And now for something completely different

Over the years I’ve had to attend more than my fair share of functions, awards ceremonies etc., and I have to admit it’s the hardest part of my job as I have a morbid dread of standing alone in crowded rooms full of strangers.

One such occasion happened in 1988 when I was invited by BAFTA to attend a film weekend in London. The event itself was something I was looking forward to as it involved seeing special screenings of yet to be released films and the chance to interview directors, writers and actors such as Tim Spall, Gemma Redgrave, Terry Gilliam and David Hare.

There was just one problem – the 3 day junket began with an evening drinks reception in a plush central London hotel and after about 30 minutes of twiddling my thumbs in a room where everyone seemed to know someone, except me, I was ready to forget the whole thing and go home. Anything just to get out of there.

I turned in a state of near panic and came face to face with Terry Jones.

He began chatting as if we had already been talking for the past half an hour. 32 years later I can’t remember a single word, but I will never forget how surreal it was to suddenly find myself in a very pleasant and engaging conversation over a g;ass of red wine with… well one of the Pythons. For my generation that’s at least a McCartney or Jimmy Greaves level event.

I’ve met a lot of celebs and I can honestly say I don’t get starstruck (a few days in a war zone gives you a bit of perspective on stuff like that) but here was the guy who not only directed, but also got to say the greatest comedy line of any comedy ever – “He’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy.”

Inside I was in full fan boy mode.

After what seemed like an hour, which was in fact 15 minutes, as he was about to move off, my self control finally gave way and I said: “I know this will make you cringe, but I can’t let you go without saying thank you. Just thank you for all of it.”

Of course, I left straight after (what.. you didn’t think he was going to cure me, did you?) but I went back the following day. If I hadn’t I would have missed out on having to watch some truly dreadful British films which have since sunk into deserved obscurity.

But I would also have missed sitting opposite Terry Gilliam in a Chinese restaurant as he regaled us with stories. That;s two Pythons in as many days, so you can guess how glad I was that I stuck it out.

Then, on the Sunday morning came the climax – a showing of A Fish Called Wanda after which six of us were invited to follow a PR type into the next screen where we spent the next 45 minutes chatting to none other than John Cleese. So much for not getting starstruck!

And I could have missed it.

I’ll say it again now, because sometimes it is worth meeting your heroes. Thank you Terry, for Mr Creosote, for Brian’s mum, the Spanish Inquisition and the dead vicar on the landing with it’s diocese tattooed on the back of the neck. Thank you.

Wake up wokers!

Of all the buzzwords trying to push their way into the English language, by far the most annoying is ‘woke’.

Like every movement to bring about new levels of political correctness it has a not very hidden agenda of self righteousness and creating new barriers rather than breaking them down.

Getting offended by something doesn’t make you right and in the case of ‘woke’, whether it’s attached to equality or climate disaster, it’s more about joining the heard in bleating “unclean” or exiling anyone who either has a sense of humour different to theirs or who doesn’t completely agree with their methods from the herd.

There’s so much hypocrisy in this directive on how we should all behave, and even think. It sickens me and I refuse to be dictated to by the right-on brigade.

Stupid TV quiz answer of the week

From, of all places, Mastermind.

Question: Which Swedish climate change activist wrote: No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference?

Answer: Err.. Sharon?

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Edward Case

Columnist