The scene after the show ended on the Last Night of Monty Python was–well, it was chaotic in a good way, but chaotic nevertheless.
My son and I made our way backstage very slowly, weaving through the crowd and making our way through the hallways. Camera crews were everywhere, blocking any convenient access, so we made our way back into the Green Room. It was packed with people I didn’t know, many of them apparently from the same group that was there for the live TV pre-show broadcasts, and a small band was setting up. They began playing very loudly in the rather small room, and I quickly realized that there was no way that John Cleese would ever, ever show up in this room.
We waited a few more minutes, during which time I saw Eric Idle enter and wade through the crowd. The crowd showed no sign of letting up, so we decided to take our chances in the hallways.
There were apparently several levels of backstage passes. We wore VIP passes, which were apparently second-highest only to the coveted AAA (all-access area). But it was difficult to discern what they actually meant. We would walk down one hallway and be turned away, and be welcomed when we came back two minutes later. We tried to enter what was apparently a small pub inside the larger pub in search of John Cleese, but were told it was over capacity and we would have to wait until some people left. So, we walked down to the Family Hospitality Suite, where Terry Jones was greeting everyone (and, appropriately, his family was in attendance; and I caught up with his son Bill).
We had drinks and visited, meeting new friends and old. The crowd didn’t seem to dissipate, so we walked down to the pub-within-a-pub to say hello to John. He had apparently left, but the Gilliam family was well-represented, and I walked past Terry to say hello to Prof. Stephen Hawking. I introduced myself to him and explained my Python connection to him and his assistants. Then, I said hello to Maggie Gilliam, who was astonished at the size of my now-19-year-old son, and I re-met their son Harry, who was just as tall as my son. As Eric Idle told me, “You’ve got to stop feeding him!”
I had a chance to catch up with the always delightful John Goldstone in the hallway, and he mentioned that the Pythons had all been called away for a final round of photos. It was getting late, and it was perilously close to the times for the last trains, so we reluctantly said goodnight and headed out. As we were walking around the darkened O2, heading for the exits, we heard some talking behind a partition that was now blocking the huge dead parrot from the public areas. I knew those voices, so we walked around in time to see the Pythons leaving, their final photo obligation finished. John called out to me and we all had a few minutes together before we had to leave. We missed the last trains of the Last Night of Monty Python, of course and had to pile into the buses, but it was worth it.