Happy Chinese New Year, as we thankfully leave the Year of the Monkey behind and start the Year of the Rooster. People in the West have been bemused and disturbed about the shenanigans surrounding the Referendum to leave the EU and the US Presidential Election. While in the Far East there was no surprise at the amount of deceit, mischief and trickery that occurred last year, because after all that is what monkeys get up to and it was extreme because according to their calendar they are in the fire phase. Anyone who has encountered monkeys in the wild (such as in Gibraltar) know they are agile, curious, intelligent, quick-witted and sociable. They are also deceptive, selfish, reckless and restless – especially when they group together in clans and gangs. They are little beggars and friendly when getting fed titbits, but become aggressive when refused and have a nasty bite. They have no fear of humans and venture down from the Rock in to the City centre is search of savouries, which they prefer to the raw fruit and vegetables that are provided for them by the wardens. You will also encounter them on the balcony of your hotel room as they forage widely, usually by themselves. They are a real danger when they group and like any tribe have territorial disputes and fight each other. So to them humans are just another tribe or troop entering their domain. This is perfectly demonstrated at the top of the Rock. They have come to associate plastic bags with food, so carrying a bag makes you a target. You will be mugged for sure as they work together to distract you, while their leader snatches the bag. They are also known to pick pockets and rummage in handbags. They will also pounce before you are aware of their presence. A favourite trick is to leap on to the roof of the cable-car as it nears the top, and then jump down as you step on to the platform.
Now that you have got that picture clear in your mind, it is easy to understand why calling someone a monkey is derogatory. They have a strong tendency to throw not only monkey wrenches, but other things into the works and disrupt proceedings. The English phrase ‘monkey business’ is apt and refers to deceit and trickery. In China they have a saying, “monkeys reign in a mountain without a tiger” (very appropriate for Gibraltar) meaning monkeys are not born leaders and only fit to play second fiddle. We also have the phrase ‘monkey see – monkey do’ associated with copying and repetitive jobs like grease monkey and powder monkey. The Chinese had an unflattering word for ‘thin monkey’ derived from times of food scarcity that became slang for Chinese Americans. Now that ‘thin is in’ there are personal ads in Chinese in which the advertiser promotes themselves as a ‘monkey’, especially in the GAY community. Oh, they are ‘cheeky monkeys’!
Hold on, what about the three wise monkeys? Well they are Japanese; Mizaru – covering his eyes who sees no evil, Kikazaru – covering his ears who hears no evil, and Iwazaru – covering his mouth who speaks no evil. While they are interpreted as being virtuous there are other connotation; such as knowing there is evil but ignoring it and turning a blind-eye thereby denying the truth. This also applies to refusing to listen to the truth and to not telling the truth. In the West the three monkeys are often used to describe a lack of moral responsibility by people who deny impropriety by feigning ignorance.
So, who were these people who last year fought campaigns of dishonesty and fear in the UK Referendum and US Election? Top of the list are the politicians and spin doctors (spads) who knowingly and deliberately misrepresented the facts or told downright lies; and are still doing it to undermine the Election result and thwart the Referendum outcome. To the same end we have the journalists and commentators of the news-media (especially the BBC) who show a bias and lack impartiality in their reporting and opinions, as they pursue a ‘liberal democratic western values’ agenda that is anti-democratic, and as they also denigrate the ‘ignorant voters’ as racist, misogynist and xenophobes if they voted to Leave or for Trump. Next are the lawyers who are abusing the legal system to delay or prevent the invoking of Article 50 and overturn the will of the people in the UK; and threatening legal procedures against Trump even before he was inaugurated in the US. Even though the Supreme Court has ruled on Article 50 there are at least two more legal actions lodged in England and Ireland before the end of the Year of the Monkey. They will fizzle out, in particular the Irish case against the Irish Attorney General, because they are futile and an abuse of process. To this list of three monkeys we can add the individuals and organisations that have a vested self-interest; the ex-pats, the financiers like George Soros, the vulture-fund managers, the remoaners and the losers. And not least of all, the anarchists and hysterical people who flock on to the streets to protest because they cannot accept the democratic results.
The Brexit fandango will continue way through and past the Year of the Rooster, so what can we expect? In China, Roosters are associated with optimism, confidence and practicality. But, they are also opinionated, demanding and never neutral, so you know where they stand, and they ruffle feathers. It will not be boring and there will be lots of action and drama. Remember the Chinese calendar is in the fire phase, so it will be another super-charged year with strong opinions to the fore. Also remember the Looney Tunes cartoon character – Foghorn J. Leghorn – the loud and overbearing Southern farmyard rooster who gives forth with his opinions whether requested or not. Any opinion to the contrary is put down with, “That’s a joke, ah say, that’s a joke boy/son”. There are many Remain politicians who fit the bill and who will be irritatingly persistent during the Year, but the CDP Award for Chief Foghorn goes to Nicola Sturgeon for being loud and obnoxious, and having a penchant for mischief. She is provocative just like the cartoon Foghorn who is forever pranking the Barnyard Dawg but ends up losing the duels. Nicola is making a fool of herself with her constant hollow threats of another Independence referendum and Theresa will have the last laugh. We are going to see the start of the demise of the SNP and Sinn Fein as they lose support; with the progressives of the Green Party and Liberal Democrats on the brink of extinction. The Peoples Revolt is set to continue.
Now a word of caution about these predictions. Over thousands of years the characterisation of the Years of the Chinese Zodiac and of people born in the various years have proved to be very accurate. Some of this may be down to self-fulfilment when people read about their year of birth. The fortune telling aspect is no better than cracking open a fortune cookie, or the Western astrology, and is usually way off the mark. Last year the Chairman of the China Fengshui Association predicted that in 2016 there would be a big slide in the world economy with lots of companies being bankrupted. That President Obama and President Xi Jinping would enjoy good fortune. It would be unlucky for Donald Trump who would have a difficult campaign year, but that Hilary Clinton was expected to have good luck and had a face that “conveys strong personality and ability”. Just goes to show how wrong you can be.