Monday was interesting. Finally, I thought, I must confront my tax return – or at any rate the task of putting things in order to present to my accountant. So I sat down at the computer and was swiftly distracted by good old Uncle Internet, who showed me that two people I know on Facebook had posted links to David Bowie videos. “What a coincidence,” I thought, and I was just about to say something to them both about it when I realised there might be a bigger significance. And sure enough, I swiftly learned that the great man had popped his thin white clogs. A perfect storm, then, of grimness and sadness – the death of a genius, allied to the painful need to engage in mathematical activity.
Of course, I can be lightly comical about it now (for all my genuine regret at the news), but I’d probably be less so if I thought anyone was actually going to read this blog – for the online reaction to the passing of Sir Derek has been something akin to the orgy of garment-rending that followed the death of Princess Di. One friend who, in 14 years of acquaintance, has never once mentioned Bowie’s name, has now adopted a picture of him as his FB profile pic – and another, a music journo who usually keeps a sensible distance from bandwagons, has re-posted some adverse comments made by Cliff Richard round about the Ziggy period. It’s easy to look back, in McCarthyite style, and rebuke someone with things they said more than 40 years ago, but it’s worth bearing in mind that in 1973 there was no shortage of people saying rude things about David Bowie; pop music had yet to complete the transition from Corrupter of Youth to Great British Export – and, quite apart from all that, here was a man unashamedly exploring his sexuality, at a time when the only acceptable images of homosexuality were those projected in unthreatening light-comic vein by such as Larry Grayson and John “I’m Free” Inman. What looks now like Bowie’s tremendous courage was at the time liable only to make great enemies, and they were never more numerous than in the very same tabloid papers which this week have been paying solemn front-page tribute.
Robert Cohen – a man in showbiz so stepp’d in that, should he wade no more, to go back were as tedious as go o’er. These are among his musings.