Saturday, 7 April 2012

"Monkey Hanger" is not an insult

For those who don't know, the term "Monkey Hanger" is used to refer to a person from Hartlepool and is intended to be a derogatory term (despite what Wikipedia claims). The problem being that nobody in Hartlepool gives a rat's arse, and it was the residents that spread this rumour in the first place.

Smoggie, for example, is intended to be derogatory toward the people of Middlesbrough owing to its large polluting industry. Mackem, on the other hand, is not a derogatory term for the people of Sunderland.

One (of many) of the local rugby teams, , would hang a toy monkey from the goal posts during the game to spread the rumour, and to basically make Hartlepool better known (for better or worse).

's mascot is H'Angus the Monkey, and the bloke who played this role is the current former mayor of Hartlepool, .

Insult? Must try harder. Must learn to read.

So what is the story?

During the Napoleonic Wars a French ship is said to have wrecked off the coast of Hartlepool. Shortly afterwards a monkey who had survived by climbing on some floating timber washed up on the beach.

The poor, ignorant people of the town, who had never seen a Frenchman before assumed that the hairy little sod was "one of them", and immediately put it on trial. Unable to defend itself from accusations of being a spy in English and spending its time jabbering and screaming, the good town folk sentenced the sorry little bugger to death, building a gallows and hanging it.

Is it true?

What do you think?

Comparison of a Frenchman and a monkey

As with most legends and nonsense, myths are created and embellished, and this is one that is so old that nobody can be certain of its true origin. The song that was supposedly created to commemorate this proud moment in the history of the town seems to have originated in Scotland... which is not in England... and Hartlepool is... in England, with a painfully similar story. I don't know if the people of Boddam have to put up with the same stupidity.

Apparently, a comic named had been touring the east coast, spreading the rumour. In previous incarnations of Google's search results it was possible to find more information about this. It was said that he basically said it about any town that had a rivalry with the town he was in at that time. That's what comedians do when they don't have much material. Alas, thanks to misinformation overload the Google results are now insanely useless (though it is now mentioned on Wikipedia).

Cultural influence?

Well, there is a book: The Hartlepool Monkey by .

There's more than one book!

There is that song which was stolen from Scotland, along with many other things, including their women.

And then there is this, which some people have claimed is influenced by the story, but there's no evidence of that. Make your own mind up.

So what?

Fair point. Oh, if you're from the town and some "clever" dick tries to insult you with the story, remind him that he's a knobhead, cover him in shaving foam and laminate flooring, and piss on him. That's the only way they'll learn.

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