Monday, 11 January 2016


There will be millions of words written today on how David Bowie impacted upon the lives of millions more. That's a clumsy sentence but the world feels slightly less magical today and it's affecting me.

I was about 3 when I first saw Bowie. The gatefold sleeve of Aladdin Sane. My parents couldnt afford many records. So this one must have been one they needed to buy. And the sight of this naked silver andrgoyne with his proto-Potter flash of make up is a core memory, as Joy from Inside Out might have it. This image and the sounds that emanated from my dad's tinny Fidelity record player (4 speeds!) are enough - I am in love with pop music.

I find out that Bowie is from just down the road, my dad went to school with him. My mum sells his mum fags and newspapers at RG Haines. He had awful teeth, so did I. I felt a connection.

Ashes to Ashes goes to number 1, I'm 9 and the most terrifying, gripping, strangely upsetting pop video I have seen at this point of my life is Top of the Pops.

1983, I am 12. I've started getting pocket money and buy a new 7" single each week. Bowie is the first artist that I buy more than one record buy. Let's Dance, China Girl, Modern Love. Pop music. I can't tell the world how cool I am because that same year I buy records by Toto, Men at Work and Culture Club.

We grew apart, Dave and me. I discovered all the bands he inspired - Joy Division, Smiths, etc. I never get my teeth fixed and my indeterminate gender issues are a problem not worth sharing with anyone in the tiny Ceredigion village where I find myself as a teenager.

I left school and went to college. The kid in the next room to mine plays Queen Bitch continually on his guitar. One night, you and your mate The Monk, fed up with playing James records to student teachers, stick Low on and leave the album to play in its entirety. You are amused, no one else is.

You get older, Bowie songs get on the radio, you turn them up and sing along. Streaming allows the world to jump in and out of that glorious back catalogue. You make a mental note to see him live if he ever returns to the stage. You play Changes and Oh You Pretty Things to your little girl. She loves them.

One morning, you turn on your phone and Twitter tells you David Bowie is dead. 2 days after dropping a new LP. Cancer. He knew it was the end. Social media explodes with genuine heartfelt grief and you find yourself for the first time sobbing for a star you never met.

Bowie lived the most extraordinary of lives. Carpe Diem doesnt do it justice. His death robs us of an artist whose best work may yet have been to come. When I found myself crying to The Prettiest Star earlier I realised I wasnt crying just for him, but for me. All the times I could have reinvented myself, created something, done anything even remotely out of the blue and I didnt. I chose to live an ordinary life because only the brave do otherwise.

Rest in peace, David. Everyone says Bye.

Note: A personal Bowie playlist here

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