[ And Now For Something Completely Expected ]











It’s…

*WARNING: Post likely contains unbearable amounts of smugness*
I have genuinely struggled to remember who or what introduced me to Monty Python.

You might think it was a lightning-bolt revelatory moment in my formative years that sticks out like a tiger in Africa - but surprisingly it doesn’t.

I can only assume that in the early internet days where people would email silly songs and things that they’ve found online to each other, that I got one of Eric Idle’s songs (Radio Song rings an early bell) sent to me, or just stuck on a floppy disk that I had given to me - another early method of sharing things found online amongst my school peers.

But however it happened, along with the likes of BlackAdder; Python was - and still is - the formative backbone of my sense of humour.

I’m not going to spend ages directing you to key sketches - or arguing about who killed who; because those of you that love Python will already know them - even if you don’t know Python directly, their films at least will have been something you will have seen referenced.

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But, as a lifelong fan; you can imagine my surprise when I was successful in getting myself a ticket to their O2 Reunion show - and to their first live show; yes the one that sold out in 43.5 seconds - hats off to the O2 arena’s booking system; it had virtual lobbies and everything!

And, using the excuse that it would be a 30th Birthday present to myself; I went for the more-expensive-than-most meet'n'greet package - which would lead me to shaking hands with my heroes. But more of that later…

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I took the first week in July off work and took the opportunity to amble around the usual haunts in London that week also {with a few laterooms hotels thrown in} - as well as catching up with Vicky (of R2 Fame) & her now fiance Chris, and then - post-Python (but also under a strict vow of Python-related-silence) the ever-awesome Alf.

Oh and there may have been a trip to Fopp thrown in as well ¬_¬

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On to the Big Day ™; Tuesday 1st July 2014:

In the morning I stopped by the popular-but-delicious Breakfast Club in Soho, continuing a 2013-Edinburgh-Fringe-holiday-breakfast-tradition of pancakes and bacon (w/Maple Syrup of course). Then after a saunter around the centre of the capital, I hopped on the tube and headed for North Greenwich.

After a quick nosey into the O2 sideshows (I’d only been here once before, for the Blue Man Group), I took the opportunity to sit in the lovely sunshine and drink in the atmosphere for a while. I may have also been reading the Holy Grail script at this point… ¬_¬

Later in the afternoon I moved on towards the Holiday Inn Express at North Greenwich - and I wouldn’t normally side-step to plug a hotel I stayed in, but my goodness how impressed I was! Expecting nothing more than a cheap budget affair, I had my stuff checked in an hour early (after I simply asked reception at what time check-in began); into a double-bed room, plus a sofa, and a very swish bathroom. Definitely recommended!

Anyway - on to my plan; as you see not only was I to attend the Python’s return wide-eyed like a loon; I was going in fancy dress ^_^

Re-purposing my Arthur Costume from my 30th birthday {complete with Ministry of Ginger dog-tags <3}, and taking coconuts in hand, I bravely-bold-sir-robin stepped out and back up towards the O2 Arena.

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Again echoing my Thirtieth Shenanigans ™, I stopped at the Wagamamas outside the O2 for sustenance of the - surprise, surprise - Chicken Katsu Curry variety.

It was in Wagamamas that I first drew attention to myself and two lovely ladies invited me to join them at their table as they were also going to Python and had somehow guessed I was going too…

After exchanging brief life stories, we all 3 had a picture together and we wandered up to the arena.

Where I soon found out that - if you are wearing a costume - this greatly increases your chances of being interviewed by German TV, a Swedish Newspaper, oh and the BBC

Believe it or not, those are my be-gloved hands at the start of the video ^_^

Incidentally, if anyone does see me in a German TV News report {aside from the one about my inevitable German Pools Win}, do send me the link!

I was also interviewed by UK TV Gold as part of a pre-Python Show they were to put out when they aired the final live show, at the same time it was broadcast in cinemas around the world. But I don’t think my mug made the final cut…

Still - had a nice chat with the man from Gold, and he did hint about the slight challenge they had ahead of them with regards to the censors. He didn’t spoil anything for me in the show, but encountered the C word and Every Sperm is Sacred in about the first 40 minutes of the show - I now realise the problem!

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It has to be also said that the atmosphere before we were let into the arena was incredible - everyone was just so friendly with everyone else; I met a chap dressed as one of the Four Yorkshiremen (who had also been interviewed), saw a brilliant ‘It’s Man’ costume; chatted with some Dutch who had flown over especially, and even a Norwegian right at the end of the night, as we left the arena.

Oh and there were loads of Americans, as you might expect - but my god were there a lot of Germans there as well!



What I hadn’t realised when I went to take my seat in the arena was OMG I WAS ON THE FRONT ROW!

You see; when I booked online, there was a block of seats in front of me on the O2 Arena map, which I just assumed was blocked out for VIPs or something; so my already overflowing grail of joy just about went apocalyptic when I realised i would be in THE best seat in the house to witness comedy history.

Of course being in costume at the front, meant that lots of people taking pictures of themselves at the front of the stage - and one was Bülent from (you guessed it) Germany, who wasn’t nearly as homicidal as my on-screen adversary, the Black Knight.

[As it turns out he was also in the Meet & Greet - more of that later].

After exchanging Python-esque greetings with a couple of Bruce’s who were - genuinely - from Australia, over for the show - I took my seat next to Michaela (ALSO from Germany!) who - like me - she could not believe her luck at being on the absolute front row!

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And so the show began…

Which you can of course watch on Gold, or buy the DVD when it is out at Christmas :-P

But here are a few picture highlights, followed by my thoughts on the show itself.



Lumberjack Song



Exploding Penguin (My Favourite!)



