Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Earlier this week I checked in to a sweltering Sydney hotel at the end of a tiring flight to a work conference. As I approached the registration desk my eyes wandered up to the tv screen on the wall behind; local, trivial news played out in silence while headlines ticker-taped at the bottom. Among them were three words: 'David Bowie Dies", with the following precis a vague note about 'rumors on social media'. They just sort of hung there, and then drifted offscreen while my fatigued brain tried to process it - naturally, I wasn't sure whether to believe it or not. Finally in my room I turned on the tv to a news channel and the truth revealed itself. It was 7pm local time, and according to reports, London was just waking up to the news.

My first thought was of Jet Junior - he's a huge Bowie fan. I'm not sure why, although lots of music was playing in our house when he was young, and as a toddler visually he seemed to connect with the more flamboyant, like Ziggy/Aladdin Sane era Bowie and Live Aid Freddie Mercury. It brought out the flamboyant kid in him, too, randomly stopping lunch during a visit from Granddad with an impromptu and never-to-be-repeated lip-synching of Suffragette City. He was determined to go to New York to meet his idol, and invite him to join his band. My own discovery of Bowie was a very long process indeed, but my boy just took to him very readily - we share a love of the Ziggy album, and he especially likes Low, the instrumentals in particular. This drove his mum a little bit nuts when he kept it on high rotate for a while.

Mrs Simian and I had spent last Monday morning discussing my imminent week of absence and what the two of them could do while I was away. He's not seen The Force Awakens yet, so why not take him, knowing now what would be in store in terms of heavy plot turns? Little did we know bigger stuff would of course be just around the corner. I hated not being at home with him when he heard the news; he was, apparently, very upset.

Meanwhile, Australia was processing the news as well, and it was front page splash stuff at breakfast on all the papers. Mention was made of Bowie's connection with Australia, the Let's Dance and China Girl videos, his sometime hideaway in Elizabeth Bay and his outspoken views on Aboriginal rights. At the conference the chosen theme music of the first day (Starship and Pseudo Echo - there was a damned good reason. There had to have been) segued the following day into a quiet background set of Bowie's best, which was a little distracting for me as my ears kept straining to place the bits and pieces during workshops. Was that Moonage Daydream? Yes! The Man Who Sold the World? Of course. 'Heroes'? Inevitably. Attendees of my generation shared their impressions of the news in quiet moments, and it was in a small way cathartic.

I returned home, finally, in the weekend, to a tidy and quiet house. The news had dissipated, with life going on, but Jet Junior and I shared a wet afternoon in front of You Tube, with him in the driver's seat and an awful lot of Bowie playing. He's still to see The Force Awakens; will there be tears after that, as there were on Tuesday morning? Not sure, but this time I'll be around, just in case.

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