Private lives

I do like reading other peoples' diaries. Biographies can be really interesting (obviously partly depending on who the person was. or is), but diaries can offer a snapshot of day-to-day life, and at their best give a true insight into the person writing them.

I'd previously read the first volume of Michael Palin's diaries, and thoroughly enjoyed it - partly because it covered an interesting period, the rise of Python, ending just after the release of Life of Brian, one of my favourite films. I found the second volume however much harder going. This is partly because it covers a rather unsettled period in Palin's life, where Python is almost finished with, but not quite, he is trying to branch off in various directions, some more successful than others, and although, obviously of interest to him, it doesn't perhaps have the "showbiz" interest of the first volume, but neither does it have the travel interest that hopefully any later volumes may have.

I also felt that it was rather more self-conscious than the first volume, it sometimes felt as though it was written with at least half-an-eye to posterity, so it occasionally seemed to lack the immediacy and freshness of volume 1.

However having said this MP comes across, as always, as a genuinely nice, and very funny man, and there were some lovely little gems of showbiz gossip : George Harrison's passion for Dallas and the Eurovision song contest, Terry Gilliam's now legendary struggles with Munchausen, and there were some truly moving moments, most notably when writing about his sister Angela's struggles with depression and her subsequent suicide. An interesting book as a bridge between earlier (and hopefully) later diaries, but not of stand-out interest in itself.


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