A few years back Glen Wexler asked me to write a foreword for his very funny book of Cows. What I wrote is below. But a year later this picture appeared at my house unexpectedly…. He had taken my joke and trumped it. Read on and you’ll see how….
Glen Wexler On location in Greenland.
As everybody knows I probably know more about cows than anyone on this planet. Actually that’s not true. It’s a bald faced lie. (Why bald faced incidentally, don’t bearded people lie just as well? Surely they lie better because you can’t see their faces?) Sorry I digress.
The thing is I’m a bit stumped. This Glen Wexler person called me up and asked me to write a foreword for his book and frankly I don’t know a single thing about him, about photography, or for that matter about cows. So I’m kind of stuck out on a limb here, busking as we call it, faking it, as my wife calls it, or telling the truth to the America people as your politicians put it.
So what do I do? Do I come clean and leave the rest of the page empty? Do I bullshit for a bit? (Incidentally there’s a cow reference right there.) Or do I try and pretend that my esoteric knowledge of cows in comedy somehow qualifies me to waste your time like this? Because I do know a bit about cows in comedy. Here’s what I know:
Cows are always funny.
There is a cow in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It is thrown over the battlements and squashes a page.
“Fetchez La Vache” says the French Taunter, and the French knights appear with a cow which they load on to a Trebuchet (which is French for a machine that chucks cows.) Fetchez la Vache!
We do the same scene in Spamalot. We throw a cow over the battlements which lands on Patsy, Arthur’s page, every night. And most matinees. (Occasionally they miss.) We even had a Cow song. We thought it would be funny if we gave the Cow a sad and touching farewell song as she went off to war. It wasn’t.
COW I’m just a lonely cow who has a dream
That each and every one of us is part of nature’s scheme
That somehow every single cow
Can make a difference to just how
This world is now today – it’s true
So here’s my final moo!
It was just too sad. You can’t have an elegant Christian Dior cow singing a heartbreaking farewell and then being thrown over the battlements and expect to get a laugh. We now care about the damn cow. So here’s what I learned:
Cows aren’t always funny.
So it got cut in Chicago. Not the first cow that got cut in Chicago, which is practically the center of the cow cutting world. They even have a Hamburger U. there, which shows just how weird and strange they are.
So, let me see, cows… ah yes. In Bavaria once with Monty Python we filmed the Bad Toltz Cattle Herd giving a performance of The Merchant of Venice. We shot lots of cows in Shakespearian costume wandering around the field with Shakespearian sub-titles and lots of mooing.
“What news on the Rialto Antonio?”
I played a very sincere German Theater critic: “The Merchant of Venice is a very difficult play for cows…”
Here’s what I learned:
Sometimes cows aren’t even funny in German.
So now what have I got? Well frankly, nothing. I have some chicken stories. An odd tale about a duck. What? Say something about Glen? Well, ok. Glen is a seven foot Scotsman with a wooden leg whom I met Frog Rolling on an Eskimo trip in Northern Greenland. We were sheltering in a sauna at a local bordello with an Icelandic babe called Splut… no I agree it’s a hopeless and pathetic lie. You see I haven’t even met him. It’s useless. I’m dismal as a Foreword writer. I’ve got nothing to say. I didn’t want this job, I didn’t ask for this job. I just wanted to be….a lumberjack!
So why did I do it? Why did I take it on? Well, honestly, I did it for the money. The Publishers came to me and said “Eric we will give you thirty thousand pounds if you will write a foreword….” what? They offered how much? Nothing? Jeeze. Well that’s it then. I’m out of here. Let’s face it, if you don’t find these pictures funny on first sight no amount of forewords will persuade you otherwise. So frankly enjoy.
The Cow through the Ages
The Seven Ages of Spam
Why the Cow almost became the symbol of America?
The Cow in Literature with regard to Jane Austen and Dickens
Fetchez La Vache. A French Dairy Dictionary
For more of Glen’s work see: