It is my lot as a scribbler to research subjects so you don’t have to. It is selfless and noble and ill-paid work, but I do it uncomplainingly – well, apart from those times, increasingly frequent, when I buttonhole bystanders at the bus stop or in the post office queue and unburden myself by delivery of a dyspeptic harangue. But otherwise I do not complain. So when Outa_Spaceman left a comment on the piece Find The Bailing Bucket, seeking further particulars of Urgh the howler monkey – mentioned at the very end of the page here – I set to the task with a will, with vim, even with gusto. Granted, at one point I did shout out of the window at a passing hoodieperson, but otherwise I spent uninterrupted hours with my head buried in the sorts of reference works where one might expect to find out all there is to be found out about howler monkeys. I can now present my preliminary findings.
The first thing to do is to cast from your mind everything David S Nelson of Falls Church, VA,* has to say about Urgh the howler monkey. He is wrong, wrong, wrong, and I think I know why. Mr Nelson has almost certainly garnered all that stuff about berries and anacondas and noisy breathing and disgusting bananas from a collection of newspaper cuttings held in a cardboard box in the archives of one of the less reliable howler monkey information centre libraries. It is a common enough mistake. You would not guess, from the PR guff put out by this particular library, that it is a hotbed of disinformation, possibly funded by Communists and similar weedy-brained ne’er-do-wells, but I guessed, because I am fab that way, and don’t you forget it!
The newspaper cuttings are convincing forgeries, but forgeries nevertheless. By dint of the pincer-like precision of my research, if I mean pincer-like, and I think I do, I can reveal exclusively that the deliberate counterfeiting of details of Urgh the howler monkey’s biography served a malign purpose, but fortunately not one with cataclysmic world-juddering implications. Indeed, if the fiendish scheme had come to fruition, it would have had an effect only within the immediate vicinity of the information centre, and the effect itself, hideously awful as it would be, would have dissipated within a day or so. It makes one wonder why some weedy-brained ne’er-do-wells will go to such lengths, it really does. But perhaps that goes some way to account for the weediness of their brains.
Having jettisoned the twaddle eagerly lapped up by Mr Nelson, what are we left with? A monkey, a monkey which howls, and which is called Urgh, By God!, it is not beyond the wit of man to track down such a creature and apprise oneself of the facts. That is why, tomorrow, I shall embark upon the next stage of my research. Having pored over the hefty leather-bound directories on the mahogany shelves of a reliable howler monkey information centre library, and made voluminous notes in my notepad with my propelling pencil on the location of a number of promising howler monkey colonies, I have already purchased a return ticket to travel potentate class on a freight container ship sailing tomorrow morning for an appropriate continent. My pippy bag is packed and I’m ready to go, I’m standin’ here outside a door, as Denver might have put it. I am brimming with almost laughable self-confidence that, upon my return, I will be in a position to write the definitive warts and all biography of Urgh the howler monkey, guaranteed to be one hundred percent true, and fully illustrated with pencil sketches, watercolours, rotogravures and mezzotints.
* NOTE : I think it is worth mentioning here that there is one inhabitant of Falls Church, VA, who proudly sports a Hooting Yard lapel accoutrement. But it is not David S Nelson. It is one John Huston, who, as a Hooting Yard reader, probably knows more about howler monkeys than Mr Nelson will ever learn.