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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon 14 December 2009
Michael Palin is a man you just can't dislike (although you might think him a bit silly - see lumberjack song, parrot sketch etc). The same is true of his diary: what's not to like (apart from the fact that it's not silly at all)? He's a witty, warm, intelligent guy, and his diary is a very rapidly readable account of what it's like to be him and to move in the circles he does. There's lots about getting film scripts developed and getting films made, an astonishing amount of jet-setting (considering that when I watched his adventures abroad in various documentaries he seemed quite an innocent abroad), plenty about fellow Pythons and quite a bit about his mother and family. I haven't seen most of the films that Palin was working on when he wrote this diary, but that doesn't detract from it: I couldn't put it down and had read the whole fat book within a week.

It's not prurient, heart-breaking or laugh-a-minute. But, like so much of Michael Palin's work, it is sensitive, well-observed, down-to-earth and studded with pithy wit. It's just a pleasure to be in his company. No surprise that he seems the most popular Python within the group, and he gets on with all of them (with the possible exception of Graham Chapman, who may have been too zany for anyone on this planet to really connect with). Palin is self-effacing but not *too* nice - he bristles when he's being taken advantage of and stands up for himself, and it's nice to see him land the occasional punch. He also delivers what all good celeb diarists should - nice character portraits that show the human side of figures we know and love.

What did surprise me was just how much hobnobbing celebs do with each other - Palin is forever "bumping into" household names like Richard Branson and Rupert Murdoch - so the diary is rich in characters, not to mention the Pythons and others involved in his films, like Alan Bennett, Maggie Smith and Denholm Elliot. Another surprise was just how professional and affable John Cleese seemed to be, compared to my Fawlty presumption!

So, Palin for President! Cleese for Vice President!
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