The Life of Brian

We are a very weird lot, very weird indeed:

British martial humour remains an odd but enduring weapon of war. In 1982, after HMS Sheffield was struck by an Exocet missile, her crew sang Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from Monty Python\’s Life of Brian as the vessel sank.

Absolutely, totally, bonkers in fact.

4 thoughts on “The Life of Brian”

  1. One evening in the mid 1970s, I spent a pleasant and engaging evening in a bar discussing the state of the world – or rather lamenting the state of Britain – with a genuinely successful entrepreneur in the clothing industry. Those were times when Britain was widely regarded as set on the road to irreversible decline with the sickliest economy of Europe.

    Mindful of Ricardo’s famous principle of comparative advantage, I remarked, “There must be something we are relatively good at.”

    “Yes,” he replied, “war.”

    As he had been awarded the Military Cross in some war, he certainly knew what he was talking about and he was absolutely right. We Brits have been very good at wars.

    The wars may be pointless, malevolent (the Opium Wars?) or misguided and disastrously commanded but we are undoubtedly good at them. Until WW2, we even tended to relish the prospect of another war. The Crimean war, the Boer War and WW1 were each hugely popular at their respective beginnings and were each marked with spontaneous street celebrations in parts of London.

    Lord Cardigan, the commander of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaklava in 1854, was regarded as a dolt by many of his military peers at the time but the famous Charge of the Light Brigade, which led to its almost complete annihilation, was rated a heroic feat in popular esteem at home, which is why we still have Cardigans and Balaklavas to honour the occasion.

    As Tennyson later wrote:

    “‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
    Was there a man dismay’d?
    Not tho’ the soldier knew
    Someone had blunder’d:
    Their’s not to make reply,
    Their’s not to reason why,
    Their’s but to do and die:
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.”

    The frequent failings of popular comprehension on the home front regarding the cause and intentions of the conflict or the participants on the other side is yet another source of disappointment but as Tennyson had said: Their’s not to reason why. Try this on the hanging of the monkey:

  2. “Life’s a piece of shit,
    When you look at it.
    Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke. It’s true.
    You’ll see it’s all a show.
    Keep ’em laughing as you go.
    Just remember that the last laugh is on you. ”


    Actually, I think this is extremely apt.

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