Sunday 19 April 2020

Feed the Monkey

A couple of weeks ago, just after we’d all gone into lockdown mode, I received a large care package from Big Steve - he’d ordered some stuff from Japan for me and then sent it across via courier – needs must and all that!

I recognised most of the stuff in the box as things I’d ordered, but one stuck out like a sore thumb – or rather a ripe banana: he’d tossed in a copy of Ali’s new design, Feed the Monkey – replete in its rather fetching silicon banana case, which, TOP TIP, can also be used afterwards for transporting your own yellow fruit. 

When the puzzle arrives it has one of the bananas (OK, brass rods! Use your imagination!) only partially inserted – and blocked by those below it – and no, just shoving harder won’t encourage it all the way in. There’s a monkey’s face engraved on the top with a hole appropriately placed for you to Feed the Monkey. You can tell mine’s female from her rather theatrical eyelashes – the male versions aren’t quite as well-endowed. 

The accompanying card tells you to Feed the Monkey so that all of the bananas are fully inside the puzzle. Tip the bananas out and you’ll find that there are 16 small bananas and one larger, double length banana… the smaller ones can be tipped in and will move around inside the tube, but the larger one will just drop in and assuming there’s nothing immediately below it, end up level with the mouth on the top. Guess which banana goes in last then?! 

Effectively the whole thing comes down to finding a way of getting all the small bananas inside the beast’s belly, without obstructing the poor things throat so you can drop the final piece into place. Simple, right?

Eh, naw…

It turns out that no matter how you drop them in, slide them around, tilt things this way and that, rattle them around so they settle into the most efficient pattern possible, there is always one pesky banana blocking poor monkey’s throat so the final monster-nana just won’t drop into place. 

Once or twice I’d thought I’d managed it, only to stand up from my chair and find an errant banana spill from my lap onto the floor… try again. 

I spent a good while trying to imagine what fiendish mechanism might be lying inside there – I spent a while trying to listen for clues – I spent some time examining every single banana in case one of them was gimmicked – I tried different strategies for inserting the little buggers – and nothing…

At one point I managed to fluke the solution and proudly told the boys how I’d done it, to be greeted by the obvious question: “Are you sure?” – and “Does that work repeatedly?” – and of course the answer was: “Eh, naw… I guess I got lucky…”

So I set it aside for a little while and had a little Think(c), and a little play, and then I noticed something interesting… tried one thing and it didn’t work – tried it differently and in they all slotted… chuffed to bits I got on the blower to the lads with my new theory to be greeted with Hurrahs and Congrats…

Ali summed it up best when he said “It’s easy to overthink this one…” – I certainly did!

It’s cute, makes for a reasonable challenge and it's available form your favourite Two Brass Monkeys stockist!

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