Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years
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“Michael Palin is not just one of Britain’s foremost comedy character actors, he also talks a lot. Yap, yap, yap he goes, all day long and through the night . . . then, some nights, when everyone else has gone to bed, he goes home and writes up a diary.” —John Cleese
“For Palin it has been one hell of a ride, but he seems to have maintained equilibrium all along the way. . . . In sum, it’s tempting to call him a Renaissance Man. But that, as any Pythonite would be quick to tell you, would be silly.” —Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World
Michael Palin has kept a diary since he was newly married in the late 1960s, when he was beginning to make a name for himself as a TV scriptwriter, and Monty Python was just around the corner.
This volume of his diaries reveals how Python emerged and triumphed, how he, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, the two Terrys—Jones and Gilliam—and Eric Idle came together and changed the face of British comedy. But this is but only part of Palin’s story. Here too is his growing family, his home in a north London Victorian terrace, his solo effort as an actor, and his writing endeavours (often in partnership with Terry Jones) that produce Ripping Yarns and even a pantomime.
Meanwhile, Monty Python refuses to go away: his account of the making of both The Holy Grail and the Life of Brian movies are page-turners, and the sometimes extraordinary goings-on of the many powerful personalities who coalesced to form the Python team makes for funny and riveting reading.
A perceptive and witty chronicle, the diaries are a rich portrait of a fascinating period.
“[C]harming and at times revelatory . . . A voice of (relative sanity) in the eye of a comedic storm, Palin paints so vivid a picture that the reader becomes a Python by proxy.” —The New York Times Book Review
“It is terrifically good: funny, astute, and wonderfully written. . . . ”—The Boston Globe
“This combination of niceness, with his natural volubility, creates Palin’s expansiveness.” ---David Baddiel, The Times
“A real delight to read.” ---Saga Magazine (UK)
“His showbiz observations are so absorbing. . . . Palin is an elegant and engaging writer.” ---William Cook, The Guardian (UK)
“A wealth of fascinating stuff about Monty Python.” ---The Independent (UK)
“Our favourite TV explorer shows us the workings of an unstoppable machine.” ---Daily Express (UK)
“A riveting commentary to a remarkably creative decade.” ---Academy (UK)
tourists who cling to the unit like leeches, ordering their spotty, whiny little kids to stand beside me and have their photo taken. ‘Could you sign these for two little girls who are friends of the lady who works Thursdays only in the shop next to the one I work in?’ ‘When are you doing more Pythons?’ ‘What is this?’ ‘Who are you?’ It’s all becoming a big nightmare from which I want to wake up and scream ‘Fuck off!’ from the battlements of Chepstow Castle. At a quarter to six I run up the
Clifton Arms. It’s full of people and smoke and Woody solicitously finds a kids’ room at the back. He’s a nice, unaffected, friendly man – very warm. He describes Stones business meetings – they have even more than Python – with Keith Richards, who sounds very eccentric, lying prostrate and apparently dead for much of the meeting, apart from the occasional devastating one-liner. Charlie Watts remains very silent until suddenly, out of the blue, coming up with an idea about plastic record covers.
good thing to buy the property and enlarge our garden – give the kids a plentiful playroom, a permanent spare room etc. Friday, May 27th I have been filming, I suppose, daily for the past five weeks and maybe a cumulative tiredness is creeping up on me, but Wednesday and Thursday this week were days I had to drag myself through, force myself, like a runner at the end of a long race, to keep up the enthusiasm, the involvement and the energy that these films must have, when my body and mind
and Gordon Liddy too far, but the fact you can start at all is food for thought. I mean, both did very odd things in the name of power and both were rather aggressive, pugnacious men, concerned with the problems of leadership. Interesting Nicolson observation that the Tory Party really were embarrassed by Winston’s presence after the defeat in ‘45. The problems of living with a living legend! A lovely morning to myself, followed by a meeting in the Nag’s Head, Hampstead, with Gwen Taylor – who
highest-ever take at the Plaza (which was for Jaws) by £8,000, with seven fewer performances. So all the publicity has had maximum effect. Monday, November 19th Started work on the new Python movie. A bright, crisp morning. Cycled to the meeting at 2 Park Square West and arrived about tennish. Then a general chat about the world. The Anthony Blunt spy story1 is top news at the moment. America is about to indulge in its own maudlin fascination with power and privilege now that Ted Kennedy is