Dear Barbara, Rosie, Sid, Bonnie and the rest of your family,
I am so sorry to hear of your loss at the beginning of this week. I’m not someone who normally writes to complete strangers, but I know what it’s like to lose a father, it’s something that you can’t really comprehend happening, even when faced with a terminal illness as mine was, let alone so suddenly as yours was taken.
I have been really saddened by the news of the death of Rik. I hope that you have been heartened by the out pouring of love, appreciation and profanity that the news of his death has brought. I know I certainly would be and it was nice to hear from friends of my dad that I’d never met who had kind words to say about him and how he’d helped them through difficult times.
Your dad (and husband) has been an enormous influence on my life, although I’d barely noticed it until this week. The first musical memory is listening to Cliff Richard and The Young Ones singing ‘Living Doll’. When I was little I shared a room with my big brother and sister and it was one of his records that he would play non-stop. I grew up watching The Young Ones and Bottom; my younger brothers and I would recreate the black and white fight at the end of Bottom, whilst singing along with The Bum Notes. My youngest brother recreated the lentils on the floor scene in a supermarket in France, word for word, when he was only about 6. Every time we played Monopoly, we said, in a Rick voice, that it would be amazing if all this were real; each time the doorbell rang we’d say ‘there’s someone at the door Neil’, the list goes on. In fact, I suspect that my brother got his fiance by telling her she had a smashing blouse on. I’ll have to check the truth in that.
I spent a brilliant weekend with one of my best friends watching Mr Jolly Lives Next Door, I got excited at a Cliff Richard concert (yes i went to a Cliff Richard gig) when he sang Devil Woman and pretty much only went to see him because of The Young Ones. I’m a primary teacher and it seems I’ve picked up a distinctive way of reading George’s Marvellous Medicine which isn’t entirely my own. I’m constantly having to stop myself from calling my niece Snot Face and suggesting that we make pants pie.
My sense of humour was created by what I grew up watching and often some of my friends are lost when I start quoting things that they weren’t allowed to watch. I have shed gallons of tears in laughter at spotty Rick, Drop Dead Fred, Lord Flashheart, Richie, Little Sod, Dad in Man Down.
I know how unimaginably sad you must be right now. I promise it does get a little easier, although it’s still very strange living in a world without your dad. Every so often you’ll see something that would make him laugh and think that you should tell him about it and then remember you can’t.
I feel, as it seems do many, that part of my childhood has gone with the death of Rik. I’m 30 now and it’s been ebbing away for a long time – moving away from home, getting jobs, Dad dying – and this is another wave coming and washing it away. It seems ridiculous in many ways. The death of a stranger that I’d never met making me this sad, but although he was a stranger he was so familiar it’s like losing a childhood friend.
I’m so glad that you have his work, his films, TV shows, recordings, to remember him by. I’m so glad that so many thousands of people are letting you all know how much he was loved. I hope you find comfort in that.
I’m going to watch a Rik Mayall marathon with my brothers and call people bastard a lot.