I never got to watch Monty Python’s Flying Circus until it was too late: my parents’ dislike of it and their control of the television kept me from the show until the last, Cleese-less series. Friday mornings used to be hell as I would have to negotiate all the catch-phrases that everybody else in my year picked up the previous night, and which I just didn’t understand: lumberjacks, spam, I was totally isolated among my peers.
In the end, I got the films and the Hollywood Bowl album. I remember people trying to persuade me not to go into the cinema when I wanted to watch Life of Brian and being wiling to argue if they challenged my directly, which never happened.
Partly because of this, but more because I was already committed to The Goon Show, I was never the Monty Python fan everybody else of my generation seemed to be. I wouldn’t ever call them derivative of Spike Milligan, but if it hadn’t been for the Goons, I think it would have been another twenty years before people like the Pythons could have broken through.
But whatever you say, they were six bloody funny men, and by being television instead of radio, they changed the world more thoroughly and more wide-rangingly that Milligan, Secombe and Sellars. Now there are just four of them left because Terry Jones has been released from the prison of dementia, and I am glad to think that his mind has now been unshackled, and sad to think that all his work is now only of the past.
Thank you for everything, Terry.