How to work from home - Corona Virus Diary
Wednesday 25 March 2020
The government has strongly told the country that if you can work from home you should. For many this may be their first time working from home. I have been working from home for decades so I thought I would share my top tips with you.
My top tips
Get dressed. Just because you are at home doesn’t mean your standards have to slip. Always get dressed as you will feel ‘ready’ for work
Have a designated area to work from. When you are not ‘at work’ do not sit there or home and work will blend into each other.
Time management is important. Only work during work hours. Don’t be tempted to check emails over breakfast. Make sure when you finish work you turn off your phone and laptop.
Take regular breaks. Don’t eat lunch at your computer. Stretch your legs. Take a ten minute break each hour from the screen. This can still be work such as reading papers in hard copy or writing with a pen rather than on the computer.
Use Skype and phone to speak to other people. Working from home can be isolating so at least once a day speak to others. Put the radio on if you don’t find it too distracting to help with isolation.
Plan your day. Make a list of jobs and cross them off when you have completed them.
You will be surprised at how productive you can be when working from home. Although you may miss your work colleagues to chat to, they also were a distraction, so you can get so much more done from home and you may want to evidence your work to your line manager.
Being positive and constructive will really help your mental health with this lockdown – remember its not forever and you can get through this.
Panic buying - Corona Virus Diary
Sunday 22 March 2020
I am tired of people being quite aggressive in accusing people of panic buying. It’s everywhere on social media. You don’t need to look far. And although this may have been true two weeks ago, today most supermarkets have limited how many of each item you can buy. The video of the crying nurse on BBC that has been shared numerus times does not help the situation. I actually think it’s irresponsible of the BBC to keep showing it. All it does is make more people feel there is nothing in the shops and feed the need to go shopping. So, if you want people to stop panicking, please stop sharing it. No one seems to be addressing the distribution issue. Surely if staff are off work sick or self-isolating, the distribution will be disrupted. What if the goods are manufactured and imported? Are there issues with the country of origin?
I am also increasingly annoyed at the stupid and reckless behaviour of people. Bondi beach in Australia, students on Spring break in the USA but also right here in the UK. Beaches in UK yesterday had hundreds of thousands of people. So much for social distancing. Do people think they are invincible? Do they think they will survive? This is not a holiday. This is the most serious situation you have been in probably in your lifetime unless you lived through a war.
Today is Mother’s Day. Normally I wouldn’t see my children as they both work in hospitality. But today son no 1 will call me and son no 2 is home. I find myself wishing they were both working and that we weren’t in this virus situation. I am so proud of them both. They are kind hearted and genuine people who work hard and think of others. They are empathetic and compassionate and I am proud to know and love them. I had originally planned to see my own mum today and take her out for lunch. My mum has been ill for over 40 years so is very vulnerable and her retirement village is now on lockdown. Luckily, I had already given her card and present so hopefully she won’t feel too sad to have to delay our meal.
So, the best Mother’s Day gift you can give is not to see your mother. It might just save her life.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Stay Safe - Corona Virus Diary
Saturday 21 March 2020
Stay Safe. It’s a new saying but I have found myself saying it more and more over the last few weeks. I don’t think people are taking it seriously enough. I don’t understand why. People are dying in their thousands yet others don’t seem to care. Is it naivety or just stupid recklessness? Yesterday, our Prime Minister, closed down all the pubs, restaurants’, gyms and theatres. Well those that hadn’t already closed. It’s a worrying time for many reasons. People are worried about their jobs, paying their bills, feeding themselves and making sure they have enough toilet rolls! But what they should really be worried about is surviving. Not catching this virus. Not getting ill. Not spreading it to others.
Despite the bars and restaurants’ closing, people don’t seem to understand social distancing in the food shops. Sadly, there are huge amount of people and they queue (as we British are very good at) is far too close and lasts for too long. I think the next step could be a proper lockdown and limit the amount of people doing food shopping. We need to be firm here – or things in the UK could end up in a similar situation to Italy. Borders need to close. People need to stay indoors for three months. Forget seven days. Forget 14 days. I think we need to be sure its not spreading so it needs to be three months.
