How to make a monkey out of the Mail*


*With an ape
Sometimes it pays to stay up all night. Part 1

(It’s a zoo out there.)

May Fair Hotel. London. 6.23 am.

Michael Jackson’s staying in the penthouse suite. The showbiz hacks are camped a couple of floors down.

Desperately in need of a few hours kip before checking-in about 10ish, I make a move. Hmmm I need an angle when I call.

I leave the bar and take a lift up to the seventh floor. The doors open and I walk straight into a monkey. And my story for the day.

A fucking chimpanzee.

Christ. I know I've had a few voddies. Am I hallucinating?

No. It's a real fucking chimp. In some daft monkey suit.

It’s under a blanket, being carried by a keeper in a Chipperfield’s Circus uniform.

And they’ve just come out of a briefing session in the Daily Mail’s adjacent room.

The chimp is surrounded by Mailmen Baz Bamigboye, Geoff Sutton and Pat Hill (MIA) and a snapper.

They collectively groan “Fuck Me” as we come face-to-face in the corridor.

Things haven't gone quite to plan and they just know stuff’s going to hit the pan back at base.

I say: “It’s alright lads. I haven't seen anything,” and head for my room.

Not that they believe that for a moment.

Showbiz coverage for about a decade from the mid-80s is guerilla warfare. No prisoners are taken and you do your utmost to bring down your mates. We all know the rules of the jungle. Like there aren't any.

I take a swig of enlivening vodka and coke and hatch my killer spoiler…

The Mail’s plan was to smuggle the ape up to Jackson’s room and show it to the pop superstar in case he was missing his pet chimpanzee Bubbles (MIA).

But the success of the stunt depends on nobody being around to see them bringing the Mail’s ‘Bubbles’ in.

They figured there wouldn't be any half-pissed journos staggering to bed at that time in the morning.

I have to stop this circus in its tracks.

I alert the picture desk to get a photographer outside pronto.

First call: Duty Manager? Hello, I’m in room 7032 and there's a fucking wild animal staying in the room next door. Fucking King Kong.

Sixth call: Mike (it’s always Parry) I've just bumped into this ugly, little, red-haired thing in a crap suit at my hotel.

I really don't expect that in a five-star hotel. The thing could go fucking mad and kill people or at least tear their fucking arms off.


A fucking gorilla-thing. I don't know what fucking species exactly. I'm not fucking David Attenborough.

It's big and snarled at me when some people — I think from the Daily Mail (stick the knife in) — brought it out of a room.

I’ll get security on to it straight away.

Second call: RSPCA? Is it animal cruelty — even unlawful — to take a wild animal from its environment, stick it in a monkey suit under a blanket and waltz it through central London…etc?

We’ll send some officers immediately.

Third call: Desmond Morris (zoolologist and author of best-selling the Naked Ape — fits nicely). I tell the story, ramping it up to 11 on the enhanced reality scale. 

This is outrageous.

Tell me more, Mr Morris.

Fourth call: Met Police? ...I'm scared officer etc.

We’ll take a look, sir.

Fifth call: Chipperfield’s? 

Oh dear, we’ll get back to you.

Sixth call: Mike (it’s always Parry) I've just bumped into this ugly, little, red-haired thing in a crap suit at my hotel.

Very fucking funny. Got anything decent today or the usual bollocks?

Chimpanzee rundown.

Have you been on the fucking wacky baccy?

Picture desk chips in. They've got pix…

Fuck me. File it asap. Need to lawyer it.

Meanwhile, the fan at the Mail is getting splattered.

An internal investigation is launched. Sir David English wants to know what the fuck is going on.

The paper is in serious danger of being prosecuted for cruelty to an animal.

Their operatives are hauled back.

Ringmaster Rod Gilchrist — he masterminds all the Mail’s showbiz pranks, is carpeted. He may even have been suspended. 

I'm not too happy about that. Rod’s a great bloke, I would liked to have worked with him but always rejected his advances. The money was never right.

The Mail uses nothing. We have a field day.

Dog eat dog.

© 2005-2022 Alastair McIntyre