1980-1988: Halfway to Hollywood Diaries
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
The second volume of Michael Palin’s diaries covers the bulk of the 1980s, a decade in which the ties binding the Pythons loosened—they made their last film Monty Pyton’s Meaning of Life in 1983. For Michael, writing and acting took over much of his life, culminating in his appearances in A Fish Called Wanda, in which he played the hapless, stuttering Ken, and won a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor. Halfway to Hollywood follows Palin’s torturous trail through seven movies and ends with his final preparations for the documentary that was to change his life—Around the World in 80 Days.
During these years he co-wrote and acted in Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits as well as spearing in Gilliam’s follow-up success Brazil. Palin co-produced, wrote and played the lead in The Missionary opposite Maggie Smith, who also appeared with him in A Private Function, written by Alan Bennett. In television the decade was memorable for East of Ipswich, inspired his links with Suffolk. Such was his fame in the US, he was enticed into once again hosting the enormously popular show Saturday Night Live. He filmed one of the BBC’s Great Railway Journeys as well as becoming chairman of the pressure group Transport 2000. His life with Helen and the family remains a constant, as the children enter their teens.
Palin’s joy of writing is evident once more in Halfway to Hollywood as he demonstrates his continuing sense of wonder at the world in which he finds himself. A world of screens large and small.
immediately, but he’s in a meeting, of course. Read through Dr Fegg’s work prior to meeting with Geoffrey Strachan this afternoon re re-publication.99 In the densely-packed American edition some very funny stuff lies well concealed. Definitely worth a re-publication, for much of the book would be new in the UK anyway. TJ has had the same reaction to the ‘Fegg’ material as myself, only more so. He says, without any sign of a boast, that he was in tears of laughter reading it. General agreement
man called Ian Hislop asks Tariq to introduce him to me. He’s a round, small man with a squidgy, reassuring face. He’s assistant editor of the Eye, writer for the new puppet show, Spitting Image, and I recently read and liked his Listener column. He says Spitting Image found it difficult to make a Maggie Thatcher doll unattractive enough, as she is such a wretchedly fine-looking woman! Friday, March 2nd Drive to Greenpeace HQ in a nondescript industrial street in Islington for a presentation
unbelievable – the very fact that I’ve come over to see this unknown writer strikes him as very ripe. Encouraged by this I take a cab back uptown to collect a car for the journey to Sag. A silver Buick Regal from Avis on 34th. Al and Gwenola are at the house. Claudie is working as a lunchtime waitress. Al looks stronger and fitter and less changed for the worse than I expected. In fact the loss of 15 lbs of weight improves him. He smokes his pipe, drinks his drink and is very mobile, though
usual. Quite a change and for a while it worries me. I’ve brought lunch and afterwards I’m just happy to sit and talk. Her alertness and humour and liveliness are unimpaired, I’m glad to say. Julie next door has had a man in all night. ‘It could be her brother. Of course, it’s no business of mine,’ and she rounds it off with a laugh at herself. After supper we watch Heimat.129 My first view of it and I’m very impressed. Late night walk and contemplate writing a Palin-style British Heimat –
Ireland and the Gambia. Leave with seven books, taxi back home. Driver’s a great fan and I have to talk a lot and sign his book. Not much time to unpack before Angela H arrives in preparation for Rachel’s appearance in the Gospel Oak musical ‘Carrots’ tonight. Give her a glass of champagne. Helen rushing in and out, house not very restful. To the school. Rachel gives her cheeky Cockney character – Carrots – a hint of timidity and uncertainty which she shouldn’t really have. But she delivers