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ERIC IDLE
Hello Sailor


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(Futura, London, 1975)
price: 50p; 170 pages


The blurb on the back:

Can Jonathan break Herrington's record and seduce the daughters of every Minister in the Cabinet?
Will the Prime Minister's secret be found out?
What is the surprise witness at the Royal Divorce?
Is Lady Candida's naughty hobby illegal?
Is the Army robbing banks?
What is Astronaut Sickert's unusual 'space first' for America?


opening lines:
The Prime Minister was very much in love. He sat pinkening slightly in the sauna bath at Number Ten, his loins modestly covered by a large white towel on which was emblazoned 'Hotel Renege, Amsterdam'.


The first novel by a member of the Monty Python team is a typical product of its time: a wild and wacky series of vignettes that focus on sex, politics, sex, decadence and sex. So you get farcical elements (the Foreign Secretary is dead, but his embalmed body still turns up for Cabinet meetings), over-the-top satire (America decides that the Vietnam War is losing public appeal so decides to reinvade France, since D-Day was such a ratings winner) and basic incongruity (a masturbating astronaut), all delivered with a traditional British blend of wordplay and innuendo:

Nearby, Lady Candida was in bed with the Flu. There were five of them: lead guitar, bass, drums, electric piano and rhythm guitar. (p.49)

It's not a very good novel, of course, because there's no way all these bits are ever going to hang together in any coherent fashion, but there are inevitably good moments, some fine jokes and even the occasional flash of political prophecy:

'Incidentally, there's a rumour going about that the army is behind the bank robberies.'
'Oh come now, really, this is the twentieth century.'
'Maybe, but it was you who suggested that bits of the army should be sold off to private enterprise.'
'Only the more profitable bits Jeffrey. You will find that above all I am a most practical man.' (p.27)

Not a disaster then, but one of those books where you think: is there any point in finishing this? And there isn't. Surely it should have been better.


ARTISTIC MERIT: 2/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE:
3/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT:
3/5


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