In recent times, people that once meant something to me have started dying. I’m not speaking of family or friends, but of people from films, comedy, music or telly. Or all four.
I can only assume that I must have gotten to that age when the people ‘I grew up with’ from the soundtrack of my life start to fall off this mortal coil.
Not that people weren’t dying beforehand, of course. They were always dying. Let’s pick a name. Gregory Peck. When Gregory Peck died, some much older than I, were devastated. He meant nothing to me. I said, not necessarily out loud, “Whatever.”
Recently, Robin Williams died, as did Rik Mayall. And I was shocked, hurt even. Both had been part of the soundtrack of my getting older, and they were dead. I felt the same about Paula Yates (Geldof) and more recently, Peaches Geldof.
Some people had entertained or delighted me along the decades, and these were on that list.
It’s an odd list. People you’d expect to see on it, or predict would set me on a path of “Oh no!” don’t appear anywhere on the list.
Paula Yates was from the best telly show ever, ‘The Tube’. ‘The Tube’ was an essential part of my life in the 1980s. It was revolutionary, no, really, it was revolutionary telly. Sadly, all that remains of it is homogenised recordings of the bands that appeared on it. I loved it for the bits inbetween. It had that anarchic feeling that was also captured for a while by the James Whale Radio Show (on TV), and reflected the comedy and music of that era.
The comedy of that era included the Comedy Strip and the various offshoots like the Young Ones. Rik Mayall made me laugh.
True, these were moments in time a very long time ago. But, to me they were golden moments. I never watched them over and over, neither did I live only for them. I just lived them at the time and moved on with pleasant memories of that era.
Likewise with Mork and Mindy and a whole plethora of Robin Williams films. I loved them at the time, but in these modern times I don’t live them over and over again. I don’t do that with anything from the past, especially music. Why do some people just live their entire lives mentally stuck in an era from the past? It’s a sad, bad, mental condition!
Anyway, people who were important to me in the past then die.
Not that Mork and Mindy, the Young Ones or The Tube were coming back, or they’d be any good if anybody tried to bring them back, but sadly those behind them could now never bring them back. They’re dead.
Also, I think hearing of their death closes a chapter or maybe reminds me that a chapter has long closed.
I struggle to deal with their death slightly more than I struggle when seeing childhood heroes looking so very old instead of the 20-somethings I remember them as some 40 years ago. Old versions of young heroes just doesn’t work.
As a radio anorak, that’s a radio anorak not stuck in the past, but having seriously enjoyed travelling through the past at the time, those hip young things that I remember from the days when ‘radio DJs’ ruled the waves, not the playout system, seem these days to be extremely old, near death and stuttery. Their whistling dentures are completely outrageous and depressing. Well, except for Tony Blackburn who is a national hero, can ‘out-jock’ the lot, and doesn’t even slightly have whistling dentures despite being over 100 years old.
Hearing old radio DJs trying to replicate 40 years ago is always embarrassing and cringeworthy. And likewise when old actors, old comedians, or old musicians get dragged out and try to sing what they used to sing. Cliff Richard is a classic example of somebody who really should stop. And I am only referencing the singing!
I think, however, I am a fan of unique talents and people who can reinvent themselves rather than dine out on what happened many decades ago. Hence why I got that anxiety feeling when Rik Mayall and Robin Williams died.
I can only now wait for the next announcements of death, to determine whether the names cause me that twinge and feeling of personal loss. I must be getting old.