I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent since finishing my last Battalion. I mentioned that I fancied a change and whilst sorting through my ‘lead mountain’ I came across a limited edition figure of a Pirate Monkey, issued by North Star. It instantly reminded me of the Tale of the Hartlepool Monkey. I wondered why the Hartlepool Town football supporters were known as the ‘Monkey Hangers’. Every Saturday on Soccer a.m., Tim Lovejoy would refer to the Monkey Hangers and laugh, so I had to find out what the joke was.
The story goes, that back in the Napoleonic Wars, a french ship was wrecked off the coast of Hartlepool. The only survivor was a monkey, who was dressed in french uniform to amuse the crew. The locals who found the monkey, had neither seen a monkey or a french man before, and decided to hold a trial, accusing the monkey of spying. Unfortunately for the monkey, he was unable to answer the questions put to him and was indeed found guilty of being a french spy. The poor monkey was duly sentenced to death and hung on the beach!
There are two other versions of the story. In one of the alternative versions, the poor unfortunate that was caught and hung was just a poor cabin boy, or ‘powder monkey’. The most plausible (for me) was that the whole episode was based on a comic song from the 18th century that was simply poking fun at the locals in Hartlepool. You can read the official versions on wikipedia and see the song lyrics for yourself!
So I decided to paint my own version of the Harlepool Monkey to use as a French spy in my wargames! It would amuse me to be able to poke fun at my French opponents and come to that, some of my friends from the North east – little things please little minds and all that… The plan is to create a little vignette, with two of Hartlepools’ finest, arresting the monkey. You will get the idea from the picture at the top of the page.
I painted the monkey using Vallejo paints as usual, the main colours being Beige Red (flesh), Beige ( Shirt), Off White (Trousers), Prussian Blue (waistcoat), Gold (trim) Black Brown ( fur). I use these little projects as a chance to try my hand at ‘proper painting’ rather than using the army painter dip method that is so useful for churning out Battalions! So, I’ve highlighted with lighter shades of the base colours and used a couple of thin washes to add shadow. It’s just the basing to do – I’ll keep it quite simple – perhaps just a sandy base! I haven’t yet decided whether to use the figures that are in the picture (a couple of spares from my earlier attempts at building battalions) or remodel some new ones. For now, I think I’ll go with what I’ve got, after all. it’s just a bit of fun.