Title: The Tale Of The Piranha Brothers
From: Monty Python's Flying Circus
Transcribed By: Jonathan Partington ( JRP1@PHX.CAM.AC.UK )
Last Tuesday a reign of terror was ended when the notorious Piranha brothers,
Doug and Dinsdale, after one of the most extraordinary trials in British legal
history, were sentenced to 400 years imprisonment for crimes of violence. We
examined the rise to power of the Piranhas, the methods they used to subjugate
rival gangs and their subsequent tracking down and capture by the brilliant
Superintendent Harry 'Snapper' Organs of Q Division.
Doug and Dinsdale Piranha were born, on probation, in a small house in Kipling
Road, Southwark, the eldest sons in a family of sixteen. Their father Arthur
Piranha, a scrap metal dealer and TV quizmaster, was well known to the police,
and a devout Catholic. In 1928 he had married Kitty Malone, an up-and-coming
East End boxer. Doug was born in February 1929 and Dinsdale two weeks later;
and again a week after that. Someone who remembers them well was their next
door neighbour, Mrs April Simnel.
"Oh yes Kipling Road was a typical East End Street, people were in and out of
each other's houses with each other's property all day. They were a cheery
lot. Cheerful and violent. Doug was keen on boxing, but when he learned to
walk he took up putting the boot in the groin. He was very interested in that.
His mother had a terrible job getting him to come in for tea. Putting his
little boot in he'd be, bless him. All the kids were like that then, they
didn't have their heads stuffed with all this Cartesian dualism."
At the age of fifteen Doug and Dinsdale started attending the Ernest Pythagoras
Primary School in Clerkenwell. When the Piranhas left school they were called
up but were found by an Army Board to be too unstable even for National
Service. Denied the opportunity to use their talents in the service of their
country, they began to operate what they called 'The Operation'... They would
select a victim and then threaten to beat him up if he paid the so-called
protection money. Four months later they started another operation which the
called 'The Other Operation'. In this racket they selected another victim and
threatened not to beat him up if he didn't pay them. One month later they hit
upon 'The Other Other Operation'. In this the victim was threatened that if he
didn't pay them, they would beat him up. This for the Piranha brothers was the
Doug and Dinsdale Piranha now formed a gang, which the called 'The Gang' and
used terror to take over night clubs, billiard halls, gaming casinos and race
tracks. When they tried to take over the MCC they were, for the only time in
their lives, slit up a treat. As their empire spread however, Q Division were
keeping tabs on their every move by reading the colour supplements.
One small-time operator who fell foul of Dinsdale Piranha was Vince
"Well one day I was at home threatening the kids when I looks out through the
hole in the wall and sees this tank pull up and out gets one of Dinsdale's
boys, so he comes in nice and friendly and says Dinsdale wants to have a word
with me, so he chains me to the back of the tank and takes me for a scrape
round to Dinsdale's place and Dinsdale's there in the conversation pit with
Doug and Charles Paisley, the baby crusher, and two film producers and a man
they called 'Kierkegaard', who just sat there biting the heads of whippets and
Dinsdale says 'I hear you've been a naughty boy Clement' and he splits me
nostrils open and saws me leg off and pulls me liver out and I tell him my
name's not Clement and then... he loses his temper and nails me head to the
Another man who had his head nailed to the floor was Stig O' Tracy.
Rogers: I've been told Dinsdale Piranha nailed your head to the floor.
Stig: No. Never. He was a smashing bloke. He used to buy his mother
flowers and that. He was like a brother to me.
Rogers: But the police have film of Dinsdale actually nailing your head to
Stig: (pause) Oh yeah, he did that.
Stig: Well he had to, didn't he? I mean there was nothing else he could do,
be fair. I had transgressed the unwritten law.
Rogers: What had you done?
Stig: Er... well he didn't tell me that, but he gave me his word that it was
the case, and that's good enough for me with old Dinsy. I mean, he
didn't *want* to nail my head to the floor. I had to insist. He
wanted to let me off. He'd do anything for you, Dinsdale would.
Rogers: And you don't bear him a grudge?
Stig: A grudge! Old Dinsy. He was a real darling.
Rogers: I understand he also nailed your wife's head to a coffee table.
Isn't that true Mrs O' Tracy?
Mrs O' Tracy: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Stig: Well he did do that, yeah. He was a hard man. Vicious but fair.
Vince Snetterton-Lewis agreed with this judgement.
Yes, definitely he was fair. After he nailed me head to the table, I used to
go round every Sunday lunchtime to his flat and apologise, and then we'd shake
hands and he'd nail me head to the floor. He was very reasonable. Once, one
Sunday I told him my parents were coming round to tea and would he mind very
much not nailing my head that week and he agreed and just screwed my pelvis to
a cake stand."
