The question was an either or. Which, or who, is the more intelligent? Is it the greyhounds or the monkeys?
The time was 7am, the place Listowel, and Mike Shine is pushing a shopping trolley full of old vegetables recycled from the supermarket for the feeding of his greyhounds in a nearby yard.
Mike loves his greyhounds and they are better fed than ourselves. That's the way we compliment dog owners from Listowel.
You say to the owner: "There's a shine off of him. Sure he's better fed than ourselves."
In most other places "the better fed than ourselves" compliment could be taken to be an insult, as in the food you eat must be worse than dog food. But not around here.
Dog food can't be that bad. The dog food manufacturers are very careful about what they put into the tins. There was a man I knew who made burgers from the dog food and he didn't die yet. There was no sign of him chasing cars either, barking or cocking his leg up against lampposts.
A story by celebrity vet Pete Wedderburn in this week's 'Kerryman' tells us that in order to qualify as a chicken dinner, the tin of dog food only needs about 4pc chicken.
We used to feed our Cara with Longford dog food, which was full of goodness.
Poor Cara, who was of French descent, passed away 12 years ago from a heart attack and we still miss her. She lived to 120 in human years. This is testament to the Reynold's dog food. I took a spoon once and the gravy was nearly as nice as the mother's.
Cats need more meat than dogs. Pete Wedderburn says as much in his excellent article on pet food. So it should follow cat food has a higher percentage of meat than dog food. I'm not just saying this for the sake of it. There's a reason. And the fast-food people knew cat food had more meat.
When I was a young student, there was a takeaway in Dublin that was rumoured to be making burgers out of cat food.
It seems there were several hundred tins found by the inspectors in the bins. The locals called the takeaway Me-ows. So far as I know no one ever died from the cat food.
There was a place in the south city that got done for passing off southern fried pigeon instead of chicken. I often dined there late at night when I was a young lad and the snack box was tasty, but very bony. Pigeons are not as plump as chickens but you wouldn't know the difference after drink anyway. The pigeon never did me any harm and there was no cocooning from any sickness.
But again, the question Mike Shine asked was which is the more intelligent animal, the greyhound or the monkey? I would have answered the monkey but before I got the chance Mike jumped in with: "It's the monkey." We all know monkeys are seriously intelligent. I have never heard tell of Charles Darwin ever proposing humans are descended from the greyhounds.
I was in Dublin Zoo, as a visitor, and a cross boy was teasing the orangutans. The cross boy was sticking out his tongue and making insulting two-fingered gestures towards the orangutans who, judging by their sad eyes, were sensitive creatures.
Please notice I wrote "who" deliberately. Ever since I first saw the movie 'Planet of the Apes' at the Astor Cinema in 1970, I have been certain monkeys are humans. 'Planet of the Apes' came out in 1968 but that time it took two years for the new releases to reach Listowel. Nowadays our local cinema gets the new movies within weeks. The cross boy's dad was banging at the glass, and jumping around pretending to be a monkey, with his hands hanging below his waist. He picked fleas from the cross boy and offered the orangutan out to fight when he shadow boxed and kicked out.
Cross dads make for cross boys and I began to think that maybe it was the orangutans who were descended from us. Our kids were very upset and I was about to intervene. There was no need.
The orangutan turned his back on the teasers. Then he swivelled suddenly and chucked a huge ball of orangutan poo at the cross dad, who had his lips stuck to the window like as if he was asking the orangutan for a kiss.
I'd say the orangutans would be very handy at the cricket. They have very strong shoulders from all the swinging off trees. The poo hit the window with incredible force and made a massive splat that sounded like a slap across the face, only louder.
The cross dad screamed as he fell back. He stuck his fingers in to his mouth and tore at the inside of his cheeks. The cross dad was trying to get the poo that never went into his mouth, out of his mouth.
His wife was forthright. "The orangutans were very bad mannered," she said, "and it was quite obvious they had not been properly toilet trained.
"Something would have to be done," declared the irate wife, who added: "Joe Duffy will have to be rung."
The cross boy couldn't speak, with the shock. This was a few years back and I have not met the cross boy in the meantime, but I am fairly certain he never again blackguarded an orangutan.
Our kids were laughing all through the zoo and spoke of little else during the five-hour journey home to Listowel. That was why I would have told Mike the answer was monkeys, if I got the chance.
I gave Mike a hand with the full trolley when a yellow head of cabbage fell off. He talked as we walked.
"Do you know why the greyhounds are not smarter than the monkeys, Billy?" asked Mike.
I have known Mike all my life. For sure his answer would be profound yet practical. The rain was cats and dogs by now. This was no time to tell Mike the story of the cross boy, his cross dad, the indignant mother, and the intelligent orangutan who decided revenge is best served hot and steaming. "So why are monkeys smarter Mike?"
My friend stalled the trolley and gave the answer there and then in the teeming rain.
"The answer," replied Mike, "is because greyhounds are not able to peel bananas."