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Mourning Terry Jones

Dated: 22 Jan, 2020

It is with great sadness that I hear Terry Jones has died.  He was a marvellous comedian and writer – his book "Medieval Lives" should be required reading for all players of Fantasy Role Playing games.

But with specific relevance to the wonderful World of Barnaynia I often wonder if dear Terry might have had a little bit of an influence on the design and conception of the world.  The manner in which the world came to be imagined as banana-shaped has been described elsewhere but I will summarise here:

It was very early morning in 1987 (March I think) in a sponsored marathon D&D session in aid of Lancashire Polytechnic’s Student Union rag-week.  We had been playing for about 36 hours and were very sleep-deprived.  As play swooped from dangerous to surreal and back again two players (while in character) started arguing as to whether the world was flat or spherical.  One of the debaters was Adrian “Arse” Bell, the other may have been Frog, Pete Leary or possibly even Taff.  Or Craig Tooke.  Or Spikey Mikey….

Anyway, the debate was getting heated and I was asked, as DM, to confirm one or the other side.  In an inspired moment (or a fit of ego) I said they were both wrong and that the world was banana-shaped.

As it happened, due to the Lancashire Polytechnic Students Union being on a spine of hills, you could illustrate this at the time by looking at the horizon.  From the Coffee Shop (as it was then) on the top of the Union building I could illustrate the idea by pointing out that the horizon curved more in one direction than in the other, as if of the back of a banana.  It was perhaps a clever bit of spontaneous improv, maybe not, but it caused a giggle and became the accepted form of the planet…

It was only some time later that I remembered the quote from Monty Python’s Holy Grail   [link below under "More Information"]

Now, I have seen this film several times from years before the incident at Preston Poly and I am sure many of the lines were quoted and requoted dozens of times in various peer groups I had inhabited.  I am sure many of you had similar experiences.

So the question is, and I cannot answer this as I am not sure myself, is whether the shape of Barnaynia was my own invention or was it subconsciously inspired by my remembrance of the quote from the film?  I certainly knew the quote and have repeated it often, but I do not recall thinking about it at all at the time.

Regardless of the truth of it, and I kind of hope he did inspire me, a comic genius has died.  May he rest in peace and live forever in comedy cults everywhere.

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