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Please spare us the sob signalling over David Bowie

11 January 2016

1:32 PM

11 January 2016

1:32 PM

By 9am this morning, I’d turned down two offers from two newspapers to write about the freshly-dead David Bowie. I told both plainly what I felt: ‘I haven’t been a fan since I was a teenager, when I worshipped him, and I don’t want to add to the chorus of people with nothing to say, but who’ll say it anyway, for a fee.’

However, humour is always the exception to the rule. By 10am I’d posted this (totally true) status on Facebook: ‘To illustrate how odd my voice is (accent and speed) I just spent five minutes waking up my husband Dan and telling him that David Bowie had died. I told him that people were weeping in the streets, and that it was like the Queen Mother dying all over again. Dan listened silently, then replied “It’s nice – but still, all that fuss about Dane Bowers!’’ Within an hour, more than a hundred people had liked my amusing post, and I considered my work to be done. Today of all days, obviously, people needed a good giggle.

My lack of deeper feelings about David Bowie came as something of a surprise to me, and I know my bad self quite well. While Facebook friends professed themselves to be living through THE WORST DAY EVER, my thoughts were merely ‘O, isn’t it lovely that he spent his life making such a good living from doing the things he loved!’ Perhaps the recent suicide – just six months ago – of my son Jack had some bearing on this, but then I didn’t cry when my adored Diana, Princess of Wales died either, and Jack was very much alive then. I did, however, get a contract to write a book about her, the advance for which was so pleasing that I still haven’t earned it back two decades later. Happy days!


My lack of feeling is, perhaps, a late-flowering fastidiousness which feels somewhat repelled by the flood of sob signalling which takes place on social media whenever a famous person dies. And a revulsion with a sub-section of my fellow hacks who – for a fee – will say something even if they have nothing worth saying. For every Suzanne Moore – who produced a small, perfectly-performed elegy within hours – I knew that there would be a hundred old bores from the dear dead music press who would crawl out of the woodwork just to put up photos of themselves with the Great Man, in the most distasteful groupie fashion. Hearse-chasing is such a bad look.

From the word go, the level of sheer asininity of the guest commentators on BBC Breakfast was truly remarkable – surely the saddest legacy a creative person can leave is stupid fans. ‘He knew a lot of stuff about a lot of things.’ ‘The last great PR stunt of his life.’ ‘I didn’t know him well, to be honest,’ admitted Mick Ronson’s daughter, wiping the sleep from her eyes. ‘He always wanted to be himself’ said someone – NO HE DIDN’T, he made up CHARACTERS! Marc Almond felt ‘tearful’ – for a change. The choicest was ‘Perhaps his finest moment was when he teamed up with Mick Jagger to record a version of Dancing In The Street’ – yes, and mine was marrying Tony Parsons. The adorable Laurie Penny, always one to add to the gaiety of nations when national mourning is in order, actually Instagrammed a photo of her in Bowie make-up alongside the legend ‘going in to the Monday editorial meeting like this’. Because it’s all about you, you special snowflake!

Going in to the Monday editorial meeting like this. #ripdavidbowie

A photo posted by lauriepenny (@lauriepenny) on

You’ll excuse me for finishing now, as I’m on tenterhooks waiting to hear what David Beckham makes of it. Because they have the same initials! As my friend Simon remarked on my Facebook page ‘Bowie was a private individual who didn’t ever spout platitudes and inanities about everything going on around him. You’d think some of these people would bear this in mind.’ What a good life’s work it was – well done, him. And that’s all I have to say on the subject.

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