As a long time fan of Month Python, it was with great sadness that I read today that one of its members Terry Jones has been diagnosed with a rare form of dementia. Jones was one of the most versatile performers in the troupe, who had a broad range of interests, including even as a historian with a book on Chaucer.
Though famous for Python, the 74-year-old has also written and directed drama films, presented documentaries, composed operas, written short stories and published poems.
He has long had a commitment to progressive causes and fought strongly against the Iraq war and wrote a widely read opinion piece in 2003 about it.
For some time now I’ve been really pissed off with Mr Johnson, who lives a couple of doors down the street. Well, him and Mr Patel, who runs the health food shop. They both give me queer looks, and I’m sure Mr Johnson is planning something nasty for me, but so far I haven’t been able to discover what. I’ve been round to his place a few times to see what he’s up to, but he’s got everything well hidden. That’s how devious he is.
That’s why I want to blow up Mr Johnson’s garage and kill his wife and children. Strike first! That’ll teach him a lesson. Then he’ll leave us in peace and stop peering at me in that totally unacceptable way.
Mr Bush makes it clear that all he needs to know before bombing Iraq is that Saddam is a really nasty man and that he has weapons of mass destruction – even if no one can find them. I’m certain I’ve just as much justification for killing Mr Johnson’s wife and children as Mr Bush has for bombing Iraq.
Mr Bush’s long-term aim is to make the world a safer place by eliminating ‘rogue states’ and ‘terrorism’. It’s such a clever long-term aim because how can you ever know when you’ve achieved it? How will Mr Bush know when he’s wiped out all terrorists? When every single terrorist is dead? But then a terrorist is only a terrorist once he’s committed an act of terror. What about would-be terrorists? These are the ones you really want to eliminate, since most of the known terrorists, being suicide bombers, have already eliminated themselves.
Perhaps Mr Bush needs to wipe out everyone who could possibly be a future terrorist? Maybe he can’t be sure he’s achieved his objective until every Muslim fundamentalist is dead? But then some moderate Muslims might convert to fundamentalism. Maybe the only really safe thing to do would be for Mr Bush to eliminate all Muslims?
More recently he produced and appeared in the excellent documentary on the financial crisis Boom Bust Boom (2015) that I reviewed here.
Here he is in an interview from 2012 where his genial personality comes through, even as he castigates the arms industry for being the drivers of current policies that create and perpetuate wars.