Today I watched the film Yesterday that my husband bought me for Valentine’s Day. I had seen it before in the cinema but today I sobbed at this rom-com for a whole new reason. No gigs. No hugging. No life as we knew it. Oh, how I long for Yesterday. Everyone will feel the effects of this for generations to come. This is history in the making but not the type of history you want to be a part of. It will touch each and every one of us. Both my son’s work in the hospitality industry. Neither know how safe their job is. Neither knows what the future holds.
So today I ask you all, my dear friends, please stay safe. Stay indoors. Because the devil is knocking at your door and you do not want to let him in.
Corona virus diary -Shopping
Friday 20 March 2020.
A week is a long time in the life of this virus. A week ago, I was going shopping, eating out in a café, looking forward to the theatre trips I had planned and of course the seminal Travelogue and Reproduction gig by Heaven 17 who were doing the first two Human League albums in full. Needless to say, that has all been cancelled. I was risk assessed on Monday and told to work from home. Some of you may not realise that I have a reduced lung capacity, so in normal life I may not be able to walk fast or climb stairs without getting breathless. I also suffer bad chest infections when someone else only gets a cold. So yes, this virus scares me. It could kill me. Even before this virus, I always had hand gel in my handbag and tried very hard to avoid people who were ill. Last year I was off work for five weeks with a really bad chest infection. Five weeks. So, I do consider myself vulnerable.
I have been indoors all week, but today I decided to go shopping for some food. I chose Asda as they announced an hour for vulnerable people (not just over 70’s or NHS workers but people like me). I donned my mask (which came from Hyper Japan last year as a fun thing) and put on disposable latex gloves to push the trolley. I bet no one is cleaning those with anti-bacterial wipes! I got there before 8am but it was already very busy. Huge isles empty. All items limited to three per customer (which is a great idea – unlike our local Sainsburys which said one item per customer). No soap. No pasta. Almost out of sanitary protection and definitely no hand sanitiser. But there were toilet rolls. Cheap nasty toilet rolls for £2.00 but of course I bought a pack. Toilet rolls are fast becoming the new currency in this dystopian world.
I felt so stressed doing this. I don’t think I will be going shopping again for a long time. It felt like Armageddon. The very last shop before all hell breaks loose. I don’t own a chest freezer but had a spare small freezer in my garage that I was saving for my son when he gets his own place. Today I plugged it back in.
Today was a first. I cleaned every item of food before I put it away. Every item. I am also cleaning my post from the postman. Apparently, this virus can live on paper and cardboard for up to a day so I am not taking any risks. You may think I am being a bit ‘over the top’ but I believe a month from now, you will wish you were doing what I am doing.
It is dangerous. It is killing people. Look at my favourite European destination, Italy. Already 3.500 people dead from it and that number is still rising. We need a lockdown and we need it now. If only we had a government that takes decisive action that protects the people. This is not a drill. Social distancing is a thing. Do it and do it now. It might just save lives!
Are we living in a horror film?
It's like every horror film I have ever watched. The beginning of 28 days later. The beginning of The Stand. Outbreak. The shops are empty as people panic buy. No hand gel. No toilet rolls. No pasta. No paracetamol. A deadly virus is amongst us. We can’t see it. We can’t protect against it. It kills indiscriminatory and picks on the old and vulnerable.
I have always been fascinated by deadly diseases. It started when I was 12 and flew to France with the school. My first trip abroad. The rabid dog poster has never left me. I was terrified and it was genuine. I have never petted a stray animal here in the UK or abroad just on the power of that poster. I toyed with the idea of studying to be a microbiologist as a teenager but decided on Acting instead. However, my fascination has always been there. In the 80’s it was AIDS. Again, the government terrified the public with a campaign telling us to ‘don’t die of ignorance’. A few years ago, it was Ebola.
