For the Love of Brian; or, The Gospel According to Judith Iscariot

In a few weeks, all going according to plan, I shall be moving west, to the Welsh seaside town of Aberystwyth—a short move long in the making. Once in town and halfway settled, I shall set out to uncovering whatever pop-cultural past it has—you know, Liz Taylor slept here, Ben Gazzara filmed there; that sort of thing. When it comes to broadcasting, the prized hobbyhorse in my imaginary stables, no connection shall be too tangible to warrant my far-fetching it.

The other day, I missed out on a fine opportunity to introduce the place when BBC Radio Wales aired “Aberystwyth Mon Amour,” an adaptation of the comedy-noir thriller by Malcolm Pryce, the first in a series that continued fancifully with Last Tango in Aberystwyth and Don’t Cry for Me Aberystwyth. Dazzled by the likes of Carmen Miranda and Lucille Ball, I neglected to study the Radio Times for something of local interest.

Some travel notes and theater reviews aside, my life in Wales has not as yet been a significant aspect of my writings. All the same, it gave life to this journal. Not long after relocating here from New York City, when I did not seem to figure in the landscape, let alone signify in the culture, I decided in my isolation and estrangement to share what I knew or cared to remember—and it has been a comfort to me.

A few years ago, I posed here with my copy of The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth. Back then, what felt unbearable was the burden of my own lightness, the feather-weightiness of my existence in the relative obscurity of a rural community to which I could or would not relate. Being here did not exactly feel light; but the town made some effort to lighten up a bit today.

After thirty years, Aberystwyth lifted a ban on the screening of the supposedly blasphemous Monty Python satire Life of Brian, currently ranked among the top 250 films on the Internet Movie Database. According to the BBC, its decriminalizing will be celebrated with a charity event attended by three members of the cast: Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and Sue Jones-Davies. It was Jones-Davies—the love of Brian, Judith Iscariot—who made it happen. After all, she is the mayor of the town now; and by lifting the ban on her screen image, she also improved the image of Aberystwyth as a place that isn’t too heavy-handed in its dealings with the lighthearted and the irreverent. That’s some relief to me . . .


Related writings
“Mining Culture: The Welsh in Hollywood”
“Little Town Blues; or, Melting Away”
How Screened Was My Valley: A Festival of Fflics (October 25-27)

4 Replies to “For the Love of Brian; or, The Gospel According to Judith Iscariot”

  1. Aberystwyth. Did I spell it right? What a beautiful, picturesque name. I wish we had nice names like that over here in the colonies. I hope your new place there has room for your personal den of antiquity.

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  2. Yes, that\’s the name, Clifton. Aren\’t you glad I\’m not moving to the town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch?Wales is known for such tongue-twisting spelling challenges; but there\’s romance, too, in names like Chicago, Chattanooga, or Cucamonga.The new old house has plenty of room for a den; it needs some work, though, to make it cozy. You\’ll probably read more about that in the months (years?) to come.

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  3. Mel Blanc, yes. According to Dave Goldin, it was Rochester who first mentioned Azusa and Cucamonga on Benny\’s Lucky Strike Program in February 1944; a year later, the train announcement (including Anaheim) became the line for a running gag so popular that, another year later, Benny was appointed honorary mayor of Anaheim, Azusa, and Cucamonga.

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