[Ed’s note: It’s not everyday that you meet someone you look up to in your own university. The following is an anecdote from Indi, a Monty Python fan. Other “close encounters” (of this kind) are welcome.]
I chanced upon Michael Palin‘s visit to our school to talk about his latest book, DIARIES 1967-1979: THE PYTHON YEARS. The Institute of Education’s Logan Hall was packed to the rafters. Mr. Palin, joking about how critics accused him of being conciliatory and “relentlessly nice,” was as kind as he was funny and generous with the Python Years anecdotes. One time they were doing the “dead mother” sketch and the audience reception (from mayors and other major VIPs) turned out to be “the kind of silence you get when you’re trying to record sounds in outer space.”
He also talked about the difficulty of shooting that sequence of the “Knights who say ‘Ni!’ in Holy Grail: up a step ladder with a long, heavy, trailing cloak in freezing, body-numbing, weather in Scotland, sapped of strength and barely a squeak of a voice to yell ‘Ni!’; in annoyance to lots of camera men perched on trees!
Later, I had him sign a copy of Full Circle from his travel series. He has this to say about Pinas: “You don’t have to be long in the country to appreciate that the jeepney expresses the Filipino spirit: emotional, exuberant, celebratory; endearing and unwary. We are following a truck marked ‘Careful Movers’, which lurches forward, its backdoor swinging wildly open.”