09 March 2006

Crimping the Chimp

It occurred during my third year in boarding school.

I still recall my father’s words to the Headmaster as he dropped me off.“You lot will beat the boy.” He said in even tones. The Headmaster seemed rather taken aback.

“We do use corporal punishment as a last resort, but we certainly don’t beat children.” He sputtered.

“You lot will beat the boy.” It wasn’t a demand, but a fact. Da delivered the statement in the dispassionate tone of a prophesying psychic.

I certainly didn’t hold it against him; I knew, even at eleven to take him at his word. When dad said “Don’t let me catch you….” or “Get us a beer…” I believed he meant precisely what he said.

Oh, he wasn’t always correct, occasionally he would say something absurd like “You aren’t nearly as funny as you think you are, boy...”, but usually, say 95% of the time, you could take his words as gospel.

I firmly believed that Nostradadmus was spot on in this case. They would beat me, or my name was not Evil (which it wasn’t at that time, but no matter).

Queue the Scripture and French master that we boys unkindly referred to as “Pilf”. He wasn’t a bad sort, but he seemed befuddled with the current crop of kids’ inability to care much about maintaining the British Empire, as we knew it was, well, dead.

His response to this insult was to wield a yard stick (meter stick to those of you concerned with inch/Yodel conversions) like a katana wielding Imperial Japanese army POW camp guard. I’m quite convinced that I should not be able to bend my knuckles today, if I had not been able to mimic the voice of the dim-witted lad that sat next to me.

Then one perfect day, we were taken to the zoo for a science field trip. The Science master, who was a smart fellow, called off, sick. Pilf was the designated replacement.

The whole zoo was great, but the primate building was by far our favourite. After all, they flung poo and did other, um things to each other; and I’m not referring to the Marlin Perkin’s style mutual grooming either.

One of them, a hefty male chimp with the moniker BoBo, seemed quite taken with Pilf.

Maybe a spark was passed when they made eye contact, or maybe he had a thing for sweat beaded balding pates. Maybe it was just spring; when a chimp’s fancy turns to French masters, but whatever the reason, BoBo embarked on an impressive onanistic display that resembled a palsied paint-shaker on amphetamines.

I’m talking about a screeching 150kg chimp indulging in a wank-a-thon that really ought to have been set to a über fast death-metal sound track. All the while, BoBo’s unoccupied arm was pointing to the increasingly red pate of Pilf, who was desperately trying to escort us away from the region.

We’d have none of that. At eleven, this sort of display absolutely fascinating. We squirmed and darted around him until the climactic ending of the show.

For the next couple of weeks we would, on occasion, mime “pulling a BoBo” in class, whenever Pilf’s back was turned.

And all was fine until someone added sound effects and got rumbled. Then it turned out that Da was prescient once again.

And that's the way I likes it.