Let me introduce myself to you. My name is Lucy and I was born in 1975, so I am very much a child of the 1980s. I am normally quite a reserved and private person, I’m just simply an average mum of two daughters, living in an ordinary suburban house in an ordinary English city.
However, growing up and into my teens I was an obsessed comedy fan. I kept a diary for many years and called it The Diary of a Teenage Comedy Freak. (Pinching the idea for the title from the book The Diary of A Teenage Health Freak – which was also turned into a TV comedy series, Teenage Health Freak, written by Daniel Peacock, who was in it with Tony Robinson.) I didn’t put an entry in my dairy every day, only when I had a great day out, or if I thought of something that I felt was worth recording down. I saved and stuck in, photos, bus tickets, train tickets, anything that illustrated these experiences. Included in it, are some very precious memories – the times I saw Rik Mayall live, it’s these memories with associated events that I would like to share with you.French and Saunders, and the rest of The Comic Strip gang did. Ben Elton and Victoria Wood were also firm favourites.
In the days before the internet, getting hold of any information was quite difficult. So with my pocket money throughout my teenage years, I bought various magazines; Lookin, Smash Hits, Just Seventeen, Number One…By the age of about 14, I was also regularly buying the Radio Times, in desperate attempt to keep up to date with the current TV Listings. I might occasionally buy other TV magazines if I knew about a certain show that was coming up. I started cutting out and saving any articles, adverts and pictures I found of my favourite comedians. If I was visiting my grandparents, I loved to raid my Nan’s old collection of magazines – she had piles of Womans Own and Womans Weekly, going back years – yes they occasionally featured in these magazines too! I also started looking out for job lots of old magazines at car boot sales, I would happily spend the rest of Sunday afternoon flicking through them, totally engrossed, and saving anything I found to do with Rik and co, catching up with what they had done in the early 80’s. All these cuttings, large and small, slowly got blue-tacked to my bedroom wall, eventually you could hardly see any wall. I would often spend ages re-arranging the pictures, so I could squeeze in more and more, until I was completely surrounded – isn’t it such a teenage fangirl thing to do!
Above my bed you can see three letters, these were from Rik Mayall. I sadly now have no idea where they are, but I do remember one of them saying; he’d included a signed photo of himself to grace the walls of my hovel…think I just may have taken that to the extreme somewhat, don’t you?
Watching TV was one my favourite pastimes. I am an only child, so never had the distraction or company of siblings. As a family we didn’t really watch television until I was about 5, my parents had an old black and white set but it never got used much. However by 1980, they decided to hire a colour TV from Rumbelows. It felt quite big, on legs with wheels, with a wood effect surround and a snazzy remote control. Sometimes it would break down and stop working, so the repair man from Rumbelows would have to visit, in an attempt to try and mend it. Despite this, it was still amazing to now have a colour TV in the house. I would switch it on as soon as I got home from school and it must have stayed on all evening, until my parents went to bed. The TV in the corner of the living room was a great comfort to me, it was a real escapist world I loved to indulge in. I have always particularly loved comedy shows. As a young child I really enjoyed watching most of the early evening sitcoms and mainstream comedy shows, like Terry and June, Hi-de-Hi, The Good Life, The Two Ronnies, Morecambe and Wise…all the usual suspects – I could go on and on! But being able to stay up past 9pm to watch something like The Young Ones or Blackadder felt like nothing else. With no video recorder – or like we have now…catch up TV, I would have to remember when to watch. If we were out, I was sent to bed, or heaven forbid, I actually forgot, that was it, I missed it! I just had to keep my fingers crossed that the programme I missed would get a repeat at some point, sometimes it would be years before I had finally caught up on that missing episode!…. Honestly, you young ones don’t know how lucky you are…
My world changed however in the late 1980’s when my parents finally caved in to my persistent pestering. They bought a video recorder. The price of VHS recorders had gone down dramatically by 1988, we certainly didn’t spend very much on ours, and knowing my Dad it was probably the cheapest Saisho model available in Dixons at the time. What a revelation though, I could now record off the TV and re-watch to my hearts content all my favourite programmes. I bought tons of blank video tapes and had a separate one for each series I was recording, trying also to recording as many interviews and trailers as I could. Our recorder however was a bit hit and miss, most of the time it recorded fine, but just occasionally, the sound wouldn’t come out. If you’d recorded over a programme, the sound from that pervious programme would now appear on the new recording. So it was a very scary lottery, when I re-wound the tape to see if the sound had come out – that’s what you get for buying so cheap! I remember recording Rik’s appearance on The Lenny Henry Show, only to discover it had the sound of Neighbours, god I was annoyed! I also collected and bought many pre-recorded videos too, my parents thought I was mad saving up and spending so much money on all these videos. If we had a trip up to London, going to the big HMV in Oxford Street or Tower Records at Piccadilly Circus was an absolute must, just incase they had something different to my local HMV or Our Price.
