music

wonder if he’ll ever know he’s in the best-selling show?

I spent all weekend listening to David Bowie’s Blackstar, cooing over the black stars that spell out his name and revelling in the much-anticipated brilliance of it all. Then the world woke up on Monday morning to the sadness of his passing – in all it’s terrible surreality. I snatched a listen to the radio as I was getting dressed. I pumped Hunky Dory through my headphones on the way to work. Anything to feel part of the bigger tapestry. The man in the seat beside me was drinking coffee from a mug. A china mug, on the tube. I laughed inside and thought you maverick and pined for the loss of Bowie.

I remembered how the 14-year-old me had picked her way relentlessly through The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. How Five Years and Strangers When We Meet are the soundtrack to one of my most catalytic friendships. Remembered the euphoria of Nile Rodgers’ Let’s Dance at Glastonbury in 2013. How I’m sure there was a whole summer, even longer ago than all of that, when my brother played nothing but Changes on the stereo, on repeat. Yesterday, everyone was remembering their own Bowie journeys. Yesterday, it was chokingly-poignant to hear his voice and we were all grappling to find the words. For how can you articulate the loss of a thing like Bowie? He was a genius, yes, but genius doesn’t quite seem to fit the gap. It needs something more. Something as colossal as the loss. Something big enough to fill the sky and touch the moon and come tumbling back to earth – shrugging its shoulders, as if nothing had happened. I read somewhere that it’s harder to inspire happiness than melancholy through art – harder still to do it an artistically beautiful way. Bowie did that – and will go on doing that – repeatedly.

Thank you, is all I can think to say. Bowie, I’m so sad you’re gone. I’m sorry you had to know mortality and I’m in awe of your sublime parting note. Our lives are so much the richer for having had you in them. Oh, to capture just one drop of all the ecstasy that swept that afternoon. To paint that love upon a white balloon and fly it from the top-est of all the tops.

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Now that I’m safely ensconced in a new year – read: have rediscovered how to work, use the tube and live without six helpings of cheese a day – I think I’m ready for a moment of reflection. There I was, busy thinking 2015 had passed by pretty unremarkably, until I watched one of those year in review things on the telly (right in the thick of my festive laze) and came abruptly to my senses. It was right then that I looked back more mindfully, considering each month in turn, and realised that, actually, 2015 was filled from top to bottom and side to side with all the richness of life.

When we left London, we left it for Copenhagen, Naples and Paris. From Naples, we had the privilege of visiting Pompeii. In the summer, we went to the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Festival No.6 in Portmeirion and, of course, indulged in those precious few days at Glastonbury in Somerset. (Scotland, Wales, England – you don’t half put on a good show.) Throughout the year we ate some sensational food in sensational places. We laughed at comedy, cried at stops-you-in-your-tracks theatre and – well, I lost count of all the gigs. Some highlights, off the top of my head: Joanna Newsom at the Salle Gaveau, Blur at the Wolverhampton Arts Centre, David Gilmour at the Royal Albert Hall, King Creosote at the Barbican, Mavis Staples on The Park stage at Glastonbury and Gaz Coombes in the Town Hall Sessions at Festival No.6 (and that’s not to mention The Who, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan & His Band, Morrissey, The Libertines, Patti Smith, The Staves) (and so many more).

And, as is life’s wont, the year brought with it sadness and grief too. Sometimes, we even found ourselves feeling totally disillusioned with the world. But there was also a beautiful baby, who arrived in our lives and altered so many futures – just like that. We were able to make our home even more of a home. Then there was that elated day when I watched one of my oldest, dearest friends marry the love of her life. While the extraordinary may have escaped me directly, life – extraordinary, detailed, fabulous life – certainly didn’t. And if 2016 is half as full as that? I’ll be a lucky girl.

               

life

you promised me a feeling – something to believe in.

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