Fish-slapping Fun

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.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Fish-slapping Fun

  1. Ruud V

    I think it’s a better way to be famous for than for being the spot of some gruesome massacre.
    I wonder if there is a commerorative plaque on the northface of Uxbridge road for moutaineers to visit….

  2. lerxst

    Have you seen Spamalot? It becomes the romantic Finnish Fisch Schlapping Dance….

    schlip schlap..schlip schlap away…schlip schlap..schlip schlap all day.. schlip schlap… you simply can’t go wrong.. in traditional fisch sclapping song

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