Posted 20 hours ago

Withnail and I T-Shirt

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When returning an item it must arrive with us in it’s original condition. Wearing it down the pub on a Friday night out, getting it covered in Guinness and setting light to it via a badly rolled reefer, then returning it on Monday, is understandable, but not allowed by the karma pixies who govern our lives. And we don't want to upset the karma pixies now, do we? I first watched this plot unfold as a teenager, along with my little brother. We resolved to spend the next 15 years watching it again. And again. And again. Before long the most quoted lines ("Hair are your aerials", "I feel like a pig shat in my head", "Perfumed ponce!", "We've come on holiday by mistake", "I demand to have some booze!" … oh, sorry, you haven't got all day?) became passé and we started finding hidden humour lying in the merest twinge of facial expression. (Marwood's terrified grins being the best.) When Marwood secures an acting job and finally leaves Withnail outside in the rain, Withnail's face isn't sad, it's scared. His decision to opt out of the system has suddenly left him stranded. "There's always time for a drink?" he says, offering to share a stolen bottle of Monty's 1953 Château Margaux. But Marwood, with his newly cropped hair, needs to cut him loose and move on. Throughout the film, the selfish, cowardly Withnail is never the character you empathise with, yet this feels like another one of those massive betrayals.

These are the reasons why Withnail and I makes me crease up with laughter, but they're not why I truly love this movie. The film is set in 1969, a time when what Danny refers to as "the greatest decade in the history of mankind" is fizzling out, leaving an entire generation with one hell of a comedown. The feeling of a utopian dream dying is encapsulated in one of Danny's most memorable lines – "They're selling hippie wigs in Woolworths, man" – and parallels our two anti-heroes' own farewell to their 20s. (As Withnail says: "I'm 30 in a month and I've got a sole flapping from my shoe.") You will always be dealing with me, Johnny, because DJTees is so small and niche that I do all admin. Don't worry, I don't bite, or at least not unless you are a sausage. I do bite sausages. As a teenager I identified with Withnail's sense of rebellion, even if the rebellion we see only ever really extends as far as driving dangerously and upsetting a few old ladies in a tea room. When you're young you feel anything is possible and one day – to paraphrase Withnail's drunken pronouncement to an empty Penrith sky – you'll show the lot of them, you're gonna be a star. My brother and I certainly did, as we smoked weed in the local park on hot summer nights and plotted a fantastical future. But the people you'd planned your revolution with end up betraying you: your peers settle down, they sign up for management training schemes, they have kids. Some of us delay adult responsibilities by becoming music journalists – a chance not to grow up for another decade at least – but you can only hide for so long.

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