ROLL UP! ROLL UP! I am Stuart Hall. HA HA! Back again to take you firmly by the hand – HOY! – and guide you around some of the zoological treats on offer on this wonderful planet. Earth is indeed our mother, and I am her adopted son. The moon is my awkward stepfather.
After being forced to enter the confines of Manchester United zoo, and having just been released from self-imposed quarantine I am excited to tell you dear readers that I am going to be taking you for a tour around a Zoo that is very close to my heart, CLOSE TO MY LOINS! In fact it is close to all my zones erogenous or otherwise. Have you guessed where our travels will take us today? What wondrous delights I have in store for you? (Er, Stuart… it says Manchester City in the title? – ed). THAT’S RIGHT! Manchester City Zoo, my beloved, my wife AND my mistress. Sometimes I go and rub myself against its railings, but often the police move me on. DO THEY NOT KNOW WHO I AM!?
THE ANIMALS STUART! I hear you cry it with whiskey soaked passion like Ally McCoist contesting a decision with officials. “NO, that was never an offside ya wee jumped up prick, DAMN YOU LINESMAN!”. But they cannot understand, for he is too Scottish even for them. And anyway, they are now designated as referees’ assistants. Imagine, if you will, McCoist’s scotch brogue floundering at the hissing sibilants of the word ‘assistant’; pawing fruitlessly at the decorous décolletage of the English language like a sweating Edinburgh businessmen in a student union. However, in lingual terms I am no Scottish official, more akin in fact to a UEFA disciplinary panel of the mother tongue and as such, I would politely heed the call of Scots, red-faced with their aggressive excuse making. Then once they had passed out on fizzy wine I would swiftly change my mind.
The zoo has changed rapidly over recent years with unfashionable animals being shipped out almost as quickly as more exciting exhibits are being brought in. Such is life in our times. I am prone to reminisce fondly; did that hungry goat Shaun really give me any less joy than the stellar line up exotic animals on display today? Probably. I am a capricious man, prone to whim. Whim, and goats.
The first sense to be assualted upon entering the palatial confines of the zoo is the pungent smell. A smell that you will never quite forget; a smell that makes your Adam’s apple bob as if grown men dressed as evil beasts of nightmares were trying to gnash it with their stinking teeth. The smell of new money. Disgusting as it is, and it is unfathomably vile, it quickly becomes addictive. Br-r-reath it in young lad! Let it coat your lungs with greed. This smell leads me to our first exhibit: the king of the Eastlands pride, newly acquired from a London zoo, MAGNIFICENT! He is of course the Lion Adebayor, and his proud mane glistens in the early morning light. As bold as he looks he is a male Lion and as such is happy to reserve energy at all possible times. In the wild the male leaves the pride to hunt, TO KILL, to bring a prize carcass that he may feast on. He will only show his true power when threatened, whether that is ripping out Roy Horn’s neck or stamping on prone Dutchmen.
A small footbridge has been built over the swollen river of cash which dissects the zoo. On the other side we find a paddock and in it Ireland, a proud stag. But this poor boy has lost his horns! The keepers at the zoo did try fitting Ireland with a set of replacement fake horns, but this brought much derision from the viewing public. You C-R-R-UEL cruel people. As I look at him he stands alone gazing across an empty field. This is not how it should be. NO!He should be with his own kind, but the brute refuses, he won’t play ball. A top Italian deer expert brought in to manage the Irish herd still hasn’t managed to coax Ireland to deviate from his stubborn position. When asked why this was Keeper Trapattoni replied “Weelll, ee iz a bit, owyousay… stoopid”. For now the keepers allow him out at the end of the day to play with the other animals. He is tolerated by them, even Adebayor.
The young Stuart Hall would wander gaily through the meadows of Cheshire, occasionally stopping to pinch a bottle of milk from the doorsteps of rich footballers. It was on one of these trips that I befriended a swarm of bees. They would aid me with my household chores, and help with my homework. Lord of the flies? HA! I was King of the Bees. So our next exhibit has a place in my heart, though prefers to live in the zoos new twelve million pound hive. It is of course Barry the Bee.
(Ed: um…Stuart, do zoos have bees?).
More importantly my dear impertinent editor, do bees have zoos? Precipitate that in your pipe and enkindle it!
AHEM! I shall continue. Barry the bee is another recent arrival, having been lured from the West Midlands by the opportunity to join a swarm which had a greater chance of breaking into the Honey Industries top four placings. Barry was also said to be pleased with the offer of lots of bee money (known as mohoney) and 15 minutes a week unsupervised time alone with the queen. To his credit he works tirelessly gathering nectar and making sure it returns to the safety of the hive where the swarm will make sweet honey. I watch him fly off on another errand, it is time to move on. MOVE ON.
The sun dapples the assorted burger vans, memorabilia shops and the occasional Sky Zoo News presenter, we are back where we began. The entrance to the zoo. A spilt ice cream signals the flight of children, but from what do they run? It is a particularly annoying and aggressive wasp called Bellamy; he is well-known to the counter girls and security guards here. Naturalists would have it that Bellamy is sadly a necessary evil of nature. Whilst we may find him a nuisance, he has a role to play. His design is efficiency born of evolution. THREE BILLION YEARS! T-h-r-e-e BILLION! To create the perfect irritant. He is content mostly to bother staff and visitors alike, but every so often he will fly unprovoked into another animal’s enclosure and sting them repeatedly.
He is coming my way now, so I shall attempt to leave… NOT THAT I, STUART HALL AM AFRAID! I know many emotions but fear is not one. I simply evacuate a pellet into my bloomers. Did I mention I was wearing bloomers? I am wearing bloomers. Why, aren’t you? Whyever not? Well I have got what I came for, zoological delights and a naughty hug from Mavis, who has been tea lady at the zoo since 1963. I can tell you boys, she’s still got it. ‘It’ being chlamydia. HA!
I shall leave you then, dear friends with a final thought. A man very close to my heart, someone who I would follow to the edge of the known world, Napoleon, once described Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand Perigord as “a piece of shit in a silk stocking”. Partial as I am to silk, stockings, and shit, I have to concede that it sums up Manchester City Zoo quite nicely.