Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Today the Other Side We See: Introducing These Questions Three

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October 7th: Seventh Post

That’s not a breeze — it’s the sound of the Ontario rainbow, thankfully composed today of any colour but blue, heaving a collective four-year sigh of relief! As for the lowest-on-record 47.6 % voter turn out in the midst of a global economic collapse, that’s the most sobering vote of all.

But a victory of any kind creates a much kinder Ontario than we could have woken up into this morning, so it’s time for a little celebratory fun. In tribute to one of the greatest comedy troupes ever to grace the planet, I’m going to be interviewing several of my friends and colleagues by borrowing the concept of These Questions Three from the iconic Scene 23 of Monty Python’s The Search for the Holy Grail.

When the knightly crew from Camelot approach the wizened old keeper of the Bridge of Death, he yells:

“Stop! Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, 'ere the other side he see.”

Fearing to be cast into the Gorge of Eternal Peril, they send Lancelot through first, who to everyone’s surprise answers all three questions easily. When Sir Robin fails to know the capital of Assyria and non-too-swift Sir Galahad gets his favourite colour wrong, they get flung into the gorge. King Arthur approaches, creating this classic exchange:

KEEPER: What is your quest?
ARTHUR: To seek the Holy Grail.
KEEPER: What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
ARTHUR: What do you mean? An African or European swallow?
KEEPER: What? I don't know that! Auuuuuuuugh! (The keeper flies into the gorge)
BEDEVERE: How do know so much about swallows?
ARTHUR: Well, you have to know these things when you're a king you know.

So in several upcoming posts, I’ll be posing my own sets of literary questions three to some brave-hearted colleagues and friends. So as not to break faith with the Ye Holy Hand Grenade scene of the same movie, I promised them that, “only to three and neither to two nor to four shall I countest,” and custom-designed exactly three questions for each of them.

So stay tuned for the first set of These Questions Three. I have great faith that my knightly respondents will all provide perfectly scintillating answers and escape, just as we all did yesterday, being flung into the Gorge of Eternal Peril.

How can I be so sure of them? You have to know these things when you’re a writer you know.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Dorothy Ellen Palmer

Dorothy Ellen Palmer is the author of the novel, When Fenelon Falls (Coach House Books). She lives in Toronto.

Go to Dorothy Ellen Palmer’s Author Page