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This song, one of the best loved in Jake Thackray's repertoire, tells the tale of a young escaped gorilla, and what he gets up to when he manages to escape his imprisonment for a while. It comments on the visscitudes of the female sex, and the harshness of a long-gone justice system.

Unlike most of the songs Jake performed, it isn't his own, but a masterful translation of a piece by French chansonnier Georges Brassens, who was one of Jake's heroes.

It's impossible to praise this work of translation too highly - every nuance or the original has been captured, without sacrificing rhyme or metre - and anyone who's ever tried to translate a song or poem between two languages will appreciate how big an achievement this is.

It's also bloody funny.

Jake Thackray's translation of Le Gorille by Georges Brassens.

Through the bars of a large enclosure
The village ladies intently stared
Where a gorilla with massive composure
Was impassively combing his hair
They were shamelessly interested
Eying devoutly a certain spot
But my mother's especially requested
I refrain from telling you what
Brother Gorilla

The door of the circus lockup
Where the noble brute had been put
By an administrational cockup
Was unwisely left unshut
"I'm going to lose it at last," he cried
Swinging lissomely out of his cage
Referring, of course, to his chastity
He was just at that difficult age
Brother Gorilla

Those self-same ladies who previously
Had been licking their lips from afar
Did a bunk which shows how devious
And whimsical women are
In the path of the lovesick monkey
There were two who wouldn't budge
A little old lady all shrunken
And a petty sessions judge

The old girl said it would be surprising
And unlikely in the extreme
If anyone found me appetising
And beyond my wildest dreams
The judge intoned with tranquility
"To take me for a female ape
Would be the height of improbability"
Even judges make mistakes
Brother Gorilla

It would be curious and uncanny
Say, if the choice were up to you
To ravish a judge or a granny
And you didn't know which to do
If I were in such a position
And the choice had got to be mine
I'd beg the old lady's permission
But go for grandma every time
Brother Gorilla

Though the gorilla is very proficient
In the role of a paramour
His mental equipment's deficient
And his eyesight's awfully poor
With a paleolithic leer
He gave the old lady the miss
And grabbing the judge by the ear
Gave him an introductory kiss
Brother Gorilla

In time the gorilla's desires
Were more or less gratified
The judge, being rather biased
Couldn't see the funny side
He was kicking and screaming and wailing
When his moment of truth had come
Like those wretches he orders daily
To be taken away and hung

Used with permission.

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