And the stars look very dif­fer­ent to­day...

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION -

IN 2013 I was one of more than 300,000 peo­ple who went to the David Bowie ex­hi­bi­tion at the Vic­to­ria and Al­bert mu­seum: a won­der­ful col­lec­tion of cos­tumes, posters, records and other mem­o­ra­bilia.

I wrote in this col­umn how my head­set, pro­vided by the mu­seum, re­sponded to sen­sors which streamed, not only in­for­ma­tion about the ex­hibits, but also snip­pets of the great man’s mu­sic.

Much has been writ­ten about Bowie’s an­drog­yny and al­ter egos, but he was more than just a show­man. I was fas­ci­nated by him as a writer and loved see­ing the self-edit­ing on rough pages where he first scrawled num­bers like Life on Mars.

In the 1970s when I was work­ing as a pri­mary teacher in Eal­ing bor­ough I of­ten used his record, Space Odd­ity in cre­ative writ­ing and drama lessons.

The pupils loved mim­ing Ma­jor Tom’s story as I played the mu­sic: ‘take your pro­tein pills and put your hel­met on’; ‘en­gines on, check ig­ni­tion/and may God’s love be with you’ – then the dra­matic count­down to lift-off which we all chanted to­gether.

The young­sters en­joyed play­ing the as­tro­naut ‘float­ing in a tin can’, be­fore leav­ing the cap­sule and fi­nally be­ing cut off from home – ‘planet Earth is blue and there’s noth­ing I can do …’

Now, like Ma­jor Tom, Bowie has gone, but un­like many of to­day’s so-called celebri­ties who share in­ti­mate de­tails of ev­ery per­sonal prob­lem, Bowie kept his ter­mi­nal con­di­tion to him­self.

Only a year ago he was work­ing hard to record a new al­bum which, with im­pec­ca­ble tim­ing, was re­leased two days be­fore his death.

He was also co-writ­ing Lazarus, a mu­si­cal which premiered in New York in De­cem­ber – his last pub­lic ap­pear­ance.

He clearly in­spired in­cred­i­ble loy­alty.

Af­ter his death the show’s di­rec­tor re­lated how Bowie col­lapsed with ex­haus­tion af­ter com­ing off stage for the fi­nal cur­tain call, but noth­ing of his dis­tress leaked out to the me­dia.

His fam­ily will not be sur­prised by the glow­ing tributes and in­evitable shrines, which are spring­ing up as I write, as he has a huge fan base span­ning 30 years.

Even those who are not fans must have been moved and im­pressed by the dig­ni­fied man­ner of his exit.

But who would have thought the man who loved to shock and push bound­aries would end up be­ing such a great role model for all of us.

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