Friday, 15 January 2016

The Unexpected Post

Having set you up over the New Year period to get your groove on and contemplate flirting (see Don't Look Down), or at the very least make eye contact with members of the opposite sex, this post was going to be the next installment. Seduction Sequel. Part II: The Chat Up Chick. Return of The Single Mingler. The title needs work obviously. And a lot of work at that.

But events this week have taken over. Namely, brilliant people keep dying. Two iconic, British, internationally renowned stars passed away. Both aged 69. Both very private individuals. Both after battling cancer.

I didn’t want to jump on the obituary bandwagon but every time I started writing, from whichever topic area I began, I kept drifting back to the news that had evoked such emotion in me. I guess that’s the nature of writing a semi-personal blog.

I thought about why it was important to me to write about it, and it finally dawned on me. This isn’t about being part of the media circus. It’s not me telling you I once had my hair cut by David Bowie’s cousin’s next door neighbour or that I worked in the coffee shop where Alan Rickman’s first drama teacher’s dog walker drinks cappuccino. Neither of which are true, by the way.

This was about three things.

First and foremost, I have the most immense amount of respect and admiration for the talent both men displayed over decades in the entertainment/arts industry and how they lived their lives. By that, I mean that we don’t know how they lived their lives. Exactly! They were public faces who managed to keep their private lives private. It IS possible after all! The world is a lesser place for their passing, but a better place for their time here.

Secondly, at one time or another I have had quite a serious crush on each of them!

For Bowie, it was the 1986 film Labyrinth where he played Jareth the Goblin King. I even have it on DVD! I remember fantasizing about being Jennifer Connelly and dancing with him at the masked ball.  I was 13, at the time. Watching the film again this week brought back such lovely innocent first crush feelings!

Clearly I was very innocent at the time. I now realize he was wearing very tight leggings and saying that they left little to the imagination is a definite understatement. I was tempted to put a picture on here to illustrate the point, as it were, but I didn’t want to have my blog shut down for contravening decency rules!

Anyway, it’s a great film as any collaboration between Jim Henson and Terry Jones inevitably must be! And for fans of Harry Potter, should you watch this movie, keep your eyes and ears open to spot the bits that clearly inspired J K Rowling along the way.

My crush on Alan Rickman was from the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves where he played the slightly evil Sheriff Of Nottingham. I was 18 by then.

You have to admit there was something quite appealing about him dressed in black, snarling sarcastically, with a wicked sense of humour and immaculate comic timing. Besides, who hasn’t secretly wanted to use the line “I’m gonna cut your heart out with a spoon!” I know I have. But just try telling your kids that he was an actor long before playing Professor Snape and you’ve got your work cut out!

Clearly I was more into bad boys and villains than imaginary goblin kings by the end of my teenage years. My therapist would have a field day with that I’m sure!

However, my respect for Bowie and Rickman as artists and the fact that I had fancied the socks off them both in the past wasn’t what made me wobble when I heard the news of their deaths.

It was the shock. They were individuals in the limelight whom I had no personal links to but whom I assumed would just be around forever. It’s not that I’d given their supposed immortality any thought, but it seemed wrong to me that they should die. And it felt like it would always be big news in my world. But it doesn’t happen like that. 

Monday’s news was dominated by David Bowie. By Tuesday, there wasn’t much to add and on Wednesday it was no longer in the headlines. By Thursday, there was mention of his cremation but that was then overtaken by the news of Alan Rickman. And then both stories were swiftly superseded by the three Hatton Garden jewellery store robbers having just been found guilty. Was that really it?

I remember when I was a kid hearing my Mum and Dad talking about some famous people and they were trying, mid conversation, to recall whether they were dead or alive. I thought this was utterly ridiculous! How could you possibly not remember whether someone famous has died or not! How forgetful could my parents possibly be? They must be losing their marbles. Every time a celebrity died it was clearly imprinted on my brain.

But as the years went by, I began to understand. Too many people die for us to remember them all, and these days I find myself doing the same thing, unable to say for sure if certain people are still around or if they’ve passed away.

Don’t get me wrong, some leave their mark more than others. Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson, Patrick Swayze, John Thaw, Princess Diana, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, Dudley Moore, Robin Williams. And now David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Random to some people but our own list is powerful to us for our own reasons.

As we get older, and certainly by the time we’re in our 40s, we lose more people around us. Some closer than others. Partners, family, friends, peers… no wonder we can’t remember all the celebrities that have gone.

The world keeps turning.

But for the families, the loss is still raw long after the tabloids have moved onto their next feeding frenzy.

Back in my first post on this blog (see Single Plus Baggage) I said that after losing someone you have people around you, supporting you, caring for you and loving you. But when they go home to their families and you close the door it’s just you. You’re left wondering what just happened. Why me? Why us?

The answer is everywhere. Today it’s you or me that’s suffering but tomorrow it’ll be someone else. So while it feels like your pain is unbearable and rest of the world’s gone out to play, remember it does get better. It doesn’t disappear, but it does become manageable. And life goes on.

Quite literally as I am typing this, I have just heard of the death of someone special to me. They were only in my life for a short while, but they’ve left a lasting impression. I will always be grateful for their compassion, kindness and words of wisdom. Silverado, you lived life to the full. Rest In Peace.

So, this rather unexpected and now slightly abruptly ending post is dedicated to those we have loved and lost. I like to think of them all up in heaven, or wherever you believe we end up, partying together.

What else are we to do today but put on our red shoes and dance the blues?  Let’s dance.

To quote Davie Bowie… “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”

Normal service will resume next week.


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