A little bit Ziggy

Bowie4s2

Bowie

 

David Bowie is dead.

 

Both my heart and mind are struggling with this fact.  How can he be dead when I have a new album to listen to?  How can he be dead when all I see online this week are posts that link to his many powerful performances?  How can he be dead when he’s been an important part of my life for nearly forty three years?

I never met him and only saw him perform live once, but, like many other people throughout the world, as this week has proved, David Bowie is a dear friend who had no knowledge of my personal existence.  A friend who spoke to me intimately with every song he wrote.

 

In 1973, my parents bought a record player for the first time ever.  I was fifteen and had hardly given music any thought.  I was aware of the stuff they played on the radio, but just as background, and knew that friends talked about music without connecting to anything they said.  Until this point I’d been more interested in the Apollo Moon landings and reading science fiction.

With a record player in the house, here was a new toy to play with.  But what should I buy?

Initially, I think I only chose Life on Mars? because of the title’s science fiction implications, only realising later it was about something very different, yet the music and lyrics drew me in and my love of Bowie began.

At first it was a slow burning relationship.  The next two singles I bought were Stuck in the Middle by Stealers Wheel and Frankenstein by The Edgar Winter Group, which was the start of my eclectic taste in music.

Then a few weeks later, while on a family holiday, I spotted the Space Oddity album and bought it immediately, even though I couldn’t play it until we all returned home.  Again, the implication of science fiction teased me, along with an interest in hearing more by this man.  This was a time, of course, before the internet and the only way to hear music you wanted was by luck on the radio, by owning the records or by having friends who owned them.

However, being shy back then, I didn’t have many friends and none of them had any Bowie records.  But curiously, I found myself making more friends in the coming months through a mutual interest in Bowie’s music.  I think it’s fair to say that in this respect alone, he had a life-changing impact on my life.

More albums were added to my collection – The Man Who Sold the World, Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane; all brilliant, all so different from each other.  His almost eclectic approach to music seemed completely fitting.

My love of his music was both fulfilling and left me yearning for more (even now, this is true) to the point where, when Diamond Dogs was released, I got to the record shop just as they were opening the delivery and my copy was the first out of the box.  I was the first of my friends to buy it.  I think I played it virtually non-stop for months and it still remains one of my favourite albums.

Plenty of people claimed to hate Bowie at that time and I was laughed at for wearing T-shirts with his image on or for having my hair cut in the Ziggy/Aladdin style (though sadly not dyed orange), yet I enjoyed the fact that these people didn’t like the same music as me.  And in spite of my shyness I had a way to be a tiny bit extrovert – I could be a little bit Ziggy.

My musical tastes developed and broadened – Pink Floyd, Queen, Alex Harvey, for example – but Bowie kept delivering the goods with more variety.  Young Americans, Station to Station, Low, Heroes, Lodger and Scary Monsters were all excellent in their own ways.  New lyrical styles and a number of instrumental pieces saw him develop as a songwriter and a musician.

In spite of this, and although he wrote a number of great songs, Bowie didn’t put together an album that felt like an album (as opposed to a collection of songs) until Outside came along in 1995 and suddenly the old magic was revived again.  An album to compare with the likes of Ziggy Stardust and Diamond Dogs in its conceptual themes.

It felt like my friend had come home to me and the cooling of my love for his music and lyrics had never really left at all.  It still burned like a beacon.

It’s now over twenty years since Outside was released and we’ve had a number of other excellent albums since then.  I’ve been dabbling with musical compositions during this time and I’ve become a professional writer, neither of which would likely have been possible without the ongoing influence of a man who came from humble beginnings yet had such powerful visions that he shone like the star that he is and always will be.

I’ve only listened to the new album a few times since it was released, but already I find that the title track, Blackstar, is lodged in my mind.  And I love that a Bowie track still has the power to do this.  It is a very fine last album.

David Bowie is dead.

I am sad but still so in love with his music.  When I see the wonderful outpourings of love on the internet this week, I realise I have millions of friends who I will likely never get to know or even meet, but our mutual interest in the music of Bowie will always bind a little part of us.

In some ways I’m still the shy teenager who bought Life on Mars? but I’m also much more than that.  And today I’m also feeling a little bit Ziggy.

Thank you, David.

 

Moss Garden_s2

Moss Garden (for David)

Another year goes by…

It’s that time of year again.  That one where, if I’m not careful, I’ll depress myself with thoughts of advancing years.  However, I have a lot to be thankful for (pressies, for a start) so I should be positive and look at the good things like June, family, friends and a job I enjoy doing.  Blimey!  When I think of all the unfortunate people in the world (poor, hungry, ill, opressed) I’m a very lucky guy.  I wish everyone could have my level of fortune.  Take care.

