Eric Idle OnlineMy Life

Unfinished Business

By , July 8, 2013 2:03 am

I always say there is no such thing as bad work, only unfinished work.

I’m not sure if that’s true but I came across this lyric from the unfinished play Death The Musical, which caught my eye and made me smile.

It has a beautiful melody by John Du Prez, which probably deserves a less ironic lyric.

In my usual way I have given the lyrics a polish.   Is it still unfinished?

In the play we had a character called Diva attending the funeral of a close friend and here she imagines her own death…


On The Day A Diva Dies


The whole world holds its breath tonight

Around the planet news is flying

Hold the front page, hush the stage

Diva’s dying!

We interrupt your world tonight

The sad word is just coming through

Apparently it’s really true

She’s left us, she’s bereft us

Whatever will we do?


On the day a Diva dies

The birds fall silent in the trees

Journalists fall to their knees

Everybody grieves

Nobody believes

A Diva can just die.


Can it be even true the evening news man said

The world can go on turning now that Diva’s dead?

The Broadway lights will all shut down

A silence falls in New York town

All Government suspended

A Diva’s life has ended.


Three days my body lies in State

While the beautiful and great

Around the block all stand and wait

To see me lying there.

Oprah will officiate

While Deepak Choprah mourns my fate

And tells us to appreciate

The gifts I came to share.


On the day a Diva dies

The skies will rain quite magically

And people will look tragically

As off in her coffin she slowly trundles by.

Sir Elton John will sing along

A brand new Paul McCartney song

And of course our own dear Cher

Will wear some brand new hair.


And there is me at center stage

Not even looking half my age

All peaceful while emotions rage,

But who will sing my final prayer?

Not Madonna I don’t want her there,

Joni is too bony and Barbara won’t dare

And what in heaven’s name,

Am I going to wear?

Maybe Tom Ford, Prada,

Surely something white?

Valentino’s good, but Chanel is best at night

And hell I’ll need some make up

I don’t want to look a fright.


And then what sort of casket?

It must be something cute,

One doesn’t want to look

Just like a basket of old fruit.

Metallic coffins are quite in

Perhaps bronze or even tin?

Or maybe, this could be a first,

There’s plenty of room in ‘em,

Have something in aluminum

Designed by Damien Hirst.


Which Funeral Director will they pick?

Scorsese perhaps or Coppola

They might do the trick.

Mike Nichols is too busy

Spielberg’s far too slow

Tarantino is too dizzy

Maybe Clint Eastwood

Would be very good

For this particular show


On the day a Diva dies

A pale white horse with empty boots

Awaits the final gun salutes

In Arlington I’m underground

Where only the finest of

Dead people can be found.


They’ll carve a marble statuette

So everybody can regret

And fans and pilgrims can give thanks

And make donations from their banks

For the life I led.

They’ll sell my albums and CD’s

And glossy new biographies

And boxes of my DVD’s

So they’ll remember me.

And though I never went to Mass

They’ll paint my portrait in stained glass

And maybe, though it may seem quaint,

One can but hope, perhaps the Pope will make me a Saint.


Too far?  Perhaps, considering the naughty life I led.

But thank heavens Fred

It’s only you, not me, who’s lying dead.



c) Eric Idle July 2013

We will always have Paris

By , July 1, 2013 11:53 pm

Tomorrow I’m going to watch The Tour de France.

I shall be one of those idiots jumping up and down at the side of the road.  I can’t decide to whether to wear the gorilla costume or my old Lance Armstrong shirt.

I became addicted to this extraordinary event in 2001 when my pal Robin Williams flew me to Paris to celebrate his birthday.   It was the final day.  The sun was shining and the tree-lined boulevard of the Champs Elysee was filled eight deep with an enormous crowd of fifty thousand on bleachers.  At the end of June Paris was at its most glorious.  Blue skies, tiny streets, big wide boulevards.  Ah oui, ca c’est la vie.  Another glass of champagne? Sure, I guess I could….

On the final day of the Tour, the hundreds of riders, who have just cycled 3,000 kilometers around France in lycra, ride slowly into the center of Paris, sipping champagne and waving to the crowd.  Traditionally they complete the final stage of the race by circling the Champs Elysees eight times on a two mile course that takes them in front of the Louvre.  It’s more of a parade than a race but a few riders are out to impress and grab a final Stage victory.

Michael J. Fox is there with his family. Robin is, as usual, being irrepressibly hilarious as we give an interview for OLN. We say we are not interested in who has won the Yellow Jersey.  We are concerned only about the Pink Jersey, awarded to the rider with the best butt…. well, you know Robin, half an hour later we are still demonstrating effete pedal pushing… swish, swish and bitching about what kind of pedal pushers to wear….

The Tour is down to its last two laps when we are invited to ride in one of the lead cars.  We climb over the barriers and jump into a small red Renault, which appears out of nowhere and pulls out on to the Champs Elysees itself.   Now we are on the actual race course!   We drive slowly up the cobble stoned hill towards the Arc de Triomphe, and pause, the vast crowd on either side of us, listening to their portable radios, awaiting the arrival of the Pelloton, a hundred and fifty cyclists pedaling in unison, and as I look behind me I can already see the bright headlights and flashing sirens of the approaching gendarmes, heralding the arrival of the race.

 “Excuse me,” I say to the driver “You’d better watch it.  I think they are coming.”

The driver gives a Gallic shrug of immense proportions. I am clearly an English idiot who knows nothing, and so we sit by the curb as this huge flotilla rapidly approaches from behind.  I am getting very anxious now.  We are definitely in the way,  when suddenly four blue police cars flash past us and there, quite clearly, is a wide line of cyclists approaching like a cavalry charge.   At the very last moment our driver guns the car and we pull out directly in front of them!

Oh. My. God.

The leading riders are now fifteen feet from us pedaling furiously.  We can practically touch them. The realization sinks in:  we are leading the riders around the final laps of the Tour de France,  a privilege normally reserved for French Presidents.   The television cameramen, standing up on their motorbikes, laugh at our astonishment.  We are over the moon at this unbelievable view of a major sporting event.   Imagine being just ahead of the horses in the final stretch of the Kentucky Derby. This is unbelievable!   We are screaming with excitement as we tear up the Champs Elysees, wheel around in front of the Arc de Triomphe and head back down the hill pursued by a bunch of brightly colored cyclists.  A loud squealing tire noise as we slide round a  tight bend, past the enormous Ferris wheel, and then a stomach lurching dive into a sudden underpass  Behind us we watch the breathtaking sight of a hundred and fifty peddlers streaming downhill after us.

“It’s like a dream” says Michael, “a dream where you are being pursued by a hundred bikes.”

And now as we come sprinting past Le Crillon Hotel we can clearly hear the bell.  We are on the final lap of the Tour de France.  Later on TV, we are so close that you can see us in the same shot as the leaders!   They are on their final sprint and our driver has to accelerate sharply to prevent them running in to us.  We are kneeling backwards on our seats, looking through the rear window of the red Renault, cheering, and screaming at the top of our lungs.  We are like three kids in our unabashed joy at this unbelievable view of this unbelievable ride.   Two leaders have broken from the pack and are dueling it out behind us, their bikes shifting furiously from side to side as they stand up on their pedals.  They angle dangerously round the corners, skim the curbs and slide perilously over the cobblestones racing for the finish.  It’s the final stretch and we lead the entire Tour under the finishing line and then pull in.  There is a pause.  We are all three utterly shocked, our minds completely blown by what we have just experienced.

“Well,” says Michael, “We will always have Paris!” 


Adapted from The Greedy Bastard Diary.