Now is the ’90s of our discontent….
It’s not exactly a decennium horribilis that Monty Python member and world traveler Palin (The Truth, 2013, etc.) describes in this journal. As the author notes at the start of this third volume, he closed the late 1980s with the sense that he’d been frittering away his life, someone “who had reached his mid-forties with no great adventures to show for it.” Be careful what you wish for, for Palin immediately found himself swept up in what would become a quarter-century–long series of televised adventures, beginning with sturdy vehicles such as Around the World in Eighty Days and Pole to Pole and spinning off in all sorts of directions. In between, though, were the standard press junkets: show up for a screening, a book signing, a gallery opening, “pontificate on the Python years and become pretentious.” Palin reveals himself to be a serious, sympathetic fellow most of the time, if sometimes given to self-doubt and moping. At turns, he is speaking in hushed tones with Fergie, the Duchess of York, and finding her more congenial and substantial than he might have thought (“She paints a depressing, almost frightening, picture of the royal life”); worrying at world events such as a renewed IRA bombing campaign in London (“they kill out of an intensity, a fierceness, a dogged, deep unshakeable belief, as people have done throughout history”); and trying to pull together sometimes-warring factions into a reunion (“the unsatisfactory Python stage show business pushes itself, once again, into the front of my mind”). The decade’s worth of notes ends on a rather dour note, befitting a gloomy English new year that, of course, he could escape by hopping on a jet to some more tropical clime.
A satisfying if sometimes-dark read for Palin’s many fans. Those interested in the inner workings of showbiz will find much of value, too.