And now we have Corona Virus or Covid19. Here in the UK there doesn’t seem to be an urgency by the government to take action. It is almost as if they want people to get infected so that it causes a ‘herd immunity’ which they hope would protect those that are left. Boris Johnson even said in his speech ‘some of your loved ones will die before their time’ as if that is acceptable for the greater good. Well I don’t intend to be a statistic. Ireland is closing pubs from today which means they will be closed on St Patrick’s Day. Scotland have banned gatherings of over 500 people. But here in England so far there are no bans. And in Italy almost 2000 people have already died. That is a scary statistic. As I write, 35 have died in the UK. We don’t know how many people have it or are infected. It’s not a Zombie film where we can tell by looking at someone. They aren’t even testing people to find out. I am truly horrified by the lack of response from this government and think they need to start to protect its citizens. Matt Hancock the health secretary doesn’t seem to have an urgent bone in his body. His latest comment today on the Andrew Marr show says ‘in the next few weeks we will be asking the elderly to self-isolate and we may ban mass gatherings’. May? Next few weeks? Come on man, make a decision!
Many sporting events have already been cancelled and even Record Store Day has been put back until June. People are ready to self-isolate to protect themselves. My mum lives in a retirement village and from tomorrow they are on lockdown meaning no one can come or go who doesn’t live or work there. It makes sense to me, even if it means cancelling Mother’s Day. So why aren’t the government doing more?
I have many questions that no one seems to be answering.
Why didn’t they stop all travel internationally when they first heard about this in China?
Is it really just a transfer of a disease from a bat or is it secretly a man-made disease for germ warfare?
Why do they say hand gel needs to be 60% alcohol when no bottles tell us that – and why does a bacterial hand gel kill the virus?
Does washing our hands really work or is it a way to stop panic as the public then seems to be doing something to protect themselves.
Why is it so bad in Italy? Why have so many died? Will this happen in the UK?
There are those who think this is just a bad cold. There are those who say more people die of normal flu. These comments are not helpful and does not stop the panic in those who feel particularly vulnerable. It is not just the elderly at risk. Those with underlying health issues are also at risk. Many have invisible health issues and are of working age. Are they supposed to be staying home for four months and will work pay them? There are no clear answers.
In these difficult times, I don’t have an answer. I am deeply saddened for my friends in Italy and other countries who are suffering. I am sending love to all around the world and hope this will all be over soon.
I had to phone someone so I picked on you….
I normally talk about all the amazing events that I go to on Bowie week. However last Thursday I fell poorly with a bad cold and still feel unwell this week which is Bowie week. So instead I am going to talk about Bowies last gift to us all. Some of you may think this is the Blackstar album. Some may think it’s the Lazarus play and I could easily talk about both in detail. But no, his lasting gift to me and many of my fellow Bowie fans was the gift of friendship.
For most of my Bowie life, I have not known friends like this. What I mean by that is I have wonderful friends but none of which love Bowie to the level that I do. They might like his stuff but certainly didn’t own all his albums and were not fussed about seeing him live. Hell, they couldn’t even name a favourite top twenty! I felt like a pariah in the desert. Living in Milton Keynes, I could easily say I am the biggest Bowie fan here. It was true 40 years ago and is still true today. This was demonstrated a few years ago by a friend being approached by a playwright to find a huge female Bowie fan. She thought of me above all others even though she likes him herself…and thanks to her and my collaboration with Mark Wheeller I am featured as one of a handful of fans in the play, ‘Can You Hear Me Major Tom?’ which has been performed twice but this year is due for a publication release. From that, I have met and became good friends with Charlie Fowler who is also known as David Live (David Bowie tribute). But back to my being the only Bowie fan in Milton Keynes. Did you know, I used to buy two Bowie tickets to a gig and then try to find someone to come with me who wouldn’t mind paying for their ticket? Today if I had two Bowie tickets - I would have a queue a mile long begging me for the tickets. Today I have a Bowie family.
Something happened on the day he died. I knew in that moment life wouldn’t be the same again. I didn’t realise how much I talked about him. I didn’t realise how much he was already a part of my life. But losing him meant I needed to find people to share my feelings with. I wrote about him at length. I wrote my raw feelings down on the day he died. I wrote poetry about how I felt about him. But since he died, I have a Bowie family who I don’t have to explain myself to. They get it. They understand. They feel the same way. If I cry on 10th January each year – they don’t ask why. They know. The peace of finding your tribe of people is beyond anything I have felt before.
