Monday 11th January, 2016
I was on the bus into work on Monday morning when I heard the news…..I’d been sat chatting to a neighbour when another lady came and sat near us…..she works at the same University as me and she asked me if I’d heard the terrible news….I immediately thought the university had been blown up or something and when she said that David Bowie had died I just went into shock. I very nearly swore at her, what was she talking about…stupid woman…..but I could see by her face she was telling the truth. I didn’t know where to turn…..sitting amongst relative strangers….the lady next to me tried to pick back up on our chittle chattle….and I wanted to scream at her to SHUT UP! I got off the bus as soon as I got into town…..my hands shaking as I phoned Don at work. Bless him, he heard the news on the car radio, he was having a lift into work from a colleague, so couldn’t even turn the car round and come back home…..I wish we had been together when we heard the news. Getting through work on Monday was nearly impossible, I was a wreck….just wanted to get home and be with Don. When we saw each other that evening I just fell into his arms and we both sobbed our hearts out.
Anyone who knows me and Don will know what a huge part of our lives Bowie was/IS….our first ever conversation, when we met back in January 1978, was about Bowie. Don said he’d seen him in concert in 1976 and asked me if I’d like to go and see him in the Summer, during his next tour, and I was thrilled that he already had plans to be seeing me in 6 months time (he later told me he would have had no problem finding a home for his other ticket) ;-)
So there we were, Bingley Hall, Stafford, Summer 1978….and my life was changed forever! I remember my knees giving way when he came on stage, and the force of the crowd as they all surged forward, I think I may have got squished if I’d fallen to the floor, but thankfully Don’s friend (Ray, who was with us) saw what was happening and helped me keep on my feet…I think Don may have been too ‘engrossed’ himself ;-)
We saw him many times over the next 30+ years, we were so so lucky, even managing to attend some really intimate gigs and TV performances, such precious memories, oh for a time-machine :-/
We also met so many good friends, through BowieNet, BowieWonderWorld and Teenage Wildlife, friends we will have forever…..we are so thankful for these friends, especially now, being able to communicate with people who really ‘get it’ does help. As much as family and ‘other friends’ try and understand, it’s not the same....and that’s not their fault, they just can’t.
We have also been incredibly lucky and managed to meet him a few times, albeit briefly – snatched ‘hellos and thank-you’s’ as we’re getting things signed after a gig….and of course there was the HMV signing where we got to have a few more precious seconds with him…..I remember my hands were trembling when I approached him, and he was such a gentleman and tried to put me at my ease. For years I had wondered what I might say to him when/IF I ever got the opportunity, but all I actually managed to blurt out was “I’m terrified” and he laughed and smiled that crooked smile, twinkle in his eye, put his hands on top of my trembling ones and said “are ya”….
His music is so diverse and there is an album for every mood…..impossible to pick a favourite, it changes depending on mood/state of life! But it’s always been there, always a constant, always a help at the most difficult times…..the hospital even played Bowie to Don while he was having his Proton Beam Radiotherapy treatment for his eye cancer…..Don strapped in to an execution chair, but Bowie calmed him and eased the process for him. Back at the hotel after one of our scarier hospital appointments, Wild is the Wind was playing through the PA system…..we looked at each and smiled and we knew that meant it would be OK
After he had ‘retired’ following his heart problems, we didn’t expect that we would see him in concert again, but we always kept a glimmer of hope…maybe some TV stuff or some such? But it wasn’t to be. But we could ‘expect’ no more, he had already given us so much (even ‘gifting’ us Arcade Fire, who we discovered early on, early 2005, only because of him…and so had the Magic of their early gigs, and a whole world more of very special friends we treasure…..a fair few cross overs from the Bowie world, not surprisingly ?)
We have been de-cluttering the past few years, preparing for our next chapter in life and our move to our Forever home in Devon…..but we’ve not been able to part with any of our Bowie memorabilia….magazines, videos, books, ticket stubs, badges (I still wear a Bowie badge every day, at 54 years old I don’t ever intend to stop either). We used to buy every magazine/newspaper that had a Bowie feature, often buying two (one to keep pristine, one to read)….on Tuesday, on my bus into work, I picked up the METRO, whole front page was Bowie’s picture….I went to pick up a second copy, out of habit, but put that one back….one with this story is more than enough. I still haven’t really looked at it, got it home that night and pulled out one of our many Bowie ‘storage boxes’ and just put it on top…..breaking my heart again.
That he is no longer on this planet is surreal…..from the euphoria of the new album arriving on the Friday, to the bombshell news a few days later….weeks on and I am still struggling so much to process this….this is NOT how it was supposed to be…..he was always going to out live us! How can he leave us like this…..what the hell are we supposed to do now? I keep trying to tell myself that nothing has changed in our daily lives, it’s not like we were in daily contact with him, in fact, up until The Next Day appeared out of nowhere in 2013 we had been through years of not even expecting any new music or appearances….but still, there was ALWAYS the hope, always the possibility, and he was always THERE - our guide, our mentor, our inspiration, our hope, our memories, our passion, our Magic, our love…
The world is different now…..and I want it to stop, please, just stop!