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deed poll of a

job well done lets

Subject 65 splash down

in the Atlantic with a new, more

TV-friendly name. HAM—acronym

for the place he was trained—rides the

swell in the damaged, leaky capsule that topped

his very own Redstone rocket at launch twenty minutes ago.

First came crushing G force, far greater than anyone planned

then brief relief of weightlessness before downward slide along an

equal and opposite parabola arm sleeved in coruscating flame and the

strange and furious scent of burning toast. They arrive to raise his sinking sieve and


photographers flash his massive grin around the globe. He’s got The Right Stuff, this guy.


The newspapers cite his smile as proof: All in a day’s work, says his padlocked rockstar-

rictus, framed on all sides by an inch-wide border of gum. Is it helpful

to know that true chimp contentment is lip-sheathed, relaxed and

mouth-hidden, or that Goodall caught HAM’s frenzied press

and dubbed him the world’s most terrified chimp?

Brave and happy primate, astronaut native


of Cameroon, first ape to cross the

threshold of space (ten whole

weeks before Gagarin)

the good people of

planet Earth



Airplane Baby Banana Blanket interprets the bizarre true story of Lucy, a chimpanzee raised as the ‘daughter’ of Oklahoma psychotherapist Dr Maurice Temerlin during the 1960s and 70s.

‘Space Chimps I’, ‘Space Chimps II’ and ‘Space Chimps III’ signpost the close of each of the book’s three sections. They tell the story of two other chimps — HAM and Enos, unwilling participant’s in NASA’s Mercury Program.

Listen to Benjamin read the poem: