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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Book Review - A Liar's Autobiography by Graham Chapman

A review on the jacket blurb promises this to be "An intercoursingly good book...". While interesting and worth reading, it really isn't really all that good. I remembered it more affectionately than I think of it now. Perhaps I have better intercourse now than the Evening Standard had then.

I read this way back in 1980/1 and have just re-read it again. Unfortunately I find the lasting impression now is just one of sadness. Chapman's life up to that time was a total mess and he spent most of his time drinking hard and creating havoc for friends and family.

There is, thankfully, a lot of silliness to elevate the rather lame narrative but I found myself reacting from the point of view of friends, family and bystanders - is there anything positive about this behaviour?

The brilliant writers he worked with (apart from the Python team) included Marty Feldman, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Barry Cryer. They evoke a memorable time when mainstream British humour was disrupted by a new generation raised on the Goons. However the constant interruptions by shrill excerpts from "Biggles Flies Undone**" by Capt. W.E. Johns do rather spoil the contemplative mood of the book. Quite a lot of the better bits appear to have been ghost-written by Douglas Adams - the style is unmistakable.

Not a must-read for Pythonistas, but a could-read-with-a-wistful-thought-for-what-this-man-might-have-been-if-he-hadn't-been-so-intercoursed-up. Although that may be the reason he was funny.

As always, it's the song not the singer. He left a brilliant body of work and great friends who loved him.

** - stolen joke alert!


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