A Fawlty Slip of the Tongue

There’s a great old Fawlty Towers scene (if you’re unfamiliar with the 1970s British sitcom, hie thyself to YouTube!) in which Basil Fawlty (John Cleese), an innkeeper, welcomes some German patrons. He gives explicit orders to everyone: “Don’t mention the war!” He then proceeds to mention the uncomfortable subject of World War II over and over again.

In one scene, after blurting out references to the war a dozen times while seating the Germans at the restaurant, he says to his wife, “Listen, don’t mention the war! I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it all right.” He then returns to the Germans’ table to review their lunch order: “So! It’s all forgotten now, and let’s hear no more about it. So, that’s two egg mayonnaise, a prawn Goebbels, a Hermann Goering, and four Colditz salads.”

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