The Monkey Mayor




With thanks to Tom Phillips - find his site here" - and Michael Carnell, who passed this on to me! he's at

With thanks to Tom Phillips – find his site here” – and Michael Carnell, who passed this on to me! he’s at

Outrageous! A map of the UK in stereotypes. To which – for anyone lacking a sense of irony – neither I, nor  Tom  Philips subscribe. This map is humorous. It’s a joke.

Although I would wager a fair amount on there being a high number of nervous sheep on the Welsh coast. And I have had more cider in the West Country than anywhere else (I never want to taste another drop). We all know there’s a space-time rift in Cardiff, what with Torchwood and Dr Who originating from there….and then there’s the monkey mayor.

Maybe you know about Hartlepool. We in the UK have never let them forget their past. Their football team is nicknamed the Monkey Hangers.

Reel back to Napoleonic times, and the slight neurosis about Napoleon sailing the short distance across the sea to England and conquering them as he had done much of Europe. England took Napoleon seriously. They built squat Martello towers, hulking round fortresses, to pepper England’s South Coast, and England’s white cliffs were hollowed out into tunnels to store an underground anti-Napoleonic garrison.

So when a French ship got into trouble off the coast of Hartlepool, it was natural they should not lift a finger to help, but stand on the shore eyeing the craft with suspicion.

All on the boat perished. Save one: amongst the wreckage was a small monkey, dressed, the story goes, in French uniform.

Well: the legend says that in the days when you never travelled to the next village, let alone further afield,the Hartlepool people had never seen a French man before. And they assumed this was some kind of wizened spy.

They held a trial right there on the beach, and hanged the unfortunate monkey for espionage.

But that was centuries ago, and is no reflection on the intellect of the Hartlepool people whatsoever.

We will make scant mention of the hullabaloo surrounding the large bone washed up on Hartlepool in 2005. There was some suggestion amongst the locals that here, at last, was a monkey bone to back up the monkey legend.

Closer examination revealed it to be a 6,000 year old deer bone, so that was the end of that.

It was in 2002 that Hartlepool held elections for its first mayor.

We all know that to get a spike on any social media channel, we post a kitten. And it was a tactic in this vein which helped elect the mayor: for Steward Drummond campaigned as H’angus the monkey. Spot the macabre wordplay.

With the classic slogan, “Free Bananas For Schoolchildren”, how could he lose.

The irony is that he turned out to be a really very good mayor indeed.



31 thoughts on “The Monkey Mayor

  1. You live and learn. Thanks, Kate! And yes it’s true– the local sheep run away when we pass by (the ewes bleating ‘come away’ to their lambikins).

    Except when they’re hungry, and then it’s a mass stampede as they see you as a ministering angel– shame we’re always empty-handed.

  2. I’m kind of in the region of Won’t shut up about the Beatles and Wags, Kate, but neither apply to me I have to say. And I noticed a little link to the Seventeenth Century up there in Scotland, that I’m sure I will have to investigate! Stereotypes are comical if not taken seriously!

  3. Finally! A post from you in my reader. Mac would be in his bliss if he could sink his teeth in that deer bone. My shower curtain happens to be a blown up stereotype that was a 2001 New Yorker cover mocking the five boroughs of New York. Some stereotypes are rather welcome.

    1. Hurrah – god this is appearing in people’s readers! Thanks for all your help in nailing the problem, Virginia.I think a little gentle satire is rarely a bad thing. Loved this when I saw it.

  4. “But that was centuries ago, and is no reflection on the intellect of the Hartlepool people whatsoever.”

    Are you sure? *wink wink nudge nudge say no more say no more*

  5. I live in the nobody lives here bit…just letting everyone know! Mind you I am very close to the Wildlings bit…

  6. Yes, I thought of Mac when you mentioned that 6,000-year-old deer bone. It’s a funny map. Maybe my old-time folks took off from “next stop America” and got to Virginia and South Carolina just in time for the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War and so on. Oh, well, the grass is always greener somewhere else, eh? Since some of my folks (my branch) wound up in Texas (where there are not sheep, but cattle) they also got to deal with the Texas revolution from Mexico and the Regulator/Moderator War in Shelby County.

  7. I zoned right in on the CIDER area, Kate. (Though my ancestors on my mother’s side come from the region that reads INBRED. And they moved to a part of America that would also read INBRED.)

  8. I trust you to make my day Kate, and you keep doing it! You master the quinessential english way of saying one thing, stating that is just a joke, and then going right to the core, making us question ourselves and our values, perhaps it is true after all?

  9. Dear Kate, as much as I despair of what’s happening here in the States with regard to the recalcitrance of many in Congress and a Supreme Court that is the worse since the mid-1850’s out of which came the immoral “Dred Scott Decision,” I do love politics. Well love and hate both. But I read books about what’s happened in Washington, D.C. and on the local level because there is so much to learn about the folly of humans. I wish only that I could develop a better sense of humor about these follies and a belief that truly all shall–ultimately–be well. Peace.

  10. I live in the state called “Never Even Showed Up”….the smallest of the thirteen colonies, who didn’t even send delegates to Philadelphia to ratify the Constitution in 1787. At the top of our Statehouse is a character called “The Independent Man,” Unfortunately the name “Never…” is too big for the size of the state on any map.
    But it is a truly wonderful place to live…..can you guess who we are?

  11. This is really great. I had actually seen it on another blog, but without any added information. I laughed and laughed then, and didn’t even understand it. Thanks for some added color. It really is very clever, and great humor!

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