As one of the world’s leading monkey-annoyance experts, I am regularly pressed by people to give handy hints on ways to annoy monkeys. For example, I might be leaning against a mantelpiece at a sophisticated cocktail party and be importuned by a sophisticated cocktail partygoer demanding to be told how he or she might best annoy a monkey. Invariably, I reply that I do not actually spend my time devising ways to annoy monkeys as a hobby or pastime, but that I am in fact a serious and dedicated scientist whose object of study is the neurological complexity of the monkey brain. No matter how sophisticated they are, my interlocutors are always disappointed to hear this, and move off across the drawing-room to strike up a new cocktail party conversation with somebody more amusing than me.
Personally, I can think of few activities more foolish than to deliberately annoy a monkey. When, for example, I shut a monkey in a room with a flying squirrel, I do so in the interests of science, not because it gives me a big belly laugh to watch how annoyed the monkey becomes. In any case, I am too busy keeping an eye on my monkey brain-scan monitors and other precision gubbins even to crack a smile. Now and then, it is true, one of my research assistants might chuckle at the monkey’s annoyance, but when that happens I punch the assistant on the jaw and transfer them to janitorial mopping duties for a week. They soon learn.
I recall first becoming fascinated by annoyed monkeys when I was a small child. My parents kept a pet monkey named Harrison, and it often became annoyed. Now I realise its annoyance was due to the presence of my parents’ other pet, a flying squirrel named Birtwistle. It took many long years of gruelling study for me to discover this. After all, Harrison might have been annoyed by many other things, such as my father’s habit of tapping his pipe on railings, or my mother’s staple gun, or my sister’s frosty icing palaver, especially on Sundays. These things annoyed me, so why should they not annoy the monkey? Only after enrolling in a baccalaureate in monkey annoyance at a large and important seat of learning did it begin, slowly, to dawn on me that Birtwistle the flying squirrel could be the primary cause of Harrison the monkey’s annoyance. By the time my studies were complete, and I published my world-shuddering paper on monkey annoyance, both the pets were dead, as were my parents. My sister, meanwhile, had run off to an ashram with a yogi.
I have since published several other papers, equally brilliant, on further monkey annoyances. Now I am ready to go beyond annoyance to rage, and am investigating advanced methods of enraging monkeys. So if you should encounter me at a sophisticated cocktail party, oh do not ask “What is it?” let us go and make our visit to the enraged monkey lab, where you can see for yourself how tirelessly I probe the inner workings of the monkey brain, and your brain too, if your brain resembles that of a monkey, which it probably does, judging by the people I meet at the sophisticated cocktail parties to which I am invited.
Now off you go and read the Christian Science Monitor.
(Thanks to Glyn Webster for alerting me to this important news item.)