Now go outside and look at the sky.
Maybe It's Time For A Diary
I've just finished Michael Palin's Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years and the book was a revelation in many ways.
First of all, it is quite interesting to read so much about the back story of the Monty Pythons and how the magic worked. Palin describes in quite some detail the creative sessions, the business meetings and the work together on the TV shows, live performances and movies. The reader can see through Michael Palin's eyes how some of the funniest moments ever to be put on celluloid were conceived and how much hard work it often took to create something that looks quite effortlessly on the screen.
Then there is the person of Michael Palin. I thoroughly enjoy all of his work, and I've been a huge fan of the travel shows and books he has created over the last twenty years. His travel books are full of humanity and he is always very observant about his surroundings, and as it turns out, he honed these skills in several decades of quite excellent diary writing.
The diaries are a fun read, and in their format of a few paragraphs to maybe one or two pages per entry they are quite addictive and hard to put down ("Just one more..."). The seventies were clearly an amazing time for the Pythons, and the book does a great job of showing the changed circumstances of the Pythons, from being a unknown local comedy troupe to becoming a global phenomenon when Life of Brian was released.
The book is full of interesting character studies of all the people Palin interacts with and there are many interesting and surprising appearances by a wide cast of celebrities of the times.
One thing that struck me is how the continuous routine of a daily journal had helped Palin to become the clear and warm writer he is today - you can literally see the change in his writing style across the book.
The diaries left me with a warm, nostalgic glow for the seventies and the urge to see all the Python shows and movies again, and also with a certain tug to maybe sit down and try my hands on a daily diary. The effort may look wasted in the short term, but years later this may turn out to be, if nothing else, a much appreciated reminder of one's life and times.