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
"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
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
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
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
"Well. yes" I agreed after some