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The Monkey Hangers

monkey hanging from portaloo

I joined a motorcycle club, the Aire Valley MC in 1978 and as the club’s members were all keen to attend motorcycle rallies, I tagged along on weekends.

In Hartlepool, the largest motorcycle club was the Hartlepool and district MCC, a bit of a mouthful. This year however, special permission was given to the second club in the region to run the rally, the Monkey Hangers MCC.

The rally was well established after many years, however this year looked to be a bit different, so eight members of the Aire Valley club attended. Right from the off, it was obvious this would not be a boring affair. 

On Friday evening some six hundred motorcyclists arrived and registered with the Monkey Hangers club rally registration tent. Registration and payment of a small fee (typically £2.00) got you an enamel rally badge, a hot dog from Melvin’s snack van, late night licenced bar on the Friday and Saturday, a pitch for your tent and live music or a heavy metal disco.

Arriving on Friday, I parked by bike by the registration tent, and when I returned, someone had stolen my tankard. I set up my tent and joined everyone in the pub which had agreed to host the event. Much ale drinking and singing then ensued along with some mooning at the Pudsey MCC members, one of which had made a poor job of his personal hygiene, this resulted in a round of loud singing to the tune of on Ilkley moor bah tat with a verse changed to “we know how to wipe our arses over here” etc.

The following morning, at least half the rally had a hangover, there was not much available for breakfast so I bought a burger from Melvin’s snack van, not very hygienic in those days, Melvin had a van with a trailer for the food, you would see him go to the trailer to get bread etc. then stroke the dog on the way back and start preparing the food. It was predicted that at least one percent of all rally goers would succumb to food poisoning at the hands of Melvin.

Mid-morning, a few hell’s angels turned up, they were not very welcome as they always caused trouble, suddenly there was a port a loo rolling competition happening, half a dozen monkey hangers and half a dozen angels are rolling a pair of port a loo’s round the camp site. 

Later they opened them to see what sort of mess was inside, unfortunately, the loo the angels had pushed around the field had a member of the monkey hangers club inside, he must have been using the loo when it was tipped and rolled. An ambulance had to be called for him as he had ingested the contents, not a pleasant end to his camping weekend.

By twelve o’clock, there was a queue of over five hundred motorcyclists waiting to get into the pub for the lunch time drinking session. The staff were overwhelmed and could not serve fast enough. The queue at the bar was impossible, and I was trapped at the very front. At that moment, the excesses of the last evening caught up with me and I let go an SBD, the smell was so sickening that the bar staff left delaying further the service and choking everyone in the room.

The lunch session turned into an evening session, the pub had bought in cheap substandard pint glasses to cope with the volume, however some had sharp edges and caused minor cuts. The pub ran completely dry by half past six and four hundred of us held a beer glass throwing competition in the car park, that got rid of the faulty glasses but did not help with the beer shortage.

The monkey hangers brought forward their next plan, coaches started to arrive and ferry us to another location, a rugby club with a large bar and dance floor. 

On the stage was set up a heavy metal DJ called “the end of the world disco and laser show”, unfortunately the lasers were not working but it did not matter much, we drank the bar dry by midnight and I recall one of my club members buying a pint of slops from the bar, also several semi-conscious novice rally attendees being dragged back and forth in the spilled beer which covered the dance floor.

The following morning, the angels were causing more trouble and a fight broke out, the larger members of the monkey hangers picked up some scaffolding poles and taught them a lesson which would require a hospital visit to recover from.

The final few minutes of the rally were photographed by the club for posterity, standing by the registration tent, about a hundred from a dozen or more clubs gathered and joined the monkey hangers, complete with toy hanging monkeys, for a photo call.