Author: Rosie Allen
(N.B: this was written several days before Bowie’s death. I have decided to leave it as it was written. Goodbye David Bowie, the artist that keeps inspiring the Murder and Glut team in immeasurable ways)
- What do an overweight 11 year old girl with a bowl haircut that writes mermaid poetry for fun, and a shimmering, androgynous, multi-platinum-selling rock icon have in common?
Not much you’d think. And at first glance you’d be right. As a kid I was very insecure. Painfully shy. ‘Sorry’ was my punctuation, a word I said almost as often as I ate biscuits (clue – a lot). But, as every feel-good British film can attest, inside every lonely, quiet child, is a flamboyant, rainbow unicorn just waiting to burst out in a haze of glitter and eyeliner. But how, dear reader, was this inner mystical beast to be unlocked?
The late 90s was a barren wasteland for any budding alternative girl looking for a role-model. All Saints and the Spice Girls were skinny, fashionable and in no way looked like they loved Heathcliffe as much as I did. Even Blur, a band I worshipped (read: fancied three-quarters of) and the rest of the Brit Pop scene seemed too normal. They were popular, cool and hung out with the glamour-waifs of the Primrose Hill set, who looked like they shoved more coke up their nose than I shovelled the full-fat version down my gob.
It wasn’t until my older sister asked me to nick my brother’s bass so I could learn how to play Ziggy Stardust under her electric guitar solo that things slotted into place. We, the dark haired, female, Family Bargain-basement Hanson could play a real song! She made me a mix-tape (Singles collection, obv) and the more I read about this other-worldly demi-god, the more I was hooked. His music spoke of space and exotic characters called Buddy and Twig and Ziggy.
I’d go to the library, zoned in on the Pop Music section, seeking out pictures of his many phases. The long, flaxen locks of his Hunky Dory phase! The brazen flamboyance of Ziggy Stardust! The Berlin cool of the Thin White Duke! Luckily my 11 year old mind was able to completely block out the fact the record he was currently pushing was that drum and bass one, because NO I’M NOT LISTENING lalala (fingers in ears).
That weekend I went to Stevenage Indoor market and bought Stargazer glitter lipstick with which to daub any available flesh with space glitter. Mum went mental. Mainly because it gave me an eye infection and smelled like Stevenage Indoor Market (next clue: not very nice).
My Bowie obsession continued to grow intense and the obsessiveness spurred me on to learn how to play bass properly, join a band and eat less cake. But without Bowie and his ability to inspire that hidden fabulousness none of this would have happened.
I’m sure I can’t be the only one who dies a little inside every time I see a fashion magazine celebrating Bowie the ‘fashion icon’ or the latest instagram celeb-of-the-moment wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the face of Aladdin Sane. Because I can’t imagine they ever lay on their bed and cried listening to Sweet Thing. Or got funny over that saxaphone bit in Sons of the Silent age. Because ultimately, Bowie speaks to the outsiders. He is one of us, after all.