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  • Pippa Gladhill

Hold Onto Your Giant, Yellow, Fuzzy Tennis Ball


Do you fancy being cloned?

Last week – on 25th January – news broke that scientists in China have cloned two monkeys, bringing the possibility of human cloning that bit closer. All the usual ethical concerns and anxieties were raised about people cloning, but, I wondered, would this really be such a bad thing?

Secretly, for example, haven’t you wanted to clone your children, so you had a spare, in case something went badly wrong with the original?

And, you could, say, clone your mother – if that was your thing.

Best of all, presumably (being a bit ignorant of the process) you could clone yourself.

Cloned You could do all the standard things that use up your life:

  • hold in the interminable phone queue,

  • take the cat to the vet for her appointments ( believe me, this is a deeply traumatic experience for me, not the cat, who has been described as ‘feisty’ by the vet which is a euphemism for please stop your raving, maniac animal from biting off my face),

  • have the hangover that was rightfully yours,

  • do ludicrous writing at the laptop wrestling with plots that shrivel, sentences that crash land and characters that resolutely fail to lift off the page.

All the while Real You can stroll about in the sun, note the infinite possibility of many things, and neck down Saison beer.

Yup. An excellent division of tasks, providing you keep hold of which one is Real You.

However, and but. …

… the big, big but. …

I went back to the front page picture of the two macaques named Zhong Zhong, and Hua Hua and wondered why they gave them separate names if they are identical. The monkeys (not gorillas, but that will come I guess) are small and furry with pink humanoid faces and enormous, deeply anxious eyes. They are huddled together, clutching each other and crouched over, for some surreal reason, an enormous fuzzy, yellow, tennis ball that is nearly as big as them. Maybe the tennis ball is a cloned mother that went badly wrong – who knows.

One of the justifications for this cloning, apparently, is they can do experiments on an easy supply line of cloned monkeys, rather than, oh I don’t know, going out to catch them from wherever it is that macaques hang out. Last week also, VW had been caught out shoving monkeys – yeah, monkeys again – into airtight glass cages and blasting them with exhaust emissions, for several hours or so. Take that, monkeys, the VW guys probably thought, because I’m not sure otherwise why they would do that. They must know now that toxic exhaust emissions are, well, toxic.

Guess it’s not a good time to be a monkey.

Think what they could get up to with human clones.

Me, I’m giving up on the notion of wandering around noticing the infinite possibility of many things.

Back to the waiting on hold in the phone queue.

Back to the plots and sentences that flat-line.

And wherever you are, maybe the best policy is, hang on in there, hold on tight to your giant, yellow, fuzzy, tennis ball, whatever it happens to be.

Pippa Gladhill writes plays and short stories. Read about Pippa here, listen to her recent story In-Between Dog (NB if you meet a dog called Loopy - run, and keep running) and buy the DUSK anthology with Pippa's story and mine here.


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