“Who’s your favorite Python?”
This is a question that always stumped me. It’s like giving me a piece of chocolate cake and asking what my favorite ingredient is. For a friend of mine, though, the question was always an easy one.
“Terry Jones. He’s so wonderful as a grumpy old woman.”
There’s no question that there was a particular type he played better than any other. Whether he was the mother of a reluctant martyr in The Life of Brian, the more sympathetic mother of a young man who’s disgraced his novelist father by becoming a coal miner, or slinging Spam he was always brilliant.
I’ve enjoyed his documentaries that he played—mostly—straight. For me, nothing will ever surpass Herbert, the young prince who just wanted to sing from Monty Python & The Holy Grail, although so many of his other lines just from that film made it into regular conversations with my friends. Seriously, we couldn’t get through a day without saying, “And that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana-shaped” or “What, the curtains?” or “Oh Dennis, there’s some lovely filth down here!”
He was also a prolific author who wrote serious works on history as well as fairy tales and books for children like Strange stains and mysterious smells: Quentin Cottington’s Journal of faery research. Somehow I’ve missed that book up until now but I’ll have to pick it up.
And I’ll never forget the evening that I was with some friends in a British pub, sitting around chatting quietly. We were talking, for some reason, about the baggage retrieval at Heathrow, and the jukebox, by itself, suddenly started playing “I’m So Worried”. It was as though he was right there with us.
Hail and farewell Terry Jones.