So farewell then, Thor Heyerdahl…

Who, a year ago, had heard of Mr and Mrs Brian Norris of 37, Gledhill Gardens, Parsons Green? And yet their epic journey in EBW 343 has set them alongside Thor Heyerdahl and Sir Edmund Hillary. Starting only with a theory, Mr Norris set out to prove that the inhabitants of Hounslow could have been descendants of the people of Surbiton who had made the great trek north. No newcomer to this field, Mr Norris’s ‘A Short History of Motor Traffic Between Purley and Esher’ had become a best-selling minor classic in the car-swapping belt. But why would the people of Surbiton go to Hounslow? Mr Norris had noticed three things: Firstly, the similarity of the houses. Secondly, the similarity of the costume between Hounslow and Surbiton, and thirdly, the similarity of speech…

Were these just coincidences, or were they, as Mr Norris believed, part of an identical cultural background? One further discovery convinced him. The lawnmower. Surely such a sophisticated household gadget could not have been generated independently in two separate areas. Mr Norris was convinced…

There was only one way to see if the journey between Surbiton and Hounslow was possible, and that was to try and make it. Months of preparation followed whilst Mr Norris continued his research in the Putney Public Library, and Mrs Norris made sandwiches.

Finally, by April, they were ready. On the 23rd, Mr and Mrs Norris set out from ‘Abide-A-Wee’ to motor the fifteen miles to Surbiton, watched by a crowd of local well-wishers. That evening they dined at Tooting. This would be the last they’d see of civilization. Mr Norris’s diary for the 23rd reveals the extraordinary calmness and deep inner peacefulness of his mind.

“7.30 Fed cat. 8.00 Breakfast. 8.30 Yes (successfully). 9.00 Set out on historic journey.”

On the morning of the 24th, early to avoid the traffic, Mr Norris’s historic expedition set out from Surbiton – destination Hounslow. Early on they began to perceive encouraging signs. The writing on the sign was almost exactly the same as the writing in the AA book. They were on the right route. During the long hours of the voyage, Mr Norris’s wife Betty kept a complete photographic record and made sandwiches. … Mile succeeded mile and the terrific strain was beginning to tell when suddenly, by an amazing stroke of luck, Mr Norris had come across the Kingston by-pass…

At this stage, Mr Norris was faced with two major divergent theories concerning his Surbiton ancestors. Did they take the Kingston by-pass, turning left at Barnes, or did they strike west up the A308 via Norbiton to Hampton Wick? Both these theories ran up against one big obstacle – the Thames, lying like a silver turd between Richmond and Isleworth. This was a major setback. How could they possibly cross the river?

Several hours of thought produced nothing. There was only one flask of coffee left when suddenly Mr Norris spotted something. Could this have been the method used? Hardly daring to believe, Mr Norris led his expedition on to the 3.47. Forty minutes later, via Clapham, Fulham, Chiswick and Brentford, they approached their goal: Hounslow.

Was this, then, the final proof? Something aroused the accountant’s instinct buried deep in Mr Norris’s make-up. The journey was possible, and yet …. [here the camera zooms in on railway timetable on wall saying ‘Trains to Surbiton every half hour’] ‘Wrong Way’ Norris had accidentally stumbled on a piece of anthropological history. It was the inhabitants of Hounslow who had made the great trek south to the sunnier pastures of Surbiton, and not vice versa, as he had originally surmised. This was the secret of Surbiton! Happy and contented Mr Norris returned to the calmer waters of chartered accountancy, for, in his way, ‘Wrong Way’ Norris was right. …

From the montypython.net.

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