Today we have a very fitting guest blog written by my most excellent friend and long-term Bowie devotee, Hannah Ryder.
It was bad enough with Lou Reed. How sad is it OK to be when someone you don’t know dies, and for how long? My husband alerted me to the tragic news of Bowie’s death this morning. Being a little emotional anyway as I am six months pregnant and already having a snotty nose from a bad cold, I am not ashamed to say I snuck into the bathroom to have a shower and a little cry. I had never met Bowie, nor had anyone I knew. I had in a couple of dreams, of course, not all of them entirely unerotic. I had stood a few hundred metres away from him at Glastonbury in 2000 and been almost reduced to tears for the first time as he started with Wild is the Wind, and after that I didn’t need to see anyone else; I was replete (partly because we hadn’t paid for our tickets as we had climbed over the fence). We did, of course- Rolf Harris, Elliott Smith, can’t remember who else.
Anyway, back to Bowie. It is still only just breaking news so there are not many details. He died of cancer, at an age where it is not uncommon for people to do so, rock legends or not. In time we will probably learn what type of cancer it was – lung, influenced by a long smoking habit? Liver, not helped by alcohol abuse? Or something like thyroid, so unless he was terribly unlucky, not self inflicted at all? I will dare to postulate that Lou Reed’s liver packing up was likely exacerbated by his lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, I was no less devastated, and cried then too, but I felt a bit less sympathetic than I would have done if he had died in, say, a terrorist attack, or of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Looking at the CRUK website, only 6% of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer deaths in the UK are ‘preventable’, and i wouldn’t ever class death by terrorist as someone’s own fault. Actually, and surprisingly for me, looking at the same website, apparently 42% of liver cancers are preventable, meaning 58% aren’t, but again I would dare to postulate that Lou’s end stage liver disease that killed him would have had something to do with the excessive amounts of fun he had through his life involving alcohol, drugs and more alcohol and drugs.
But again, back to Bowie. We will find out in time which cancer claimed him, I am sure. I won’t be any less sad whatever is revealed. In the meantime, I’ll try and ignore the outpourings of grief from all these new found Bowie fans on Facebook, like when Mandela died, or Margaret Thatcher (who knew there were so many political experts out there?!), or Jade Goody (never ignore smear test results, or miss appointments, I think is the moral of the story here, as they can influence quite important outcomes like if you die or not). None of my Bowie t shirts fits over my bump, so instead today I am wearing a black dress of mourning and one of my pairs of Bowie earrings.
I first listened to a Best of Bowie compilation, taped from my mum’s CD, going on a school ski trip when I was 14. My email address for years has been something very Bowie orientated. We walked out of the registry office we got married in to Heroes (my choice – my husband wanted The Show Must Go On…) If Jim could have fixed it for me, I would have asked him to recreate the ball scene in Labyrinth where Sarah is trying to reach Jareth and then dances with him. The end would have been slightly different, involving some snogging and rutting on the floor (in all that finery! Oh my!) but you get the idea.
The David Bowie Is…..exhibition a couple of years ago at the V and A was my favourite exhibition EVER ( I have high hopes for the Stones one in the Saatchi gallery coming soon, the excitement of attending which might coincide with my waters breaking so I need to time that one carefully). A few years ago I narrowly missed – by an hour or so- a guided tour of a Mick Rock, Bowie’s photographer in the 70s and beyond- photo exhibition, guided by Mick Rock himself in Manchester’s Urbis exhibition space. I was gutted about that, but can console myself by rereading (if looking at pictures counts as reading) the photobook Blood and Glitter, a book of his finest photos from the era of Ziggy and beyond, of other artists too but mainly of Bowie. I highly recommend it if you like Bowie- all the iconic pictures like him playing Mick Ronson’s guitar with his teeth are in there.
In fact, I might go and have a little look now while my toddler is asleep and indulge in a little Bowie love for a while.