Tag Archives: monty python’s flying circus

May 24th 1973

“Moved room back to original position xcept Record Player is now on the floor. Borrowd Another Monty Python Record off Davies – bludy funny”

Released by Charisma Records in 1972, “Another Monty Python Record” was the second compilation of material from the comedy troupe’s TV series on BBC.

Housed in a spoof sleeve of a Beethoven symphony album, it contains many of their classic sketches, including The Spanish Inquisition, The Piranha Brothers and Spam.

For me though – and something I still remember almost word for word some 35 years later was – is the final cut “Still No Sign of Land“, a skit about 5 unrescued sailors bobbing about on the sea in a lifeboat…

It reads as well as it sounds….

……………………………………………………

The cast:

SAILOR #1:Michael Palin
SAILOR #2: Graham Chapman
SAILOR #3: Eric Idle
SAILOR #4: Terry Jones
SAILOR #5:John Cleese

The Sketch:
(Scene: The interior of a lifeboat. FX: Seagulls are crying.)

#1: Still no sign of land. How long is it?

#2: That’s a rather personal question, sir.

#1: (low voice)You stupid git. I meant how long has it been in the lifeboat? You’ve destroyed the atmosphere now.

#2: I’m sorry.

#1: Shut up. Start again.

#1: Still no sign of land. How long is it?

#2: 33 days, sir.

#1: Thirty-three days?

#2: We can’t go on much longer. (low voices) I didn’t think I destroyed the atmosphere.

#1: Shut up.

#2: Well, I don’t think I did.

#1: ‘Course you did.

#2: (aside, to 3) Did you think I destroyed the atmosphere?

#3: Yes I think you did.

#1: Shut up. Shut up!

#1: Still no sign of land. How long is it?

#2: 33 days, sir.

#4: Have we started again? (FX: slap)

#1: STILL no sign of land. How long is it?

#2: 33 days, sir.

#1: Thirty-three days?

#2: We can’t go on much longer, sir. We haven’t eaten since the fifth day.

#5: We’re done for, we’re done for!

#1: Shut up, Morley.

#2: We’ve just got to keep hoping. Someone may find us.

#4: How we feeling, Captain?

#5: Not too good. I…I feel so weak.

#2: We can’t hold out much longer.

#5: Listen…chaps…there’s still a chance. I’m…done for, I’ve…got a gammy leg and I’m going fast; I’ll never get through. But…some of you might. So…you’d better eat me.

#1: Eat you, sir?

#5: Yes. Eat me.

#2: Uuuugggghh! With a gammy leg?

#5: You don’t eat the leg, Thompson. There’s still plenty of good meat. Look at that arm.

#3: It’s not just the leg, sir.

#5: What do you mean?

#5: Well, sir…it’s just that –

#5: Why don’t you want to eat me?

#3: I’d rather eat Johnson, sir!

#2: So would I, sir.

#5: I see.

#4:Well that’s settled then…everyone’s gonna eat me!

#1: Uh, well.

#5: What, sir?

#1: No, no you go ahead, please, I won’t…….

#4: Oh nonsense, sir, you’re starving; tuck in!

#1: No, no, it’s not just that.

#2: What’s the matter with Johnson, sir?

#1: Well, he’s not kosher.

#3: That depends how we kill him, sir.

#1: Yes, that’s true. But to be perfectly frank I…I like my meat a little more lean. I’d rather eat Hodges.

#2: Oh well, all right.

#5: I still prefer Johnson.

#5: I wish you’d all stop bickering and eat me.

#2: Look. I tell you what. Those who want to can eat Johnson. And you, sir, can have my leg. And we make some stock from the Captain, and then we’ll have Johnson cold for supper.

#1: Good thinking, Hodges.

#4: And we’ll finish off with the peaches.

#3: And we can start off with the avocados….

………………………………………………………………………

Because I have never quelled my juvenile attitude I’m still apt to reply “that’s a rather personal question” if anyone asks me “how long it is”.

No doubting that this album set me off on a lifetime’s appreciation of recorded comedy.

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April 15th 1973

 “Went to Passion Play + then up Trev’s – saw his stereo stuff – smart!” / “Told about confirmation”

A Passion Play – as I have mentioned before – is apparently a dramatic presentation depicting the Passion of Christ: the trial, suffering and death of Jesus Christ.

I have no idea why I would have been going to one, but I wonder if it was something like this?…

Indeed, apart from Trev’s “smart! ” hi-fi equipment, this is otherwise a religiocentric diary entry. 

Yes, I just may have just invented a new word.

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January 18th 1973

“Found out that I had passed mock by the jammy margin of ½% – PHEW!” / “games – didn’t score but set up 3” / “Larst Monty Python – Funny – Charwoman – BOOM!”

Blimey! Talk about “skin of my teeth” result regarding my maths exam.

Thank heavens I was – *ahem* – a much better football player than mathematician. Heh!

Monty Python’s “Charwoman” appears towards the end of this You Tube offering, another of Terry Gilliam’s wonderful animated contributions to the show…

Maybe the sight of bare cartoon breasts is what attracted the 15-year-old me to the skit in 1973?

I wonder how BBC America now broadcast that re-run given the ludicrous TV censorship laws that exist over here?

The other day we watched a travel programme with the presenter walking around an Italian art museum. It included a shot of a marble statue of a nude woman…. where the breasts had been fuzzed out by the censors. I WISH I was making that up.

