29 October 2004

I'm sorry to be so silly in such proximity to the most momentous election of my lifetime, but I can't help it. All this morning I've had the Python sketch "Biggles Dictates A Letter" running through my brain and I can't keep from laughing. Graham Chapman is a bleeding genius. To tell the truth, they all were, but this was one of Chapman's best, in an insane, silly way. He always seemed to have a knack for poncy, uppity sorts. They all could do that well, but, for example, Cleese excelled in the very straightlaced, annoyed, and rigid types, Palin was EXCELLENT as both the dirty minded lowlife and the timid, spineless accountant sort, Idle was a great slimy nightclub host among other things, and Terry Jones was unparalleled as the nasty old woman. Although Chapman was also immensely good at loopy, brainless pepperpots. And Terry Gilliam, he was more of an animator than an actor-Python, but I've always liked his Viking character ("this is my only line!"). But without further ado...

The sketch:
(Cut to stock film of First World War fighter planes in a dog-fight. Heroic war music.)
Voice Over: The Adventures of Biggles. Part one - Biggles dictates a letter.
(Mix through to Biggles and secretary in an office.)
Biggles: Miss Bladder, take a letter.
Secretary: Yes, Senor Biggles.
Biggles: Don't call me senor! I'm not a Spanish person. You must call me Mr Biggles, or Group Captain Biggles, or Mary Biggles if I'm dressed as my wife, but never senor.
Secretary: Sorry.
Biggles: I've never even been to Spain.
Secretary: You went to Ibiza last year.
Biggles: That's still not grounds for calling me senor, or Don Beeg-les for that matter. Right, Dear King Haakon...
Secretary: Of Norway, is that?
Biggles: Just put down what I say.
Secretary: Do I put that down?
Biggles: Of course you don't put that down.
Secretary: Well what about that?
Biggles: Look. (she types) Don't put that down. Just put down - wait a mo - wait a too. (puts on antlers) Now, when I've got these antlers on - when I've got these antlers on I am dictating and when I take them off (takes them off) I am not dictating.
Secretary: (types) I am not dictating.
Biggles: What? (she types; puts the antlers on) Read that back.
Secretary: Dear King Haakon, I am not dictating what?
Biggles: No, no, no, you loopy brothel inmate.
Secretary: I've had enough of this. I am not a courtesan. (moves round to front of the desk, sits on it and crosses her legs provocatively)
Biggles: Oh, oh, 'courtesan', oh aren't we grand. Harlot's not good enough for us eh? Paramour, concubine, fille de joie. That's what we are not. Well listen to me my fine fellow, you are a bit of tail, that's what you are.
Secretary: I am not, you demented fictional character.
Biggles: Algy says you are. He says you're no better than you should be.
Secretary: And how would he know?
Biggles: And just what do you mean by that? Are you calling my old fictional comrade-in-arms a fairy?
Secretary: Fairy! Poof's not good enough for Algy, is it. He's got to be a bleedin' fairy. Mincing old RAF queen. (sits at the desk)
Biggles: (into the intercom) Algy, I have to see you.
Algy: Right ho. (he enters) What ho everyone.
Biggles: Are you gay?
Algy: I should bally well say so, old fruit.
Biggles: Ugh! (he shoots him) Dear King Haakon ... oh ... (takes the antlers off) Dear King Haakon. (the secretary types) Just a line to thank you for the eels. Mary thought they were really scrummy, comma, so did I full stop. I've just heard that Algy was a poof, exclamation mark. What would Captain W. E. Johns have said, question mark. Sorry to mench, but if you've finished with the lawn-edger could you pop it in the post. Love Biggles, Algy deceased and Ginger. Ginger! (puts the antlers on)
Secretary: What?
Biggles: Rhyming slang - ginger beer.
Secretary: Oh.
Biggles: (into the intercom) Ginger.
Ginger: Hello, sweetie.
Biggles: I have to see you.
(The door opens, Ginger enters as a terrible poof in camp flying gear, sequins, eye make-up, silver stars on his cheeks.)
Ginger: Yes, Biggles?
Biggles: Are you a poof
Ginger: (camp outrage) I should say not.
Biggles: Thank God for that. Good lad. (Ginger exits) Stout fellow, salt of the earth, backbone of England. Funny, he looks like a poof. (takes off the antlers) Dear Princess Margaret.
(Pantomime Princess Margaret enters from cupboard.)
Margaret: Hello.
Biggles: Get back in the cupboard you pantomimetic royal person. (she goes)
(Quick cut to a loony.)
Loony: Lemon curry?
(Cut back to Biggles.)
Biggles: Dear real Princess Margaret, thank you for the eels, full stop. They were absolutely delicious and unmistakably regal, full stop. Sorry to mench but if you've finished with the hairdryer could you pop it in the post. Yours fictionally Biggles, Oh, PS see you at the Saxe-Coburgs' canasta evening. (puts the antlers on) That should puzzle her.
Secretary: (sexily) Si Sefior Biggles.
Biggles: Silence, naughty lady of the night!
(Bring up heroic music and mix through to stock film of fighter planes in dog-fight.)

No comments: