Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tunisian boys unrogered...

Michael Palin has taken me back to 1974. At last his diaries are starting to entertain - '69-'71 didn't amount to much at all, as he was trying to find his diarist's style, '72-'73 didn't reveal as much as I expected. A shame, as Uncle Michael, as I like to call him (I wake up some nights, and spend all of my time watching Himalaya and his other travel programmes, wishing he really was my Uncle. Is that weird?), is my favourite Python.* It would appear that his 'nice' personality isn't fake, unless the diary has had the bitchiness completely edited out. But I'm sure he is nice. Yet I suppose that this is a bit of a downfall for such a weighty tome (608 pages of entries) that there are no startling revelations, no Ortonesque rogering of Tunisian boys, little in the way of scandal (Graham Chapman drinks, John Cleese is a control freak and wants out, Eric Idle has trouble with his plumbing, Terrys Jones and Gilliam do everything with one eye on their directing futures, Uncle Michael keeps impregnating his wife Helen, donates lump sums to socialist causes and is always filming on his birthday are what we are left with). There are fewer laughs than I expected, too. But who knows what might happen over the coming pages - I have to get all the way to 1979 yet.

I more-or-less decided the other day that I would, in a fit of laziness and with various trips (research and otherwise-related) here and there in the diary, shut down creatively until after Christmas but I fear that I somewhat took my foot off the pedal too early and am now starting to panic that various deadlines in 2007 will all come crashing head-on into my face and make a right bloody mess of me. So it's back to the coal face (well, a coal face that is well-lit and not short of fresh air, that I can get out of in an instant and contains a well-stocked fridge). I did feel somewhat better about my inability to really get cracking on this Rank thing when I read Simon Gray in the Guardian talking about his long-term failure to get a piece of work about Charles Dickens off the ground. I'm gripped by some sort of paralysis which is, I think, due to the wealth of research material I've amassed and the scale of the work ahead. So I will spend all of next week and what's left of this attempting to conceive. No chance to be writerly today, though, I shouldn't think - I'm on some X-Factor-style judging panel at Hull College. They promise me coffee and pastry in exchange for reducing students to tears.

*Not always the case. As a wide-eyed boy allowed to stay up late to watch Monty Python's Flying Circus I used to laugh loudest at Eric Idle. That little boy would probably have loved a trip to the West End to watch Spamalot, I don't fancy it at all.


Benjamin said...

Entertaining posts. I enjoyed Simon Gray's memoirs 'The Smoking Diaries', written in a kind of blog style, not so dissimilar to Killing Time as it goes. Anyway, it's Chico time. Enjoy.

bazza27 said...

I always found the Pythons amusing, but had the misfortune to see some of Spamalot on the Royal Variety Performance the other night. What a load of old tosh.