Procol Harum

the Pale

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It's ... Monty Procol's Flying Harum

Niels-Erik Mortensen

The hitherto-concealed evidence of the links between comedy and rock music ...

For nearly 30 years, scientists around the world have tried to establish a clear connection between the two magnificent phenomena, the dry-witted comedy ensemble known as the "Monty Python's Flying Circus" and the important British rock aces, Procol Harum. Hitherto in vain, but new evidence has been unearthed.

It can now be revealed that at least one of the Python sketches was influenced by Procol. This sketch is found as an opener in the same 30-minute programme that concludes with a rendition of the Ohio Express favourite, Yummy Yummy Yummy, performed by an unknown band hidden in file boxes.

The said sketch features John Cleese and Eric Idle impersonating a very angry public-relations manager and his creative director. The topic is a very nasty campaign for a coffee brand - the "Conquistador". Clearly, this name would not have been chosen unless the Python authors had a profound knowledge to the eponymous song. This is an edited version of the dialogue:

It's about your advertising campaign for Conquistador Coffee. Now, I had the managing director of the Conquistador Coffee to see me this morning and he is very unhappy with your campaign. Very unhappy. In fact, he shot himself. Before he went he left a note with the company's secretary, the effect of which was how disappointed he was with your work and in particular why you changed the name "Conquistador Instant Coffee" to "Conquistador Instant Leprosy". Why, Frog? Why did you do it?

It was a joke. No, not a joke - a sales campaign.

Now let's look at the sales chart. Conquistador was brand leader. Here, you introduced your first campaign: "Conquistador Coffee brings a new meaning to the word 'vomit'". Here, you made your special introductory offer of a free, dead dog with every jar. And this followed your second campaign: "The tinkling fresh coffee which brings you exciting new cholera, oedema and the clap. From the House of Conquistador".

The people know the name.

YES, they certainly know the name, they burned the factory down. The owner is hiding in my bathroom. (A gunshot rings out.) The owner WAS hiding in my bathroom.

You're not going to fire me?

FIRE YOU?! Three men dead, the factory burnt down, the account lost and our firm completely bankrupt? What excuse can you possibly have?

Sorry, Father...

Oh yes, well all right - oh, incidentally, your film's won a prize ...


By another curious coincidence, a following sketch in the same show seems to have some weird prophetic coherence with all things Procol. In this travesty of a crime story, a murderer is caught due to his lack of knowledge of British Rail time-tables. But the title of this mock-up drama - "the latest West-End hit" - is in fact, It All Happened on the 11,20 from Hainault to Redhill via Horsham, Reigate, Carshalton Beeches, Malmesbury, Tooting Bec and Croydon West. The author is Mr Neville Shunt.

It thus seems as clear as (yester-)day that the Pythons have anticipated the Procol Harum anniversary at Redhill by more than 25 years. Certainly, this prediction cannot be a coincidence!

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