Terry Jones, 69, is best known as a member of the Monty Python team and was the director of Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. He is also a prolific author, screenwriter, librettist, actor and popular historian. He lives in north London with his Swedish partner, Anna, and their two-year-old daughter, Siri. He also has two grown-up children from a previous marriage. His latest book, Evil Machines, published by Unbound (unbound.co.uk), is out now.
Routine The morning starts at 7am when I have tea and biscuits upstairs with Anna and Siri. Then I take Nancy, our Jack Russell, for a walk across Hampstead Heath before returning home for breakfast, usually a boiled egg. The day begins in earnest when I start work in my study overlooking the heath. Every day is different, but I spend most of my time writing. I’ve had three books published this year, including Evil Machines, a book of 13 tales parodying our relationship with technology. At 5.30pm I usually reward myself with a quick beer at the local pub, before returning home to help prepare supper. I’m a good cook; one of my specialities is reindeer and potato pie. If we’re not hosting a dinner party (and we often do), we tuck Siri up in bed at 8.30pm and follow soon after.
Childhood I spent my earliest years in Colwyn Bay in north Wales with my mother and grandmother, while my father was stationed with the RAF in India. I have vivid memories of this period. I remember my mother hauling me out of bed to watch the searchlights – part of the VE celebrations. And I remember making my first joke. We were sitting round the table having high tea when Gran asked if anybody would like more custard. I had a brainwave. Instead of passing my plate, I handed her my mat and she proceeded to pour custard all over it. It was then I discovered that comedy can be a tricky business because everybody turned to me and said, ‘What on earth did you do that for?’
Edinburgh Festival This photograph (pictured) was taken in 1964 in Edinburgh to help publicise The Oxford Revue’s sketch show, which also featured Michael Palin. I’m riffling through a litter bin – I suppose because I thought it would be rather amusing. I’d appeared at Edinburgh in a sharp satirical revue, a bit like Beyond the Fringe the previous year, but this production was much sillier and off the wall – more Pythonic. In one sketch, written with the late Miles Kington, I played a policeman. I remember the lines so well. The inspector arrives and says [to the superintendent]: ‘Morning, Super.’ And I reply: ‘Morning, wonderful.’ People queued to get in.
Typewriter I picked up this Blickensderfer typewriter (pictured) in a secondhand shop. It’s very elegant and sits on the windowsill in my study. It was patented in 1893 and features a rotating typewheel. It’s not very practical because it has a pad that you have to keep inking, but I bought it because my comedy hero, Buster Keaton, used to work on one. He made beautiful silent comedy and that’s what I’ve tried to do in film. When Michael [Palin] and I started out, we wrote silent films for the TV sketch show Twice a Fortnight; much of our humour was inspired by Keaton.