Clearly Dinsdale inspired tremendous fear among his business associates. But
what was he really like?
Gloria Pules knew him intimately.
"I walked out with Dinsdale on many occasions and found him a charming and
erudite companion. He was wont to introduce one to eminent celebrities,
celebrated American singers, members of the aristocracy and other gang leaders,
who he had met through his work for charities. He took a warm interest in
Boys' Clubs, Sailors' Homes, Choristers' Associations and the Grenadier Guards.
"Mind you there was nothing unusual about him. I should say not. Except, that
Dinsdale was convinced that he was being watched by a giant hedgehog whom he
referred to as 'Spiny Norman'. Normally Spiny Norman was wont to be about
twelve feet from snout to tail, but when Dinsdale was depressed Norman could be
anything up to eight hundred yards long. When Norman was about Dinsdale would
go very quiet and start wobbling and his nose would swell up and his teeth
would move about and he'd get very violent and claim that he'd laid Stanley
Rogers: "Did it worry you that he, for example, stitched people's legs
Gloria: "Well it's better than bottling it up isn't it. He was a gentleman,
Dinsdale, and what's more he knew how to treat a female impersonator."
But what do the criminologists think? We asked The Amazing Kargol and Janet:
"It is easy for us to judge Dinsdale Piranha too harshly. After all he only
did what many of us simply dream of doing... I'm sorry. After all we should
remember that a murderer is only an extroverted suicide. Dinsdale was a
looney, but he was a happy looney. Lucky bugger."
Most of the strange tales concern Dinsdale, but what about Doug? One man who
met him was Luigi Vercotti.
"I had been running a successful escort agency -- high class, no really, high
class girls -- we didn't have any of *that* -- that was right out. So I
decided to open a high class night club for the gentry at Biggleswade with
International cuisine and cooking and top line acts, and not a cheap clip joint
for picking up tarts -- that was right out, I deny that completely --, and one
evening in walks Dinsdale with a couple of big lads, one of whom was carrying a
tactical nuclear missile. They said I had bought one of their fruit machines
and would I pay for it? They wanted three quarters of a million pounds. I
thought about it and decided not to go to the Police as I had noticed that the
lad with the thermonuclear device was the chief constable for the area. So a
week later they called again and told me the cheque had bounced and said... I
had to see... Doug.
Well, I was terrified. Everyone was terrified of Doug. I've seen grown men
pull their own heads off rather than see Doug. Even Dinsdale was frightened of
Doug. He used... sarcasm. He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor,
bathos, puns, parody, litotes and... satire. He was vicious."
In this way, by a combination of violence and sarcasm, the Piranha brothers by
February 1966 controlled London and the Southeast of England. It was in
February, though, that Dinsdale made a big mistake.
Latterly Dinsdale had become increasingly worried about Spiny Norman. He had
come to the conclusion that Norman slept in an aeroplane hangar at Luton
Airport. And so on Feb 22nd 1966, Dinsdale blew up Luton.
Even the police began to sit up and take notice. The Piranhas realised they
had gone too far and that the hunt was on. They went into hiding. But it was
too late. Harry 'Snapper' Organs was on the trail.
"I decided on a subtle approach, viz. some form of disguise, as the old helmet
and boots are a bit of a giveaway. Luckily my years with Bristol Rep. stood me
in good stead, as I assumed a bewildering variety of disguises. I tracked them
to Cardiff, posing as the Reverend Smiler Egret. Hearing they'd gone back to
London, I assumed the identity of a pork butcher, Brian Stoats. On my arrival
in London, I discovered they had returned to Cardiff, I followed as Gloucester
from _King Lear_. Acting on a hunch I spent several months in Buenos Aires as
Blind Pew, returning through the Panama Canal as Ratty, in _Toad of Toad Hall_.
Back in Cardiff, I relived my triumph as Sancho Panza in _Man of la Mancha_
which the "Bristol Evening Post" described as 'a glittering performance of rare
perception', although the "Bath Chronicle" was less than enthusiastic. In fact
it gave me a right panning. I quote: 'as for the performance of
Superintendent Harry "Snapper" Organs as Sancho Panza, the audience were
bemused by his high-pitched Welsh accent and intimidated by his abusive
ad-libs.' The "Western Daily News" said: 'Sancho Panza (Mr Organs) spoilt an
otherwise impeccably choreographed rape scene by his unscheduled appearance and
persistent cries of "What's all this then?"'"
Against this kind of opposition for the Piranha Brothers the end
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