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January 11th 1973

“Didn’t go to school – stayed home in bed with flu” / “Wasn’t allowed to watch Monty Python” / “Arguverge”

Wow, that maths exam must have REALLY got to me?!

I’ve never suffered illness very well, and certainly not if it means I have to lay in bed feeling like crap.

I suppose this could have been a genuine illness rather than some kind of post-exam stress disorder?

Whatever it was, I was evidently not permitted to watch Python – probably as a result of creating an argument between Mum & Dad. *sigh*

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January 4th 1973

“Nothing much dun today” / “Started to Paint Model” / “Monty Python bak on the telly after one weeks absence”

Meticulously painting an Airfix model with enamel paints would appear not to constitute “much” for this 14 – almost 15 – year old?

Tins of Humbrol model paint must have been the tiniest in the world.

Trivia freaks may wish to know that “Humbrol” started life as the Humber Oil Company from Kingston-Upon-Hull, a small 4-man operation who specialised in bicycle oil and calcium carbide for lamps.

I wonder how many 70’s kids inadvertently got a little “high” from the smell of their paints and little tubes of glue?

*whistle*

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December 30th 1972

Not much dun all day as car broke down on way to Dick Emery” / “Watched the Goons on Parkinson”

Looks like my folks had a torrid time getting to that show last night?

I did wonder if a diary entry would throw up the opportunity to write about The Goons?!

The Goon Show was a BBC radio comedy programme which entertained the UK  for most of the 50’s. However, its influence continues to pervade well over half a century later.

Created by (the world’s GREATEST comedian EVER) Spike Milligan, The Goon Show featured anarchic surreal comedy decades before anarchic surreal comedy became fashionable. Spike’s eccentric scripts – acted out by Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Spike himself – were ludicrous to the extreme, combining obtuse plots, puns, silly voices and daft sound effects.

The shows were VERY much the precursor to – and the primary influence behind – the likes of Peter Cook, Monty Python, The Firesign Theatre, The Young Ones… in fact almost all alternative comedy.

Spike created characters like Neddy Seagoon, Eccles, Bluebottle. Moriarty and more, whilst single-handedly inventing (IMHO) the “catchphrase”. Radio listeners would sit and wait for their favourite characterto utter things like “I ‘ave been deaded“, “You rotten swine you“, “We’ll all be murdered in our Beds” or (my favourite) “He’s fallen in the wah-ter

From 1951 until 1960, Spike and the gang banged out over 260 episodes. However, the pressure of writing, and then having to perform, all this material took its toll on Milligan who suffered from (what later came to be called) bipolar disorder. Thus consigning Spike to the seemingly never-ending list of “tortured comics” (see “Lenny Bruce“, “Bill Hicks” or “Mitch Hedberg“). Indeed, Spike was absent from the show for several months in 1954 after he attempted to murder Peter Sellers….. with a potato peeler!

The Goon Show ceased to be in 1960, but was repeated constantly on BBC radio. (Indeed, it is STILL repeated on BBC’s Radio 7!).

In 1972, to celebrate the BBC’s 50th anniversary, the troupe were persuaded to get back together for “The Last Goon Show of All“. Although far from the tightest or funniest of Millgan’s scripts it nevertheless serves as a suitable tribute to how bizarre The Goons were, even outside of their heyday. It was simulcasted as a BBC TV documentary… here seen in 5 segments (the funniest, I think, being Part 3)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

As per my diary entry, the Goons obviously got together to promote the show on Michael Parkinson‘s popular TV chat show, although I can find no footage to substantiate that.

Years later – in 2001 to be precise – I had the extraordinary pleasure of meeting Spike in person. He was nearing the end of his time, very frail and weak, but still willing to travel the country to do instore meet & greets to promote his latest book “Treasure Island“.

I dutifully queued in line at the Southampton Waterstones to meet him and have him sign my copy of the book. When it was my turn to at the desk I told him “Mr Milligan, I’d like to shake your hand” and held mine out. He looked me in the eye and said “You don’t have anything do you” (referring to sicknesses or illnesses). I shook my head at which point he grabbed my hand with both of his – in a genuine friendly grasp – to which I simply mumbled “Thank you sincerely for all the laughter you’ve given me over the years”. He smiled. I smiled. I walked away.

I’m not normally phased by ‘stardom’ – always reminding myself that these people are just “people” – but on this occasion I felt genuinely starstruck and in awe of the presence I was in.

There are a million and one online sites dedicated to The Goons, but this one seems to be pretty comprehensive.

Finally, here’s the Goons’ novelty hit single “The Ying Tong Song” from 1956!…

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December 7th 1972

“Scored in Gms” / “Twonite eye watshed Monty Piethins Flying Circis in culer”

Isn’t it funny how “scored in g(a)m(e)s” could be misconstrued for something completely different in 2008 than it was in 1972?

It looks as if I had the rare chance of enjoying Python in colour (yes, that’s what it means) this evening? Probably as a result of going into my parent’s neighbours place.

My Dad was pretty set in his ways in those days, refusing to fork out for a colour TV (and the accompanying higher-priced TV license) until something went wrong with our “perfectly good black and white telly”. Indeed – and as I think I have stated elsewhere – my folks never enjoyed their own colour TV until I bought them one as their Christmas present the first year I was working full-time. (A promise I had made myself for a long time prior).

I’m sure that, these days, the mere presence of ‘only’ a black and white TV would be considered akin to “child cruelty” in many households, but back then I didn’t really think anything of it. If you’ve never had better you’re rarely aware of what you’re missing.

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