Get In The Back Of The Van! – How A Simple Phrase From A 1980s Movie Can Help You Cope With Idiots
Everyone has a list of favourite movies. My top five list of my favourite movies is quite a fluid thing. It varies wildly dependent on my mood, which films I’ve seen recently, how drunk I am etc etc. It may be completely different tomorrow, but currently it runs as follows :
1 The Shawshank Redemption – Yes, yes I know, but I have an excuse. I read the short story it is based on when I was 15 and it was one of my favourite stories for 10 years before they made the film. It’s not my fault the whole world decided to jump on my bandwagon.
2 Withnail and I – A film which has been providing students with a wealth of quotable lines since 1987.
3 Forbidden Planet – Essentially Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” but set in space with robots and ray guns. Starring Leslie “Police Squad” Nielsen and Walter “would you like some salad with this ham” Pidgeon.
4 Arsenic and Old Lace – The best Frank Capra movie, and yes I am including “It’s A Wonderful Life” when I make that statement.
5 Robocop – Well, I am a boy. What can I say, boys like Robocop.
I could write reams on each of these movies. In fact I probably will at some point, but it’s movie number 2 on the list that I’m going to be talking about today.
Withnail and I is a weird example of the fact that you don’t need a plot to make an absorbing movie. Two out-of-work actors live unhappily in London. They wangle a holiday cottage in Cumbria and stay there for a few days, where they are also unhappy. They go back to London and one of them gets an acting job and the other one doesn’t. That’s it. That’s the story.
The film was written and directed by a man called Bruce Robinson. It was his debut movie and there were two key lines in it. He had an absolute concrete idea about how these lines should be said.
The first line was when the “Withnail” character says “Fork it!” when he and the “I” character are trying to deal with their disgusting kitchen after a lengthy amphetamine binge.
The second line was when a young policeman shouts “Get on the back of the van!” at Withnail when he catches him drink driving. If you’ve never seen the film before, here is that scene :
This is my favourite line from any film ever and that’s not just because the way it’s delivered is fucking hilarious. The main reason I love “Get in the back of the van!” so much is that it’s also a useful tool for helping me get through my day.
Whenever someone is really pissing me of and I’m not in a position to bite back, I use this line to help me deal with the situation. If one of my bosses is being an arsehole or a customer is being totally unreasonable, I don’t get upset about it. I just mentally shout “Get In The Back Of The Van!” at them and picture them being roughly thrown into the back of that old fashioned 1960s paddy wagon. And you know what? I suddenly feel a whole lot better.
Try it yourself the next time someone is really getting on your wick. Be warned though, it’s a powerful technique. Best be careful who you use it on. It’s difficult to take someone seriously once you’ve thrown them in the back of the van.
I suppose you could always let them out of the van again. I’ve no idea whether that might work or not, though. No one ever gets out of the back of my van.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2015