Monday, 10 April 2017

Happy 30th Birthday, Withnail and I

Ralph Steadman's illustration for the original theatrical poster.

It was 30 years ago today that Withnail and I was first screened. Back on April 10th 1987 the response was, frankly, not particularly overwhelming... the film took years to build into the terrible cult that it is today. It had built up a head of steam by its 10th anniversary, when it had one of its many re-releases...

The 10th anniversary theatrical re-release poster. Sorry Ralph, they went for a photo. Sponsored by Oddbins!

... and while back then, the film was being aimed squarely at the Loaded generation, twenty years on, it can still be convincingly argued that it is a 'film for today', as this thoughtful piece at The New Statesman shows.

There's another 30th anniversary piece at The Daily Beast, here, a listicle at the Torygraph here, and truly excellent, in-depth then-and-now look at the film's locations from Adam Scovell at the BFI, here. (Update: they were a few days late to the party, but the BBC weighed in with a lovely piece, including a new interview with Richard E Grant, which you can read here.

As a final piece of birthday reading, here's Ralph (Danny the Dealer) Brown's blog post about seeing the film for the first time. (Brown's blog, taking songs as a way into stories from his life, is well worth a read, by the way.)

Happy birthday, Withnail. Chin chin!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

A Book That's Not in Kansas Any More

As is the way with books like this (i.e. very, very rare ones), this particular volume sold in the time between me photographing it and managing to get this blog entry online, but it's still well worth recording here.

It's not dated inside, but this film tie-in edition of The Wizard of Oz presumably came out in the UK around the time the movie was originally released in 1939 (certainly you wouldn't expect such a lavish edition to have been published much later than that, due to wartime restrictions).

Unlike the American movie tie-in edition, this UK edition published by Hutchinson features 8 colour(ed) stills from the film, alongside the original illustrations by William Wallace Denslow.

This copy is missing its exceedingly rare dust wrapper, and the spine is damaged, but then I was only asking a fraction of the price a near-pristine one will cost you... (over a grand last time I looked on eBay).

All together now... "I'll get you, my pretty!"

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The Unseen Photographs of Joseph James, Farmer of Caldbeck

Every now and again, a box of ephemera comes across my desk containing something really special. This week, I was sifting through a bunch of papers, and hit a particularly rich seam of farming photographs from the 1920s and 30s. They came from the house of Joseph James, who farmed at Nether Row Hall, Caldbeck until he retired in 1941 (and I know that date because the pile also contains the auction catalogue from his retirement sale of stock).

There are just 30 or so photos, but they are just so vivid and full of history, it almost hurts to look at them. What's more, some of them come with their negatives... 

Here's a selection of them: please forgive the quick and dirty photos-of-photos, which doesn't do them justice. The first couple are printed as postcards (though were never, as far as I can find out, commercially available), the rest are smaller snaps.

These photos (and the rest of the batch) are FOR SALE as a lot: £40. Contact me if you're interested.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Withnail at Uncle Monty's: tickets on sale date revealed!

The Picnic Cinema 30th anniversary screenings of Withnail & I at Sleddale Hall in Cumbria (aka Crow Crag, aka Uncle Monty's cottage in the country) on the 21st and 22nd of July 2017 are sure to sell out very, very quickly. Now, thanks to an advance email to subscribers of the Picnic Cinema publicity list, we now know exactly when these gold-dust tickets will actually go on sale:


The link you'll need to bookmark is


Good luck in nabbing one, Withnailers! With only about 100 tickets available for each night, you'll need to be fast.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

2000AD...And The Great Steve Dillon

It's always a treat to get a pile of old 2000ADs in the Little Shop. I have to force myself to actually sell them on, but I always have a nostalgic flip through them first. The various Progs in this batch (currently on eBay at very reasonable prices folks!) form a particularly rich seam: was 2000AD ever better than in the 200s? In the space of just 10 issues (the 220s) they launched both Nemesis and Rogue Trooper, and featured the classic Dark Judges Dredd storyline, with amazing Bolland art. They just don't make 'em like that any more.

Also in the batch are Steve Dillon's never-bettered covers for the Dredd werewolf story... one of the first Dredds I ever read, and still one of the very best.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Watch Withnail at Uncle Monty's on the 30th Anniversary!

The now-annual 'Withnailer Weekend' at Sleddale Hall, aka Crow Crag, aka Uncle Monty's cottage in the country, is already a legendary event.

It's a chance to watch the film at the very location it was shot: if you want to know more, just click the link above that says 'Watching Withnail at Uncle Monty's' to read/look at a frankly overlong photo-essay I did a few years back.

The event always sells out, but this year the tickets are bound to go super-fast, as 2017 is of course the 30th anniversary of the film's original release.

Picnic Cinema, who organise the whole shindig, have just this minute announced this year's dates:

FRIDAY 21st July 2017
SATURDAY 22nd July 2017

The tickets are not yet on sale, but to be notified as soon as they are, click on


and click subscribe!

Monday, 9 January 2017

A year on...

Overheard in New York on 10 January, 2017.
One side of a mobile phone conversation.
Union Square.
So this was weird… I was in the Strand bookstore, just down the block from here, and I was browsing the stacks, you know, and I was looking at an old paperback copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four… No, I’ve never read it. So I was flicking through it, and this guy next to me looks over and says, “Great book, that,” and I look up and nod, and he smiles and says, “Seriously, if you’ve never read it, you should. That’s on my list of the top 100 books.” So I smile back and tell him I’ll buy it for sure, and we talk for a while. He tells me he’s a regular at the Strand, comes here all the time. A real nice guy, you know? …. I don’t know, somewhere in his sixties I guess. Sharp dresser. Anyway, I go to pay for the book, and the guy behind the counter says, “Ah, George Orwell, a classic!” and I say, “Yeah, it was recommended to me by one of your regular customers I just met,” and the guy says, “Oh yeah, who was that?” and I said, “Nice guy, glasses, wearing a cap, and I noticed he was carrying a Greek newspaper, which was strange, because he sounded like a Brit,” and the guy behind the counter just went white as a sheet and looked at me like I came from Mars… I know, right?