I finished Michael Palin’s book last night. At around midnight my neighbours might have heard me howling with laughter at this diary entry:
[There’s a] very angry, abusive letter to The Times [today] from a man called Allott in Finchley, who clearly doesn’t like Life of Brian, but admits he hasn’t seen it. It is proposed to send a Python reply to The Times saying, “We haven’t seen Mr Allott, but we don’t like him.”
Perhaps inspired by reading Palin’s Python adventures, I went for a stroll along the Thames last week to Teddington Lock (considerably further away from my house than I thought it was, but it was a lovely walk). Python fans among you may already know that Teddington Lock was the setting for one of the show’s most famous sketches: the fish-slapping dance. Alas, I couldn’t stand on the exact spot on which the fishy skit was performed due to a considerable amount of building work, but I did get chatting to the friendly lock-keeper.
He informed me that when the Pythons rehearsed the sketch – which has John Cleese thwapping Michael Palin with a giant fish and knocking him into the lock – the tide was in and he didn’t have far to fall. Unfortunately, when they came to film it the tide was out, so he fell a bloody long way. I always wince when I watch it and wonder at his bravery. Now I just know it was bad timing.
The lock-keeper’s cottage contained this photo:
What a strange thing for a place to be famous for.