Home Songs Videos Literature American Culture British Culture Links






Isabel Allende tells Tales of Passion

Enjoy this wonderful lecture about women, feminism, creativity and passion by the writer Isabel Allende:




In 1967, at the Cubberley High School in Palo Alto, California, World History teacher Ron Jones was asked about the Holocaust by a student. "Could it happen here?". According to the press release accompanying the latest retelling of the events that followed, "Jones came up with an unusual answer. He decided to have a two week experiment in dictatorship. His idea was to explain fascism to his class through a game, nothing more. He never intended what resulted, where his class would be turned into a Fascist environment. Where students gave up their freedom for the prospect of being superior to their neighbors.

To his dismay and alarm, the experiment was so blindly embraced by the students, that he cut the project short. "Initially I just wanted to show my students how powerful the pressure to belong can be, but the exercise got out of control. A momentum began to build that I couldn't slow, or even deter. I became frightened by the day-to-day happenings in class, and was forced to call it off," recalls Jones.

Overnight, Jones became the subject of national controversy, sparking discussion on the appropriateness of exposing young adults to life's realities. To some, he was an innovative hero and teacher; to others he was a Communist. Many people were shocked and embarrassed that the same mentality which led to the Holocaust could develop so quickly, in 1967, in a pristine all-American setting, and an academic town no less, home to the well-known Stanford University.

(Text taken from www.thewave.tk, where you can read some more about the experiment and watch the original 1981 movie on line)

In the following  video, "The Wave," Jones' telling of his story is a vivid and riveting experience. Recounting his experiment in dictatorship, his meeting with Eva Mozes, and his presentation at Nuremberg. He warns of the destructive nature rooted in the pressure to belong or conform. Taped in San Francisco before a sold out Cowell Theatre whose audience included participants of the experiment and holocaust survivors, the one hour narrative reveals the events that led to the "experiment," and what happened to the class during and after The Wave. The "experiment" illustrates how individual freedoms can be quickly abandoned and willfully repressed for collective goals and racism as happened in the rise of Nazi Germany and the treatment of the Jews during World War II.

I'm sorry there are no subtitles available. I may give it a try and transcribe it myself. I'll let you know if I finally do it. In the meantime, see how much you can understand.

Here's the transcript:
I guess it started… yes, it all started with a question. I was teaching world history, Cubberley High School in Palo Alto… January 1967 might explain something…You remember 1967? I mean our universe was about to tilt upside down… but I’m with my favorite class… 2nd period world history and I’m a first year teacher and life could not be better…So how many of you wanna be against the war in Vietnam? Let me see your hands please… Eileen (sp.) and Wendy that’s two, and Doug, no no, basketball players do not go against the war in Vietnam. I’ll explain later. Alright, Jerry… yeah? James Brown nahnahnah Yes, I know, You’ve got a picture of James Brown above your head, Huey gave it to me, so? Haha, yes, a new school policy: every idea must be effaced with its opposite idea so who’s the opposite of James Brown’ peggy, … Laurence welk! Peggy you get a picture of Laurence Welk you put up for crying out loud… Yeah, Steve… did you hear that? Did you all put your ears to that question? Steve, Would you say that again for us all? That’s a history question, Steve! Thank you. How could the Germans behave as they did after the war? Claimed they knew they knew nothing about the Holocaust, did not take part… Steve, that’s a great question! … I’ll take it up on Monday.
Monday morning, I decide to give the class an experience in dictatorship. I clean the room: Now, that in itself is a marvel… organize the desks, darken the room, I’m ready for them. Some way(?) I’m gonna lecture you about discipline, DISCIPLINE, like a ballet dancer, an athlete, an artist, you have to have discipline. It really makes you go, it’s like working real hard, you know? work work work work, well it’s like basketball, Doug : When you’re shooting your shot you gotta have discipline… You can’t be looking around, focus focus focus boo bang to! discipline But look what kind of setting: this classroom is an unholy mess! Look at the way you’re sitting, legs all over the place, books all over your desk…what I want you to do is simply take everything off the top of your desks, clear them off, that’s right. Now good, sit with your feet flat, together… back straight, come on, back straight, back back back straight… hands up for a change… good. Can’t you breathe better?, can’t you listen better?...that’s discipline, that’s discipline.
Steve, where were we yesterday? What was I talking about? Strength through Discipline? Ok, let me add something to this thought here, strength through community. We’re us, a team, this is what…you give up yourself to be a part of something really great, that’s not so foreign, happens all the time in history, building a bond with your neighbors, yeah…
Lunch hour after day two I’m walking down the hall, I’m really excited, I’m giving salutes, books are finally all over the place, I’m feeling pretty good about myself…my class, they’re learning a lot more, and they’re quiet, this is really great, I mean , maybe I’ve discovered something here… oh sh…! bathroom’s on fire, bathroom’s always on fire at school, this is getting crazy…
I’m sure you’ve all heard about yesterday’s incident in the girls’ bathroom, there’s a lesson for us here, a principal cannot stand by and watch the fire… you have to do something, I mean You can be disciplined and have community but unless you’re willing to act, there’s nothing there, you have to act! So, what would we do to act? Tell me, tell me, you’re all passengers, what would you do to act, to change the school?
By the end of day three there are over 100 members of The Wave. Over half of them are telling me intimate detail about everyone else in the room. There’s rumors that The Wave now has initiation service(?) That I have not thought up (?)...it’s spreading to other schools…it has a power and an intensity all of its own… I mean, I can’t stop this thing…even if I wanted to stop it… I mean , what would happen to Robert, all these students that gave this allegiance and they’re really achieving something for a change… no, I can’t stop it.. something elemental about this movement of ours… order, discipline, we cannot go out that door and find the place on fire, no… The Wave is not just a classroom exercise… Teachers like myself have gone out throughout the country to find you, select students, a vanguard, an elite, to introduce this nation to the idea of order, discipline, community, action. Tomorrow, 12 o’clock, we’ll have a rally. We’ll stand up for a new leader that will announce themselves on television at 12. There’ll be television here, local television, yes, yes… I was afraid if I smiled in the slightest or quivered in the slightest the room would break like glass…