I often meet up at events with different fractions of my Bowie family. I have the netters. Originally those who were on Bowie net that now run an annual charity event in support of Terrence Higgins trust. Bowie supported the events and through those I have met some amazing talented and creative people. I have the Beckenham posse who is lead by the inspirational Wendy Woo to raise money to restore the bandstand which is now a Grade II listed building thanks to her. The very bandstand he wrote Life On Mars on. Very significant for anyone thinking of doing a Bowie pilgrimage. Currently as I write this there is the biggest event of all – a week-long Bowie celebration in Dublin. Let it be said the Irish know how to party. I sadly cannot be there this year, but I am hopeful that I will get there in future years. I have lovely friends from the USA that I met in 2018 for the last ever Bowie exhibition. It just shows that there are so many more people who love him like me…it was just a matter of connecting us.
But it doesn’t matter how I first met you (when I met you) or if you have (no plans) plans to meet up. I hope I touch some of you with the love I feel for him and how I write about him. I hope many of you celebrate this week in your own special way even if it is just listening to your favourite album (yes, I know that choice changes daily!) … here I am sinking in the quicksand of my thoughts…wishing every week could be Bowie week.
Bowie never let me down
And what I did during Bowie week 2019....
Most Bowie fans may groan at this title…after all its from his commercial 80’s days. However, for me it completely sums up how Bowie has influenced my life. I have loved him since I was 12. It may have been the late 70’s but I soon discovered his back catalogue of 60’s and 70’s work and loved it all. He was there through my difficult teenage years. He taught me to be myself, to be my quirky and strange self and be proud of it. Bowie was in my life before husbands and kids, and he has never let me down. Of course, he doesn’t know it – but I know I am not the only one. There are many people out there who are as kooky as I am.
January is always a month of mixed emotions for Bowie fans. This year marks the third anniversary of his death. How fast has it gone? It seems only yesterday I was so excited about hearing the Blackstar album. I was raw when I found out that devastating news that our starman had left us. How do I feel today? It still hurts. I found myself explaining to my work colleagues the reasons why I take 10 January off each year…and cried. So yes, it still hurts to have lost him. During the last three years I have slowly accepted there will be no more new music and that there are those trying to rip us fans off with their mass-produced Bowie items, or worse, a home-made Etsy offering. But there are many positives and the final gift that David left us, each other. In our grief we sought out other kooks, because they knew without explaining. And they didn’t judge.
On his birthday this year (8 Jan) I had to work but I somehow knew it was still a Bowie day. My copy of ‘The Birth of Bowie’ book arrived. Birth of Bowie on his birthday. It felt like Karma. I also downloaded the app of the David Bowie Is exhibition. It found its way to my home page on my mobile phone and by fluke was perfectly placed over my wedding photo so it looks like I was marrying Bowie. This IS karma. The universe knows how much I love him and it reflects back on me. On 10 January, I had originally planned to be in London, but as I was going to London on Friday and Saturday I decided to stay home. I watched DVDs and interviews; reflecting and crying as well as laughing and singing Bowie all day. Never forgotten and always loved. Despite this being a sad day, 95% of my timeline on Facebook is filled with Bowie and the outpouring of love and sadness of this day. I love its filled with Bowie, but I don’t love the reason why. Maybe ‘Where are we now?’ is a better title. Nothing has changed and yet everything has changed. He is still my centre and that doesn’t change but I am unable to talk to people for long without him popping up in conversation. He is a part of my core. A part of who I am. And I miss him.
On Friday I went to London as planned for a Bowie weekend. I headed for Clapham to spend time with friends and have a Labyrinth evening at The Grand. I dressed with a homage to Sarah from the film but there was every character fancy dress you can imagine there. It was great to be with my tribe of people. After the film David Live took to the stage for two fabulous sets. You can read the review here. Saturday saw me at the other end of London as I was reviewing A Bowie Celebration. Its just another excuse to meet up with Bowie family before the gig and have a good catch up. A Bowie Celebration was fantastic and that review can be found here.
If you love David Bowie you may understand my feelings, or you may just think I’m a bit crazy – but I am not alone.
Mamma Mia! – Here We Go Again!
