I was told this story about the late Guy the Gorilla - for many year's London Zoo's star attraction - by someone who knew someone.
There was this chap - let's call him John - on visiting the zoo found himself in front of Guy's cage.
My, he thought rubbing his chin, you are a mighty beast. To his amazement Guy looked up at him through the bars and proceeded to rub his own chin.
A coincidence, thought John. But just to make sure he scratched his head - and sure enough Guy copied him. John pulled his ear; Guy likewise. John thumped his chest; Guy did so too.
Just to be sure John tapped his nose with his finger - and Guy went berserk. The gorilla smashed the furniture in his cage and then threw himself at its bars. An astonished John was rooted to the spot.
Zookeepers had to fire several tranquiliser darts into Guy before the animal could be calmed - then they turned to John.
"What did you do to provoke Guy?" they demanded. John pleaded his innocence and began to explain how the gorilla had mimicked his gestures.
"You didn't tap your nose, did you?" they asked. "In fact I did," admitted John.
"That's 'fuck you' in gorilla language - the biggest insult in the jungle," said an angry keeper. "You're banned from the zoo for all time."
A year passed during which John brooded about his public humiliation when he was ejected from the zoo. He planned his revenge.
One night he climbed the zoo's gate and headed for Guy's cage. In his pocket he carried two cut-throat razors and a banana.
"Hey, Guy," he whispered and the gorilla came to the bars.
John pushed one of the cut-throats in Guy's direction. Taking his own he demonstrated how to open the razor.
Guy soon caught on and was holding the cut-throat by its handle.
John cut off a lock of hair from his head; Guy did too. John carefully sliced a portion of finger nail, Guy, clearly enjoying the game, copied him.
Quickly John cut through the edge of his shoe; Guy through a toenail.
Then John whipped the banana between his legs and severed it with his razor.
Guy thrust his face through the bars, and tapped his nose.
I’m not going into that good night – gentle or any other way – for as long as possible. Hence the launch of this blog in December 2009 a month before my 65th birthday.
Why the blog's name? When my doctor temporarily prescribed statins to reduce my cholesterol levels she told me to exclude grapefruit from my diet. I received the profoundest sense of my own mortality.
I’ve never liked grapefruit but now banned they called to me siren-like from supermarket shelves.
Forbidden grapefruit, it can only be a short step until my body was denied solid food and then oxygen itself.
Originally a cultural blog subtitled last stop before the abyss, after building a large archive, I re-launched in a new guise in March 2012 and again in April 2014.
My interests are widespread; by nature I prefer to look forward rather than back. I’m male; divorced with grownup children; a retired national newspaper journalist; and a Londoner. GC