Travelling to Work: Diaries 1988-1998 (Palin Diaries, Book 3)
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10 years in different directions. The third volume of Michael Palin's celebrated diaries.
Travelling to Work is the third volume of Michael Palin's widely acclaimed diaries. After the Python years and a decade of filming, writing and acting, Palin's career takes an unexpected detour into travel, which will shape his working life for the next 25 years. Yet, as the diaries reveal, he remained ferociously busy on a host of other projects throughout this whirlwind period.
Travelling to Work opens in September 1988 with Michael travelling down the Adriatic on the first leg of a modern-day Around the World in 80 Days. He was not the BBC's first choice for the series, but after its success and that of the accompanying book the public naturally wanted more. Palin, though, had other plans. Following the tumultuous success of A Fish Called Wanda, he is in demand as an actor. His next film, American Friends, is based on his great-grandfather's diaries. Next he takes on his most demanding role as the head teacher in Alan Bleasdale's award-winning drama series GBH. There is also his West End play, The Weekend and a first novel, Hemmingway's Chair, and a lead role in Fierce Creatures, the much-delayed follow-up to Wanda. Michael describes himself as 'drawn to risk like a moth to a flame. Someone grounded and safe who can be tempted into almost anything.' He duly finds time for two more travel series, Pole to Pole in 1991, Full Circle in 1996, and two more bestselling books to accompany them.
These latest diaries show a man grasping every opportunity that came his way, and they deal candidly with the doubts and setbacks that accompany this prodigious work-rate. As ever, his family life, with three children growing up fast, is there to anchor him.
Travelling to Work is a roller-coaster ride driven by the Palin hallmarks of curiosity and sense of adventure. These ten years in different directions offer riches on every page to his ever-growing army of fans.
out onto the M25 and eastwards to Suffolk. Granny [my mother] is still shrinking, it seems. Her arms are bony and she continues to be less steady on her feet. But it’s still as good as ever to see her and she’s full of the mixture of humour and exaggerated fears and ear-wagging gossip which keeps her going. Alice Murnane, a friend with whom she had become close – they regularly took Sunday lunch together – has just died, and her funeral was this morning. Mum seems to have taken it all
weariness of the day disappears. Thursday, August 5th A recce day in the Isle of Wight. To lunch with Peter Hurst, the editor of the paper I shall be writing for, the Isle of Wight County Press. We meet at a small Georgian house hotel with a view across the bush-bordered, nicely irregular lawns to the River Medina, and on the hill above it the long, hard angles of Parkhurst Prison. Peter wears a well-cut suit and sports thick, well-groomed silvery-grey hair. The editorship sounds a
shot on Saturday August 19th – thus knocking out any real hope of a feet-up, sun-and-sand break before setting off for the Pacific. Saturday, July 15th Sleep well – up quite late. At 10.30 still at breakfast and the papers. Grim news from Bosnia as Srebrenica is ‘cleansed’. Always uncomfortable to be reminded that our fellow human beings, the great brotherhood of man, are still capable of deliberate, brutal, callous cruelty, in the name, presumably, of some greater good. Feel v. pissed off with
could always be like this. I’ve appeared as Jim N for nine days now. I know and feel the character; I know that Robert Y is pleased, but the challenge to produce my best in all circumstances is daunting. I simply pray I have the ability to rise to it. At present, as I experience the pleasure of seeing my house again, and wandering, free from cameras and scripts, into the overgrowing garden on a thick, hot, windless afternoon, I have no fears, and I feel that I have already overcome the darkest
meant that I never allowed myself time to become absorbed in it, to feel the pace and weight of it, to address the subject matter as anything more than another chore after five months of heavy work. But since the end of March, and especially through the week at Mountrath, I gave it the priority and the total commitment it needed – and, as I say, I feel on top of the work, and sort of cleaned out; cleansed by a period of three weeks of, for me, monastic solitariness. And I know that I never want