I was looking back though the annals of this blog and stumbled across a true story from my professional life. The memories of that afternoon remain quite clear in my mind even to this day. Back in 2011, twelve years ago, I tried to convey what had transpired in a blogpost titled "Gorillagram". By my calculations, the incident itself must have happened in the summer of 1990 or thereabouts and that was, rather astonishingly, nearly thirty three years ago.
In 2011 only three visitors commented on the post. They were John Gray from the infamous "Going Gently" blog, a lady called Pat from Arkansas and Bob Brague from Canton, Georgia who is still the mastermind behind "Rhymes With Plague" - even though it is "off air" for a little while right now. Through the years, blog commenters come and go and so that's why I thought it would be perfectly acceptable to edit and recycle the old post....
This story from a summer's afternoon some twenty years back sticks in my mind. Listen...
All week I've been working in the Hicks Building of the University of Sheffield. I am part of a team of twenty five English teachers. We are Review Panel A and it is our job to scrutinise English coursework from two hundred plus secondary schools to ensure that examination standards have been accurately applied during internal assessments of candidates' coursework assignments.
It is laborious work. Piles and piles of students' scripts from all over the north of England. We beaver away all week in a large psychology lab where normally herds of psychology undergraduates would be accommodated. At the front is the formidable team leader, Tom Firkin, who cracks his whip intermittently to ensure we all maintain a good pace in our communal effort to erode this daunting mountain of writing. I work at the far side of the room near the window.
After lunch on Friday, we are all relieved to see that the mountain is now just a tiny hillock and the end is very close. Tom Firkin calls the assembled twenty five to order and conversation ceases. After all, this is the most important session of the week - we're discussing our expenses! Tom passes out copies of Expenses Form 17a (Yorkshire and Humberside Examinations Authority). No longer beavers but now gluttonous hogs, we see ££££ signs before our eyes.
Suddenly and without warning, the double doors in the far corner open and in barges a hefty six foot gorilla! Well it isn't really a gorilla, it's a man in a full length gorilla suit. I sit grinning broadly at the surreal incongruity of this moment. In those days kissograms, stripograms and yes - gorillagrams were fashionable at certain events - hen nights, stag dos, fortieth birthday parties etc.. So here is a gorillagram in a serious exam meeting. Bizarre! But who is he here to embarrass?
Other examiners are grinning too. Even Tom Firkin is smiling nervously, not knowing how to react. Meanwhile, the gorilla, swinging its arms and producing throaty noises like the sound of boxer Frank Bruno laughing, circumnavigates the lab and moves along the line of examiners by the window aisle. When he reaches me, he stops and looks down. Then in a moment which I have little opportunity to control, this damned gorilla picks me up and literally flings me over his shoulder in a version of the fireman's lift. Hell, I was almost as big a guy then as I am now - at least sixteen stones of pure Yorkshire Pudding.
Up there on the gorilla's shoulder, smiling stupidly at the other examiners who are now guffawing in unison, I puzzle as to what this is all about. It's not my birthday. Have I won a jackpot on the football pools? And where is he taking me?
Then the door opens again and in bursts a posse of examiners from Review Panel B who have been working in a different part of the building all week.
Their leader sees what's going on and yells to the gorilla: "No! Not him! Him!" pointing to an examiner of similar handsome appearance who was also wearing a blue shirt and was also stationed near to the window wall.
The gorilla dumps me and then descends on the quarry he had really been hired to humiliate. As I recall, it was indeed his birthday. But the intended funny scene has been distorted by the gorilla's poor hunting instinct. After all, gorillas are essentially vegetarian leaf munchers!
When the sweaty gorilla takes his head off, I compliment him on his sheer strength and he in turn is apologetic about my embarrassment. Two minutes later, the intruders, including King Kong have departed and Review Panel A returns to the important business of claiming expenses.
It was certainly one of the strangest incidents from my entire time in teaching and I remain eternally grateful that the gorilla did not drop me.
This made me laugh: "..at least sixteen stones of pure Yorkshire Pudding." That sounds like a WILD time! What fun!ReplyDelete
Who needs muscle when you are filled with Yorkshire pudding?Delete
Well I guess being thrown over the shoulder of a six foot ape is a much better outcome than some other scenarios that cross my mind.ReplyDelete
Your mind is a deep, dark cave where I would be scared to go.Delete
Happy birthday, mon ami! Now stop monkeying around.ReplyDelete
You got your dates wrong old timer!Delete
I'm glad you recycled this post - well worth the read!ReplyDelete
Thanks for reading it Trotro (Donkey)!Delete
I also spent part of my summer marking papers with a roomful of markers but we never had the fun of a gorilla visiting and picking on the wrong guy.ReplyDelete
Did you have a grizzly bear?Delete
A little excitement in an otherwise boring day :)ReplyDelete
You got it Madame!Delete
Hmm... certainly a memorable moment. I am sure none of those present have forgotten that day, although probably the majority would not be able to recall it in such detail.ReplyDelete
I am glad I wrote it down - both in 2007 and 2011. It has helped me to remember those details.Delete
That morning I would never have expected that such a thing was about to happen.Delete
After the Snow man I thought you had been attacked by the Yeti!ReplyDelete
It's all crazy in Yorkshire Pudding World. Last night I was chased by Prince Harry and Liz Truss riding on velociraptors while yelling "Tally-o!"Delete
Ha! That IS a pretty weird incident, especially in that setting.ReplyDelete
It dented my professional reputation.Delete
All I can say is 'Good Heavens'. I thought I was following you that far back. I shall have to go and see.ReplyDelete
Well I became a member of the Order of The Laughing Horse in 2013 so I was certainly following then.ReplyDelete
I have certainly "known" you through blogging for a pretty long while but I am not sure how far we go back.Delete
I can just picture it! I would have been terrified, even though I knew the gorilla was not for real.ReplyDelete
I was just scared about him dropping me. Up on his shoulder I felt like a sack of potatoes.Delete
A great story, well told. My ex sent me a singing gorilla on my birthday once. I was working in an isolated office, alone - god I hated the Wekiva Ridge project.ReplyDelete
How weird! Just you and and a gorilla man in an isolated office. Nobody to laugh at the "fun"! Can you recall what the gorilla sang?Delete
I doubt you'll ever forget that, no matter how much you might want to.ReplyDelete
It's tattooed in my brain.Delete
What a wacky experience! Livened up your conference, tho!ReplyDelete
Life is full of surprises.Delete
You couldn't make it up. Why would anyone want to be a gorilla gram? You certainly wouldn't take your head off your costume.ReplyDelete
I just had a moneymaking idea for you. Liven up parties and other events in the south west of Ireland with a visit from Superheroes Inc. You will need costumes of course. Your wife will be Catwoman, Number One Son will be Superman, Number Two Son can be Thor and you will of course be Mr Fantastic.Delete
"This time next year. We'll be Delboy and Robin!" Remember when they wore their Batman and Robin outfit's?Delete
12 years and I’m still hereReplyDelete
It's like that Elton John song..."I'm still standing after all these years..."Delete