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.