Although I generally eschew favouritism in my relations with humans, I will admit to having a soft spot for the schoolmistress. My love affair with the breed began at the start of my circus career, when the proprietor, Mr McDougall, summoned me to finalise the details of my contract.
“You’re a great talent, Bananas,” he said, “but you’ll need to improve your diction so you can mingle at ease with the VIPs who’ll want to meet you. I’ve hired a teacher to give you elocution lessons. She’ll have you speaking the Queen’s English in no time.”
He wasn’t wrong. As well as showing me how to enunciate my vowels, Miss Emily Honeysuckle instructed me in all the social graces. I don’t just mean kissing ladies’ hands and eating soup without slurping. She also taught me gorilla-specific skills, such as combing my chest hairs and giving women piggy-back rides without making them flustered or over-excited.
Miss Honeysuckle tutored me for the best part of a year, and would have doubtless continued for the best part of a decade had I not gently prodded her to conclude our business.
“My dear Emily!” I said (for we had grown rather close). “You have taught me everything I need to know with patience and tenderness and sweet sugar dumplings. Your work here is now complete, and armed with my glowing reference you will surely find a position at a prestigious school. Perhaps you will meet a handsome young geography master, who will beguile you with tales of exotic landscapes bearing luscious fruit and extra firm vegetables.”
“Oh GB!” she cried, shedding bitter tears. “I knew this day would come, yet now that it has arrived, my heart aches like an abandoned puppy!”
“There, there, Emily!” I said, pulling her gently to my bosom with a long hairy arm. “You must be brave and fulfill your destiny as a pedagogue and a woman.”
The reason for sharing this rather touching anecdote with you (apart from enhancing your capacity for empathy) is to explain my concern for a schoolmistress in England, who has been unjustly suspended from her job. Miss Kirsty Cook-Bell was dealt this harsh blow after publishing a few holiday snaps of herself on Facebook. The photos show her baring a little flesh (as ladies are wont to do in sunny climes), and the school is worried about the effect this will have on her pupils.
I can’t see what the problem is. Boys in her classroom will now pay her more attention, which is precisely what they should be doing. Perhaps the school is worried that some of these boys, in the privacy of their bedrooms, will use the photos as an aid to self-abuse. To address this particular concern, I will pass on some intelligence from my friend Smacker Ramrod, the circus vet. He once told me that the onanism he practiced as a boy fell into two distinct categories:
• the Who’s Your Daddy? wank, aided by pictures of unknown women in girlie magazines;
• the Darling I Love You wank, inspired by fantasies of women he was acquainted with, such as school teachers and mothers of school friends.
He confided to me that the second variety was (a) superior in the physical elation it produced and (b) more conducive to emotional well-being in the aftermath.
If Smacker’s experience is typical of schoolboys, Miss Cook-Bell should be reinstated forthwith, with a generous raise in her salary.
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