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Monty Python
Farcical situation: a motley collection of knights from Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Monty Python Windmill pub in Shoreditch

Pub is closed by Monty Python grenade

Tony Bassett
19 Mar 2009

BUILDINGS were evacuated, a street was cordoned off and a bomb disposal team called in after workmen spotted a suspicious object.

But the dangerous-looking weapon turned out to be the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, made famous in the 1975 film Monty Python And The Holy Grail.

Police and a fire crew were first on the scene in Shoreditch, east London, when water company workers found a copy of the film prop under a fire hydrant cover.

They evacuated a pub and another building in Tabernacle Street, while office staff in another building were stopped from leaving.

But when the bomb squad arrived, they quickly established there was no danger and the street was declared safe. In the film, the grenade was used to slaughter a killer rabbit. Python actor Eric Idle had filmgoers in stitches as he said: "Oh Lord. Bless this hand grenade, that with it thou mayest blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy."

Alberto Romanelli, who owns the Windmill pub nearby, said the police action in ordering his pub to be evacuated had been as ridiculous as the film scene. "They evacuated the pub while they were doing X-rays and stuff," he said.

"It all lasted about 45 minutes before they decided it was nothing - which I thought was pretty obvious from the start. I lost a good hour's worth of business."

Emma Eve, a training centre receptionist, said: "It was scary. They wouldn't let us out of the building." Office worker Graham White said: "The situation was nearly as crazy as the film."

Former Python Michael Palin, who appeared in the film, said: "Our Holy Hand Grenade was fictional and there were no plans for creating one. We don't want to add to the armaments of the world."

An Islington police spokeswoman said: "There was no danger to the public. The device is believed to be an object known as a Holy Hand Grenade." Copies of the prop can be bought on the internet for £14 or you can make your own by following the instructions in a five-minute video on YouTube.

In the film, before the grenade is used, Idle says: "And the Lord spake, saying, 'First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin, then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out.

"'Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it. Amen.'"

Reader views (35)

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Lose-lose for the cops. Respond, and you look like a muppet without a sense of humour. Don't respond, and some nut-job will put a pipe-bomb in a Holy Hand Grenade replica the next time around.

Suspicious objects get checked out, no matter how they're dressed. And suspicious can include something that's clearly out of place. Yes, it's ineffective. Yes, everyday items that are guaranteed to be overlooked can be just as effective (a bicycle is basically a set of pipe-bombs on wheels), but they still have to try. So give the bomb squad a break - they're just doing their jobs.

- Jon, London, UK, 02/08/2009 10:08
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"Nonetheless, I think this paranoia about bombings and terror is an American export..."
Hahaha, are you flippin serious? Yeah, since that sort of thing NEVER happens in the UK. You poor ignorant fool.

- Capt. Obvious, Earth, 01/07/2009 07:23
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It just goes to show you can't be too careful.

- Steffan Davies, London, 16/04/2009 15:30
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He's not the holy hand grenade, he's a very naughty boy.

- Brian'S Mum, Judea, 16/04/2009 00:40
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I have to say it is bit strange that it was placed under a fire hydrant cover, it isn't exactly the place where you'd expect to see a toy, but then, I can't see how a Holy Hand Grenade could be mistaken for a bomb either.

Nonetheless, I think this paranoia about bombings and terror is an American export, and it worries me that it is taking hold amongst the UK authorities. Most of the population think it is ridiculous with the exception of those who are too blind to see their civil liberties being snatched from under their noses.

- Kai, UK, 27/03/2009 09:45
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Actually it was Michael Palin and not Eric Idle who is quoted above from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

- Ferris Ratoni, Los Angeles, 26/03/2009 04:40
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You Americans who are riduculing the Brits for their "over-reaction" and "Nanny State" crack me up. Remember how the Boston police couldn't tell the difference between a bomb and an ad for Aqua Teen HungerForce.... and people were arrested?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Boston_Mooninite_Scare

- Jared Murphy, Upstate NY, USA, 26/03/2009 00:43
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only in England this would happen.....

- Flur De Lis, USA, 23/03/2009 16:28
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Typical over-reaction from the Jack Bauer wannabe Civilians in Uniform that make up our police forces.

- Susan Ivanova, Leicester, Leicestershire, 23/03/2009 13:37
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The reason people are ridiculing the police response is because it *was* ridiculous. Yes, one has to be cautious with a potentially suspicious or dangerous object. But one also has to use some common sense in not over-reacting to trivial events, else we would be cordoning off the streets every time someone announces "We found this spoon, sir!"

The fact is, merchandise copies of "the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch" do not resemble a bomb -- not even a hand grenade -- in any way, shape or form. They look like toy jewellery, which is pretty well exactly what they are. If we started evacuations and lock downs every time someone found an unusual toy in the street, society would grind to a halt.

It is true that a mad bomber could disguise a bomb as a toy in order to fool us. But this is where the officer in charge has to apply common sense and (hopefully) experience. This "suspicious object" is quite small, and had it been a disguised bomb it would have been unlikely to kill more than one person. Hence, had it been a bomb, then it was probably targeting a specific victim. But targeted bombs are not left lying about in random locations, they are left where the victim is likely to find and activate them. It would be quite a different situation if a "Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch" was found in an Israeli embassy, where a targeted device is quite likely and a toy is not. But when you find a toy in the street -- it's probably just a toy.

