The Devil and his works

Have you noticed how the Satanists have been keeping a low profile lately? A dangerous sign. It means they’re up to something and it can’t be long before headless goats start appearing in the cornfields. Not that any of this worries me. Compared to voodoo witch doctors, the Satanists are about as frightening as Mr Bean. I speak as an ape who has witnessed a witch doctor cut a piece from his ear lobe, feed it to a chicken, bite off the chicken’s head and then eat its body raw.

The big breakthrough for the Satanists came in the film Rosemary’s Baby. Before then, they were widely regarded as cloak-wearing weirdoes who chanted obscure rites and tortured farmyard animals. Roman Polanski’s film portrayed them as regular folk who lived in apartments, watched TV and invited the neighbours for dinner – just a misunderstood minority trying to practice their faith in a hostile society.

The one person who comes off badly in that movie is the main man himself. Hollywood had often depicted the Devil as a suave, dark-haired seducer, capable of reducing a woman to a moaning spasm of multiple delights before turning her into a red-lipped succubus. But in Rosemary’s Baby, the Devil is an appalling werewolf who ravishes poor Mia Farrow with all the finesse of a pneumatic drill.

I’ve only ever had one brush with demonic forces and I’m 99% certain it was a dream. I was staying in Dr Whipsnade’s residence, sleeping in a guest room, when I was roused by the sound of a horrible low chuckle. I looked up to see a woman smiling foxily at me from the door of the en-suite bathroom. She was wearing a scarlet evening dress revealing ample and impressive cleavage, and bore a close resemblance to Fenella Fielding (Valeria Watt in Carry on Screaming). A gorgeous vamp, to be sure, but I could sense all too acutely the ugliness of her soul. There was also a slightly putrid odour beneath her perfume. You can’t fool a gorilla with appearance.

“Can I help you?” I inquired in my deepest Captain Peacock voice.

“I am beyond thy succour, O hairy one!” she replied in a tone of toxic velvet. “Heed my words for I have sour tidings to bring thee. Come hither and learn of thy doleful fate!”

I don’t know why these apostles of Satan always insist on speaking in Ye Olde English. I suspect it’s an attempt to match the language of the Bible – keeping up with the Jehovahs as it were. Nevertheless, I decided to get out of bed and comply with her request. She was pointing inside the bathroom, so I thought I’d better check it for spiders.

When I followed her through the bathroom door I was shocked to find myself walking through the promenade of a gigantic arcade. On both sides of the walkway, which seemed to extend to infinity, were countless adjacent studios, each occupied by humans acting out some kind of drama. Every studio was furnished to appear like part of a domestic home: sometimes a lounge, sometimes a bedroom, sometimes a kitchen and sometimes a garden.

Joan of Dark presently stopped by one of these arenas and bade me watch the humans. I saw three surly cockney women muttering angrily about “poppodoms”, “chapattis” and other Indian delicacies. In the next studio I saw an ugly man in leotards lapping up milk from a saucer held by some kind of dominatrix. Another revealed a weeping transvestite being comforted by a big-bosomed woman. With a shudder, I realised that Hell had been revealed! The she-devil, noticing my horror, turned to look at me with a malevolent smile.

“Observe thy fate, O Japing Ape, whose Earthly life is wasted in tomfoolery! Thy shallow soul will find a berth amid these churls and be vex-ed eternally.”

“Did you say ‘amid these churls’?” I asked in stupefied revulsion. “Surely watching the blighters is bad enough!”

“Nay, thou must join them: play thy part in all! He who loves pleasure, must for pleasure fall.”

Enough was enough. I don’t mind a spirited debate, but when a handmaiden of Hell starts taunting me with rhyming couplets it’s time to call a halt to proceedings.

“I regret, madam, that when my time comes I shall be unable to attend this function. I have a prior engagement with the Hairy Krishnas. I’m with the karma crowd, you see.”

I didn’t regret it a bit, of course, but one has to maintain one’s manners, even with a daughter of Beezelebub. I was pleased to see an expression of confused annoyance appear on her face.”

“Thou liest, Bananas!” she hissed. “Thou art Presbyterian. The computer sayeth thus!”

“Not me, Sister!” I replied airily. “I’m a Church of Congo Ape. You’ve got me confused with Billy Connolly. As for the computer, it’s the old story of ‘garbage in, garbage out.’ That’s a saying we mortals have. Now if you don’t mind I’ll be making tracks back to my bed. A lady of your allure surely understands the importance of beauty sleep.”

I turned my back on the demonic damsel and found myself tucked up cosily in bed almost before I had taken a step.

I don’t know about you, but when I wake up I usually have no recollection of my dreams. On this occasion I remembered every detail, which left me feeling slightly uneasy. I decided to review my life in all its aspects. Was I doing a sufficient number of good deeds? Was I caring for the widow and the orphan of the fallen ape? Was I binding up the wounds of the injured primate? I felt sure that it was only a dream, but perhaps it was some kind of message from on high. At any rate, there was no harm in playing it safe.

After some deliberation, I doubled my monthly contribution to the Society for Retired Geishas with Pet Gorillas.

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