Tales Of Misadventure, Killer Monkey
Years gone by, animal menageries were a regular site on fairgrounds. Most people hadn’t seen exotic animals, so the chance to visit a sideshow with some of the more weird and wonderful inhabitants of our planet was a big draw.
By the time I was growing up on the funfair circuit, they had disappeared. The only one with anything exotic was Uncle Gilbert Chadwicks show that had mostly things like six legged sheep (dead and stuffed) and other weird things. It also had a monkey. An actual real live monkey called Joey.
Now some of the older kids would collect dead goldfish from the hook a duck stalls, and feed them to Joey. I was invited along one day to take part in this ritual. Unfortunately not being trained in the art of feeding monkeys, I held onto the fish a little too long, and Joey decided that the quickest way to his meal, was to bite me first to get me to let go.
I remember Colin, one of the bigger kids, giving me a drink of his shandy, as a sort of bribe to not tell my dad what had happened. Unfortunately walking in with blood streaming down my hand elicited a demand as to what had happened.
Cue a trip to the hospital. Which wouldn’t have been too bad, unfortunately we happened to be at Hartlepool at the time.
Now, if you don’t hail from the North East, then you might not be aware of the legend of the monkey hangers. That’s how locals are referred to by other denizens of the North East. The legend is, that during the Napoleonic wars. A French ship floundered off the coast of Hartlepool. Eventually being shipwrecked, the only survivor being the ships mascot which happened to be a monkey.
The monkey luckily survived and managed to make it to shore. Where unluckily it found itself in Hartlepool. The locals, never having met a Frenchman, arrested the unfortunate primate as an enemy combatant. They tried to question the monkey, which steadfastly refused to reply. Presumably being a French monkey it didn’t understand English.
After a short trial, where Monsieur Monkey refused to offer anything in his defence. They found him guilty of invading Hartlepool and sentenced him to immediate death by hanging. Perhaps if the poor sod had been fortunate enough to be shipwrecked somewhere civilised it might have had a longer lifespan. This one was more monkey killed than monkey killer.
Anyway, having been informed by dad that I had been bitten, the doctor understandably asked by what.
The answer of a monkey didn’t really go down to well, with the doctor being a local lad. After a second request for the breed of animal met with the same answer he became quite irate. Dad calmed him down and explained the situation. Seeing the funny side, I am sure the doctor repeated that story regularly on his coffee breaks. Anyway, a call to a specialist wid animal resource in London brought the reply that it should be treated the same way as a dog bite. A bloody big needle of anti tetanus, and a through clean and bandaging of the wound. So after all I survived the attack of the killer monkey.