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Article, Comedy

January 2016: The Month of Death

Author: Ryan Moore


When we look back on January 2016 in the future it will almost certainly be regarded as the month that cancer went on an almighty bender.

It is barely February and so far we have lost a plethora of national treasures including Alan Rickman, Lemmy, David Bowie, Glenn Frey and Terry Wogan.

It’s like Death is systematically killing off everyone who made an impact on my childhood; a cruel reminder of my own mortality. If I wake up tomorrow morning and I read that Ed the duck or Brien Blessed has died I will be livid.

Who does Death think he is anyway? The stupid bastard.  First he takes Terry Wogan the lilting voice of Saturday morning, for me and many others, a man who is inextricably linked to my own childhood. I would visit my dad on the weekends and Wogan’s Irish patter usually accompanied car journeys to swimming pools and pubs, not forgetting Eurovision and children in need.

Lemmy was the voice of my angry Teen years. Every time I’ve sipped a Jack Daniels or smoked a fag somewhere, in the back of my head, Lemmy was giving me an approving nod. At least, that’s the story I’m sticking to.

As for January’s other great loss, David Bowie; he terrified me as a child. I remember watching The Labyrinth as a kid (and those tights) from behind the safety of cushions. It terrified the living shit out of me and fascinated me in equal measures. And not forgetting Alan Rickman whose velvety voice is the one I wish I’d been granted instead of my nasal squawk.

I’m hoping that the deaths of January have all been a cruel hoax, and Lemmy, Frey and Dimebag Darrel could be found shooting the shit on a desert island somewhere. The grim reaper can appear, place a comforting, if bony, hand on our shoulders and tell us it was all a hoax?

We are told talent is everywhere these days. Every channel on a Saturday night is awash with hordes of wannabes competing aggressively to be the next big thing. But ours is the generation that wants all the glory with none of the legwork. People buy minutes of fame by selling their souls and offer nothing memorable. Talent shows are in abundance but where is the talent?

The gradual decline of arts grants and government funding for creative outlets mean that the future really does look even bleaker. If we want true talent, the kinds of stars that become pioneers, not just followers, it might be worth investing in it. And I don’t mean by picking up a phone and dialling a premium rate phone-line to vote for your favourite.

January’s high-profile deaths have also had the social media grief police on high alert. People ask ‘how can you get sad over someone you have not met? Millions of people die each year but crocodile tears are saved for the rich and famous?’ What these people don’t understand is that we DO know these celebrities. They all touched our lives in some way, on a level that’s both personal and collective, as part of a common culture we share together. We mourn public deaths for all they have represented.

In the end these people managed to leave a legacy, a voice that will be heard through the ages; not all of us with have that opportunity. The majority of us will be lucky to have a family to listen to us drivel incoherent nonsense in our final moments before shuffling off this mortal coil.

The real death that we mourn is of the comfort of familiarity, or our acceptance that things must and will change.

So what’s next for us inhabitants of planet earth? A life, a future and hopefully the regeneration of arts grants and a creative scene to help find the next generation of talent to be mourned by others one day.