Hi all!

The last couple of weeks have been a blur of excitement! Sorry I haven't been on online to keep you all updated, but between travel and the flu I haven't been on the computer. I'll try to make up for it now, though, and I apologize if I repeat things that people have already mentioned - I haven't taken the time to read any posts so that I can get this out quickly.

So...Not the Messiah!

I arrived at the Royal Albert Hall early the morning of the 23rd to make sure I knew my way around, and took photos with the Not the Messiah poster outside. (On a side note, I tried getting a hold of this poster later. I gave the Marketing department a ring after being turned away at the merchandise table, but to no avail. It was needed for archive purposes...ah well.) Having sufficiently explored the building as much as possible, I walked down the street to the Royal Geographical Society, hoping for some large bronze plaque of the RGS presidents, with Michael Palin's name freshly engraved. Again, I was disappointed, but I did leave him a nice little note in the lobby guestbook.

I anxiously whiled away the hours in the breathtaking museums, the returned to the Royal Albert Hall for dinner at the Hall's cafe. Which was, frankly, a bit of a disappointment. I was hoping to be eating around other Python fans - to see people dressed up and reciting sketches. Rather, it appeared to be a dull, theater-going crowd. It's a shame I couldn't have been at the Queen's Arms. It was at this point, however, that I left the cafe by the door entering the theater. Otherwise, I don't think I would have been able to get inside. My friend and I wandered the floors, peeking into boxes. And I think I might have seen Terry Gilliam. Hard to say, because no matter my vantage point, he always managed to have his back turned toward me... But it just could have been him. The shirt certainly seemed like his, anyway. I have a photo, so you can judge for yourself! Let me know what you think.

I went back downstairs to join the queues forming by the doors to the merchandise table. That's right - not a queue for the merchandise, but a queue for the room that the merchandise was in. There was a dramatic opening of the doors, and people rushed in from three sides. Miraculously, I ended up being the second party served. They had t-shirts (My Brain Hurts, 40 Years of Monty Python, Life of Brian, Not the Messiah), caps (Biggus Dickus), beer steins and mugs with the 40th anniversary logo, talking keychains with six Python quotes, and boxers with "Biggus Dickus" on the front and "Incontinentia Buttocks" on the back. And souvenir programs.

Did I mention, by the way, that my friend and I are dressed as lumberjacks? Red flannel shirts and the lumberjack hats. Which was extremely awkward during dinner, I might add. Not to mention hot. So all this time, I'm finding it vaguely troubling that I do not see anyone else in costume. Perhaps two people with Spamalot shirts. When I had the good fortune to go see Spamalot, it was with an audience that clearly came because the show won Tony Awards, didn't know Python, and ultimately didn't enjoy the show. I feared I would have a similar experience with Not the Messiah, and the audience makes a huge difference in the show.

So it was that I found my seat. Not only do people not seem like Python fans, but they don't understand my outfit. I find people staring at me, but with stares of confusion rather than appreciation or recognition of any kind. Bad sign.

But what was I thinking? As soon as Eric Idle comes on to the Liberty Bell March, a wild cheer goes up. Same for every Python entrance. I relaxed...and I drank it all in. I don't think I sat back in my seat for a moment. I stayed perched on the edge, fearful of missing a single joke.

Michael Palin walked on in the beginning, dressed as Margaret Thatcher. He played the role of Mrs. Betty Parkinson. And when a roar of applause greeted his proud entrance, he glanced at Eric Idle, already on stage, and asked, "Why do they titter so?"

Michael Palin finished his short introduction and left the stage. The other Python appearances were similar. Terry Gilliam came on for one line - the "I'm not" to "You're all individuals" - and a short Mexican dance with Terry Jones, Neil Innes, and Carol Cleveland. Carol also came on with some huge sheep to sing a song, and Terry Jones soloed a Welsh hymn.

Eric Idle stayed on stage the entire time, as one of the main soloists. I hadn't expected him to have such a prominent role, and was very happy. He saved all the best lines for himself, of course. The other soloists embraced their roles, and got into the spirit of the show. And it was a real treat to have John du Prez conduct the orchestra himself. The music was fantastic. The changing styles of music were great fun - from rock to Broadway to classical to doo-wop...quite an eclectic selection.

For the song "You're the One," which was very reminiscent of Spamalot's "Find Your Grail," the audience was given electric candles to wave. It was phenomenal to watch the room slowly light up, knowing that for each candle there was a Python fan...and I was proud to be one of them.

At one point, Eric Idle referenced the lumberjack song, and my friend and I leaped out of our seats to applaud. I don't think he noticed, but who knows? And the people around us appreciated our costumes at last.

Meanwhile, Michael Palin reprised his role as the jailer. And Pilate. And, for the encore...Bevis! Yes, he performed the Lumberjack Song with the Pythons supporting. I couldn't have been happier wearing anything else...

This is, of course, after the formal end of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." Again, I was proud to be singing the song with that audience. Not to mention the Pythons.

