When the laughter dies

Back when I was a child and living with my grandparents, we didn’t have a TV. We would listen to the radio, play cards, laugh at my grandfather’s crankiness, the usual late 1960’s stuff. I’m not certain but it was probably my grand father who forbade having a TV in the house. Then, because of the moon landing in 1969, he threw all caution to the winds and went out and bought one.

Coincidentally, 1969 was also the beginning of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a programme which my grandfather pronounced as stupid, not funny and ridiculous. It was one which I instantly fell in love with.

I remember being in fits of laughter in our front room while Grandad just humphed and generally left the room. He wasn’t big on humour that wasn’t Benny Hill.

Like a lot of people my age I can embarrassingly recite whole screeds of Python. This is in direct contrast to the lack of any poetry that I was taught at school at the same time. When I watch movies or TV shows where characters recite poetry they learned at school, I wonder why they didn’t watch Monty Python.

In 1989 Graham Chapman died and it was like a little bit of my youth vanishing. Then, today, Terry Jones died, leaving four Pythons still standing. Fortunately there are more than enough fans to keep the memory of them all alive and well.

Terry Jones was 77 (poor Graham Chapman was only 48) and suffering from advanced dementia. I was fortunate to see him at an archaeology conference almost ten years ago where he was presenting his book Barbarians. (I should add that I didn’t agree with his hypothesis.)

All day there’s been many memories on Twitter from friends, Pythons and just fans. Possibly one of favourites was from Minnie Driver.

As if in some sort of sympathy, I developed a cold. My nose was blocked, my throat sore, my eyes ached. It would be fair to say that I was not happy.

I went to the gym thinking I could sweat the germs out of me but they seemed to have rather enjoyed the exercise. By the time I reached home I was exhausted. I had a bit of lunch but then just took myself to bed. The puppies were not impressed though they did curl up with me.

When I woke up I didn’t feel that much better so I didn’t have any dinner and went back to bed rather earlier than I normally do. I’m hoping for a recovery by tomorrow.

Terry Jones from The Independent
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