An English tourist asks me if I’m keen on internet shopping.
“No, by God!” I reply emphatically. “In the first place, the monkeys would steal the goods I ordered. In the second place, there is nothing I would wish to order.”
“There must be something you want!” he exclaims. “Even gorillas need their toys.”
“It’s not a question of toys, my good man, but of trust! Didn’t you hear of the scoundrels who were arrested for selling fake penises on the internet? May they languish in gaol until they repent of their phallic fraud!”
“Seems a bit harsh,” he remarks. “If impersonating a cock is an imprisonable offence, half the male population of Dagenham should be doing time.”
Not being familiar with Dagenham, I decide to let him have the last word. I’m sure the place is nothing like as bad as he implies. All the same, I’ll remember to avoid it the next time I’m in England. Why take a chance?
It seems that a lot of people are using the internet as a less stressful way of doing their Christmas shopping. Thankfully, we don’t bother with such soulless chores in the jungle. Every Christmas, I present the manager of the safari camp with some freshly picked fruit and he gives me a portrait photo of his wife in return. A very good one, I should add. Someone must be pinching her bottom to get such expressions out of her. Anyway, these friendly gestures of seasonal goodwill do away with the need for vulgar commercialism and its attendant cash transactions.
I’m sorry to say that no similar custom existed in my circus days. Being the highest-paid performer, I felt obliged to splash out on Christmas gifts for my colleagues. After some vexing experiences in department stores, I hit upon the perfect solution in the form of Dr Whispnade’s goldsmith, one Joos ‘Juicy’ de Villiers. Born in South Africa, he fled the horrors of the apartheid regime in the 1970s and settled in a modest home in Mayfair. There was also a pending warrant for his arrest on smuggling charges, which he assured us were cooked up by the state security police to punish him for “helping the blicks” (as he put it).
Juicy’s speciality was gold coins, but not the ones issued by governments. He would mint you custom-made specie with any engraving that took your fancy. Being an imaginative ape, I designed an exquisite collection of ‘Bananarands’ to give as Christmas presents. The ladies loved coins with romantic inscriptions, e.g. a sleeping maiden beneath the epigram Your Head Forever On My Hairy Chest. The clowns preferred kinky ones, e.g. a drag performer with the words Old Man’s Petticoat inscribed thrice around the edge.
The wonderful thing about those gifts was the sentimental value they rapidly acquired. It soon became apparent that no one would sell their coins unless faced with the most abject penury. To this day, I know of a retired clown who refuses to part with his Bananarands to buy a new set of dentures. He would rather live on gruel and mashed potatoes than sell them for the handsome sum they would now fetch. Such honest devotion would have surely brought a tear to Scrooge’s pitiless eye. Think of that clown when you stagger away from this year’s Christmas lunch table, with bloated belly and giddy head. A human who values a treasured gift above false teeth is an example to us all.
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