A very happy birthday to Michael Palin, who turns 63 today. He's one of the founding geniuses behind "Monty Python's Flying Circus" and an intrepid world traveller. I've enjoyed his world trips very much, in such programs as "Pole to Pole", "Full Circle" and "Around the World In Eighty Days." Michael's also a genuinely nice man, as I've had the pleasure of meeting him on three separate occasions, at book signings here in New York. I was even able to chat with him very briefly all three times.
On the morning of September 11, 2002, I was preparing for one of the toughest days of my life to begin, as it was the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks and I was going to the ceremonies at Ground Zero. I was staying up all night, as I didn't want to risk getting up late. So, at about 2 AM, I had to do something that would make me laugh, as I knew the rest of the day would be one of the saddest days of my life (and it was). I pulled out my Monty Python videos, and I watched the show that included "The Spanish Inquisition," my favorite of all Monty Python sketches. It felt good to laugh at that time.
A few months later, I wrote Michael a letter to his office in London, thanking him for playing a small role in getting me through an extremely difficult day. I received back an almost instantaneous reply from his assistant. It was very nice, and I really appreciated the nice response from him.
Michael's always been my favorite member of Monty Python, and I hope he keeps on travelling around the world!