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Gone Bananas
by Dermot Glennon

(an article I wrote in response to the news that bananas are becoming increasingly infertile)

My Grandchildren asked me a question the other day, their fat little faces shining with earnest inquiry "Grandad, what did bananas used to be like when you were alive?"
So, of course, I explained them in the only way I knew how: "Well, kids, they were a little bit like the woolly mammoth, the dodo and smallpox; cute, yellow, cuddly and delicious mashed-up with ice cream but ultimately unfit to live."
"Gosh!" They all cried in unison.
Realising I now had their full attention, I continued to regale them with my Banana stories.

"Bananas" I told them "Were first discovered in approximately eight-hundred BC, possibly even earlier, by monkeys. They were later introduced to humans, much to the chagrin of the apes who showed their frustration by falling sharply in population numbers. Unlike the more ecology conscious monkeys, man hunted bananas indiscriminately with little regard to conservation- initially for their purported ivory, but later as a valuable source of food. This wasteful practice also contrasted starkly with the monkey habit of using not only the flesh of their prey (for food), but also the skins.  The latter served as an invaluable raw material for the type of buffoonery and practical jape jollity that binds simian societies together.

On the nineteenth of May in the year of our Lord seventeen-hundred and ninety-two, a congressional council of chimpanzees ruled that the humans' actions were unlawful under section seventy-one. The following month, they presented their case in the Hague. Driven on by greed or 'Banana-mania' as Lord Byron later described it before he became famous, the banana-hunting nations of Western Europe drew-up a pact and took up arms, declaring war on all simian life. The monkeys responded angrily by falling in even greater population numbers. As the war raged, the monkey militia were hunted down through the jungles of Africa- initially for their purported ivory, but later as an invaluable source of decorative ornaments.

At the Council of Rome, on August 10 eighteen forty-five, peace suddenly broke out. Heavily defeated, the bananas accepted subjection to the west and banishment to Government reservations in the Americas and the Cape. Many bananas now had slave names that identified their masters; Fyffe and Geest were the most common. It was now clear that bananas had broken the cardinal evolutionary rule: don't be edible, defenceless and delicious mashed-up with ice cream.

The years following the war were a golden period of stability. The banana trade flourished, with banana-derived products finding their way into everything from fresh fruit through to fashionable ladies handbags. A burgeoning ice cream industry grew on the back of the export boom as soon as someone invented the manufacturing process.

Bananas who gained status in society through their efforts were rewarded with the chance to buy back their freedom. However, in almost all cases, these specimens were shunned by their human peers or set upon by vicious street gangs and mashed-up with ice cream. Some emancipated bananas were even ostracised by their former comrades simply because they were black.

As time passed, the bulk of the banana community became despondent and their numbers fell. Scientists started to notice that many of them were limp and unable to sustain full turgidity long enough to mate and reproduce. And it seems that nature itself was also against them. Those bananas who could still sustain an erection had become sterile. And so, children, thus concludes the tragic tale of the vanishing bananas."

I saw the sad-eyed look in my granddaughter's eye and, suddenly, I had a thought. I remembered something from long ago.
"Not to worry" I said cheerfully "Bananas haven't been completely wiped out you know."
"They haven't?" Asked Brooklyn, his eyes as wide as saucers.
"Heavens no!" I said "When I was your age, I buried a time capsule, and in it I placed a number of rather precious items: a copy of an old comic book (which must be worth a fortune now) a digital watch and the last remaining banana. Come with me and we'll dig it up. Then we can wipe out bananas forever."
"Hurrah" They shouted.

I brought the children out into the garden and we proceeded to dig in the place where I seemed to remember burying the capsule.  Sure enough, there it was just as I left it.  With baited breath, we opened the box, and there inside it we found a disgusting, smelly black oil; all that remained of the last banana.
"So basically, bananas were just a load of old bloody bollocks then, Grandad?" said Kylie wrinkling up her nose in unconcealed disappointment.
"Well. yes" I agreed after some deliberation.