Although the monkey was well-received at carnival events with a mixed audience, it was entirely unsuitable for a children’s event.
Where to begin. Where. To. Begin.
Reading is good. It’s entertaining, it’s education, it’s relaxing. But unfortunately, some children aren’t so keen on it. There are competitors out there like TV, the outside world, friends, phones, computers. TikTok, all threatening to cause their educational performance to dip upon return to school after the summer.
And so to the summer reading challenge we turn – an educational competition that began in 1999 to encourage children to read six books over the course of their six week summer holiday and, in the process, win stickers and medals based on whatever the theme is in a given year. It’s supported by umbrella groups and takes place in local libraries across the country. It’s all very wholesome stuff.
Goodmayes Library in Redbridge, East London ruined everything by inviting an actor in a rainbow monkey costume with a fake penis and bare bum to the launch event, and created an absolute s**t storm.
The actor represented this year’s theme – wild world heroes – and was joined by someone dressed as a strawberry and another dressed as a frog in a promotional video circulated on social media.
But people were not pleased:
Local Labour MP Wes Streeting asked how “anyone involved – including your staff – thought that a costume described by one national journalist – with depressing accuracy – as a ‘Rainbow Dildo Butt Monkey’ was appropriate for family audiences around our libraries and public realm, let alone a festival aimed at promoting literacy amongst children.”
So the mea culpas rolled in:
On a blog posted to their website, Mandinga Arts – the troupe behind the costume – said that the costume had been “retired”.
They said: “Over nineteen years we have positively collaborated with local residents and public bodies to deliver colourful and celebratory characters and in this case, we undoubtedly got it wrong. Our lack of judgement in the choice of costume is one we deeply regret, having profoundly undermined our relationship with partners and the public.
“In the future, we will hold ourselves to a higher standard when determining the suitability of a costume. Although the monkey was well-received at carnival events with a mixed audience, it was entirely unsuitable for a children’s event and should never have been used. The monkey costume has also been retired.”
Though some people couldn’t believe the monkey’s costume was news to the council given a previous promotional post on social media:
In a statement issued to the Evening Standard, Redbridge council said: “We are utterly appalled by the unacceptable event at Redbridge Libraries on Saturday organised by our independent leisure contractor, Vision.
“The contractor had commissioned characters to support the start of the Summer Reading Challenge, but the costume in question was wholly inappropriate for the intended audience
“A full and thorough investigation into how this incident happened has been launched and stringent action will be taken. We sincerely apologise for the offence and distress this has caused.”
Council leader Jas Athwal said all future performances, which were organised by a partner charity, had been axed. In a statement posted on Twitter, he said:
Sorry but we are just thinking about the brainstorm meeting that led a library to think a ‘Rainbow Dildo Butt Monkey’ was the best character to get children to read. Nope, we can’t image how on Earth it happened so we welcome whistleblowers who wish to come forward.
What a world.