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Gavin Millarrrrr writes
From "Monty Python's Big Red Book" (new hardback edition)

Gavin Millarrrrrrrrrr [John Cleese] writes: Neville Shunt's latest West End Success, "It all Happened on the 11.20 from Hainault to Redhill via Horsham and Reigate, calling at Carshalton Beeches, Malmesbury, Tooting Bec and Croydon West," is currently appearing at the Limp Theatre, Piccadilly. What Shunt is doing in this, as in his earlier nine plays, is to express the human condition in terms of British Rail. Some people have made the mistake of seeing Shunt's work as a load of rubbish about railway timetables, but clever people like me who talk loudly in restaurants see this as a deliberate ambiguity, a plea for understanding in a mechanised mansion. The points are frozen, the beast is dead. What is the difference? What indeed is the point? The point is frozen, the beast is late out of Paddington. The point is taken. If La Fontaine's elk would spurn Tom Jones the engine must be our head, the dining car our oesophagus, the guards van our left lung, the cattle truck our shins, the first class compartment the piece of skin at the nape of the neck and the level crossing an electric elk called Simon. The clarity is devastating. But where is the ambiguity? Over there in a box. Shunt is saying the 8.15 from Gillingham when in reality he means the 8.13 from Gillingham. The train is the same, only the time is altered. Ecce homo, ergo elk. La Fontaine knew its sister and knew her bloody well. The point is taken, the beast is moulting, the fluff gets up your nose. The illusion is complete; it is reality, the reality is illusion and the ambiguity is the only truth. But is the truth, as Hitchcock observes, in the box? No, there isn't room, the ambiguity has put on weight. The point is taken, the elk is dead, the beast stops at Swindon, Chabrol stops at nothing, I'm having treatment and La Fontaine can get knotted.

 

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