The Columnist
  John Cleese
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Bryan Forbes and Nanette Newman
June 28 1988

Dear Bryan and Nanette,

Well, you could have knocked me over with a ten pound hammer. I am not used to receiving such letters early in the morning. I screamed and fell swooning to the floor as I brought the morning tea in. My wife thought it was the usual thing – another terrible blackmail threat about my colourful past life - and by the time I had come round had dealt with it swiftly. “I don’t know who this Forbes and Newman person is,” she said, “but I have sent them a large sum of money, and I fancy you won’t be bothered again.” So if you get a cheque from this address, please return it.

My life has changed somewhat since we last met, which I think was the time when Princess Margaret came to see your TV show, Nanette. Did I ever tell you I had a funny story prepared that evening about bicycling in London. All about the time I ran into the Earl of Snowdon? AND I COULDN’T USE IT BECAUSE SHE WAS IN THE AUDIENCE? That was also the evening that I was asked back to Kensington Palace for supper and I said no, because I had a vital deadline that night. It might have changed my life socially, if I had said yes… Anyway, it’s just that last year I got divorced, got remarried, moved out of London, arrived here, changed from the Times to Independent, had a baby (next oldest child is 19) and lost a mother-in-law, the last two on the same day. This year I am lying down a lot.

I wish I thought the column was as good as you say. Now and again I think “That was a definite goody’, but most of the time I have a vision of the golden column that was meant to be, fading over the grey reality of the ones I actually wrote.

I wouldn’t have you rewrite one word of your letter, mark you.



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