.Living in a leafy suburb on the outskirts of Durban is perfect for someone with roots on the farm but a need to be ‘in the city’ for various reasons. We have abundant bird life, large tree-filled gardens with space and peace to spare… And a few entertaining but not necessarily welcome visitors in the form of a vervet monkey troop that visits regularly.
My daily routine is simple – I wake very early, usually before the sun, and spend the first hours seeing in the dawn. After visiting my various social networks and working on my blogs, I focus on my work schedule for the day. Somewhere between 08:00 and 10:00, usually on a Tuesday and a Friday, a vervet monkey troop comes flying through. Flying, here, is almost literal. The trees provide a wonderful trapeze network for these little characters to traverse the neighbourhood. And please don’t ask me how they know which day of the week it is. I haven’t the foggiest notion, though the idea of them having little diaries is kind of cute. But these are their visiting days – with the odd exception to keep me on my toes, of course.
What follows, to an uninformed bystander, is a somewhat bizarre and possibly highly entertaining ritual. I’ve been known to laugh at myself and them throughout, some days more than others. The troop is led by a thuggish bull monkey, utterly fearless when it comes to breaking and entering. And he’s taught his troop well. They’re also familiar with the lie of the land, so have no problem finding their way around. With time, they know which window (the kitchen) is left open permanently for That Cat.
Usually, my peaceful work focus is interrupted by one of them landing on my roof, then a couple more. A mad scramble from the back to the front across the roof ensues. I promptly skedaddle out onto my deck, armed with a long lunging whip, and proceed to thwack the side of the deck as loudly as possible. Monkeys scatter in all directions, mostly to the surrounding trees. There, they lurk and pretend they had absolutely no intention at all of invading my space. I return to my study, and the process is repeated. At some point, the dogs from my household and the main house come tearing out, barking with great indignation and racing around the base of the trees with absolutey no effect at all. Thankfully, because a vervet monkey bite is something nasty, and the little dogs don’t stand a chance against a full troop.
Dealing with monkey business…
Anyway, after me thwacking the deck and them scattering a few times they finally accept that paying a visit to my kitchen is not going to happen and move on. This process is usually interspersed with me either hurling colourful suggestions as to what they should do next or laughing at their antics. Cute they may be, but they don’t belong in my house. Not only because of their propensity to steal anything that remotely resembles food (even tea bags!) but also because of the infernal mess they leave behind them. Fruit, of course, is the all-time favourite. But they have been known to snack their way through bags of pasta, try the sugar and then discard the contents of the entire packet across the kitchen floor, and smash their way through the eggs, leaving a trail of egg gunge in their wake.
The trick, of course, is to ‘paw proof’ everything, and I’ve made the adjustment. Every now and then, though, I do forget – yes, sadly, I’m human. And I subsequently regret the sudden loss of a loaf of sliced bread. The bread roll, however, is a story that shall remain an ongoing source of amusement to all of us. That’s because it’s so utterly bizarre. On one particular occasion, I was busy indoors and the bull monkey snuck in without his usual warning stampede across the roof. My friend and landlord in the main house spotted him emerging, clutching a bread roll, and raised the alarm.
The joke is that I didn’t have any bread rolls. The so-and-so had brought his own! Needless to say, the next time they visited, one stole the butter. What’s a bread roll without a spread, I ask you?
So now, when we see them off with any manner of dissuasion that doesn’t involve inflicting damage, we fling a parting shot at their retreating rumps…
“Hey monkey. Next time, don’t forget the bread roll!”