I suppose you could say I was nerdly obsessed, I could watch anything Rik Mayall was in over and over again, from a very young age, to me he always leaped out of the TV screen, he really stood out; his facial expression, mannerisms, how he said certain words, he could make me laugh time and time again, I never got tired of hearing or watching him. At 14 I had seen my first live comedy gig, that was French and Saunders in 1989, and was hooked. I had also started writing to all my favourite comedians, in the hope of getting their autograph. My dream though was always to see Rik Mayall live. By 1991, I had begun writing away and getting TV studio audience tickets, that was how I would finally get to see my idol! And by 1993 I had seen more live comedy, including my other comedy loves of Ben Elton and Victoria Wood. Each in their own way were hugely inspiring and were helping me grow up and to understand the world.
This obsession must have lasted well into my early twenties, then other things started happening in my life. I left home, went away to college, found a steady boyfriend, got a job and bought a house – all the usual normal adult stuff most of us do. By the year 2000, children came along, so I concentrated on bringing up my family. All my comedy stuff slowly got packed away into boxes, some of it I lost, but most of my Rik stuff got kept or stuck into a scrapbook, it travelled with me to every house I lived in, and there have been a few! The tons of video tapes I had? Well they slowly thinned over the years, but I always found it hard to part with anything Rik was on.
Then Monday 9th June 2014 happened. It was just an ordinary day for me, that was up until my partner came home from work, “Lucy,” he said, “Have you seen the news?” I remember feeling my heart start to beat really fast, before he had even said anything, I sensed it was something serious. Then…he broke the awful news… I was stunned, I felt totally choked up and I had a job to speak. I pretended in front of my family I was OK – but really I wasn’t. I needed to find my scrapbook, I knew it was in the house somewhere, thankfully there it was, at the back of my wardrobe. My daughter caught me the next morning quite teary, listening to Chris Evans talk about him on the Radio 2 breakfast show. She cheered me up later when she came home from school and told me that a number of her teachers had been talking about him, she then joyfully explained to me how she had piped up to tell them that, “My Mum loves Rik Mayall”, which made me laugh and feel a bit better. I must have spent the next month or so looking through my old scrapbook, reading my teenage diaries over and over again and looking up what other people were feeling and saying about him, it was heartbreaking, but it was bringing back so many happy memories.
So dearest Rik, not only did you help me to grow up and learn about life, but now you have managed to help me come to terms with grief and my own mortality.
A year later, in June 2015, my two daughters wanted to join Instagram, so I decided to join, mainly so I could understand it, and well, maybe to keep an eye on them! It didn’t take me long to think this would be a great place to share some of my scrapbook cuttings. I’m not a fan of Facebook and as for Twitter, well, that just makes my brain hurt! I decided to rename myself Rik Mayall Scrapbook and away I went, very slowly sparking an interest and connecting with other fans around the globe. It’s been a real joy, and I’ve met some great people. It’s also such a delight to discover a new generation of fans discovering his work, many of whom seem totally obsessed in the way that I was. Some lovely messages and comments were coming in, which in turn encouraged me, and so I continued to post and unearth many more of my cuttings, articles and memorabilia, it felt like my little tribute to him. On the occasions when I have posted about seeing an episode of Bottom recorded, it has prompted many people to get in touch, they would really love to know more about it. It’s not easy on Instagram to go into too much detail, so this got me thinking, could I actually put together a website or blog…?
Well, here I am, a middle aged mum attempting to blog and be techie, who’d of thought it…
I now hope you enjoying spending time browsing and reading it.
Lots of Love,