Last night, I watched some episodes of Misfits. I only came across this brilliant series, originally on E4, because the people who work in the DVD shop were watching it when I last went in (before the horrid tonsil-removal) to rent Caravaggio by Derek Jarman.
That looks funny, I thought, seeing them giggling, engrossed in the on-screen action as I paid for the film, making a mental note of the title as something to watch when in need of a laugh. The basic premise, as I discovered last night, is that a bunch of young offenders are doing community service when a freak storm gives them all magical powers. The script is wonderfully sharp, and I found myself in hysterics most of the time – which is actually one of the more painful things to do while tonsil wounds are healing, so rather a mixed blessing.
About half-way through the fourth episode, a familiar face briefly graces the screen as the father of one of the main characters. ‘It’s Dexter Fletcher,’ I hear my boyfriend say in amazement. ‘It is!’ I say, absolutely stunned.
The strange thing is that I’d never heard of Dexter Fletcher until two weeks ago, when I rented the afore-mentioned Caravaggio. The young Caravaggio is a beautiful young boy with very curly hair and excellent cheekiness. (As shown in the picture, which is available from the BFI printstore)
‘That’s the guy from Press Gang,’ my boyfriend said. It took a while to remember his name but, yes you’ve probably guessed, it was Dexter Fletcher. Unfortunately I never saw Press Gang, but from what I can gather from the classic YouTube clips, it was an eighties teen drama (featuring Dexter Fletcher and Julia Sawalha – aka Saffy from AbFab) about running a newspaper. It does look really very funny. I might get the DVDs for my final week of post-tonsil-removal-pain.
Great name, I thought. Dexter Fletcher. It could almost be made-up.
A few days after Caravaggio, we returned to the DVD shop, this time to rent The Elephant Man. We are sitting on the sofa, excited about the unravelling David Lynch classic, when I hear, ‘It’s Dexter Fletcher again!’ And it is. This time, a few years younger than in Caravaggio, he is the sweet little, rather unwilling, assistant to the Elephant Man’s abusive keeper.
How strange, I thought, to see two seemingly unconnected films in under a week and to find this actor in both of them.
So imagine the shock when last night – two weeks later – he reappeared, almost forty years on, as a cameo in Misfits?
For those of you who still can’t place Dexter Fletcher, he’s the one who has that great line in Lock, Stock: ‘guns for show, knives for a pro’. (A favourite during that immortal teenage summer when everyone talked in quotes from that film.)
So what does it mean, this sudden, insistent entrance of Dexter Fletcher into my viewing life?
A friend of mine recently gave me a bit of a talking to about coincidences like this. I’m sure we’ve all been prey to them. It’s like having a dream about someone you haven’t seen for years and then bumping into them the next day, or recommending a book to someone and then finding that same book mentioned in the book you’re reading, just a few days later. An occasion where things overlap which shouldn’t overlap. It leaves one thinking, wow, that’s a bit weird. Spooky. Perhaps there is a shiver running down one’s spine.
This friend of mine explained that actually each event or occurrence instigates hundreds of different thought associations. A dream, for example, is rarely just about one person, it’s about lots of people, set in various places, about quite a few things. So really it shouldn’t be surprising if, soon afterwards, something vaguely connected to that dream happens. In fact, he pointed out, it would actually be weirder if none of those coincidences ever happened.
But … but … I’m not sure I can be satisfied with such a dry logical explanation. Surely there’s meaning to these strange moments? Aren’t they really an instance of the universe trying to explain something, or push one in a certain direction?
This morning, I assiduously spent some time googling Dexter Fletcher. There must be a message here somewhere, I thought.
It seems that after a successful start to his career (incidentally, his debut was Babyface in Bugsy Malone), he had a bit of a blip and spent a while bankrupt, forced to live in his car. He is married to a Lithuanian playwright. And the most recurrent piece of trivia seems to be that Alan Rickman was his best man.
Now, research completed, I just need to keep an eye out for more signs. Any news of gangsters, bankruptcy, cars, Lithuanians, best men, Alan Rickman … then the universe will be continuing to steer me in its chosen direction.
Gosh, my mother has just this second telephoned to see how I’m feeling. Her father’s side of the family are originally from Lithuania. This must be the sign I was waiting for! Perhaps I need to introduce my mother to someone a bit like Dexter Fletcher. Or what about Alan Rickman? Wait, hang on a minute, Alan Rickman was in the Harry Potter films. And my dream last night was that I could do magic and had to save the world. AND the characters in Misfits have magical powers too.
Spooky. Or have I just taken rather a lot of codeine?