Tuesday, 12 January 2016
Can we be heroes?
I was twenty years old when Keith Moon accidentally overdosed and shuffled off his mortal coil. I was a drummer in a rock and roll band (weren’t we all?) and no matter what anybody thought of Moon’s actual drumming ability compared to, say, John Bonham or Carl Palmer, or James Blades for that matter, he was the drummer we all wanted to be. Because he was pure fucking mental. That was the last time I remember mourning a person I never knew; after the impromptu wake in a North Yorkshire pub which no longer exists we all thought the world would never be the same again. But it was; of course it was.
I am probably the right age for David Bowie to have left a formative stamp on my soul although if he did I have never really noticed it. But listening to the snippets of his tracks played out during Radio 4 PM’s tribute last night I realised that he’d always been there in the background and his body of work is astonishingly diverse. So I don’t feel any sense of loss; I still have all that music whenever I want it. Besides he did what he wanted to do and he had a life most of us couldn’t even begin to dream of. We all die; what’s to be sad about?
Public outpourings of grief reached their apotheosis in 1997 and the pathetic Dianafication of Britain. Please don’t do that. Nobody else cares about how much you loved Bowie, or how much some other celebrities loved Bowie. We especially don’t need poorly briefed politicians eulogising Iggy Starman and the man who fell from Mars. Julia Hartley-Brewer got stick on Twitter for this advice, but she was right:
Bowie was okay, he was a dude, a thin white dude, even. Okay, he may have been a genius. But who knows what you could be? If you want your arms-length grief to mean anything, celebrate what his achievements might inspire you to do; otherwise there really is no point to life at all. But if you must mourn, then do it just for one day...
I leave you with a poem we should all perhaps commit to memory.
The Indispensable Man
(by Saxon White Kessinger)
Sometime when you're feeling important;
Sometime when your ego 's in bloom;
Sometime when you take it for granted,
You're the best qualified in the room:
Sometime when you feel that your going,
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions,
And see how they humble your soul.
Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that's remaining,
Is a measure of how much you'll be missed.
You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop, and you'll find that in no time,
It looks quite the same as before.
The moral of this quaint example,
Is to do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself but remember,
There's no indispensable man.