Victorian Slang and Rik Mayall’s Good Bottom

Rik Mayall died two days ago and it’s just the saddest thing. As a teenager mad about history, comedy and silliness, his turn as Lord Flashheart in Blackadder was just joyous to me.

We were right in the middle of rewatching the wonderful Bottom too, which was reminding me again of just how good an actor he was, both in delivery and in his incredible physicality and endless expressions. As we have watched the Tony Hancock box set recently as well, I suddenly realised just how alike Hancock and Bottom were – the delusions, the pretensions, the acting done half by expression alone. The importance, and lack of, women, TV, money and respect. Bottom is pretty much Hancock in hell.

And so this is my small tribute, an extract from The Slang Dictionary”, 1865.

“Bottom” – endurance to receive a good beating and still fight on.

Farewell sir, you had good bottom.

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