Anyway, so I had a quick look round the internet and nobody’s written much about David Bowie’s death so I thought you’d be interested in my unique angle, which is – umm, well, ah, blimey it was shocking and sad and – oh, somebody’s said that already – um – well he was a major artist who… oh, that’s been done as well. Etc.
As someone who built a monstrous internet persona around the fact that I had nothing bloody better to do with my time, the following might sound a bit odd coming from me. ‘The following’ being that the web’s so chock-full now of people for whom rapid-reaction writing is a professional or semi-professional part of their world – not just journalists, but comedians, public figures, cultural commentators – basically anybody for whom setting aside other tasks in order to write can be justified as something more than a pleasant personal indulgence – that it makes the thought of following on even a few hours later with one’s similar thoughts a little unrewarding. That’s me speaking as one of the gentlemen amateurs (i.e. I write for a living, but not particularly here).
This is mainly because they do it so well. I mean FIERCELY well, if you read some of the stuff out there – let’s stress that. And Bowie’s death’s a very bad example anyway, as he touched so many folk so deeply, that many people who fall outside that definition will have dropped everything to write something just for the joy of it. So yes – this is a shit example, unless it’s an example of why I don’t do journalism or cultural commentary. Ummm – he constantly reinvented himself just when you thought you knew him, you know? Wouldn’t catch me doing that.
What I’m probably saying is that a decade or so ago the trope was that people with blogs were sad people typing away in darkened rooms with nothing to do but snivel their pooterisms into the internet. I was doing a *cough* sabbatical at the time, and of course there were some stay-at-home parents, people without jobs, retirees, students etc. with time on their hands. But in the main those ‘nothing to do’ people had – well – jobs, and family lives and food shopping to do and stuff. So they fitted in writing as a hobby, around all of that. Which, in terms of today’s internet, is a dinosaur model; the telex bureau of the light-speed age of opinion, always destined to tag behind the curve. Five steps forward, one back. Which I slightly regret, as I regret the loss of the attended petrol pump and the apostrophe that precedes the word ’bus.
Anyway, my I-hope-it’s-almost-original observation about David Bowie was this. Actually, I have two observations. The lesser is that ‘Space Oddity’ was – and I have no reason to disbelieve that it still is – my father’s favourite pop song. I’m not sure anybody else has pointed this out yet. This is important, as it’s the only pop song that I’ve ever heard him venture an unprompted opinion about; he favours other genres. So it must be a great work, because he says so, and he’s not one to venture opinions unless they’re true. I’m guessing it’s something to do with the short story format, and the horror in that final ellipsis (‘There’s nothing I can do…’)
David Bowie managed to stun the world in the manner of his passing. One of the biggest, most famous, most bankable stars in the world, carrying this illness with all that it must have entailed. And his family, his mates, his medical people – they just quietly kept it to themselves, as he presumably wished. So my real observation is nothing to do with his music or cultural impact. It’s: what a great bunch of people he must have had around him in his life, eh?
Anyway. Carry on!