Monkey Business

Lynda in Gibraltar with a Barbary Ape tugging at her hair
A small monkey checking for signs of grey hair on a dominant female

It is fairly common knowledge that Kingpins in gorilla clans are called a Silverback.

These large males were, to my knowledge, silver in colour because of their age, because just like humans they go grey.  However, a fact I discovered recently was that there can only be one Silverback in each gorilla clan.

If a new gorilla asserted itself on the group and successfully challenged the dominant male for the role then the newly demoted Silverback will revert back to being a black-back – He would loose the silver.

I discussed this with the misses and we had wondered why.

This was a few weeks ago I had accepted that I couldn’t work out why and how this occurred.  However it now appears that my other half had been mulling over this for some time.

Today she announced with great pride, as if discovering the cure for cancer, that this was in fact due to the gorilla realising it’s dominance which promoted change.  A physiological hormonal reaction.

If I am being honest I hadn’t realised this in such clarity but I had given up considering the whys and wherefores because I realised that I wouldn’t be able to answer the reasons on a chemical scale.

But her clarity did make me think that if gorillas can hormonally change their hair colour from silver to black then we as humans, being 99.9% similar on a biological level should be able to do the same.  Or at least we should be able to artificially produce and use the same hormone.

Have we in our grasp the cure for age hair greying?

All we need to do is collect a hair from a Silverback and from a newly demoted ex-Silverback and make a DNA test for the difference.

All this supposes we can find someone brave enough to pluck a single hair off the back of (1) A dominant male gorilla who thinks he is the Lord of all beings and (2) A newly demoted gorilla who a few days ago thought he was the Lord of all beings and is now one very miffed monkey.

I deigned to suggest that I wouldn’t be keen to carry out this next stage of discovery and got accused of being a complete lightweight.

Sometimes it really is hard being a superhero.  The slightest crack in the armour and there are accusations of failure.  I failed to be fully heroic over quite an insignificant matter and was accused of being a big girl’s blouse.

My reaction? Typical Vince.

I likened the thought of being a blouse on a large girl as a positive thing.

But now she’s not talking to me.

And I have to be careful, I’ve noticed she’s going grey!

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog and Ideas sections of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 19 Jun 2018
First Published: Version 2.03 on 7 Jul 2006

The photo is of the author’s wife, Lynda, interacting with a native, wild Barbary Ape in Gibraltar

Pony

By Vince

A Poem written for a theatre group and performed live in 1992.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a horse?
Standing in a field things could be worse.
With all your mates around you running fast,
And nowt to do all day but eat the grass.
I doubt if you would ever think you’re lonely.
I wonder what it’s like to be a pony.

Running on four legs across the dew.
Going to the blacksmith for your shoes.
Jumping over fences six feet tall.
Giving rides to children one and all.
If someone gave a wish, I couldn’t lose.
A New Forest pony’s what I’d choose.

Of course, there are some bad things that’s not right.
Being branded on the bum I would not like.
Having only grass and hay to nibble on,
Oh, I would miss orange jelly and blancmange.
But all in all there really is no doubt,
A pony’s what I’m really all about.

But unfortunately dreams don’t all come true,
So here I am stood talking here to you.
I wish I were a pony. It’s not fair.
But remember – Grass is always greener over there.
I shouldn’t make a fuss or be so sad.
‘Cause I’m a donkey and that isn’t quite so bad.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the poems section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk web site Version 5.033 dated 1 Dec 2017
First Published: Version 1.00 in Oct 2003 and reproduced here in full, unedited
The image depicts two white ponies in a New Forest setting, taken by the author in May 2013. It was added in Version 5.033 7 Dec 2017.

Animal Parts As Spares

One of the big issues facing mankind today is the moral question of whether we should be allowed to grow animals purely for use as spare parts for humans. Technological advancement is reaching the point where soon we will be able to grow compatible human parts within live animals.

And in 2017 the UK issued plans to make organ donor presumed consent a thing. If we have to go to the trouble of opting out then so can the mammals. Unless they fill out a form on the internet.

Imagine, a man’s spare spleen, if you can, grown by a dog. Or a newborn baby’s amputated lower arm being re-grown by a monkey. Or an arse transplanted from a horse onto a woman (I’m sure I’ve seen her already).

The issue centres on whether it is moral to do this. I believe it may be immoral not to do it. I would argue that mankind is no more than a species, albeit a very successful one and one which we are lucky to be a part of. And like all other species humans have developed the best way to survive and prosper. Being able to harvest parts from other species is just another development in the clear superiority of humans. All species use the resources available to them and just as our food farming is a clever extension of this ability so is improving this to include repair of damaged or old body parts. It is a natural extension. Nature.

And who wouldn’t choose to live longer, providing the quality of their life through use of renewable, healthier parts was assured.

The only concerns I would personally have is to impose controls on the supply. I couldn’t accept that the system was open to be abused by undesirable people. And I’m not scaremongering about a dozen cloned dictators. That just couldn’t occur. No, I would worry about persistent drunks using surrogates to grow banks of spare livers. And I would have concerns about stinking smokers using animals to constantly transplant their lungs. Transplanting their brains might be a better idea.

My own view is that I would be happy for a pig to grow a heart for me, then for me to have it transplanted when mine is worn out. And I could enjoy a good bacon sandwich afterwards. Long live technology.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the vinceunlimited.co.uk web site Version 5.003 dated dated 6 Oct 2017.  Article first published in Version 1.00 in Oct 2003.  The text is reproduced, unedited, as published in Oct 2003.  The image depicts the author in Gibraltar getting close up and personal with one of the famous Barbary Macaques.  The image was added in Version 5.003 on 6 Oct 2017