At the end, confetti rained down. Confetti in the shape of feet. I managed to pick one up on my way out - it will go with the confetti I picked up from Spamalot!

I rushed out of the doors to begin a long wait outside the stage door. It was largely quiet, apart from one very outgoing, very knowledgeable Python fan for whom I held great respect. As it turned out, this was Cardinal Fang herself. I met Kisch shortly after. Strange to see "familiar" faces outside that cold stage door at 11 PM. Still, I was glad I got a chance to meet you guys.

I waited a total of three hours, in which ushers often told us to piss off. Not in those words, exactly, but that's probably what Eric Idle would have said. Until Eric himself came out at last. It was probably about midnight by that time, and unfortunately Cardinal Fang had just departed. Eric came out with his wife, who quickly hurried into the waiting taxi, while he kindly stayed to sign autographs. And he was extremely patient, while Michael (the nice one?) had driven off with the two Terrys hours ago. Or so we were told by the irate usher. But Eric was nicer than I could have expected considering the crowd and the late hour. He chatted as he signed, answering questions and carrying on a nice little conversation with Kisch that I believe is on YouTube. Just a wonderful man.

About an hour later, Carol Cleveland popped out. She was certainly surprised to see us still gathered around - there were maybe a dozen by then? - but also treated us very kindly. Just a sweet lady, and it was a thrill to meet her.

So, content with both autographs, not to mention photos with each, I went home.

My stay in London was not over, though, and I subsequently bought Halfway to Hollywood and a picture of Michael Palin from the National Portrait Gallery, and watched the Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus! Which is a fantastic movie, by the way. That man really is a visionary.

Part Two...John Cleese!

Yep, I went to see John Cleese with Lady April today. It was incredible to have the opportunity to see all the Pythons within two weeks. I tried to give him a (belated) birthday gift during his Q&A session, but unfortunately there wasn't time for me to ask a question. I did give it to one of the people at the merchandise desk, who mentioned that she would be seeing John Cleese later. Fingers crossed!

I went with a plush albatross. Which I thought fitting, as he calls this his alimony tour - I, too, have an albatross around my neck. And the best moment for me came right at the beginning. Several of us gave him a standing ovation when he came on stage, and he acknowledged my albatross and laughed. Hooray!

The merchandise table had t-shirts (a tour shirt listing the cities; "JC" with the silly walk poses along the bottom; "I Saw John Cleese" and his face on the front, with "Alimony Tour: Year One" on the back; "I Saw John Cleese" on the front, with "just before he died" on the back), keychains, and caps (JC or "What Would JC Do?"). I bought the shirt with the silly walk, because those were also autographed!

The talk itself was biographical. Not a lot of new information, frankly, for those who have read the Pythons Autobiography, but it was still a completely different experience hearing it from John himself. He also included many clips, interspersed throughout the talk. These included the 1948 Show, Flying Circus, Meaning of Life, Holy Grail, Fawlty Towers, Wanda, and his eulogy for Graham Chapman. He also had some nice photos from his childhood up through the Footlights.

He talked about his relationship with his mother, the importance of black humor, and how the world is crazy. Nice way to wrap things up, you know! (Actually, I couldn't hear most of the end because I was waiting in line for the microphone for the Q&A.)

Thank you to the bored people who read all the way through. You must need lives! Forgive me, I couldn't even read it all again to proofread, so I hope it's okay. I apologize again for my tardiness. Hope you enjoyed reading it!

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Comments

TheSister91: that's amazing!!!

CamelSpotter:

This was also a fun find.

flopsy_mrs at 10:58 am November 23

add a commenoh cool you found blackadder there :)

CamelSpotter at 5:50 pm November 23

Yes, it was quite the jackpot! The only one I bought was Halfway to Hollywood, though. Still, they had signed copies! :)

kisch at 1:15 pm November 08

Oh YES. I always come back from London loaded with Python stuff - there is ALWAYS something which I don't have ! LOL
What's "Life of Python" book btw ? Never seen it, I suppose.

Johnnyrose at 3:20 pm November 12

Why are we such crazy inlove with books, Python books specialy...? The clauset where I keep my Monty Python "stuff" is too small now...

CamelSpotter at 6:13 pm November 12

Yes, your Python library is very impressive!

You can imagine how excited I got when I saw the bookshelf with all the books in the above photo.

CamelSpotter at 1:17 pm November 08

Another biographical book - it's by George Perry. I didn't actually buy it, unfortunately - just pulled all of these off the shelf for the photo!

Johnnyrose at 3:24 pm November 12

The George Perry one was the first Python book I bought, in a book fair at my University... and it was very expensive to my wallet, but..too hard to resist... ;0)

kisch at 1:25 pm November 08

But I hope you've bought Michael's Diaries ?:)
I'm reading them 2nd time in a row - they are just great.

