I suppose everybody will be posting something about Drop Dead Fred/Rik Mayall and this will be seen as bandwagon jumping. Well, so be it. One of my childhood heroes died today and I am heartbroken. I have made absolutely no secret of the fact that my childhood was largely unhappy and I don’t have many fond memories of it- I much prefer adulthood. One beacon of hope, though was Drop Dead Fred.
Drop Dead Fred was a perfect example of what childhood should be- fun, carefree, mischievous and maybe sometimes going a little too far. Despite Elizabeth being in a very umhappy home, Fred was adamant that she’d get to experience the best of childhood. He didn’t pretend everything was okay and he didn’t patronise her… he treated her as his equal. Never underestimate how much children appreciate being treated like adults or at the very least, being spoken to as if they are. Drop Dead Fred was also a shining example of the importance of imagination. He provided a shelter from the storm that was Elizabeth’s home and gave her a brand new world inside the world she was already a part of. She may have been frustrated and he may have been a nuisance at times but Drop Dead Fred was the one thing Elizabeth could control (whether she knew it or not).
So what was he to me?
When I think of Drop Dead Fred, I think of watching it snuggled with my cousins on a particularly rainy night. I think of being bullied at school and how funny it would have been to have my own Fred. I think of seeing Rik Mayall in The Young Ones and instantly feeling warm and hopeful. I think of watching it at a low time in my twenties and feeling all those childhood feelings return. I think of the fact that none of the adults I knew liked Rik Mayall… Which I loved. It felt like my own private secret.
Films and music are sometimes considered to be shallow and meaningless in the grand scheme of things but let me tell you, Drop Dead Fred helped me through a lot of tough times. Even if it was joking to myself about Fred throwing poo at my bullies. Due to his role as Fred, Rik Mayall always had a place in my heart and while I haven’t felt the need to watch Drop Dead Fred for a while, I’ll always be grateful for the memories. Both created by him and in my own imagination. Childhood is such a fleeting time compared to adulthood but I think the roots remain and the things you loved then, you always will on some level. I’m glad that for me, that’s Drop Dead Fred and Rik Mayall.
“Look, you’ve got you now. You don’t need me”
Goodnight Rik Mayall. And thanks for the memories.