Could our days of whimsical pointlessness be behind us? Are we selling out to relevance? Could this spell a radical transformation into – forgive me for daring to utter the forbidden word – respectability?
Find out as you delve into this hard-hitting, uncompromising interview – easily our most shocking exposé of government affairs since, well, The Rubber Chicken Talks Politics.
The Definitive Interview
November 2, 2005, Hartlepool: If you pay attention to the novelty headlines, you might already be familiar with Stuart Drummond’s rise into politics. In 2002, Drummond jokingly ran for election as H’Angus the Monkey, the mascot of the local football club, with only one policy: free bananas for schoolchildren. The population of Hartlepool, which clearly enjoys a good laugh, made H’Angus its first directly-elected mayor.
For much of the media, whose coverage brought overnight fame to both Drummond and Hartlepool, the story ends here. Happily, though, Stuart Drummond has much more going for him than a wacky 60 second newsbite.
He quickly shed his simian skin, keen to establish himself as a legitimate leader. As he lacked any previous experience in the field – his previous job was at a call centre – this was obviously an uphill battle. (When interviewed by The Guardian, he liked the learning curve to “having to do six master’s degrees in six months”.) Nonetheless, he managed to find his political feet and, against all odds, earn the respect of the town.
Drummond presents himself as an ordinary, approachable leader eager to bridge the gap between the public and the council. As an independent, he can comfortably reject hidden agendas to focus exclusively and sincerely on making Hartlepool a better place. The “Operation Clean Sweep” initiative is a frequently-cited example of his ability to do just that. It is a concentrated effort to clean Hartlepool in every possible respect – from appearance to employment, and even healthy eating – one neighbourhood at a time. And despite his initial difficulties in supplying the proposed bananas, schoolchildren in the area now have a daily selection of free fruit.
By all accounts he is a friendly, down-to-earth and efficient mayor. On top of this, he has played a crucial and continuing role solving life’s greatest mysteries for The Rubber Chicken’s own Burning Question series.
All this from a man who, a lifetime ago, campaigned as a monkey to help publicise his favourite football team.
Hartlepool is apparently rather fond of his human incarnation; he was recently re-elected in a landslide victory.
Mr. Drummond was kind enough to take time off his duties to answer some probing and uncompromising questions about his job as a community leader.
Firstly, congratulations on your recent re-election! In campaigning as yourself, did you feel you had a lot to live up to, or were you confident you’d established yourself as a human being?
I think people definitely knew I was a human being, although some of my mates still have their doubts.
Starting your first term in office without prior political experience must have given you a very different perspective from most other mayors. What is your favourite colour?
Blue and White stripes. (The colours of Hartlepool United Football Club)
Three years after shedding The Costume, do you still have to put up with many terrible puns about going “ape” or “bananas”from the local newspaper?
Not so much the local paper, but sometimes the National press or some smart arse politician who thinks they will get a laugh.
You’ve always said your main goal is simply to do “what’s best for the town”. True or false?
What is Hartlepool’s best pub?
For beer – Definitely “The Causeway”, right next to the brewery. For women – Bar Paris.
Now, the question our readers are all dying to see answered: what sort of chair do you have in your office?
A swivel one, not leather unfortunately.
Finally, in your expert knowledge, can you tell us anything about the highly anticipated seventh Harry Potter book?
Does he lose his virginity?
We would like to thank Mr. Drummond once again for his time, and wish him the best of luck for his second term in office!