Five of Bongo’s travelling companions
5x5 Welcome to 5x5’s first Monkey Monday, dedicated to our simian cousins. We’ll kick off with the would-be overlord of humanity and assassin-for-hire, Bongo, whose recent travels around Australia and Asia saw him encounter a more varied range of companions than a 1970s Dr Who.
1 Major Clanger No monkey travels alone, and so it was that when Bongo set out on his travels, the dictates of travelling light meant that he needed someone even smaller and lighter to keep him company (as well as The Horse). Major Clanger offered to provide a calming influence for the little chimp’s more whimsical impulses, and here he is explaining why Bongo can’t just appoint himself emperor of China. It’s not clear that Bongo’s listening very hard, and the Major only just made it on the trip himself, being initially confused with Peppa Pig by the donating party.
2 The Manager and The Panda Time to party hard at the Strawberry Festival in Shanghai with two friends of Bongo’s hosts Nathan and Gigi: Ron the bear and Panda. Ron’s named after a notably successful former manager of Birmingham football team Aston Villa. The Panda’s a panda who likes to wear a monkey onesie.
3 Chinese Jack The delightful Songyun No1 Hostel in Shuhe provided every guest room with a cuddly animal companion, so it was a sign of good fortune that Bongo and The Horse found a giant ape awaiting them. Chinese Jack spoke surprisingly good English and was soon regaling Bongo with tales of the wild monkeys living near temples high in the nearby mountains of the northern Yunnan. (His name wasn’t really Chinese Jack, but Bongo couldn’t get his tongue around it, and he was reminded fondly of Jack, the benevolent overseer of monkey life at home in London.)
4 Han The Horse couldn’t resist taking on an extra travelling monkey in Beijing where he met Han in the Japanese-themed equivalent of Poundland. Han is a Ghibli-esque former pilot, who dazzled Bongo’s imagination with stories of fantastical cities in the clouds, although as we can see here, the first order of business was for Bongo to lay down the pecking order, after which he was more than happy to bring him into the troop.
5 Chicken and robot It was the last day of their journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway, and The Horse was down several shots of Russian brandy and strong beer when some of the other horses on the train brought out their travelling companions: a screaming rubber chicken and a panicked-looking robot from Malaysia. To this day, he’s not entirely sure if the whole thing was a dream brought on by three days on a small train.