Monday, 24 October 2022

Come back Monty Python

This TV show ran between 1969 and 1974. It was sometimes hilarious, sometimes dull but always nibbling at the edge of good taste, convention and conservatism. Python in its often ridiculous way captures the foolishness of authority.

Monty Python's Flying Circus (TV Series 1969–1974) - IMDb

In the recent cost of living crisis as the media has embarked on money saving food ideas, offal and fish heads have appeared on the menu and, of course, Spam. This square-shaped mash-up of pork, water, salt, potato starch, sugar, and sodium nitrate recently celebrated its 85th anniversary. One myth insists that its name is actually an acronym for "Scientifically Processed Animal Matter." Others that it stands for “Spiced Ham” or “Specially Processed American Meat.”

How Spam became one of the most iconic American brands of all time

It has sold over 8 million cans and in over 44 countries. It’s still one of the most famous food brands. It even has its own T-Shirt “I think therefore I Spam.”

But it was Monty Python that really brought Spam back to life 50 years ago in their lyrically complex musical tribute: 

Lovely Spam! Wonderful Spam!
Lovely Spam! Wonderful Spam


Lovely Spam! (Lovely Spam!)!)
Lovely Spam!

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam!


And it struck me that some of their most famous sketches remain relevant today:


The Dead Parrot sketch which brilliantly encapsulates the issues we’ve just experienced with our departing  Prime Minister and her denial of her demise.


A person sitting at a podium

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The Four Yorkshireman who were affluent businessmen reminiscing about their deprived backgrounds. Their nostalgia becomes more livid and competitive reaching this absurdity:


“Right.. I used to get up in the morning at half-past-ten at night, half an hour before I went to bed, eat a lump of freezing cold poison, work 28 hours a day at mill, and pay da mill owner to let us work there. And when I went home our dad used to murder us in cold blood, each night, and dance about on our graves, singing hallelujah. Yah, you try an tell the young people of today that, and they won't believe you...”

I’ve been like that recently telling younger people about the Three Day Week in the 1970s and, as I say, you try telling young people of today that and they won’t believe you.


But when it comes to bureaucracy and the offices of government what can beat the Ministry of Silly Walks? This may be the best thing John Cleese ever did.


Ministry of Silly Walks 6 Postures - Etsy UK


The occasional shaft of absurdity or silliness can be highly effective satire. Monty Python could do that sometimes although – not unjustly - Morecambe and Wise criticised them saying the Python team could be annoying and unprofessional.

…there’s five or six minutes of utter boredom. And then there’s three minutes of very funny and then another eight minutes of boredom.” 

I used to get irritated by being told by friends  from abroad that leaving Brexit had made us a laughing stock but I accept now we’re reputationally diminished after the Truss farce and the possibility of Johnson standing again when he’s highly likely to be expelled from the Commons for lying to them - no I didn’t, yes you did…

Desperate Times by Peter Brookes | Waterstones

The past few months should have been enough to convince even the most right wing Tory member that we can’t go on like this, that the parrot is dead, that Boris is a bad man and own up to the fact that this government is damaging the country. I am not an especially political person and avoid ideological debates but it’s time for Monty Pythonesque ridicule to return.

In the meantime sit back and experience what might be one of the most loony weeks in our history.

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