Things are supposed to quieten down as you get older, but from celebrations of 30 years of one of my oldest and most valued charities – the Association For Research into Stammering Children – to a visit to Oslo for gin and tonics in the wardroom of Gjoa, the first ship to navigate the North-West Passage by sea, to a last-minute stand-in appearance with Michael Caine on the One Show, to a less last-minute appearance before a sword-wielding Prince William at Buckingham Palace, my 77th year could not have begun more noisily.
And it looks to be set at full volume, at least for the next few weeks, as I have another seven dates left on my Erebus /Python stage tour, and a few days of acting in July. As yet, I’m not allowed to say exactly what part, but I am growing a beard, so it’s not Joan of Arc.
I must give very big thanks to all the audiences on the tour so far. The response has been so warm and generous that it’s like spending an evening with old friends. Opening night of the 2019 tour was at the Pavilion in Bournemouth. Which was, by coincidence, highly appropriate for Python’s anniversary year. My first memories of Python filming were all around Bournemouth. The It’s’ man made his debut crawling out of the sea at Poole Harbour.
There’s a flavour of those heady days in the Python Years volume of my diaries.
Friday July 11th 1969, Bournemouth.
“Drive over to Shell Bay, beyond Poole, along a flag-lined route – the Queen is visiting Poole today. In the afternoon filmed some very bizarre pieces, including the death of Genghis Khan, and two men carrying a donkey past a Butlins redcoat, who later gets hit on the head with a raw chicken by a man from the previous sketch, who borrowed the chicken from a man in a suit of armour. All this we filmed in the 80° sunshine, with a small crowd of holiday- makers watching.”
It seems like only 50 years ago.