‘I want to meet monkey hangers’

French writer Wilfrid Lupano reveals a Hartlepool United shirt
French writer Wilfrid Lupano reveals a Hartlepool United shirt

A FRENCH author who has penned a book about the Hartlepool Monkey donned a Pools shirt in homage to the subject of his new novel.

Wilfrid Lupano pulled on the Hartlepool United top in a nod to the famous story associated with the town, which says the people of Hartlepool hung a monkey fearing it was a French spy during the Napoleonic wars.

French writer Wilfrid Lupano monkeying around in a Hartlepool United top

French writer Wilfrid Lupano monkeying around in a Hartlepool United top

The Mail told in April how town restaurateur Krimo Bouabda was given a copy of Wilfrid’s book, Le Singe de Hartlepool, translated as The Monkey of Hartlepool, on his 60th birthday.

The gift had been sent from his friend, Frenchman Didier Deville, who was also a well-known chef and restaurateur in the town from 1986. Krimo had contacted the author and wanted to know more about his inspiration for the book.

The Mail got in touch with Wilfrid, who plans to visit the town with the book’s designer Jeremie Moreau in the autumn.

He explained that he discovered the legendary story when he was having a drink in a bar in England with an English pal, and a man who had too many beers and interrupted aggressively after hearing Wilfrid’s French accent told him how arrogant “the frogs” were.

The argument led back to the Middle Age wars, and Wilfrid’s friend managed to rescue him from the row by claiming Wilfrid was Swiss, and the man apologized.

Wilfrid said: “We had such a good laugh with my mate that we started to chat about this old historical hatred between France and England. That’s when he first told me about the monkey, and I immediately loved the story.

“It was so funny and so sad in the same time. So as soon as I was back in France, I started to do some research about the legend, and I was surprised to find almost nothing in French.

“The story was totally unknown on our side of the sea, though we were concerned in the first degree!

“I decided to try to fix that.”

Wilfrid said at the time, France was going through a “filthy ‘public debate’” about national identity, started by the freshly-elected Nicolas Sarkozy’s Government, which he described as like being “a public tribune for all the xenophobic movements in France”.

He said the debate, which asked questions like ‘are you really French if you don’t eat saucisson and drink wine?’, inspired him to want to write a satire of extreme nationalist behaviours, “but from the point of view of ordinary people, and the monkey story was perfect for that”.

“No matter where it occurs, it could have happened in France with an English monkey, the story perfectly tells how easy it is to hate someone you’ve never seen before, and about whom you hardly know anything.”

He added; “I’m proud to have the Pools shirt.

“I’ll probably come to Hartlepool this autumn with Jérémie Moreau.

“I hope the monkey hangers will come to meet us.”