Monday 23 August 2021

Withnail And I

I've plumbed the depths of Netflix and Amazon, and consumed just about every Police procedural drama it has to offer.
Except the Scandinavian ones ... this might be a simplest redux, but all that chunky knitwear and staring out of windows just doesn't hook me.  And maybe this is a sign of my intellect, or inability to concentrate, but the sub-titles detract from the story for me.

And so I return to the stack of previously watched, and always enjoyed DVDs.  That cache of films that you shove on when you just need some comfort, and can recite the script along with the moving pictures.
And one such film is a relatively low budget offering from the mid-80s, which has assumed cult status, yet still has people saying "and what's so great about that then?"

If the greatness of a film is judged by it's quotability, then Withnail And I is up there with the best of them.
I get the impression that it is a bit of a Marmite film - those that like it tend to love it, quote it, and watch it fairly regularly. Those that dislike it (and you can only dislike something if you've actually seen it) really cannot see what the attraction is.  2 unemployed actors living in squalor get drunk a lot, and then go on holiday - big deal.

And it's not an easy sell (as that last sentence suggests ... but here goes

Written by Bruce Johnston, it is loosely (although he has never divulged how loosely?) based on his student days.
Set in 1969, Withnail and I tells the story of 2 out of work actors clinging to the notion that their big break is just round the corner, and so are content to stay in a dingy flat in Camden waiting for that time.
But how to fill the time?  Copious amounts of alcohol, greasy breakfasts, a walk in Regents Park and a scant refusal to clean up the flat.
Needing a break from this drudgery (or full schedule?), it's time to change the backdrop and secure Withnail's rich uncle's holiday cottage - a somewhat remote, cold, powerless building in the Lake District.
Woefully unprepared for life in the country, they bumble through until the arrival of Uncle Monty and his un-warranted advances.  Monty leaves with his tail between his legs, and then the pair are recalled to London as there is the offer of a stage play.
Withnail - who has no Driving License - decides to speed up the return by driving back as fast as he can, and is then arrested.
They arrive back at the flat to find Danny The Dealer espousing (*his own peculiar) politics:

"I don't advise a haircut, man. All hairdressers are in the employment of the government. Hair are your aerials. They pick up signals from the cosmos and transmit them directly into the brain. This is the reason bald-headed men are uptight."

 "We are 91 days from the end of this decade and there’s gonna be a lot of refugees."

"If you're hanging on to a rising balloon, you're presented with a difficult decision - let go before it's too late or hang on and keep getting higher, posing the question: how long can you keep a grip on the rope? They're selling hippie wigs in Woolworth's, man. The greatest decade in the history of mankind is over. And as Presuming Ed here has so consistently pointed out, we have failed to paint it black."

Danny : The joint I'm about to roll requires a craftsman. It can utilise up to 12 skins. It is called a Camberwell Carrot.

Marwood : It's impossible to use 12 papers on one joint.

Danny : It's impossible to make a Camberwell Carrot with anything less.

Withnail : Who says it's a Camberwell Carrot?

Danny : I do. I invented it in Camberwell, and it looks like a carrot.

Breaking this spaced outedness is Marwood's discovery of a letter informing the pair of their eviction.
He packs his bags, has one final walk (with a spaced and drunk) Withnail in Regents Park, and credits roll

(see, I told you it wasn't an easy sell)

But it's what happens between those (mundane?) plot points that make the film.
Yes it is highly quotable, some of the lines and situations could almost be Python-esque, but there is a darker under-current to it all, but is delivered by 2 characters that veer on the grotesgue (well ,one certainly does) but you can't help but root for them, and feel some of their anxiety.

The amount of alcohol consumed in the film gives rise to a Student Drinking Game where one must imbibe along with the film.

(from wikipedia)

There is a drinking game associated with the film. The game consists of keeping up, drink for drink, with each alcoholic substance consumed by Withnail over the course of the film.
All told, Withnail is shown drinking roughly ​9 1⁄2 glasses of red wine, one-half pint of cider (with ice in), one shot of lighter fluid (vinegar or overproof rum are common substitutes), ​2 1⁄2 measures of gin, 6 glasses of sherry, 13 drams of Scotch whisky and ​1⁄2 pint of ale.[49]

Already seen the film?  Watch it again
Intrigued by the film (despite my best efforts to knacker it)?  Give it a watch, and see which way the Marmite falls

And if all else fails, watch the trailer:

Saturday 7 August 2021

A New Beginning

 Other titles considered:

  • The Times They Are A-Changing
  • New Life
  • Just Like Starting Over
  • Fings Aint Wot They Used T'Be

What am I on about?

I started work 34 years ago this month - and I'm still with the same employer.

I started on a 4 Year Apprenticeship, did a year in the Inspection and Metrology Lab, a short stint in the Drawing Office, and then landed up as a Project Planner.  A return to learning saw me progress through Cost Engineering, Project Management, Commercial Management, and then I settled into Project Controls (basically, telling the Project Manager they are an idiot!).  And I've been in that world for last 25 years.

But now, at the age of 51, I have made the decision to leave the comfort zone behind and move to the Dark Side of IT - I will be administering and maintaining the Integrated Business System across Projects, Finance, Supply Chain,and Human Resources (Oracle Fusion, if you're interested.  Or even care).  The main focus is Projects, so it's still Project Controls per se, and I will bring with me the issues and failings of using the System at the coal-face.

And so I am now placing myself on a vertical learning curve with all the fun of remote working (for a little while longer at least) while my new colleagues have to get used to my unique, grumpy, sarcastic ways of doing things.
I admit to a little fear in this move, but what's the worst that can happen?

Will it prove to be the right decision?  Who knows, but Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained.

And, NO - I will not musically illustrate this post with Bucks Fizz 1986 post Coach crash comeback single (Mamba Seyra with knobs on!).

Instead I'll ask the question: when this lot lost their founding member, songwriter, and all round visionary, did they really believe that they would still be achieving relative success 40 years later?
(and why did every Radio 1 DJ of the time have a different way of pronouncing their name?)

Depeche Mode - New Life