Society Diary: Escaped monkey captured after drone squad chase

02 Feb 2024 Voices

Civil Society's satirical columnist discusses what an escaped monkey got up to, the civil society minister's phone lock screen and some sea merchandise...

An escaped Scottish monkey fleeing police

Image made using Microsoft Bing AI

Greetings, dear readers, and congratulations on making it through the long, dark January days and into the warm, tropical February climes.

Diary had a brush with charity royalty, Stuart Andrew, this week at an event in Westminster hosted by the School for Social Entrepreneurs. 

The civil society minister began his speech by referencing the Traitors: “I should probably start by saying by the order of the traitors, you are murdered…but seriously, thank you”, which made the crowd laugh but this columnist was rather concerned for their wellbeing. 

But after he made his speech, Diary spied a softer side to the double first-named minister, who had a white French poodle as his phone lock screen.

Meanwhile, last week, prospective PM Keir Starmer announced big plans for the charity sector and Diary’s ears pricked up when he mentioned visiting one charity in particular, Wolverhampton Wrestling Club. 

A spokesperson from the charity told Diary that the Labour leader has visited the club twice and would welcome him joining the wrestling club team. 

They said: “His support for the club's vulnerable children is certainly a 'takedown' for a good cause!” 

Highland macaque lured with Yorkshire pudding 

In this week’s big news, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland has confirmed that a macaque monkey which escaped its Highland Wildlife Park on 28 January has been caught. 

A drone team has spent the week tracking the naughty monkey, Honshu, down. BBC articles titled What should you do if you encounter an escaped monkey made the rounds on social media while others made imaginative AI-generated images of its adventures. 

Sightings of the monkey pillaging a Highland local's birdfeeder were the beginning of his eventual capture. 

An eyewitness, Carl Nagle, who had seen Honshu feasting on his birdfeeder, told the BBC: “It's not everyday that you come to your window in your dressing gown and see a monkey munching on your nuts.”

However, Stephanie Banyan, who lives 300 metres away from the zoo, spotted the monkey in her back garden after his birdfeed binge and lured it over to her with a leftover Yorkshire pudding while she rang the zoo's capture hotline.

After his first taste of a roast dinner, Honshu reportedly started jumping up and down on the lady's sunroof and started fiddling with her gutters. Could plumbing be his true calling and sustain this new humanoid lifestyle?

Alas, before he had time to find out, the capture team showed up and shot at the escape artist with a tranquiliser dart.

Operations manager at Highland Wildlife Park, Keith Gilchrist, said the monkey was now on its way back to the park with its keepers (presumably under very strict security measures).

He will be reintroduced to his fellow male macaques over time - who will no doubt be very impressed by his escapades. 

Diary hopes that the zoo's visitors will remember to pack their Aunt Bessie's next time they attend. 

Anniversary RNLI merchandise 

In other news, RNLI is celebrating its 200th anniversary this March and marking the occasion by selling products that commemorate its history. 

The life-saving charity is selling ‘RNLI 200’ badges as well as a mug, playing cards, a t-shirt and a wooden sign that feature the RNLI’s original flag.

The flag’s history started in 1882, when RNLI lifeboat volunteers saved nine people from a wreckage, including Robert Preston. 

This initially confused Diary, thinking they had discovered that Civil Society’s news editor of the same name was, in fact, over 200 years old. The editor soon corrected this theory and exasperatedly explained that he had not been alive during both world wars. 

The Preston the charity saved was the start of RNLI's flag history. Two years after he was saved by lifeboat volunteers, his sister Leonora would go on to create a design that would become the charity’s official flag in 1908, and it has been used ever since. 

Famous tie found in charity shop

A rare tie created by the designer Michael Fish was bought for 99p in a charity shop and has gone on display in a fashion exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands. 

David Bowie and Mick Jagger had famously worn clothes by the designer, who launched his own business called Mr Fish.  

It was purchased by Janneke van der Wal, who told the BBC she liked the vibrant colours and width of the tie and thought she might use it for a fancy dress party and had no idea of its value. 

She contacted museums about the item when she saw it had a Mr Fish label. 

It is now part of an exhibition called Fashion City: How Jewish Londoners Shaped Global Style, which is available to view until April 2024. 

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