 

I also figured that if I stop counting the years I may stop growing older.  😀

A day of bits and pieces…

My dad had an operation last week.  It was fairly minor, but he can’t drive for a couple of weeks; so this morning I took him to his doctor’s medical centre to get his flu jab.  they must have been shooting the stuff in with a nail gun as each person in the queue was in and out in seconds.

While we were there we bumped into a couple of people (husband and wife) I haven’t seen since I was about nineteen.  They’re a bit older than my dad, but still looking very fit and healthy.  The woman had the cheek to say that I was “broader” than when she last saw me.  Blimey!  I’ve jut lost a bit more weight, too, which makes it 12 pounds in total since the beginning of September.

I went to see my son, David, and his girlfriend, Katie, and my grandaughter wasn’t there!  They went out to see a film last night and Leilani stayed at her aunt’s for the night.  I dropped David off on my way home as he was playing rugby this afternoon.

June and I went shopping this afternoon, which was a little odd.  Although we didn’t get a huge amount, the local Sainsbury’s seemed to be less well stocked than it usually is.  It’s not a big supermarket, but it’s always been pretty well stocked in the past.  Mind you, when we need to stock up in a big way we have to go through to Market Weighton and shop at the Tesco there.

There’s another supermarket being built in Pocklington and the local paper described it as a “discount supermarket”.  Aren’t they all?  I don’t know the details, but I suspect it’s going to be a Netto or a Lidl, which I can’t believe will get the custom.  We already have a Co-op and this doesn’t do nearly the amount of trade that Sainsbury’s does and it’s a bigger store.

The cat was all over my desk a little earlier while I was trying to catch up on my e-mails.  I have to push the keyboard away to give him space or he’d just walk all over it and today he just plonked himself down right in front of me and only moved when I’d stroked him and scratched behind his ears enough, at which point he jumped down and went back downstairs.  It’s good to know that I provide an adequate service for him.

I drew this week’s Mitchell cartoons a little while ago and prepared them for posting tomorrow and Friday.  I’m really getting into doing them.  With the semi-demise of Octavius I may return to doing three Mitchell cartoons a week.  I’ll see how I’m fixed when the latest workload clears itself.

It’s been pretty dull today and now it feels like it’s getting dark already even though it’s not quite 6pm.  I really dislike the way that the dark evenings rush onto us so rapidly at this time of year, especially when we put the clocks back later this month.

I don’t think June’s knee is quite up to a walk to the pub, so we’ll probably spend the evening in watching the TV.  I hope we have something good recorded because they’ve taken Wallender off this week.

Busy, busy, busy…

I just realised that it’s been such a long time since I posted here I ought to spend a few minutes to put things right.  I’m very busy with work at the moment, which is why I have so little time for other writing.  This is a good thing, obviously, but I do feel a little bad that I’m neglecting the people who pop in here from time to time to check on the blog.  Sorry.

I’ve actually started on a diet of sorts.  It’s not anything slavish, just reducing the size of meal portions a little and not eating things like biscuits between meals.  I’m also doing a little more exercise, which is helping me feel better.  My mental state has improved somewhat, but I don’t want to speak too soon about that.

I have a busy few days coming up.  This evening we’re having a meal with some friends, tomorrow evening I’m at an event to meet Alan Bennett, Saturday I’ll be visiting family and Monday I’m at the Script Factor event at York Theatre Royal.  Should be fun.

The weather this morning has been strange so far.  Very thick fog when I woke, which has slowly cleared leaving a sky with not a cloud in it and lovely autumnal sunshine.  I hope it stays like this all day.

A visit to the hospital again

June had another appointment at the hospital for her knee – a pre-op assessment.  While I was waiting for her I did some typing and one of the things I wrote was a blog entry for this blog.  Unfortunately, when I re-read it a short time ago I realised that it was simply too whiney and although some of the points I covered I feel quite strongly about I really didn’t do them justice and should take my time to cover the points in a fuller way.

June’s really not looking forward to another operation – and who can blame here – so each visit to the hospital is not so enjoyable for her.  I think the tension is getting to both of us as we felt exhausted when we got back home and it’s not as if we did anything particularly physical.

On a connected note, I just learned that our good friend Laura MacDonald has recently had surgery over in the US.  The surgery was pretty serious as she’s had a few of her vertabrae replaced, which sounds quite scary to me if I think about it any depth.  I know that a few of the people who read this may know Laura from her contributions to gaming websites and for her involvement with the game developer, Momentum and the excellent game they produced, Culpa Innata.  I’m sure everyone who knows her will wish her a speedy recovery.  Get well soon, Laura.