8 Apr 2011

Hestia's....own Ape House

Word of warning - Edinburgh zoo is on a VERY steep hill and by the time you are halfway up, and you're a 'little' unfit like me, you'll be praying for an iron lung, new calf muscles and a chance to sit down.

I did see some women pushing baby buggies past us, on their way up the hill to the zebras and admired their sweat-stained t-shirts, fortitude and swear words.  I would just have sat outside the cafe in the sun and drunk coffee until home time, if I was them.

The zoo visit is going well.  We have just visited the ape enclosure and fallen hopelessly in love with the Capuchin monkeys who fling themselves through the branches like a bus load of ASBO kids on a day out from the housing estate.

Around the corner from these cute hoodlums are some apes who have been chucked out of their warm house to allow the keepers to commence cleaning ops.  They are sitting around yawning, scratching and looking like they would kill for a coffee and a fag.  The apes, that is, not the keepers.

I read out the blurb on the sign next to their climbing frame: 'The status of the apes can be defined by the colour and prominence of their behinds.'

Obligingly, a small ape gets up and turns around, allowing Sonshine to look at its bottom.  He is horrified.  It is gnarly, pink and looks like it needs treated with a course of penicillin.

The massive alpha ape stands up, yawns, exposing long vicious-looking teeth.  He also exposes his behind.  Sonshine cannot take his eyes off it.  To be honest, neither can I.  It looks like it's been hit with a hatchet.

'Well,' said Tartarus 'What kind of status does this big fella have, Sonshine?'

Wide-eyed and boggling, Sonshine says: 'That monkey's bum looks absolutely FURIOUS.'

A woman nearby titters.  'He's not a monkey - the Capuchins are monkeys, these are apes,' I say pointedly.  Just letting the woman know that I KNOW they are apes.

At this point Sonshine decides to impersonate the Howler Monkeys, quite convincingly and loudly, and I usher both him and Tartarus away, up the hill towards the Pygmy Hippos and away from the scarlet arses of apes and the tittering woman.

Sonshine studies the wording on the enclosure looming in front of us.  'Mum, what's a pyjamma hippo?'  I can tell by the faraway look on his face that he fondly imagines them to be swanning around in there dressed in the finest M&S lounge-wear.

I tell him that the word is PYGMY and they are smaller than the average hippo.  Sonshine runs off down the path to see what they're like.

Tartarus shakes his head and tuts. 'Pyjamma Hippos!  Do they not teach them how to read up at that school.' he snorts.  'It's not THAT tricky a word for his tiny capsicum brain, surely?'

I stop walking down the path and turn towards Tartarus. 'I'm sorry, what did you say? I thought you just said our son had a brain like a red bell pepper?'

Tartarus adopts that sanctimonious tone of voice that drives me (and probably all the Mexicans that he supervises in the Engine Room) nuts.  'I SAID,' he repeated slowly,' THAT THE WORD PYGMY OUGHT NOT BE TOO TRICKY FOR HIS TINY CAPSICUM BRAIN.'

'Capsicum brain?'

'Do you mean Capuchin? As in the monkeys we've been looking at?'

'Yes, why what did you think I said.'

'Actually, you didn't SAY Capuchin, you said.....'I look at Tartarus and consider that he might really have a small red pepper for a brain in there. 'Oh, well,  it doesn't matter,' I smile.

By this time the small howler monkey that is my son was bcoming back down the cobbled path towards us.  He had his disappointed face on.

'They weren't wearing jammies at ALL,' he said accusingly, looking at me in particular.

I wonder whether the zoo might be interested in keeping hubby and son here as some kind of test cases.  Or basket cases.


  1. You say capuchin, I say capiscum etc etc - love the idea of hippos in M&S pjs xx

  2. My freinds and I made the very bad decision to go to the zoo the day after the night of the Fringe fireworks display. It was 25 degrees and we'd gotten home at half 5.


    how bloody dare that woman laugh at Sonshine. He is only wee! Pygmy does look like pyjamas as well!

  3. I want a pyjama clad pygmy Hippo, preferably in pink.

    I'm surprised you let his mispronunciaton go, I'd have thought you would be like a terrier with a rat, never letting go and shaking determinedly until his neck broke.

    I can't visit zoos now, they seem so sad, with all the animals locked up and away from their natural habitat.

  4. You know as well as I do that men are always right - it MUST have been you that mis-heard what he said. :-)

  5. You should have left them both there. They wouldn't have been able to find their own way back home.

  6. If anyone wants to see a Hippo in pyjamas just pop round mine about 9!

  7. Mrs Fab - I bet you look lovely in your jammies :-)

    Legend - I would have to bring Sonshine home with me - who else could I blame for making the house a mess?

    Lori - he IS usually right - that's what's so damned annoying about the whole thing!

    TSB - sometimes I just can't be fagged. Anyway, I knew I'd end up writing about it. So that was my reward to myself for not gurrying him to death in manner of Jack Russell with rat :-)

    LM - that was a BAD move. I was sober and felt like throwing up before I got halfway....

    Blighty - so did I. And so did Sonshine. I had to reward him with a few pages of lolcats from icanhazcheeseburger when we got back to the flat.

    Ali x


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