November 20th, 2020


A Nest of Pythons

I switched on the radio this afternoon to hear someone paying a very nice tribute to Jan Morris, who has just died, aged 94. (A good age - the same as my mother - but still.) It turned out to be Michael Palin.

It got me to thinking about the Pythons. I can't pretend to any great expertise on their personalities, but of course they've been part of my life for more than 50 years, so I have mental images of each of them, somewhat informed by occasional evidence.

Palin has always seemed the most straightforwardly nice of the bunch. Chapman I have little idea about - except that he drank too much. Was that because he had demons, or did he just like alcohol? Terry Jones is equally a cipher: I can only judge his character from the regard in which he was held by many others, although I suppose a little bubble reading "don manqué" always floated above his head. Gilliam always struck me as a dick; nothing I've seen of him has changed that impression. Cleese, once my favourite, has become an entitled bore. Idle I've never quite been able to divorce from the George Cole-ish Flash Harry persona he used in some of the sketches, and his ability to monetise the brand in Spamalot reinforced that association. Not that I mind him doing it - not at all.

How far does that roll call line up with your mental image, or - better yet - your actual knowledge?