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Chaucer’s Tale with Paul Strohm, Terry Jones, and Marion Turner

A review of the recent History Department gig

Queen Mary were very proud to present Paul Strohm, on a talk about his exciting new book on a man long dead; a surprise to Paul Strohm himself, as the History Department cleverly rearranged the letters ‘QMUL’ to form ‘UCL’, tricking all but the most astute patron at the cabaret. There, the stage was set for some enlightening conversations on Chaucer, a man famous for being dead.

First port of call was Paul Strohm, who decided to read from his book like an episode of Jackanory, but a Jackanory of the dead. His arguments have provided much discussion in the academic world, not least in his fevered arguments that Chaucer was in fact Christ and that he freed the Earth from Satan by using a “big stick”.

Unfortunately, Strohm was forced to self-censor his own work due to the sheer amount of profanity that lay within the pages, including one page that simply read “Fuck Apple Strudel” with a crayon depiction of a cock without the balls.Therefore, Paul censored his own sentences through pretending to have a cough which unfortunately led to a myriad of confusion, with simple points becoming more marred than a horse with a pig drawn onto it.

There were certainly some eyebrows raised when Strohm declared “Chaucer *cough* all his *cough* money on a *cough* horse race and lost it all to some blonde *cough*. What a *cough*.” As I am an English student, I saw this as him being Avant-Garde, and sharply applauded.

Second to take the slightly raised pedestal was a one Marion Turner. Turner, evidently slightly perturbed by Strohm’s profanity and staunch anti-Semitism, provided the most conventional talk of the evening through her cunning use of words. I’d say that Turner used at least 3,026 words at which point I lost count. Unfortunately, the talk was not on a man long dead, but instead appeared to be based around the work of David Almond’s seminal biography ‘Skellig’.

Turner appeared to be keeping her eye on the clock and would often chew sunflower seeds as if she was nervous. Indeed, she appeared to cut her last sentence short as she ran out of the building with her chained briefcase shaking as it went. As I am an English student, I saw this as her being Avant-Garde, and sharply applauded.

Third to take the now slightly sunken pedestal was national treasure Terry Jones. He appeared drunk, and would often pour vodka from a cleverly disguised bottle of sparkling water. He kept referring to Paul as ‘Eric’ and Marion as ‘Connie’ and opened with a rendition of the Monty Python sketch ‘Nudge Nudge Wink Wink’, but unfortunately due to the lack of Eric Idle, the rendition became more like a finger painting of the macabre.

It became increasingly clear that Jones was unsure who the, now dead, Chaucer was. Proceedings were not helped by the simply unprofessional conduct of jailbirds Anthony Ossa-Richardson and Peggy Reynolds, who were smoking at the back of the cabaret, throwing paper aeroplanes and shouting such juvenile and hurtful lines as “What is your name? John Cleese! What is your quest? To be the best Python! What is your favourite colour? Terry Jones’ mum!” and the rudimentary yet somewhat poetic “Richard Coulton can’t read, Richard Coulton make the tea! YOU FAT FUCK”.

As I am an English student, I saw this as them being Avant-Garde, and sharply applauded.

Solid 6 out of 10.

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