Blackmail (with Special Guest Stephen Fry!)



Nobody Expects…



The Five Minute Argument



Ann Elk’s Theory (That It Is)



Something About A Deceased Pet


Finale in Heaven

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Overall the show was - as Idle said - a Music Hall Revue of Python Material - both halves strung together with musical segues and brilliant dancing {I had no idea Arlene Phillips choreographed Meaning of Life!}.

And whilst the first half had its definite highlights; the second just really sung and flew by all too quickly - yet we still got everything we hoped for.

Undoubtedly the greatest joy in the show was being able to watch my comedy heroes enjoying themselves, and genuinely having fun revisiting their material. Cleese’s ad-libs in particular brought the house down.

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Afterwards, Michaela and I took the opportunity to catch a photo with another of my Python-esque heroes - John DuPrez.



For those of you don’t know, John is the musical genius behind some of Python’s greatest hits (along with Eric Idle of course); Meaning of Life, Brian Song, and the sublime Song That Goes Like This.

So happy I got to shake his hand :)

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And more hand-shaking was to come, as I, Michaela and a few hundred others headed to the O2 Indigo for the Meet'N'Greet aftershow-party. Which we got goody bags for (a t-shirt, mug, Python book and drinks vouchers included!); and we were treated to the very silly sight and sound of a Mariachi band serenading Alan Yentob (who had done a BBC Documentary on the reformation, airing a few days earlier); before wandering around the room playing a beautiful rendition of Born to be Wild.

And then the Python’s arrived into the room. Five old men who’d just made us all incredibly giddy and happy - yet still just five mortal men…

As I took to the stage in our group of meet'n'greeters, a man I suspect to have been Phil McIntyre (of promoting-the-whole-show fame) just saw me in my costume and applauded my effort. Which was nice :)

Terry Jones

I had met Terry once before at a Collectormania show in Milton Keynes [as you do], and I think he was the most exhausted of the company having listed all manner of Spam-based dishes only moments before. As my first post-show-Python encounter I struggled to say anything beyond 'Thank you; thank you’, for which he seemed genuinely grateful.

At which point we all sat in front of our heroes and had our group photo:



(You can probably spot me :-P )

Eric Idle

Whilst I had been in the presence of the other Pythons before, Idle I had not had the pleasure and I think I thanked him the most, as he had strung the show all together and - on a personal level - his creative singularity (the other 5 Pythons wrote largely in teams) is the most I identify with in the group - and I expressed my gratitude profusely.

Michael Palin

“Ah my king!” Is how Palin greeted me - which sums up the class act he truly is. Rumour has it that Palin was the main 'lacking-enthusiast’ for the whole reunion (not Cleese as you might have thought). Yet here he was being the nicest Python as ever, and just chatting to everyone who shook his hand.

My absolute highlight of the first act was that moment when his chartered accountant said “Oh I didn’t want to do this anyway…”; and as his eyes lit up and the crowd roared at recognition of what was about to happen [Cleese just shook his head in disbelief at the reaction and left the stage!] “I wanted to be… a Lumberjack!”.

The sheer unbridled joy in Palin’s eyes at that particular moment will remain with me.

John Cleese

Married life had evidently taken its toll on Cleese’s bank account (it wasn’t called his Alimony Tour for nothing!), and I had often mistaken his grumpy exterior for a genuine reluctance to engage on anything public again (when I raced to the stage door after his show came to Leeds, I was told by the man on the door that he’d already left in his car - off to the next thing); so I was pleasantly surprised at how chatty he was with everyone that got a chance to speak too him.

Too chatty in my case; before I had chance to speak with him, I was marshaled off the stage to allow the next group to have their chance.

And yet - right at the end - as the last group left the stage, and the Pythons were asked to leave to get their cars back to their hotel - I shouted 'thank you John!’ (as I did to all the others - possibly changing names), he turned and acknowledged that.

The JC in my head would have bustled away to something more engaging - but no; he really seemed to have enjoyed his time with a few hundred of his closest fans.

Terry Gilliam

I chatted the most to Terry G - probably because he immediately struck up a conversation about my costume and if it had made him any money - “oh a lot of money” I said, to which he knowingly countered “actually I suspect it probably hasn’t” {even the O2 show was done to replenish the Python coffers after a Producer of Spamalot won millions from them a few years ago}.

But he warmly thanked me when I told him I enjoyed Zero Theorem adding “oh it was you that went to see it!”

Thanking him, as I had done all the others; I giddily left the stage, knowing my celebrity encounters couldn’t possibly beat this in my lifetime.

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Whilst many had head off to catch their transport home, a few of us remained until the Pythons had left - including Bülent, who had brought what appeared to be a replica of the Indiana Jones Holy Grail; which he had managed to get signed by all 5 pythons!

Behold!



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As the last of us left the O2 complex, an American piped up “So what did you think of all that?”

“Yeah it was alright” I said laconically; before we all burst out laughing - no doubt still slightly in shock at what immense fun we had; and what genuine legends we had all shook hands with, moments before.

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So that’s the end of the blog. Now here’s the meaning of life.

(Thank you Brigitte.)

Well, it’s nothing very special. Try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.

And, finally, here are some completely gratuitous pictures of penises to annoy the censors and to hopefully spark some sort of controversy, which it seems is the only way these days to get the jaded, video-sated public off their fucking arses and back in the sodding cinema. Family entertainment? Bollocks. What they want is filth: people doing things to each other with chainsaws during tupperware parties, babysitters being stabbed with knitting needles by gay presidential candidates, vigilante groups strangling chickens, armed bands of theatre critics exterminating mutant goats. Where’s the fun in pictures? Oh, well, there we are. Here’s the theme music. Goodnight.


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