better take the first plane to Africa, because you’ll definitely be on our list of class enemies!”

He stormed off in a huff, and his departure marked the end of my brief association with the Communist Party.
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