of Monty Python
Well, hello and welcome to page seventeen. In many books, page 17 is a sad anti-climax after the exciting events described on pages 15 and 16. We hope to avoid this pitfall by making our page 17 into one of the most exciting and action-packed page 17s that you’ve ever read. In a lot of books, page 17 contains purely descriptive matter, and in others it is still only part of the introduction, but not so this one.... We say: get a move on, novelists! and let’s have more page 17s like this one:
How about that for a page 17? Wake up Dickens! Wake up Graham Greene! Let’s show the World that British literature gets on with it!
Gavin Millarrrrrrrrrr writes:
Neville Shunt’s latest West End Success – It All Happened on the 11.20 from Hainault to Redhill via Horsham and Reigate, calling at Carshalton Beeches, Malmesbury, Tooting Bec and Croydon West is currently appearing at the Limp Theatre, Piccadilly. What Shunt is doing in this, as in his earlier nine plays, is to express the human condition in terms of British Rail.
Some people have made the mistake of seeing Shunt’s work as a load of rubbish about railway timetables, but clever people like me who talk loudly in restaurants see this as a deliberate ambiguity, a plea for understanding in a mechanised mansion. The points are frozen, the beast is dead. What is the difference? What indeed is the point? The point is frozen, the beast is late out of Paddington. The point is taken. If La Fontaine’s elk would spurn Tom Jones the engine must be our head, the dining car our oesophagus, the guards van our left lung, the cattle truck our shins, the first class compartment the piece of skin at the nape of the neck and the level crossing an electric elk called Simon. The clarity is devastating. But where is the ambiguity? Over there in a box. Shunt is saying the 8.15 from Gillingham when in reality he means the 8.13 from Gillingham. The train is the same, only the time is altered. Ecce homo, ergo elk. La Fontaine knew its sister and knew her bloody well. The point is taken, the beast is moulting, the fluff gets up your nose. The illusion is complete; it is reality, the reality is illusion and the ambiguity is the only truth. But is the truth, as Hitchcock observes, in the box? No, there isn’t room, the ambiguity has put on weight. The point is taken, the elk is dead, the beast stops at Swindon, Chabrol stops at nothing, I’m having treatment and La Fontaine can get knotted.
Gavin Millarrrrrrrrrrrrrr wrrrrrrrrrrote
How to make films
by Fellini in conversation with Mrs Rodgers
MRS RODGERS: What do you want?
FELLINI: I am a leading Italian film director, can I come in?
MRS RODGERS: What for?
FELLINI: I want to talk to you about my work.
MRS RODGERS: Are you from the brickworks?
FELLINI: No! No! I’m a film director.
MRS RODGERS: They’re all bloody wops at the brickworks.
LOSEY: Madam, I can vouch for my friend here. He is one of the greatest modern film directors, surely you’ve heard of Giulietta Degli Spiriti?
MRS RODGERS: Go away.
FELLINI: We just want to talk about film-making.
MRS RODGERS: Well, I haven’t got time to sit and natter, I’ve got me husband’s tea to get ready.
AGNES VARDA: Madame Rodgers, réalisez-vous l’importance de ce directeur ici?
MRS RODGERS: What’s she on about?
LOSEY: Do you feel that Fellini’s work relies too heavily on symbolism and ritual?
MRS RODGERS: Shove off, or I’ll call the police.
JOURNEY INTO EARL’S COURT
A Raw Tale Of Bed-sitter Land by the Author of: “Percy F. Westerman”.
Once upn. tme. there lvd.
Moral: When there are two courses of action open to a man, that which leads to forgiveness, when the choice is clear, is not necessarily the choice which will, in the final analysis, provide a basis for a settlement on the issues discussed in the Berlin Conference 1964.
Second Moral: Many a moral makes fair reading.
Third Moral: It is a wise moral that knows when to stop.
Fourth Moral: A wise moral is hard to find but a chicken lays an egg only once.
Our Agricultural Correspondent writes:
“This is not strictly true. Many chickens lay two or three eggs in one day.”
(Our Agricultural Correspondent has not quite got the point of the moral – Ed.)
ANIMAL LOVERS’ COLUMN
A Message For All Animal Lovers: Your practice is illegal and punishable by a heavy fine and up to seven years’ imprisonment.
From Monty Python’s Big Red Book (1971).