The morning of the 11th January 2016. I wake up in the comfortable guest bed at my friend’s house at 07:15. My body craves tea as the antidote for last night’s red wine.
Something makes me check the BBC news app on my phone before I look at Twitter. Skim through – the brain barely digests ‘Bowie – dead – cancer – aged 69’ and decides ‘it’s too early to deal with that kind of thing’. I try to go back to sleep. I fail. Brain is buzzing, and not in a good way.
So I get up, as indeed I bloody well should as a guest in a house where people are going to work and school. Sarah feeds me tea and we talk briefly about the news of the day, but it’s Sarah’s partner who shares my interest in music and he headed off early that day to go to a meeting in Birmingham. Poor sod. Their son is 10 years old and says his favourite singer is that chap with the lumpy hair, the Weekend.
Sarah and I hug as she goes to work, and so it’s just me and the dog. I make more tea and call David (my other half, at home in Oslo). We talk about Bowie and the last time we saw him live at Norwegian Wood in June 2004. We’d seen him on the Reality Tour the previous year and it was clear he’d lost some of his vitality and incredible energy in the meantime. It didn’t help that someone threw a lollipop (in Norwegian; kjærlighet på pinne which translates as ‘love on a stick’) which almost hit poor Mr Bowie in the eye. He swore, which is fair enough.
There’s a review of the concert here:
Yes, it was indeed pouring with rain and the audience were wrapped in plastic like Laura Palmer. It was still Bowie though, and he was fantastic.
Didn’t imagine it was the last time we would see him. He was still highly prolific, seemed to really love performing live, had got a great band together. Why would he ever stop?
My brother’s leather jacket. He was devasted by Bowie’s death.
Packed up baby jaffa and persuaded the dog to go into her crate. She’s a good girl and knows the routine so she didn’t argue and was happy with her dog biscuits. Dug the iPod out of my backpack, discovered there were over 600 Bowie songs on there and stuck them on shuffle. Wandered to the station and got on the train, which was pretty empty. So I was sitting alone with nothing to do but think and stare out of the window, and I had a cry for the great artist we had lost. No tissues, so I was a snotty, red-eyed mess by the time I had to change trains at Guildford. I got myself together.
That’s the thing, though, isn’t it? Whatever shit is going on in your life, however you feel, you do have to get yourself together. I suspect that this is what being a grown-up is all about because the consequences of not hauling your carcass out of bed every day are a lot worse than anything getting up and pretending to like it could ever be.
The death of a celebrity; it’s ok to feel sad and commemorate them in your own way in your own time. No worries. Understand that not everyone is going to feel the same way as you, and that some people are using the orgy of grief porn on social media to draw attention to themselves.
The death of Bowie upsets me. Certain lyrics on his last album move me every time I hear them. But his physical presence was not part of my daily life. I still have his music and the memories of the times I saw him live. It is sad to think we will never see him again but I think most of his fans had reconciled themselves to that after he seemed to retire following his reported heart problems in 2004. It isn’t the same kind of grief you feel after losing someone close – when you are used to sending all of that love in their direction every single day and suddenly it has nowhere to go. Which is how David Bowie’s friends and family must feel.
Now that really fucking hurts, as I’m sure you know. In that situation, it’s perfectly fine to withdraw from the world for a while. And people should understand your need to do that. But, on the other hand, many people prefer to keep working, keep to the routine just to take their mind off the terrible truth for a few seconds at a time. After all, it’s not unusual to feel that if you allow yourself to start crying you may never figure out how the hell you are supposed to stop.
Everyone dies. The most beloved celebrities have the same limited lifespan as the rest of us. It really sucks that we can’t keep them forever by popular vote. So it can be devastating. But please, keep going. if you have something fun planned for that day don’t cancel it. Socialise, talk to and celebrate your friends. Love the people around you that you enjoy having in your life.
No copyright infringement intended. I just love these photos.