Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
After sorting out the gels’ various traffic-control homework issues (which, I suspect, are going to be a major theme this school year), Ol’ Robbo found himself listening this evening to the Monty Python album “Matching Tie & Handkerchief“, into which I have not dipped for several years now.
One of the tracks on this album that, so far as I know, was never replicated on teevee or in the movies was the skit about the Background to History that featured the Open Field Farming songs, and its follow-on bit about the fellah at the record store who wishes to hear a track from “The Ronettes Sing Medieval Agrarian History“.
This little throwaway has long made Robbo laugh and laugh, not only because of its absurdity but also because of its erudition. This is what I’ve always loved most about the Pythons, that they were able to come up with, for lack of a better description, educated crass humor. (I believe Terry Jones is the medievalist amongst them, but I know that most of the others had particular fields of learning on which to draw.)
Did I ever mention the Chaucer class I took in college? Wonderful stuff taught wonderfully by a wonderful professor who was not the slightest bit interested in post-modern critical-theory deconstruction of the texts, but instead was passionately concerned to get us young idjits to appreciate them, in their style and content, for what they actually were. (Yes, back in the day such profs could be found even at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown. I also had this prof for several Tudor and Stuart lit courses. His readings of Prospero from “The Tempest” were pure magic. Betcher you couldn’t find his ilk there now.)
Conversely, my Real Property course in law school, which started with a very thorough examination of feudal Norman land rights regarding, among other things, transfer and inheritance, was taught by a card-carrying Marxist who evidently thought the whole system contemptible.
Somehow, when I revisit this particular Python sketch, both of those contrary memories come back to me. And perhaps, in a weird way, they increase my appreciation of the humor of the thing.