Monday, October 12, 2009

Michael Palin: Geography: NOT boring...!

Oh cripes and crikey. Four months since my last letter. Honestly it's not laziness, it's just a surfeit of stuff to do (and the arrival of a second grandson, Wilbur Spike Palin, on August 6th was a lovely distraction). And in the middle of it all I managed my first foreign travel since the West Bank - a week's family holiday in north-east Mallorca.

Mainly I've been attending to the latest volume of Diaries - Halfway to Hollywood, 1980-88. A lot to do at the last minute - checking we've spelt names right, making sure we won't be sued - then preparing for publication with interviews, radio and TV, recordings of the audio book and so on.

All pretty good but Paul O'Grady show was the best fun. It helped that Paul is a great traveller and loves diaries. Now I'm on the road defacing people's books. I notice someone has very helpfully put the signings schedule on the site. Thanks for that and see you there.

At the same time I've been taking time to fulfil my duties as President of The Royal Geographical Society, which began on June 1st for a three-year period. We're now into the Monday lecture season and have already had amazing talks on the ancient rock carvings of the Sahara, Frank Gardner's unstoppable enthusiasm for all dangerous sports despite being paralysedafter the attack on him and his film crew in Saudi Arabia, and coming up is a talk from the great mountain climber Andy Cave. All proving geography is NOT boring!

As if this weren't enough there's been a lot of interest in how old the Pythons are. In fact our first programme ever went out on the BBC forty years ago this October. A new documentary "Monty Python - Almost The Truth, The Lawyers Cut" has been made to celebrate our fortieth birthday. Six hours of new interviews, recently discovered material and some of the old classics put together for television and condensed into a 105-minute film for theatres. I'm off to New York this week to re-unite with all those Pythons still alive for a premiere of the movie and a BAFTA award. Then back home to appear at the Royal Albert Hall on 23rd October playing a few minor roles in Eric Idle and John du Prez's oratorio "Not The Messiah" - a musical evening based on the Life of Brian and featuring a huge orchestra and a huge choir in the huge Royal Albert Hall.

In between all this I'm trying to press on with a new novel - my first since "Hemingway's Chair" in 1994. I'm keen to let my imagination loose . It's been cooped up too long.

I'll continue to be tempted by a return to the road, but it doesn't look as if I've much time for new places - at least for a while. I'm still looking at the atlas, though.

Thanks to all those who've come along to the talks or signings I've been doing for Halfway To Hollywood. It's always good to meet you and your loyalty is greatly appreciated by me, my wife, my bank manager and both our cats, Elsie and Edith.

Sometimes I'm quite glad to be able to stay at home for a while. I've seen so much these past 21 years that I need to take it all in. Try and make sense of what I've seen. Otherwise it becomes a blur. Fortunately I have time, through the Royal Geographical Society, to stay in touch with travel and travellers, and I like to hear of your own experiences - especially of places I've never been to. My list of must-see before I die places would include Brazil, Iran, Oman, Sri Lanka and Bridlington. Oh well, I can dream.

Enjoy yourselves and stay restless,

October 11th 2009

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