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Tag Archives: Christmas tree

  • Orang-Utangover!

    The bar has reached a Friday evening peak. Everybody is loud and excitable, Prosecco is flowing and there is love and laughter everywhere. The Headache Fairy will be busy tomorrow, but for now...

    "...So, then I said, right, I said 'And anyway, darlin, that's not a banana you're peeling!'" Mass guffaws. HAHAHAHA HA HA HA ha...ha...haaa...and fade to black. And silence.


    A chimpanzee is lying beneath a tree. Well, perhaps "beneath" dignifies the picture somewhat. "Underneath" might be better. And the tree is horizontal. On the floor surrounding the chimp are a number of festive baubles, and on a nearby sofa is a crumpled heap of clothes and blankets. Looping on his television screen is a video of a chimp invasion of a wine store. After a BLT he will realise how much fun last night's Christmas party was, but right now he is sulking about a lost battle with a tree.

    "Oi, Snazzy", he says to the sofa. The crumpled heap moves a little to show the head of another chimpanzee, this one topped off with an angel. "How did we get here?"

    "I think we started off with a couple of aperitifs, Crazy, Laurent-Perrier Non-Vintage, £27 a pop. Christmas has come early at that price..."


    "No, here!" I was a tree climbing aristocracy not so long ago, now I'm pinned to the floor by a Norwegian Spruce wondering how I'm going to get to work. I should be sitting in the sunshine picking fleas off my girlfriend, not working in a wine shop in Clapham!"

    "Well for a start, I warned you against putting your Christmas tree up after a night on the Brasso. You should have savoured some Bourgogne Blanc Girardin with me - elegant, pleasantly aromatic, and appealingly fruity. The wine's not bad either, boom boom!"


    "And as for your job, well, think about it. People want a shop with character, and they want the best of everything. The confused man with ten quid who'd never been in the place before - you gave him Coteaux du Pont du Gard - fruit, structure, intensity and complexity. And a rather saucy joke. Think how some small part of his life may have been changed by a wine of such quality. He might have had a Road to Damascus moment with a country wine from Avignon."


    "...and the lady wanting a change from boring, boring Pinot Grigio? Domaine de Coudoulet Viognier - a lovely flowery nose and tropical fruit on the palate, balanced with a dash of citrus. She didn't think wine shopping could be such fun, and now she's looking at the more generic offerings with something approaching pity. You see, we send out little ripples of love and affirmation with every bottle, and though you can't see them, they cross your path with every step you take from the shop to Clapham Junction station. Every cosy looking, lamp lit window may have a Coudoulet Viognier behind it. If only you knew!"


    "Cor blimey, Snazzy, you don't half talk some cobblers. And there's nothing elegant or pleasantly aromatic about you while you're piled up on my settee! Now get yourself out and get us a banana, lettuce and tomato, while I sort some coffee out."

    As the front door closes, Crazy Chimp's mind drifts to Snazzy's comments. To the tables he may have enriched in some way, to the laughter he's brought to unsuspecting shoppers, to the enrichment of his own mind and so many others with knowledge of the seemingly obscure or opaque. Clapham has become a beautiful place, and Christmas is his, for him to give to the world!

    Well, that's if he can get from under this tree now Snazzy's gone out...

  • TERRY'S TALES Part Five: Waking Up

    Welcome to Part Five of Terry's Tales. If you've missed any episodes, you can catch up with Part One herePart Two here, Part Three here or Part Four here.


    Part Five: Waking Up

    Waking up, Terry thought something was different. He could see that the landscape before him had changed, quite considerably. He also noted that he was swinging back and forth in what, he was beginning to deduce, was a glass jar.

    His deductions, having taken some time to occur, had brought him up to speed with Gwinny, who was, he also now noted, standing in front of him, shouting her head off.

    “Wake up, you stupid ant, WAKE UP!”

    “Er,” Terry managed. They were indeed in a glass jar, accompanied by a panic-struck stick insect, a bay leaf and some cotton wool. He tuned back into the monologue streaming from Gwinny’s mouth: “… why did you go to sleep? Now this sodding human’s packed us in a sodding jar with a sodding stick insect and a sodding bay leaf and there’s sod all we can do about it!” The honeymoon period’s over then, thought Terry, before beginning a long, confused apology.

