Audio Stories

“So when I was 17 I started to construct a cage. And in this cage, over time, I looked after this monkey.”

Reported by Steve

Published on Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

Recovery Substance Use
Audio Stories

“So when I was 17 I started to construct a cage. And in this cage, over time, I looked after this monkey.”

Written by Steve

Published on Tuesday, December 1st, 2020


Substance Use

By Steve

Please note: The following report talks about substance use



It’s the 27th of November, my name is Steve. And I wanna talk about a little analogy of addiction.

So over three decades of addiction have led me to this understanding, retrospectively like you know.

So when I was 17 I started to construct a cage.

And in this cage, over time, I looked after this monkey. I bought this monkey aged 17 and I put it in the cage.

And every day I would walk past and I’d say, ‘Morning monkey’. And I’d say, ‘Do you want a banana?’

And I’d throw the monkey a banana.

And after a while the monkey started saying, ‘Can I have two bananas?’

‘Of course you can have two bananas. Here, have three, four.’

And I got up to five, six, seven, eight, nine. Bunches  of bananas, there were bananas everywhere. The monkey was so f***ing happy. Bananas everywhere.

After about 15, 16 years I started to think these bananas are doing my f***ing head in. And so is the monkey.

So I’ve walked past one day and the monkey’s gone, ‘Hey, alright Steve, where’s my bananas?’

And I said, ‘Ah, no bananas today’.

The monkey said, ‘Yeah course, give me them bananas.’

I said, ‘Listen monkey, no more bananas, that’s it. Me, you, bananas – finito. No more.’

‘Give me them f***ing bananas’

I said, ‘There is no more bananas’.

The monkey’s grabbing the cage, he’s shaking it. This cage is made of wrought iron, this monkey’s strong I’m telling you. He’s rocking the cage, like, it’s going everywhere, ‘Give me them bananas!’

‘No, no bananas, no bananas.’  I‘ve walked away.

The day after I’ve come past and the monkey’s going mental. He’s not slept, he’s sweating. He’s in a mess, there’s sick everywhere. Old banana skins scraped all over the place. 

‘Give me them bananas!’

I said, ‘No no bananas, no bananas, no bananas.’

This goes on, same process, for about 30 days. Gets to about 35 days, 42 days, about six weeks. So I’ve walked past the cage and the monkey’s sat there all quiet.

‘Oh, alright monkey what’s up with you?’

‘Nothing,’ says the monkey, ‘Absolutely nothing.’

‘You alright?’

‘Yeah, yeah thinking about bananas.’

I said, ‘Yeah I’m thinking about bananas as well. Maybe you can have one banana – do you want a banana?’

Monkey says, ‘Ah, go on then, if you insist’

And I think, well the monkey’s done so well I’m going to give him one banana. Just one. He can have one, I know he’ll be alright with one banana.

I give him the banana. He’s over the moon.

‘Thank you for that banana.’

‘No problem.’ Politest he’s ever been.

Next day I’ve walked past the cage is rocking again, ‘Where’s my bananas, give me the bananas’

I said, ‘No bananas’.

He said, ‘You can’t keep doing this. You suggested bananas.’

I said, ‘I know I suggested bananas but I only wanted one banana for ya. I didn’t wanna give you two bananas the day after.’

Doesn’t shut up, doesn’t shut up. This goes on and on and I end up giving him two bananas. And I’m back in the cycle of feeding the monkey, feeding the monkey, feeding the monkey.

Until after three decades I’ve walked past and he’s said, ‘Hi Steve, got my bananas?’

And I said, ‘There’s no more bananas, I’m so tired of this conversation.’

And the monkey’s thinking, I know he’s tired of the conversation but he’s going to give me the bananas.

‘No more bananas, no bananas for you today monkey.’

So the monkey sat there, scheming. How can I get bananas. I know what I’ll do, I’ll wait – like I did ten years ago or whenever it was – I’ll wait 42 days then he’ll give me a banana.

So I’m on 41 days today.

Anyway there’s no banana’s going on. But I hope you get a picture of what addiction is like.

Because it’s bit more graphic than that. The monkey does get a lot more poorly, he’s not always shaking the bars, he gets more devious. He’s a very, very, very sick monkey.

He’s really ill this monkey.

But, at the moment he doesn’t want a banana. But I can’t say tomorrow.

This is the crux of addiction. I cannot say tomorrow he’s not going to have a banana.

I hope he’s not going to have a banana.

I pray to God he’s not going to have a banana.

But I’ve been here before. And guess how it ends.

He had f***ing bananas.

So let’s see hey.

Written by Steve

Steve joined the Listen Up project as a volunteer, initially working on the Call and Check project before becoming a volunteer on the Covid Monitoring Project. When Listen Up was launched Steve successfully applied for one of the new Project Officer posts. Although he enjoyed the role he decided his skills were best suited to volunteering at this time. As a result he is once again a volunteer reporter and has now done the HHPA [Homeless Health Peer Advocate] training which allows him to advocate for vulnerable people, helping them to access health care in a way that is best for them. Steve has roots in Manchester but travelling and meeting people from all walks of life while discussing the price of chips is something that Steve would describe as a perfect day! As a result he has recently moved to London.

Read all of Steve's articles


Recovery Substance Use