I woke two years ago today to the news that David Bowie had died, at the age of 69. It is hard to underestimate the impact he had on my life, and our national culture.
As Ziggy he gave us kids growing up in the dark days of the 1970s the permission to be who we wanted to be, boy, girl, whoever.
All that mattered was that we liked dancing and we looked divine. As he aged, he gave us a blueprint for living, and dying. A massive heart attack at only 57, while on stage in Germany, meant that he never toured again, but he didn’t stop working.
Even as his body was ravaged by cancer, he still found the physical and emotional energy to be creative. His last album Blackstar, released on his 69th birthday, two days before he died, was his parting gift to us.
“Look up here, I’m in heaven,” he sang on his final single, Lazarus. But the man who swished through our lives in his satin and tat chose to leave us quietly.
Not for him the pomp and circumstance of a public funeral, with the world’s rock stars lining up to pay homage to his genius, and get their picture taken looking suitably glam … sorry, grief stricken.
He chose instead a direct cremation, where his body was taken from home and quietly – privately – burned. Apparently direct cremations are becoming more popular, and not just because they are so much cheaper than a traditional funeral.
They avoid the mawkish parody of a church service that many people, myself included, find so inappropriate.
I finally got round to writing my will last year, and I have left strict instructions that I want a direct cremation. But I also want a bloody good send-off, with family and friends gathering a few weeks after my death to remember me with lashings of red wine, amusing anecdotes of my brilliance, and of course, David Bowie playing at full volume.