There's unfortunately been a lot recently written about Monty Python member Terry Jones who is dealing with a type of dementia which makes it difficult for him to talk. I had the chance to cross paths with him several years back around 1983 when I was working at Universal Studios and we released Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.
One of my duties was working with college press, so we held a screening for them, and had a Q&A with the members of Python who were in town, which I moderated. (Those present were Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman and Terry Gilliam.)
I wish I remember specifics of that day, but I don't. I wish too that there was a recording of it, but there isn't. But what I do remember is that I was surprised how friendly Eric Idle was, because from afar he seemed to me as a bit edgy. And I also remember how far-and-away the nicest of the Pythons in attendance was Terry Jones. He was friendly all day, he was friendly during the Q&A. He was just simply personable and a joy, always accommodating and warm.
(It is not surprising that his closest friend on Python was Michael Palin, who has the reputation of being perhaps the nicest of the group, something borne out by my friend Rob Hedden who made an award-winning documentary on the making of the movie Brazil, which Palin was in, and who said Palin was as friendly and gracious as one could hope for. I wrote about it here and embedded the full, wonderful documentary. So, the idea of Michael Palin and Terry Jones together in a world of niceness has always made me smile.)
Terry Jones has written a lot of books for young people, and one of my favorite is his Fairy Tales. There were stories he made up and told to his children at night, and then wrote them down. It is an utter joy, and I highly recommend it. Even if you don't have children. One story, for example, is about a rain drop which goes around bragging as it falls from the sky that it's the best rain drop in the word, near perfect, crystal clear, just a completely glorious rain drop, the most beautiful ever. And then it hits the ground and becomes a part of a puddle. One admonition: if you do get the book, take the advice in his introduction and read it out loud. Even if there's no one else in the room. As he says, they stories were meant to be told aurally, and as good as they are when read, but burst alive when spoken. I think it's out of print, but you can get the book here.
You can also go to the crowdsourcing page here if you're interested in helping get the third book in his medieval adventure series published.
Rather than show one of a great many clips of Terry Jones performing, or his film directing, I thought that if I can't show me interviewing him, I can at least show someone else doing it -- and letting you see what a simply warm, personable fellow he is. Here he is then for 15 minutes talking with fine interviewer George Stroumboulopous on Canadian TV.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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