Monday, 11 January 2016

We Could be Heroes

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day
We can be Heroes, just for one day

And you, you can be mean
And I, I'll drink all the time
'Cause we're lovers, and that is a fact
Yes we're lovers, and that is that.

The phone rang this morning when the room was still dark, before the alarm. It was Goldie. It's generally him ringing at some unearthly hour, the sort of time when you're not sure whether you're dreaming or drifting into consciousness. "How many sugars did he have?" were his opening words.
"What? Who? What time is it?"
"David Bowie. He's dead. How many sugars did he have?"
"Oh no."
"No sugar? I'm making him a cup of tea to put in the shrine."
"I think it was none. Oh no."

Mr Bowie's birthday was a few days ago. I have a birthday calendar by my desk for friends and family, even though Facebook now saves us from the shame of forgetting. David Bowie and Elvis are written in on Jan 8th. Mr B felt as tightly knitted into my life as friends or family. Elvis coat-tailed on there through dint of sharing his day. I remember the news that John Lennon had died seeping into the classroom and hysteria infecting a group in the way teenage girls pass on emotion like germs. I regarded them curiously, thinking it odd that they should react so to losing someone who was important, of course, but he was not our hero, he belonged to our parents. But Bowie was ours and today I feel bereaved.

When he came to record with Goldie at St. Anne's Court in Soho, our office and studio, the same studio where he had recorded Hunky Dory years before. We were maintaining a veneer of calm but we were waiting for a Godhead to walk into the room. And then he was amongst us. I offered him a cup of tea before realising the sink (actually, it was the handbasin in the loo, just to make it more grubby, we didn't have a proper sink) was full of dirty cups.
"You're busy Caroline, I'll do the washing up," he chirruped.
"You will NOT," I corrected.
God had been in the room 30 seconds and I was contradicting him.

Goldie was with Björk at the time. A group of us had gone to Iceland. We schlepped to a funny little house in the middle of the island for a knees up. Relieved to finally find it, Jeremy and I fell through the door. A laughing cheer of my name went up, and there he was again, joining in. "God is pleased to see me," I thought, bemused.

Years later, I met him in Central Park when he was the surprise encore guest for Arcade Fire. "Hello Caroline, how are you? Give my best to Goldie."
Just astonishing, he must have met a trillion people in between. Of all people on earth who could have justified a divo's ego he was the spaceman with his feet on the ground.

He is the person for whom we would have crawled through angry snakes and across broken glass to make a suit. We'll take vicarious pride in posting a picture of him wearing one made by our friend and mentor Antony Price:
Mr Bowie in a suit by Antony Price

South London salutes its snaggle toothed son.