I received the following email yesterday:
Dear Mr Bananas
I am a partner at the London law firm of A*** & H***, writing on behalf our client, a Mr Matthew Walton. He is a dentist whose career is in jeopardy because of allegations that he maliciously broke wind while treating his patients.
As a member of a species renowned for its flatulence, I trust you would have sympathy for one who faces ruin simply for performing this natural bodily function. In your wide experience of the activity, you must be intimately aware of its importance to good health and a comfortable bowel.
We should therefore be most grateful if you would agree to testify as an expert witness in the hearing of the General Dental Council in London. We would, of course, pay your travel and accommodation costs.
I initially thought this message was a practical joke. Many humans are familiar with the side effects of our healthy vegetarian diet, and quite a few of them enjoy drawing attention to this proclivity in a spirit of humorous banter. Teasing a gorilla by sending him hoax emails is much easier than cheeking him to his face, which most wags find intimidating. This is actually a pity, because we gorillas are quite able to appreciate a joke at our own expense. I would never hang a man upside down by his ankles merely for giving me a good-natured ribbing.
However, as the message contained the name of lawyer’s purported client, I decided to check its veracity by means of a google search. To my great surprise, I discovered a news report which corroborated the story, although the lawyer had obviously omitted various details unfavourable to his client.
The evidence suggests that this Matthew Walton farted wantonly in the presence of both patients and colleagues, and was greatly entertained by their disgust at the foul smells he produced. Their complaints merely added to his amusement.
“He found it funny,” said a nurse at the dental clinic. “If I spoke to him about it, he laughed and did it more.”
In no way is his behaviour comparable with that of us gorillas, who fart considerately in the open air, and direct our discharges so as to minimise the risk of passive fart inhalation by innocent bystanders (a category which excludes baboons and snakes, who are never innocent). With such issues in mind, I sent the following reply to the presumptuous lawyer:
Dear Mr C***
You are wrong to assume that I would have sympathy for your client. When we gorillas break wind, our gases are quickly diffused in the atmosphere and cause minimal aggravation to our fellow creatures. The practice of letting off in an enclosed space is wholly abhorrent to us. When I am inside a building, I do whatever I can to avoid such a calamity, including opening a window and positioning my backside to face outwards. Your client is obviously a reckless polluter who has no concern for the harm done by his obnoxious emissions. I must therefore decline your request.
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