This many years later, Monty Python remains the funniest comedy-team I've ever seen. I watched the Pythons faithfully when Public Broadcasting TV brought them to America in the late 1970s. I was sort of late catching on to them. My college friends harped on about the Pythons, and said the team rescued their sanity from the perils of overwork.

In the Argument-Clinic skit, a poor, bedeviled English Everyman visits a curious office for a particular kind of conversation. In one bureau, Everyman can listen to abuse from one of the clinic's therapists. In the second, he can enjoy an argument with the therapist. The Abuse Bureau is tailor-made for masochists. In the argument clinic, he can reinforce his sense-of-self.

The Pythons must have read E. M. Forster. In Forster's novel Howard's End, Mr Wilcox and Margaret Schlegel take Evie Wilcox and her fiance Mr. Cahill to Sunday dinner at Simpson's Restaurant in the Haymarket. While Mr. Wilcox and Miss Schlegel engage in adult conversation, Evie and Mr. Cahill have a "Yes-I-did;" "No-you-didn't" conversation.

Many educated white people are so timid, they fear losing their sense-of-self to an assertive partner. So they have a polite "yes-I-did," "no-you-didn't conversation," as part of the courting ritual, like watching Mockingbirds dance.