Return of the Giant Snorgweed

Last night I dreamed about Facebook discussion of a plant, resembling a leafy lettuce, but waist-high and large, with a myriad of nutritional and industrial uses. New evidence suggested its cultivation during the Middle Ages was much more widespread than previously believed.

But some were still skeptical, because no matter how useful this plant was, there was a 1 in 100 chance that when the harvester laid the sickle to it, it would explode.

Upon waking, it occurred to me this would make a perfect Monty Python skit.


Next on the BBC, we bring you “The Snorgweed: An English Tradition”

(Title card: A woodcut-style drawing of a snorgweed next to, in mock old typeface, THE SNORGWEED: AN ENGLISH TRADITION)

Narrator (John Cleese): The snorgweed. An emblem of the English countryside. Here, on this beautiful September morning, the snorgweeds are ready for the harvest.

(Footage of driving past a field of ripe snorgweeds. In the middle distance, there’s an explosion and a column of fire)

N: This is the farm of Thomas Miller. Here he and his sons take in the snorgweeds, as their family has done for generations)

(Footage of Thomas Miller, played by Eric Idle. Caption: THOMAS MILLER, FARMER. He carries a pitchfork, his face is covered with soot, and his hair is on fire)

Thomas: Oi think the snorgweed is England, Oi do. It’s part of the soil, and I shan’t stop planting them until the day I die. (Explosion in background.) Aw, damn. There goes our George.

N: Through British history, the snorgweed has served in a variety of capacities, including the most unexpected.

(Graham Chapman sitting at a desk, in British military uniform, chewing on a swagger stick. The caption reads BRIGADIER SIR SAMUEL MURINE)

Brigadier Sir Samuel Murine: During the summer of 1940, we planted large acreages of Kent and Sussex with the snorgweed, in hope that invading Jerries, unfamiliar with the vegetable, might try to pick them. I am proud to say that, even now, every square inch of that acreage is yet unfit for human habitation.

(Cut to a quiet sitting room at Oxford. In front of a stained glass window sits (Terry Gilliam in old man makeup) an elderly don, full of wisdom. The caption reads AN ELDERLY DON, FULL OF WISDOM)

Don: Literature has always seen the snorgweed as a symbol of the Wheel of Fortune, the slings and arrows of unruly fate. Virgil put it best, in his Georgics: “That mild Zephyrus, with fingers light/might bring us gifts unseen/ Or, with shift of harvest air/we all get blown to smithereens!” (cackles evilly) Yes, I’ve always liked that one! (Cackles evilly more)

(Cut to a pastoral scene. A hippiesh couple(Michael Palin and Connie Booth) are plowing a field with oxen)

Narra: Arthur and Jane Brown have gone back to the land. Late of London and now residing here on this Devon farm, have laid aside the conveniences of the modern world for the snorgweed.

Arthur: We’ve found a new way, by going back to the old ways. We believe that the so-called ‘exploding’ tendencies of the snorgweed are entirely due to the excrescences of modern industrial farming. By reviving traditional methods of sowing and harvesting, we can return to the heart of this magnificent plant.

(The pair going out to the snorgweed field carrying flint sickles)

Narra: We bring you this footage of Arthur and Jane’s first harvest, performed using the most primitive method available, sickles constructed from animal jawbones with flint blades. Watch now as Arthur begins to reap the earth’s good bounty.

(Stock footage of atomic weapons test)

(Cut to close up of snorgweed. Inspiring music crescends in the background.)

Narra: Yes, the snorgweed! Symbol of our nation! Long may it wave!

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