Here we go again – well, that’s exactly how I felt and with some trepidation too. I love Abba and was lucky enough to have seen them back in 1979 at Wembley and it is my opinion that no one sings Abba like Abba. I didn’t really like the first film and for lots of reasons really; the bad singing, the stupid handshake thing, and I wasn’t exactly comfortable that poor Sophie had never been told who her father was. This did not warm me to Donna and perhaps I was a little judgemental that she slept with three men in such quick succession that she didn’t know who the father was or consider using protection on any of these occasions. So, with all that at the back of my mind I came to this show with baggage – or maybe a low expectation. I didn’t expect to like it and thought it would be more of the same.
However, I am here as a true Abba fan to say I DID enjoy it. Maybe it’s because I knew what to expect this time round. Maybe it’s because they didn’t let Pierce sing much and they had cut out most of the silly handshake bits every time they all meet. But I think it’s probably much better than the first film because Richard Curtis has had input into the story – oh boy what a difference. There were times I actually laughed out loud and yes, I will admit more than once.
Julie Walters as Rosie steals every scene – she is such a star and alongside her partner in crime, Christine Baranski as Tanya. They are most definitely the light relief and bring joy to the film. I almost wish they could have their own spin off show.
Cher turns up as grandma and she is more like a glam-ma. She looks amazing and sounds great even if I still prefer Abba. Her love interest is Fernando, played by Andy Garcia. Who knew that a gangster actor could be in Mamma Mia! I understood why she sings Fernando but Super Trooper was not an easy fit and I do think there are better songs for this slot that could have been chosen. Amanda Seyfried is still fantastic as Sophie and along with Dominic Cooper as Sky. In fact, it’s very impressive that the original cast members are all in it – the continuity is really important. The film tells the back story of how Donna meets Harry (the banker), Sam (The architect), and Bill (The sexy swede). It’s actually a good story and well written. It felt organic and interesting. The story flows and fans will recognise each background song and everything is Abba even if it is done in a Greek style in places. There is a small part for comedian, Omid Djalili and he gets the best laughs – stay to the end to see him start to sing Take A Chance On Me!
Of course, I knew every song and am very glad to hear some of my personal favourites. My Love My Life is such a beautiful song and although they have almost completely changed the words I’m glad it’s in there. Another gem is Andante Andante sung by the young Donna played by Lily James. I didn’t really rate her voice but on this particular track it was great. I think she needs Freda’s songs rather than Agnetha’s. Lily was adorable as young Donna and I found myself warming to her unlike the first film. There are some really great production numbers such as Waterloo, although both for Waterloo and Why Did It Have To Be Me? they needed a bit more bass, a bit more oomph – a bit more everything really! There is no logical reason why When I Kissed The Teacher has been changed to be singing about a female rather than a male teacher. Some changes do make sense to fit the story but this is just pointless and felt a bit like trying too hard when it wasn’t necessary. I did laugh at Hole In My Soul as it was almost unrecognisable!
Want to test if you are a real Abba fan? I hear Why did it have to be me and think Happy Hawaii, and for Dancing Queen (which is the most overplayed Abba song ever) I was singing the Spanish version instead. If you do this then you know what I mean. Also, if you spotted Bjorn on stage in the school scene before the close up!
The young story is compelling and all the cast who play the younger versions are great. I especially enjoyed the end dance off when the old and young versions of each character are dancing together.
When all is said and done, this film is funnier and better than the first one. Its got more substance and as I left the cinema I continued to sing Abba loudly at the top of my voice. As I had done throughout the whole film. I’d go see it again so that’s a sign of a good film!
David Bowie Convention 2018
There's old fans. There's new fans. And there's David Bowie!
Sarah Jan Sandra Emily
What is your favourite Bowie track and why?
Sarah: Heroes because of its power and meaningful lyrics
Jan: Moonage Daydream for special memories
Have you seen him live? If so what was your favouirte gig?
Sarah: Yes. Astoria in 1999 because it was up close and I was at the front.
Jan: Yes. Reality Tour because I got so close to him.
What is your favourite Bowie decade?
Sarah: Its too hard but I do love his Berlin years.
What is your favourite thing about the convention?
Sarah: Meeting other like-minded Bowie fans and listen to Bowie
guilt-free all night long
Jan :Meeting like-minded people
What is your favourite Bowie track and why?
Sandra: Sweet thing (Candidate) reprise as its a story that unfolds.
Emily: Heart's Filthy Lesson as it rocks and is hot
Have you seen him live? If so what was your favouirte gig?