Monty Python was a British comedy group that created the influential Monty Python's Flying Circus, a British television comedy sketch show that first aired on the BBC on 5 October 1969. Forty-five episodes were made over four series.

The Python phenomenon developed from the television series into something larger in scope and impact, spawning touring stage shows, films, numerous albums, several books and a stage musical as well as launching the members to individual stardom. The group's influence on comedy has been compared to The Beatles' influence on music.

The Fish Licence sketch, which you see here, is part one of a two-part segment of the popular British television series, Monty Python's Flying Circus.This sketch was not only shown in the Flying Circus TV Show - Episode 23, it appeared on their album - Another Monty Python's Previous Record'.
The cast:
John Cleese 
Michael Palin 
Eric Idle 

In it Eric Praline, played by John Cleese, takes on the role of the put-upon customer who, when seeking to obtain a licence for his pet "'alibut" named Eric, has difficulty explaining to the clerk (Michael Palin) how all pets should be licensed. The pets he mentions are:
Eric the halibut
Eric the cat
Eric the dog
Eric the fruit-bat
Eric the half-a-bee
This is one of the three appearances by Eric Praline, along with the Dead Parrot sketch and a brief appearance as a link the 5th episode of the second series, "Live from the Grill-o-Mat".

The clerk repeatedly calls the customer a 'loony', to which the customer repeatedly replies by making reference to other people who kept odd pets. When the customer tells the clerk that he has a cat license the clerk requests to see it and the customer produces a dog license form with the word dog crossed out and cat written in crayon, when the clerk points this out the customer replies that the men from the cat detector van (a parody of the TV detector van), which comes from the Ministry of Housinge (That’s how it is spelt on the van). The man said he paid 60 quid for the cat license and 8 guineas for the fruit bat (Eric the fruit bat).


This next song followed the routine called the Fish Licence. One such pet is half a bee. The song relates a tragic yet heartwarming tale, stemming from an accident on one summer's afternoon.

The lyrics raise philosophical questions as to the existence or not of half a bee: "Half a bee, philosophically, must ipso facto half not be. But half the bee has got to be, vis-à-vis its entity - d'you see? But can a bee be said to be or not to be an entire bee when half the bee is not a bee, due to some ancient injury?". The piece ends with a reference to the distinguished English philosopher Cyril Connolly.

The full script:

Praline: (whistles a bit, then) Hello. I would like to buy a fish license, please. 

Postal clerk: A what?

Praline: A license for my pet fish, Eric.

Clerk: How did you know my name was Eric?

Praline: No, no, no! My fish's name is Eric. Eric fish. He's an halibut.

Clerk: What?

Praline: He is an halibut.

Clerk: You've got a pet halibut?

Praline: Yes, I chose him out of thousands. I didn't like the others, they were all too flat.