    The apology was still continuing when the swinging motion stopped and they were transferred, very carefully, by some enormous pink fingers, into a tank in a warm, dimly lit room that appeared, for some reason, to have a colourfully lit fir tree in the corner.

    By now immune to further changes in circumstance, Terry and Gwinny set about exploring their new habitat, as did the still panic-stricken stick insect. “I’m sorry, Gwinny, I didn’t know I was so tired.” “Oh that’s alright, I’m equally to blame,” she relented. “Anyway, we’re here now – why don’t we have a look around?” So they did. Curiously wondering over piles of cotton wool, partially soaked in milk, further bay leaves and artfully arranged pieces of bark, they stumbled on a very surprising sight indeed. There, on a large leaf, lay the Queen and her children.

    “What the…” exclaimed Terry, as the Queen looked away, whistling, and did her best to pretend she hadn’t seen them. “Wait, Terry, let’s not start a war. There’s only one tank, and we all have to share it. Let’s be the bigger ants,” said Gwinny, though the irony of who was literally the bigger ant wasn’t lost on her and she giggled despite herself. She picked up a piece of the milky cotton wool and carried it over to the Queen.

    “I thought your kids, I mean, their Highnesses, might like this,” she said gently.

    Not knowing how to arrange her face, the Queen said she was thankful and accepted Gwinny’s offer. Looking and feeling very contrite, she wasn’t sure what to say, but thought she’d attempt some conversation, saying “I think this human is something of a collector,” to which they all grimly nodded. Terry wasn’t quite as ready to bury the past, thought, and asked the Queen why she persecuted Talkers.

    Leaning forward, fiddling with her forelimbs, she said “I understand. You need answers.” And she proceeded to explain that, generations ago, there was a brother and a sister who could talk. This ability led them to fall out: the brother thought they should try to find a way to teach the colony to talk, but the sister thought that they were the Chosen ants, and the power should stay with them. She assumed power and banished her brother to prison, but didn’t realise that he had had children, who could also talk. When she discovered he had family, she undertook to eliminate them all, but didn’t succeed. “And, generations later, I have done my best to continue her work”, then, hanging her head, she added “but I may have been gravely mistaken.”

    “OK, I’ve got it. I don’t want to dwell on the past anymore ,” said Terry, “I want to think about the future, because the reality is that we are family, and I think we have a lot of mending to do. And the first step is to teach that colony to Talk.”

    Gwinny thrust her head between them, dusted her shoulder theatrically, and reminded Terry that they were, more specifically, a royal family.

    “So that’s what I intend on doing, as soon as I can find a way out of here” continued Terry. Looking at Gwinny, he feistily asked, “are you with me?” to which she nodded vigorously.

    Turning back to the Queen, he quizzically asked, “are you with me?” at which she raised, possibly for the first time in her life, a little smile. Which turned into a big smile and, looking at her children, proudly said, “we’re with you.”

    “That’s settled then! But there’s one thing I don’t get: how did your great grandmother put her brother in jail after he’d copulated? Copulation Means Extermination – we all know that.”

    “Of course, you don’t know,” said the Queen, looking like she had some very good news indeed. Terry sat there rigid, eyes bulging in anticipation.

    “Talkers don’t die.”

    “We don’t die?”

    “That’s right.”

    “We... Gwinny and I… can live?”

    “That’s right.”

    The thought struck him not with joy, strangely, but with a slight anguish. “But all this time! I thought it was hopeless and I accepted that it would never happen. And I was prepared to die in order to do it. And now…” Terry didn’t know what to feel. The same doubt and fearful confusion that he’d felt when he met Gwinny came flooding back even stronger. “But I can’t…”, now weeping.

    “Yes you can. And you will… and, frankly my dear, it will blow your mind. But,” noticing Terry’s face turning crimson, “enough of that now…”

    Then quite a different doubt entered his mind: “But, my father didn’t survive – he died after copulation.”

    “Ah, I heard about that – natural causes, Terence. He died of a heart attack.”

    “It’s Terry,” he muttered, abstractedly, as he looked at the fire place, and then at Gwinny, bathed in the amber glow of the flames and heard the humans shout something that sounded like Happy Christmas, before bursting into a rather pretty song about some merry gentlemen. He felt merry indeed, now, actually, very merry indeed…

    The End


    Images artfully crafted by Catalin Ardeleanu.

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