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Unfinished Business 4.

By , April 26, 2013 8:56 am

I just found this nice quote from Graham Chapman which I had written on my wall in London in the late 70’s.

“Life is like a yacht in the Caribbean….  it’s alright if you’ve got one.”


Also I came across this piece of unused Python material, in my handwriting.  It might have been written for one of the records.


Just where do ideas come from?

Indeed where did I get the idea to ask you just where do ideas come from?

What is an idea?

Is it an idea to ask you “what is an idea?”

And, if so, where did the idea to ask you what is an idea, come from?

Well, we could have the idea to look up idea in the dictionary, but where did the idea to look up “idea” in the dictionary come from?

Not to mention who had the idea to write a dictionary with the idea of defining the idea of ideas in the first place.

And is it a good idea anyway?

Do I have ideas?    Or do ideas have me?

Do I think or do I merely think I think?

Who am I?

Am I the I who asks who the who is?

Or am I really the who, the object that the subject “I” is asking about?

Indeed in the question, “who am I?” who the who is who?

Am I a member of The Who?

Which came first the egg or the mayonnaise?

How many roads must a man walk down before he knows he’s a man?

Why do fools fall in love?

What does become of the broken hearted?

How deep is the ocean?

Where have all the flowers gone?

How much is that doggie in the window?

Am I nuts?

Should I be locked up?

Would you like a nice nut?

Shall I show you my nuts?

I should leave now.


Unfinished Business 3

By , April 11, 2013 4:33 pm

Click on this link (twice) to hear this demo track from Spamalot, sung by me.

13 Burn Her

Sometimes even nicely done things can bite the dust. For instance this song, which I always loved and was originally in Act One of Spamalot in Chicago.    It was a song for Sir Bedevere and followed the witch scene from The Holy Grail.  “We have found a witch, may we burn her!”

The problem was that having taken the trouble to reduce the play to consistent characters who run all the way through, the audience were suddenly faced with Hank Azaria and David Hyde Pierce on stage as not Lancelot and not Robin.  In other words it became revue.

Sara Ramirez was fun as the witch, and at the end while she was being burnt, she flew off to safety, since she was a witch! But at this point the play simply lost all semblance of having a real plot and Mike Nichols felt strongly that it should go, and I agreed with him, and when we cut it the story was much easier to follow.   Nice song though!   (I’ve updated it a little.)


 Burn Her!


When I was just a young chap in me nappy

Me pappy said “Son life can be quite cruel.

If you do not want to be unhappy

Never marry witches that’s a golden rule.

There is only one way to survive ‘em

They will always play you for a fool

If you find a witch then you must take the silly bitch

And string her up

And turn her into fuel.


Burn her!

Burn her!

Put her on the barbecue and turn her,

Scratch that itch before that bitch can spurn yer

Grill her that won’t thrill her but it certainly will learn her,

If you burn her

Burn her

Burn her till she’s cooked all the way through.

String her up and try her

And then fling her on the pyre

And then light the fire and toodle-oo!”



Burn me

Spurn me

I have learned that men are all the same.

One minute they are hot

For everything you’ve got

Then they try and fry you

And they’ll even crucify you

Beat me

Eat me

I don’t care what nasty things you do

It is godforsaken

Turning me into fried bacon

Au revoir, goodbye cia ciao adieu.



Burn her

Burn her

She is on the menu for today.

Just like Joan of Arc

We’re gonna light the spark

Fricassee her then let’s see her

Maybe we’ll rotisserie her

Oil her, boil her,

Broil her till she’s done all the way through.

We’ll burn her and we’ll baste her

And perhaps we’ll even taste her

When we’ve turned her into good witch stew!


She may be a good looker

But you still have gotta cook her

For a hooker ain’t no good for you.


c) Eric Idle & John Du Prez.  Rutsongs & Ocean Music.




Unfinished Business 2:

By , April 4, 2013 5:45 pm

The Pirates of Penzance

 I began to write this movie around 1976.   I always loved Gilbert & Sullivan.   Especially The Mikado and The Pirates of Penzance.  I thought the latter might make a good movie and I went on location around Penzance scouting St. Michael’s Mount and various beautiful locations, and then I wrote the screenplay for the locations I had found.  As you see I was foolish enough to have the opening scenes printed in Victorian handwriting.   Good luck there with Hollywood!   Jim Beach tried for many years but we were never able to raise the funds.  It was indeed a very eccentric looking script.   With many fine pre-Raphaelite paintings to show the kind of look I wanted. 

We went up to visit Ken Russell at his home in the Lake District and interested him in directing.  I wanted Michael Caine for the Major General and Bette Midler as Ruth.    But we still couldn’t find the funds.

When we had almost given up we had a late surge of interest.   Joseph Papp had a famous production in the Park in New York, with Kevin Klein and Linda Ronstadt.      Ed Pressman picked up my rights and then eventually ditched us for the Papp team, which was a pity as they were forced to film their version on a Studio Film Stage in London,  wherein it lost all it’s original charm and became a huge flop.  

For best effect reading this you might want to play a recording of The Pirates of  Penzance Overture while reading the “silent film” just after the fake opening.


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Oh and Dr. Roy Strong was far from flattered to be invited to appear and turned down his big screen chance…. 

I was anxious to open the film on the 100th anniversary of the play’s first performance in New York,  though as you see there was a brief performance in Paignton to  establish copyright before the whole company shipped to America.   They wished to avoid repeating the experience of five Pinafores on Broadway, none of them paying royalties.

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The movie proper starts inside a Victorian Theater in London with a huge coal-fired steam driven projector.   But after we establish the Victorian cinema filled with Victorian celebrities, and we see shots of Victorian London,  and the plot is established as a silent movie then the red plush curtain rises and we are into a full reality shot of a Pirate ship under full sail.

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And so on….

For the ending of the movie I lifted another song from Pinafore, which I felt was a much better song.


For the big finale I shot the British army marching down the Mall at The Trooping of the Color.  We got magnificent footage for virtually nothing.    Of course I couldn’t shoot any film of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and they both watched me, a long haired hippy, running around on the Victoria monument, totally ignoring them and shooting only the soldiers and horses at their big show.     They both sat on their horses staring at me.  They simply couldn’t understand why I was ignoring them!  I sort of smiled and shrugged.   What could I say?   Thanks for the use of your army?