Clerk: You must be a loony.

Praline: I am not a loony. Why should I be tarred with the epithet 'loony' merely because I have a pet halibut? I've heard tell that Sir Gerald Nabarro has a pet prawn called Simon - you wouldn't call him a loony! Furthermore Dawn Pathorpe, the lady show jumper, had a clam called Stafford, after the late chancellor. Alan Bullock has two pikes, both called Chris, and Marcel Proust had an 'addock! So if you're calling the author of 'A la recherche de temps perdu' a loony, I shall have to ask you to step outside!

Clerk: All right, all right, all right. A license?

Praline: Yes!

Clerk: For a fish.

Praline: Yes!

Clerk: You *are* a loony.

Praline: Look, it's a bleeding pet, isn't it? I've got a license for me pet dog Eric, I've got a license for me pet cat Eric.

Clerk: You don't need a license for your cat.

Praline: I bleedin' well do and I've got one! Can't be caught out there!

Clerk: There is no such thing as a bloody Cat license.

Praline: Yes there is.

Clerk: No there isn't.

Praline: Is!

Clerk: Isn't!

Praline: Is!

Clerk: Isn't!

Praline: Is!

Clerk: Isn't!

Praline: Is!

Clerk: Isn't!

Praline: Is!

Clerk: Isn't!

Praline: Is!

Clerk: Isn't!

Praline: What's that then?

Clerk: This is a dog license with the word 'dog' crossed out and 'cat' written in, in crayon.

Praline: Man didn't have the right form.

Clerk: What man?

Praline: The man from the cat detector van.

Clerk: The loony detector van, you mean.

Praline: Look, it's people like you what cause unrest.

Clerk: What cat detector van?

Praline: The cat detector van from the Ministry of Housinge.

Clerk: Housinge?

Praline: It was spelt like that on the van. I'm very observant. I never seen so many bleedin' aerials. The man said their equipment could pinpoint a purr at four hundred yards, and Eric being such a happy cat was a piece of cake.

Clerk: How much did you pay for this?

Praline: Sixty quid and eight for the fruit-bat.

Clerk: What fruit-bat?

Praline: Eric the fruit-bat.

Clerk: Are all your pets called Eric?

Praline: There's nothing so odd about that. Kemel Attaturk had an entire menagerie called Abdul.

Clerk: No he didn't.

Praline: Did!

Clerk: Didn't!

Praline: Did, did, did, did, did and did!

Clerk: Oh all right.

Praline: Spoken like a gentleman, sir. Now, are you going to give me a fish license?

Clerk: I promise you that there is no such thing. You don't need one.

NB: The TV Version continues.....the album version continues below 

Praline: Then I would like a statement to that effect signed by the Lord Mayor. 

(This next part is not on the youtube video because it belongs to the album version)

Praline: In that case give me a bee license.

Clerk: A license for your pet bee.

Praline: Correct.

Clerk: Called Eric? Eric the bee?

Praline: No.

Clerk: No?

Praline: No, Eric the half bee. He had an accident.

Clerk: You're off your chump.

Praline: Look, if you intend by that utilization of an obscure colloquialism to imply that my sanity is not up to scratch, or even to deny the semi-existence of my little chum Eric the half bee, I shall have to ask you to listen to this. Take it away, Eric the orchestra-leader.

(The song:)

Singer: A one, two, a one two three four!

Praline (sings): 
  Half a bee, philosophically,
  Must, ipso facto, half not be.
  But half the bee has got to be
  Vis a vis, its entity. D'you see?
  But can a bee be said to be
  Or not to be an entire bee
  When half the bee is not a bee
  Due to some ancient injury?
Chorus: La dee dee, one two three,
  Eric the half a bee.
  A B C D E F G,
  Eric the half a bee.
Praline: Is this wretched demi-bee,
  Half-asleep upon my knee,
  Some freak from a menagerie?
  No! It's Eric the half a bee!
Chorus: Fiddle de dum, Fiddle de dee,
  Eric the half a bee.
  Ho ho ho, tee hee hee,
  Eric the half a bee.
Praline: I love this hive, implore ye-ee,
  Bisected accidentally,
  One summer afternoon by me,
  I love him carnally.
Chorus: He loves him carnally,

Praline: The end.

Clerk: Cyril Connolly?

Praline: No, semi-carnally!

Clerk: Oh.

Chorus: Cyril Connolly. (Whistle end of tune.)

If you liked this, you'll find more sketches here,  Monty Python's Youtube Channel.