Public speaking

The manager of the safari camp suggests I give the guests a lecture. “Tell them about the mating habits of gorillas and stuff like that,” he says.

We jungle dwellers prefer to disseminate our ideas informally,” I reply. “Pontificating in front of an audience is a pastime for pompous old farts.”

“Well you certainly know how to fart,” he remarks tartly.

“I’ll give them a lecture from my arse if you want,” I retort.

I explain that the best way to learn about our social customs is simply to socialise with us. I am used to fielding questions when I’m tending bar at the guesthouse, and I’ve not yet denounced anyone for being a nosey parker. If visitors want to see us in our natural habitat, they can join us in the jungle and find their inner ape. I love teaching humans how to scratch facial itches with their toes - the boosts it gives their self-esteem warms my primate heart

I once had to go to a lecture in my circus days. The ringmaster said I should listen to some physiotherapy guy explaining how to look after my body. I damned his impudence for suggesting that a human could teach a gorilla anything about physical fitness. He then showed me my contract of employment, which contained some ridiculous clause about attending a certain number of training events per year. I denounced the ringmaster for his legalistic pedantry and resigned myself to attending that execrable event.

The lecture theatre was almost full when I got there, the only empty seats being at the front. I cursed my bad luck. Having a quiet snooze isn’t very easy if the star of the show is spraying you with his spittle. When our venerable teacher entered the hall, I was struck by his pale complexion and wiry physique. Not the kind of features that pass for healthy in the Congo, I thought. He then began to speak in a dull drone, showing more interest in his slides than his listeners. I began to imagine what Houdini must have felt when he was underwater in a straitjacket.

Presently, the monotony was broken by the beeping of an electronic wristwatch at the back of the hall. This jolted our learned speaker into the realisation that the interest he was inspiring was less than rapt.

“Can everyone hear me?” he asked.

“I can hear you,” I announced, “but I wouldn’t mind changing places with someone who can’t.”

The audience tittered, and our lecturer’s pale face got some much needed colour.

“Let’s have a ten minute break while I sort out the mike,” he stuttered.

I clapped my hands delightedly and raced for the exit.

Before any teachers get annoyed, let me acknowledge that many in their profession are enthralling speakers. I would enthusiastically attend any lecture given by
Booby Miss Saby, who has taught classes of more than a hundred students. I would especially relish the moments when she turned round to write on the board, thereby giving us an eyeful of her stupendously sexy bottom. She is one human female who can sit on my lap whenever she wants.

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