Benny Wood, London Taxi driver, thinks his life is like something out of Shakespeare. His daughter is engaged to a family pariah, his son's marriage is in ruins and his mother-in-law is living in his house ... Is he facing his mid-life crisis - or is it just his whole world falling apart... ?
“I tell you I'm not wearing no gorilla suit!” declared Joe. “Not after the last time!”
“Oh, but you must, daddy, you must,” wailed Debra, “You know Lambert – he’ll get very upset if we don’t join in.”
“But he’s just playing with us,” protested, Joe, “He’s just having his little game.”
“Game?” echoed Maisie. “Game? It’s not a game, Joseph, not this time – this time he’s threatening to top himself.”
“He’s always threatening to top himself, Maisie! Anyway, I’m telling you there is no way I am putting on that rotten gorilla suit!”
“You callous swine!” Maisie hit him with her handbag. “Show a bit of sympathy for the poor boy. He’s your own grandson.”
“Yeah, but he’s still a pain in the bum!” She hit him again. “Ouch! Leave off woman; you know
I can’t breathe in that suit. I’ve got a very delicate nose.”
“A very big nose you mean.” Maisie lashed him across the head with the legs of her ape suit. “Now get into that bloody monkey skin before Lambert falls off that crane and kills himself!”
It could have been a pleasant family gathering, a barbecue or an al fresco dinner party, anything that might bring our little family together. Most of us were there; my parents in law, Joe and Maisie, Debra, my wife and of course Lambert. Yes, Lambert – the tender fruit of my long-suffering loins, the inescapably Big Issue in my stress-ridden life. Lambert - my stupid, idiotic son. Not that Lambert was exactly there - he wasn’t actually with us you understand - he was outside, on the building site, wearing his favourite gorilla suit and dangling by his paw tips from the highest end of the tallest crane in the London Borough of Redbridge. He was two hundred feet up…and threatening to jump.
The place was bedlam. Sirens wailing, engines roaring, policemen, firemen, building construction workers and paramedics rushing about, tough and macho in hardhats and day glow jackets and gazing expectantly up at Lambert’s gorilla-suited figure. Beyond the fence a crowd of catcalling onlookers were rubber necking and pointing. The smell of disaster was in the air and they were lapping it up.
The Police Officer in charge came striding back into the building site office – known temporarily as the “Incident Room” - where the ever-cool Emergency Services were trying to get a grip on the situation. He was a small man – so small that when I first saw him I thought he was a helmet with blue serge legs. His accent and red hair betrayed his Welsh origins and his diminutive vertical dimensions betrayed the Police Authority height-regulations. His stripes told the world he held the rank of Sergeant and the user-friendly tag sewn to the front of his tunic added the useful information that his name was Fflynn Ffythe Evans (no hyphens, just a couple of intrusive ‘F’s).
He eyed our gorilla suits. “What’s this then - Planet of the Apes?”