I can’t believe David Bowie is dead. I heard it on the news at seven on the Today programme and sat there stunned, forgetting entirely that I was supposed to be getting ready to go to work. Their obituary was longer than any other I’ve heard, even for Lady Thatcher and by 8.20 when I finally left for work – having cried through my muesli and sobbed over my toothbrush – it was Jeremy Corbyn’s turn to say something about it. (I didn’t stay to listen.)
David Bowie wasn’t supposed to die. People like him don’t die. They go on forever. Or, at least, it should be that way because there are so few people one can truly admire and the world is a lot less interesting with him gone.
By the time I first heard Space Oddity, it was already old and I was hearing it in the cultural wasteland that was 1970’s South Africa, where my life was isolated to the extreme: I didn’t even know what David Bowie looked like. That whole glam Ziggy thing completely passed me by because I was living in a bubble where contact with the outside world was zero. We didn’t even have TV so no Top of the Pops either. As a result, I grew up not caring what my pop heroes looked like. It was what they sounded like that counted. I became umbilically attached to the radio and it was there that I heard these wonderful “old” songs – Space Oddity and Life on Mars. Because they were never going to die. And never, ever get old.
My David Bowie is the one from Heroes and Low. I loved Heroes (the single) and I loved Sound and Vision. When I finally got the tears to stop, I told myself – sternly – that I was glad there had been a David Bowie. After that, blue blue electric blue that’s the colour of my room where I will live started going around my head and has done all morning. I’m now going off to drift into my solitude.