- Roger, Sydney, Australia, 22/03/2009 06:19
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Oh, what sad times are these when passing ruffians can say "Ni" at will to old ladies. There is a pestilence upon this land, nothing is sacred. Even those who arrange and design shrubberies are under considerable economic stress in this period in history.

- Alikat Astrae, Sunnyvale, CA, 22/03/2009 02:50
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I am disappointed at all the carping from the police. Just because we Python aficionados can tell a prop copy from one of their 25 year old movies at 20 paces doesn't mean rescue personnel can! Some of the carpers would be the first to screech is the police did nothing about a suspicious object that turned out to be dangerous!

- Susan, DC, USA, 21/03/2009 13:17
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One, Two, Five
Three Sir!

- Johnalexwood, East Grinstead, UK, 21/03/2009 11:40
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The lines you quoted from the film were spoken by Michael Palin, not Eric Idle.

- Yun, Austin, Texas, USA, 21/03/2009 09:29
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If this isn't taking the mick then i hope there are a few investigations going onto why a hour of police time and bomb disposal time was wasted on this or are the police that stupid now?

- Del, Cwmbran, wales, 21/03/2009 04:04
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Bad journalism. The actor who spoke those lines was not Eric Idle but Michael Palin.

- Tyroneslothrop, Boston MA, 21/03/2009 03:19
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May your chains rest lightly upon you, Nick Bacon.

- Combaticus, Surf City, USA, 20/03/2009 23:26
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terror hysteria...

- Steve, Frankfurt, 20/03/2009 22:49
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Of course after the x-rays and such, I'm sure the pub smelt of Elderberries.

- Kelly A., Spokane, Washington, USA, 20/03/2009 22:03
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are you sure you are in Bolton? I thought it was Ipswich? Perhaps Notlob?

- Mark, Vancouver, Canada, 20/03/2009 21:33
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Where, oh where, is Brave Sir Robin when we need him?

- Peter Mclean, VA, USA, 20/03/2009 18:59
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I was lucky. I was just returning from an expedition to build a bridge between the twin peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro and hadn't made it to the pub yet.

- Artman, St. Louis, Missouri, USA, 20/03/2009 14:28
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..anyone fancy a bit of cheese, then?

- Retired, Bolton, UK, 20/03/2009 12:24
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Those lines were spoken by Michael Palin, not Eric Idle.

Idle's line in this scene was: "skip a bit, Brother."

- Al, Glasgow, 19/03/2009 18:55
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Whew. I am thankful this was a hoax. Has it been real hundreds of people could have been left pining for the fjords.

- Brian, Acworth, GA, USA, 19/03/2009 18:23
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How about a tin of Spam then?

- Mike, London England, 19/03/2009 17:51
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I wonder if they know that it's Michael Palin that says "Oh lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayest blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy" and not Eric Idle.

- Alice, Washington, D.C., USA, 19/03/2009 17:46
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Just a little comment: It's Michael Palin who says all the things Eric Idle is quoted as saying according to this article.
Top story otherwise. Can't imagine what they would have done in the US if they had found it there ...

- David, Naples, Italy, 19/03/2009 17:36
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In the film, that was not Eric Idle reciting those lines you attribute to him in the article. That was Michael Palin reading from the Book of Armaments.

- Sean Gleeson, Oklahoma City, United States, 19/03/2009 17:32
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@ Mike, LOL great one

Fap,fap,fap

- S, Illinois, 19/03/2009 17:30
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Did they find a dead parrot by anychance?

- Mike, London England, 19/03/2009 17:25
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Yet again proving how the UK has truly earned the name "Nanny State".

This is just another example of ridiculous over reaction and lack of common sense from British civil authorities. It was clearly a toy. I suppose the bomb squad gets so few real calls that they make the most of the ones they get. Still, there's no excuse for such grandstanding.

Unfortunately, this sort of thing makes the UK, sorry - "The Nanny State" - a bit of a laughing stock.

- David Stevens, Virginia, USA, 19/03/2009 16:52
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@nick

Do you even have any clue how many rights UK's civilian population has given up in the name of 'combating terrorism?'

The police acted like jackasses.

- Brandon, Bradenton, FL, USA, 19/03/2009 16:50
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@nick

If you keep sacrificing everything in the name of "safety" or "security" you get a police state. If terrorists wanted to attack they would not copy a comedy prop from a movie they likely have never seen or heard of. If they did, well there's some rotten luck.

I'll take my chances as they come and keep my sanity and freedom.

- Steve, Florida, usa, 19/03/2009 16:01
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Alberto Romanelli, who owns the Windmill pub nearby, said the police action in ordering his pub to be evacuated had been as ridiculous as the film scene. "They evacuated the pub while they were doing X-rays and stuff," he said.

it wouldn't rediculous if it blew both your legs off, insurgents put bombs in toys, how different is this?

- Nick Bacon, london, uk, 19/03/2009 14:51
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