Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The Organ Grinder's Monkey
In the good old days, long before I graced this planet with my presence, you could not walk down a street in Britain without bumping into a man grinding his organ whilst a monkey gayly (spelling? should it be gayley?) played atop it.
Ah yes, halcyon days!
Sadly, in Nanny's Britain, public organ grinding (the technical term for playing with one's organ) is somewhat frowned upon.
Paddy Cooke discovered this to his cost recently, when he attempted a bit of organ grinding in Ripley recently with his ape "Simon".
Ripley Town Council have banned Mr Cooke from public grinding until a risk assessment is carried out (pass the sick bag someone!).
For your information, Ripley also banned a Punch and Judy show because they worried about the dangers it presented to the public!
What are these people smoking?
Anyhoo, Mr Cooke's act is harmless enough (to those of us who live in the real world); he wears Victorian costume as he walks around playing his organ, a replica of an instrument used more than 150 years ago.
Interestingly Ripley Council claim that they are only acting "under orders", as the requirement for a risk assessment (applicable to clowns, brass bands and the Salvation Army) comes down from Amber Valley Borough Council.
So that's alright then!
By the way, I guess some of you may be thinking that maybe the monkey could escape and bite someone, or that the act may be cruel to the monkey.
At this stage I must point out one wee extra piece of information, "Simon" is in fact an animatronic monkey (it ain't alive!).
Mr Cooke (who has been grinding his organ for 15 years, and has two sons who also grind their organs) expresses it rather wryly:
"It's not as if I have a live monkey which might jump at people.
Mine is a battery-operated interactive toy and the best I have ever had.
He says things like 'I want a banana' and even once offered to tell me the sum of pi squared."
Simon is sometimes quiet and sometimes chatty. He's very realistic but is no danger to anyone.
I suppose someone might trip over a paving slab when listening to the music and blame me but I have been doing this for years without a problem."
Ho hum, it looks as though I will have to continue to grind my organ in the privacy of my own home then!
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