My encounter with the hate monkey

We saw each other at the same time. One of those moments when even through the crowd and the noise and the lights a connection was made. He was a small hairy monkey (Species unknown) I was a small boy of five or six. The place was a fairground full of tinsel and tack.
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I already hated the fair, I didn’t like the noise and the rides offered me no comfort. I had already suffered massive humiliation on a previous visit the year before. Almost made to at least try something I chose the Helter Skelter. I regretted this within my first few steps, because although it might not seem that high to an adult, to me it was like climbing a sheer cliff face without a rope.
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My slow progress up the stairs built a back log of kids behind me and I could hear encouragement from my Dad that really was a desperate command. “Get up those stairs, you are nearly there”. That was quite clearly a lie because I could see ahead how many spiral stairs that awaited my nervous steps.
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Once at the top I was handed a rough hairy mat and told to sit on it and keep my hands off the side of the walls. The Helter Skelter is just a giant slide but to me at that very moment I may as well have been about to take on a Bobsleigh run, and that is why I disobeyed the orders from the fairground man and put out my arms before I reached the first bend. My theory was that by letting go in stops and starts I would build no real speed up thus arriving at the bottom to cheering crowds in perfect safety.
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I had not taken into account that other kids would follow so soon and quickly a build up of kids had formed. The fairground man was shouting at us by now but it fell on deaf ears because of the noise of the fairground and that one kid behind me had started to cry. I don’t know if what followed was the fairground man’s tactical display or just a random sequence of events, but the next kid to come down the slide was the size of Billy Bunter and the laws of physics would have had to be broken to have kept our kiddy dam intact.
The result was that we hurtled down the slide at break neck speed all arms and legs flaying in different directions. The mass of mats at the bottom was in no way designed for a mass landing and several kids flew off to the sides, I however did land in the middle and rolled forward in a straight line but it was no dadah! moment, as my hand was firmly grasped and I was pulled away into the crowd.
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However back to the monkey incident. My parents this year were better equipped to deal or at least avoid helter skelter type situations, and to this effect I was steered clear of most of the intimidating rides.
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One side of the fairground was more interesting than the other as it had all the candy floss and toffee apple stalls plus some stuff that gave Fathers a chance to show off by winning coconuts or stuffed toys. However it was here that I met my hate monkey.
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The hate monkey in a way looked a lot like me, its arms were too long and it had a school cap on (Quite why I had to wear my school cap when out still mystifies me to this day)
The idea was that young children could hold the monkey and have a photograph taken and indeed proof of this existed in the line of happy children ahead. The monkey seemed to know what to do and although it was on a leash the owner didn’t have to do that much as the monkey happily settled on each child’s arm.
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The giveaway to the horror to come was that the hate monkey never took his eyes off me even for a second. Other kids came and went and my turn approached and despite my reluctance I once again was forced to do something that my gut feeling told me to avoid.
The creature shrieked and glared and showed his teeth and I resisted as best I could at having my arms pushed forward. Then for one moment a kind of peace seemed to wash across us, the hate monkey forgot where he was and calmly stepped on to my arm, the owner jumped at the chance and the camera clicked and flashed.
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I blame the flash for bringing the hate monkey back to his real agenda. Another shriek followed and this time the monkey bared its teeth and promptly bit me on the arm. This would have been humiliation enough in the fact that it had singled me out amongst all the other children but to drive it home further it urinated on me as well.
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There is no getting away from such events, they leave triggers behind. I am forever reminded when I see a fairground being set up and I avoid them at all costs. I would think in modern times monkeys would not be abused in that way but the hate monkey lives on in my mind anyway.
Worth noting that my parents never took me to a fairground again.

Andy

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