I live near Hammersmith and in the past couple of months, since the sudden, and terribly sad death of Rik Mayall, a shrine has appeared.
It began small with a (fake) blue plague fixed incongruously to the railing of a small but busy traffic island. And it spread. And spread.
Maybe it was the vicinity to the Hammersmith Apollo, perhaps a month of Kate Bush fans was always going to have this poetic side effect. Maybe it’s just because we all suddenly knew when he died, that they don’t make them like that anymore.
Rik was an old school anarchist. Largely harmless but passionate, and Rik’s case, ludicrously funny.
Vaudeville slapstick mixed with a series of brilliant caricatures of the sort of people you only ever meet at parties… the angry indignant student, the reptilian Tory and the quite brilliant investigative journalist Kevin Turvey. Rik was more than just The Young Ones. And the shrine is strangely touching. It’s also quite filthy. Which of course Rik would have loved.
I can’t help but wonder though whether the best tribute to him would be for us to stop and think and protest a little about the things that are just not fair. I’m no anarchist, but I do think that tweeting our disapproval in this technology obsessed world is not enough. Perhaps we should each adopt a traffic island to display our oppositions. And swear a little. And be rude, and laugh. Because isn’t that the great thing about being human? A mass of walking, talking junk drawers of contradictions.