Wednesday, October 24, 2007
That's I on the left.
Withnail and, well, Me
This week marks the twentieth anniversary of cult Britcom Withnail and I. Various events are being planned to mark this important moment, which is especially poignant for me - because it marks 20 years since I had a very strange curry with the film's onlie begetter: the writer Bruce Robinson.
I was a callow student at the time. I hadn't even seen Withnail and I. But a friend of mine was raving about this crazy new film. "I know where the writer lives," my friend said, "let's just go and see him '
Being incredibly young and brazen, that's exactly what we did. One drizzly October evening we fetched up at a large Wimbledon house. The door was opened by Robinson himself. He cut quite a figure. He was forty something. Handsome. He was wearing football shorts. And he was inhaling from a clear plastic mask attached to a wheeled oxygen tank. He never told us why.
Despite the fact Robinson didn't know us from Adam, he was taken by our chutzpah, and invited us in. He fed us the finest wines known to humanity, decanted by his much younger wife. We discussed the film, his career, and his previous girlfriends: including actress Lesley Anne Down (with whom he eloped when she was 15).
Robinson took us for a boozy and hilarious curry around the corner, then we all staggered back to his house, where he showed us the lectern where he wrote his scripts - standing up. As we left him he was inhaling from the oxygen mask, and glugging more wine. And he was writing hard.
Since then I have seen Withnail many times. Every viewing reveals some new felicity, some inexplicable cleverness. The only thing that never mystifies me is the movie's charm. I know exactly where that comes from.
Posted by sean at 12:29 am