Terry Jones still enjoys jokes and long walks, despite having dementia

Michael Palin with Terry Jones winner of Outstanding Contribution To The Film And Television Award BAFTA Cymru Awards - Copyright (c) 2016 Rex Features. No use without permission.

Monty Python star Terry Jones still enjoys long walks and a good joke despite living with dementia, his close friend Michael Palin has said. Jones, 75, who famously directed Monty Python's Life Of Brian is suffering from a form of dementia that affects his ability to communicate.

Palin said Jones continues to enjoy aspects of life that he always has, saying: "Terry still goes on very long walks across Hampstead Heath, often following the most obscure routes, and it is very hard to keep up with him.

Speaking to The Observer, Palin also told of how Jones has not lost his sense of humour and matter of fact manner. He said: "The thing that struck me was how Terry reacted to his diagnosis. He was very matter of fact about it and would stop people in the street and tell them: 'I've got dementia, you know. My frontal brain lobe has absconded'.

"He knew exactly what was affecting him and he wanted to share that knowledge - because that is the way that Terry is. FTD (Frontotemporal dementia) may cause loss of inhibition, but Terry was never very inhibited in the first place."

He added: "His old pal Barry Cryer, the comedian, came round one day and said he would like to join Terry on a walk on the heath, and nothing would deter him. It was a muddy day and Barry kept slipping while Terry just walked on and on.

"In the end, Barry fell over so many times he gave up. He told me that there he was on his backside in the mud while his friend who had dementia was striding out miles ahead of him across the heath."

Jones and Palin were members of the famous comedy troupe, which also included Gilliam, John Cleese, Eric Idle and the late Graham Chapman, with Jones writing and directing many of the group's best-loved works.

It first became apparent that something was wrong with Jones in 2014.

They were performing with the rest of the surviving Monty Python's Flying Circus troupe in a show of sketches and songs, Monty Python live (mostly) at the O2 in London.

"Terry was always very good at remembering lines," recalled Palin last week.

"But this time he had real problems, and in the end he had to use a teleprompter. That was a first for him. I realised then that something more serious than memory lapses was affecting him."

Reflecting on their friendship, Palin said: "We chat - well, I chat. But when the meal is over he makes it clear he has to move. He has to get to the next thing on his agenda and he just puts his head down and goes.

"I have never felt discomfited in his presence, however. There is no embarrassment. He doesn't shout or show his bottom."

He added: "I think that must be the most difficult thing - not to be able to say quite simply how you are feeling on a given occasion. We assume that he is happy, but that assumption could be wrong. We just don't know."

 

 

 

 

 

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