I’d hoped that the world might turn a corner in 2016 and be done with bad news. But 2016 clearly has other ideas. Not even a month in and we’ve lost David Bowie and Alan Rickman, who’ve both joined the 69 Club - which is not half as much fun as it sounds.
Though if I am honest I always found 69s to be quite disappointing. I can’t enjoy myself if I am being forced to concentrate on something else at the same time, especially if placed in an unnecessarily uncomfortable position. Take it in turn, folks. A 6, then a 9 or vice-versa. You’ll all have a lot more fun. As long as the person getting the 6 doesn’t fall asleep before they can give the 9.
But alas Bowie has gone and taken the secret of how to pronounce his name to his grave. And he never revealed how you’re supposed to say “scone” either. I wasn’t a super-fan, but his music has been with me throughout my life. Space Oddity and the Laughing Gnome are two of the first three pop songs I remember enjoying (the other was Two Little Boys by Rolf Harris, but let’s gloss over that). But as well as his music, his legacy is the way that he ch..ch..changed the psyche of our nation (and the world). He dared to be different and helped us reconsider our social norms.
Though whilst we pay tribute to those who don’t conform, we must also spare a thought for the billions who toe the line, kowtow to whatever society expects of them and don’t cause a fuss. Because if everyone went around dressed as a spaceman and dyed their hair red and called their baby Sproutface, then people like Bowie wouldn’t have stood out. So in a sense it’s us who are partly responsible for his artistic triumph and we didn’t get to marry a supermodel or live the life of a modern day king. Spare a thought for us drab, unfashionable, uncreative nobodies with children called Simon, when you’re (rightly) lauding Ziggy Stardust.
Personally speaking the loss of Alan Rickman was a heavier blow. I am a diehard fan of Die Hard and I believe Rickman’s performance as Hans Gruber is one of the major factors that elevates it above other action movies to be (genuinely) in my top three films of all time. Whilst he was undoubtedly one of the great serious, classical actors, he was massively impressive in more comedic roles, bringing an emotional resonance to a film like Galaxy Quest, in which his death scene (spoiler alert) genuinely makes me cry every time I see it, even though he is playing an actor in a peeling prosthetic forehead. It’s going to be even tougher to get through that scene now.
Back in the 90s Rickman had organised a charity gig that I performed at. On stage I did my usual schtick of being overawed by meeting such a big star (which didn’t take much acting) and offered to do my impression of Alan Rickman. This turned out to be me miming his slow motion death-fall from the building in Die Hard (spoiler alert). I didn’t flag it up, I simply walked backwards slowly, windmilling my arms, whilst my face convulsed. It was a testament to him that this niche reference was recognized by everyone.
If death is so intent on taking the 69 year olds this year, then can I direct him towards Donald Trump and George W Bush. Please keep away from Felicity Kendall.
The curse of the world’s oldest man has struck again. 112 year old Yasutaro Koide died in Japan last week, having only gained oldest man status last August. His reign only lasted five months, but that’s a long time compared to some of his predecessors. Who all share the same terrible fate. I hope I never get to be the oldest man in the world. It’s a death sentence.
He claimed the secret to becoming the oldest living man was not smoking or drinking and to "live with joy". Well death has proven him wrong. I do the exact opposite and am not dead. So who are you going to believe? Me or old Mr Dead-o who can’t even be the oldest living man for more than five months?
The new oldest man in the world, Masamitsu Yoshida must be crapping himself. Not out of fear. He’s 111. It’s just one of the downsides.
Life is unfair. We all, very briefly, get to be the youngest person in the world, but only a select handful get to be the oldest.