CamelSpotter at 1:26 pm November 08

Yes, signed first edition of Halfway to Hollywood! Right after I bought a used copy of the Big Red Book, as well. :)
I'm still reading the first diaries, though, so it might be a while. But I have a lot to look forward to.

CamelSpotter:

I also spotted this from across the street. Truly a trip full of Python!

Johnnyrose at 3:16 pm November 12

Girl, what was really the name of the library? Me and Rose walked miles and miles, one library to another. We foud several interesting ones at Charing Cross... an book heaven!

CamelSpotter at 6:10 pm November 12

I can't remember at the moment, but it was at Charing Cross. Definitely a wonderful area for books!

CamelSpotter at 12:02 pm November 08

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CamelSpotter:

Another little thing from London
:)

fiep: Lovely to see the photos and very nice to read your report from the 23. - I waited outside Royal Albart Hall till half past midnight, I can see that I should have stayed a bit longer (-:

CamelSpotter at 11:58 am November 08

Half past midnight? That's still very impressive! You must have seen Eric Idle, then?

mrsCutout: I loved reading all that too!!!!You know, for us who didn't have the chance to go to any of these events reading your story was as if we were there! Thank you for the description of an evening without mp! You are sooo lucky!I'm happy for you!YOu lucky lucky bastard!

CamelSpotter at 11:57 am November 08

Thank you! Though this was Not the Messiah - it was most definitely an evening WITH Monty Python!

CamelSpotter: Another part of my trip I forgot to mention:
I stopped by the National Gallery, and saw the original Bronzino painting with the Python foot! Along with the Hay Wain by Constable and other stuff I associate with Python.

Johnnyrose: ... and you were nerar Carol... sigh...

Johnnyrose: I'm not bored at all!!! I loved all of it!! So Happy for you and Lady April!!!

CamelSpotter at 8:10 pm November 04

Thanks for the compliments! And I thought of you when I saw Carol, sort of hoping you were around... But still, you got to see her on stage!

Johnnyrose at 2:26 pm November 06

I never tought they would left by that door and be with the fans... or I woul stay all night long... just to have Carol autograph, and a photo with her... and seeing this pic... boy, it hurts... anyway... I saw a lot... but steel...

CamelSpotter at 11:56 am November 08

I don't think Carol ever thought she would be there with the fans, either! She was pretty surprised to see us still hanging around at 1 AM, but was very kind despite the late hour.

Johnnyrose at 3:31 pm November 12

... and you're just saying that so I can feel worst, right?
Your words are like a dagger on my back.... you don't have to turn/twist the dagger around, you know.. .......

Wy me???? Wy me??? You lucky bastard!!!!

CamelSpotter at 5:49 pm November 12

:(
I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that. Will this cheer you up?

Johnnyrose at 11:35 am November 13

...gurblurbll ekkncm ikky ikky kpang pau!!! sorry... you were saying... ? ... I was distracted by a ... nevermind... you are forgiven, Cam... ;0)

Johnnyrose at 2:29 pm November 06

... and Eric, too...

pythonnewbie: thank you sooo much for that!:) I love reading reports!*hehe*And yay you got to see Cleesey too!;) That must've been fantastic!!

CamelSpotter at 8:09 pm November 04

You're welcome!

Fantastic is a good word to describe last night with John Cleese. Especially when he pointed right at my albatross...

kisch: Cam !!! I knew you would write some long and interesting stuff eventually - you always do, and I admire you for doing that, it's so important to share your experience in details ! Thank you so much, it brought it all back - the Great Event at the Albert Hall, meeting Eric in the middle of the night, etc.
I'm sorry I wasn't very talkative at the stage door and probably looked like I'm totally out of my mind, but I was in a bit of a shock after seeing the Pythons, so I really was a bit subdued. My brain hurted a bit:))) Was great meeting you anyway !
Eric was terribly professional with the fans wasn't he. I loved the unhurried way he dealt with us - signing everything for everyone, posing for pix, chatting, what a treasure of a man ! I just love him for that (apart from many other things).
And seeing how beautiful Carol is was a great bonus too.
I can't blame the other lads (Terrys and Mike - and Neil and John du Prez) for leaving early and not wanting to come out to talk to us, they didn't have to, they were tired, and maybe it's a good thing they didn't turn up, because, if you see Terry, Terry and Michael coming out together, you have to choose whom to approach first, and I don't think I would be able to !
Seems like at least three of us have seen Parnassus while in London (other two are me and Lady Of The Lake). I loved every minute of the film, it's fantastic !

And WOW, you have seen John with Lady A., I didn't know you were going to ! I'm so glad you had such a great experience !
And please don't apologise for your writing - it's wonderful, and I enjoyed every word of it.
Thanks again !

CamelSpotter at 7:55 pm November 04

I know what you mean about bringing the memories back. I had a great time re-living experiences as I wrote the report!

I was pretty stunned by the night as well. Just soaking it in quietly. I had a great time listening to you and Cardinal Fang singing, though.

Glad you enjoyed the report!