My secret is out! After weeks of waffling about going to 'West Africa”, I can tell the world, if they’re at all interested, that I’ve just filmed a three-part series in Nigeria. Rather like North Korea and Iraq, Nigeria is a country which doesn’t get the attention it deserves. And it was a new country for me, which always makes for a bracing experience, and sharpens the travel senses.
Nigerians are lively and loud. They don’t do English politeness - 'I’m sorry, would you mind awfully’ - they say what they mean, usually at many decibels, but they laugh easily and I like people like that.
Nigeria is a big player internationally, with the greatest population (around 220 million) and the biggest economy in Africa. But it doesn’t it feel like a country at the top of the tree.
I’ve been to the heart of Africa’s ‘slumbering giant’ to try and find out why. Come along with me and see what you think. Looks like an April release.
As with North Korea and Iraq I’m turning my diary of the journey into a book, which should be out early next year.
Before that there’ll be a paperback of Great-Uncle Harry and the fourth volume of my diaries to come. Both John Cleese and my much-missed wife Helen had a go at me for talking too much, so I apologise to both of them.
Palin’s Travels is on a new journey. With the acquisition of many previously unseen photos taken by Basil Pao, it’s being transformed into a new, bright, dynamic format. Whereas the old Palin’s Travels was primarily text driven, the emphasis will now be on the superb visuals. They say a picture tells a thousand words, and with the benefit of great advances in photo reproduction, each one now has a vivid clarity that catches, in detail, the huge range of locations we visited.
Many months of work have gone into the preparation of the site and work will always be ongoing. Special photo selections and highlights with accompanying text, will change regularly to give the site a feeling of constant renewal.
The new Palin’s Travels will feature an interactive route map, which can swing you across the globe at any speed you want, allowing you to drop in and look around any destination you wish. Users of the new Palin’s Travels will be taken much closer to the wonders of the world, and in some cases to the very heart of towns and cities like Timbuktu, which can no longer be visited.
I’m very excited. The new Palin’s Travels is a marvellous way to see how people live in every corner of the world. But don’t stand still. What would give me the greatest pleasure is if it encourages you to pack your bag and go and see for yourselves.
A huge thank you to Rachel Alcalay and Tom Palin for all their work on the site so far, and for the sheer range and beauty of the work of Basil Pao, without whom none of this could have happened.
Visit the new Palin’s Travels website now!
It’s been a complicated summer. Since Helen’s death we’ve had various celebrations of her life for family and friends, and though I’ve tried to respond to the many thoughtful and touching letters which were sent to me I’m aware that I’ve been unable to reply to each one. But, thank you everyone, all were read and all were appreciated.
I hear Helen’s voice all the time. She was a pragmatic and independent woman and has recently been telling me, in no uncertain terms, to ‘get on with it!’, and in the spirit of our long marriage, I will of course be obeying her. Firstly I shall be talking to whoever will listen about My Great-Uncle Harry book - available for all good bookshelves as from the 28th September. As you can see, I’ve been signing copies till I drop.
To further get on with it I’ve put together a presentation about the book. I call it the Great-Uncle Show, which I’ll be performing in various parts of the land - from Ely to Edinburgh - over the next three weeks. My Great-Uncle Harry was not at the forefront of history. Though he died fighting for his country, his body was never found, and he has no known grave. But I have tried to pull together as much of his life story as I can because Harry, and many hundreds of thousands who died with their life still ahead of them, should never be forgotten.
I think Harry might say ‘get on with it!‘ as well.
Buy your copy of Great-Uncle Harry: A Tale of War and Empire from our shop at themichaelpalin.com from 28th September, where you can get your book signed and dedicated by Michael.
Also available from these book stores.
To find out more about Great-Uncle Harry and Michael’s upcoming book tour click here.
My dearest wife Helen died peacefully in the early hours of Tuesday morning. She had been suffering with chronic pain for several years, which was compounded a few years ago by a diagnosis of kidney failure.
We first met on a summer holiday on the Suffolk coast when we were both sixteen and we married in our early twenties. Two and a half weeks ago we celebrated our 57th wedding anniversary.
Her death is an indescribable loss for myself, our three children and four grandchildren.
Helen was the bedrock of my life. Her quietly wise judgment informed all my decisions and her humour and practical good sense was at the heart of our life together.
The family ask that their privacy be respected at this time.
Great excitement! My book on Great-Uncle Harry now has a UK publication date: Thursday, September 28th 2023.
At last, patient readers will be able to see what I’ve been banging on about these past three years. I’ve been fascinated by Great-Uncle Harry ever since photos of him and the diaries he kept before his death in the Battle of The Somme were passed down to me. He died young. His life snuffed out at the same age I was when we filmed Monty Python and The Holy Grail. It was a short life but one that encompassed an amazing period of history. From the peak of Victorian achievement to its disastrous collapse into the mud and slaughter of World War One.
Writing a family story is something new for me. It took a lot of research and ended with a visit to France to see the spot where Harry was killed. But the story began much earlier when Harry’s father, my great-grandfather, married an Irish orphan. She was born in the Great Famine. her son died in the Great War. In the book I try to piece together what happened to them in between, to try and find how my family dealt with golden opportunities and desperate disappointments.
It’s been a great learning experience. I hope it’ll be a great reading experience.
Watch this space!
Great-Uncle Harry: A Tale Of War And Empire will be available in the UK on Thursday, September 28th 2023.
Great-Uncle Harry: A Tale Of War And Empire will be available in Canada and the US on Tuesday, October 10 2023.