Posts Tagged ‘Monty Python’

As in the previous post, I seem to be reflecting on aging a bit these days. I was watching the documentary, “Monty Python – Almost the Truth”, and Terry Gilliam had a wonderful observation about aging and Monty Python getting back together again. I tried to search for the quote but having failed in my quest, I did find another that I particularly liked. In part, because I have noticed that people my age, especially males, seem to be getting less tolerant as we put on the years. I find it offensive when people share material they find on the internet that is either racist, homophobic, misogynistic, or just plain gross. And it seems to be from people who, in the past, were much more open. It is sad in many ways.

This little recipe for aging is, in my opinion, is something to aspire to as we grow older.

“Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess:

Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.

Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples’ affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends.

Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.

Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains — they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.

I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn’t agree with that of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.

Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint — it is so hard to live with some of them — but a harsh old person is one of the devil’s masterpieces.

Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy. Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so.

Margot Benary-Isbert


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Humour (and yes, that is the proper spelling) is subjective. I grew up in a household that appreciated dry British humour. In fact, it was my father who suggested we what the first episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus after seeing an ad in TV Guide. The first sketch I recall was that of the flying sheep – I was hooked, and so were most of my friends. It was smart, quick, absurd and most of all – silly. There was a regular discussion about the week’s episode and lines of Python dialogue quickly became part of our regular lexicon. When the CBC failed to pick up one of the new series, we dashed off a 500+ name petition – that three of us spent several hours making up the names for.

Not only did we absorb everything Python, the show had some interesting unintended funny moments for us. When the first movie, And Now For Something Completely Different, came out, we went as a group to see it. As most of us had just passed the age where we could legally imbibe, we went for a few (or for some, more than a few) before the movie. We got to the theatre and settled in as the movie started when one of our group loudly announced that he had to go to the bathroom. We told him to go, but then he started to protest saying he would miss part of the movie. In the next instant he had come up with a solution. Movie theatres are sloped so he would just go down the aisle. On reflection, this did not seem to be the most appropriate action and we voiced our disapproval. Nevertheless, he started the process which then required three of us to drag him to the bathroom. All in the name of Python.

The second one I remember is going to see Monty Python and the Holy Grail with another group of friends. For some unknown reason, there was a short film in front of Python about these poor South Sea Islanders who were forced to leave their homes for a good part of the year to find food to feed their families. Absolutely the worst choice for a short before Holy Grail. The audience were laughing at all the serious bits and making snide comments about the plight of these poor people. It would have been a buzzkill of epic proportions if the audience had not been primed for Python. Before the feature started, one of the group offered to go and get snacks for all. We knew he had come back when we heard this loud call of ‘Albatross‘ as he was walking back down the aisle towards us. While he actually didn’t have any albatross, he did manage to sell most of the snacks to other patrons before he reached our seats – which of course necessitated another trip to the concession. Only at a Python flick.

Finally, I was at the university bookstore during my undergraduate years when I spotted a new Monty Python book on the shelves.

The Monty Python Bok

The Monty Python Bok

The first giggle was that book was spelled incorrectly. But the cover had dirty fingerprints on it so I started to go through the stock to find a clean one. Only to find that each book had the same fingerprints printed on the cover. Another funny – this is looking good. I took the book up to the front with several other books and gave them to the cashier. The elderly cashier went through each book and entered the price into the cash register until she got to the Python book. She stopped and said this is a library book – you don’t need to pay for this. I hadn’t noticed that there actually was a library card fixed to the inside front page – a library card that listed Sammy Davis Jr. and Margaret Thatcher as people who had borrowed the book.

The 'library' card

The ‘library’ card

I thought she was joking so I laughed and said that, no I really did want to pay for it. She smiled back and insisted it was a library book and I didn’t have to pay for it. I think I realized at this point she was serious, so I insisted again that it was not a library book. Afterwards I figured out that the price sticker was white on white (this being before the days of bar codes) and she probably never saw it (you can see the sticker scars on the upper left part of the dust jacket). I tried one more time and again she told me I didn’t have to pay. At this point, the line was getting restless behind me and I figured I had given it three tries, so I agreed and put the book into my bag. It seemed a very appropriate way of acquiring a Python book.

And after all these years, Monty Python still makes me laugh – thanks boys!

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On the heels of my post about Ravi Shankar, another bit of my past surfaced this month. On December 14, PBS showed the Beatles film, Magical Mystery Tour, along with a documentary called “Magical Mystery Tour Revisited” about the making of the film.

The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour Album Cover

The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour Album Cover

Now a lot has been written about the film. My connection is that I saw the film in its only Canadian appearance at the O’Keefe Centre in Toronto in 1969.


Poster for the Toronto showing of Magical Mystery Tour (from http://www.capitol6000.com/posters.html)

I have to confess I don’t even remember the supporting acts but the film did make a big impression. I know the initial reaction to the film was very mixed. But for those of us who had two years of Monty Python under our belts, it seemed pretty normal 🙂 Seeing the film again just reinforced how far ahead it was for its day. Magical Mystery Tour really envisioned the music video long before they became commonplace. And I still found a lot of the film very funny when seen again – it was that dry British wit and nonsense that we grew up with, along with some really good music. It was a real treat to see it again.

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