Sandra: Yes it was Astoria in 1999 as it was an intimate gig.
Emily: Yes. Tin Machine in Brixton 1999 as it was a small gig.
What is your favourite Bowie decade?
Sandra: noughties as it reminds me of special times
What is your favourite thing about the convention?
Sandra: getting together with friends
Emily: Its different to everything else
Sara Sheri Charlie Rich
What is your favourite Bowie track and why?
Sara: Absolute Beginners - it was my wedding song
Sheri: Rock N Roll Suicide as it feels as if he is inside of you
Have you seen him live? If so what was your favouirte gig?
Sara: Yes. Birmingham in 1999 as it was a small gig
Sheri: Sadly not seen him live.
What is your favourite Bowie decade?
What is your favourite thing about the convention?
Sara: Meeting FB friends in real life and the bands are great.
Sheri: It feels like coming home and its addictive.
What is your favourite Bowie track and why?
Rich:Life On Mars. Its everything DB is about. Quirks of lyrics, Beautiful Melody and video. Its how I would introduce someone to my DB.
Charlie: Today its Fantastic Voyage as its the last track I listened to.
Have you seen him live? If so what was your favourite gig?
Charlie: Yes. Isolar 2. It was my first gig.
Rich: Yes 13 times in total but favourite was Serious Moonlight as it was my first.
What is your favourite Bowie decade?
What is your favourite thing about the convention?
Charlie: A feeling of family.
Rich: Meeting Bowie fans and sharing the Bowie love.
My review of the whole weekend can be found here:
Two year anniversary and nothing has changed.
Another year passes and it is Bowie week again. On Monday 8 January Bowie would have been 71 years old. I didn’t feel like a big party this year. I felt I wanted to think about him in my own private way. I put on Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence which was still sealed. When I first saw this film, I took photos with my 110 camera and yes, I used a flash. I’m sure I annoyed other people in the cinema, but he was so beautiful he took my breath away. However karma is a bitch and a few weeks later my camera was stolen out of my handbag. I never got a chance to see those photos. At home today on my 4k TV I can take photos to my heart’s desire so I did! This was so emotional to watch. The music is so powerful and I’ve not watched this in over 30 years. It’s like a time machine taking me right back. How well it works with the film. And to see David’s beautiful face on the screen was fait accompli.
The day between his birthday and the anniversary of his passing I decided to play Blackstar. This was a significant moment. I have played it many times before but this was the first time I played it without crying. I marvelled at how clever David is. The words have double meanings. The whole album feels like he is talking about dying. ‘I can’t give everything away’ ‘Something happened on the day he died’ ‘Stands a solitary candle’, ‘I’m dying to’, ‘Look up here I’m in heaven’, and of course ‘no plan’ which isn’t on the album but was written at the same time. The album is a genius at work. Truly clever and with lots of messages - just like Bowie. However the album makes me unbearably sad and I truly wish David had not had to go through cancer and dying to make such an album. I truly wish he was still with us. I had always wanted to play a Bowie song at my own funeral. Now I have a whole album to choose from. I also watched Five Years. A documentary of his 70’s albums over five years. It’s no secret that I’m a 70’s Bowie girl so this gives me huge pleasure. I love hearing his talking voice as much as hearing him sing. In fact I could listen to him sing after that dreadful day on 10 January 2016 months before I could hear any documentary of him speaking. I cannot say I accepted the news well at all. I have previously written about hearing the news. It was only when The Times newspaper had an official statement to ask for any children to come forward (a legal requirement I assume) that it really hit me this was real. I find it hard to accept even two years on that the man who I have loved since I was 12 has truly gone. I was not close to my parents who had split up since I was three, so Bowie was the stable dependable person who taught me to be independent. He taught me how to laugh (Please Mr Gravedigger), how to cry (Absolute Beginners), how to love (Win), to understand pain (Rock N Roll Suicide), and now to understand grief. Most of all he taught me how to be proud of my uniqueness. To not have to be like everyone else but be confident in me. He was my teacher and my friend. He was my saviour. To those of you reading this and thinking I am an extreme fan, well to some of you that may be true. But Bowie has also brought me gifts. In his death I have found a connection with other Bowie fans that understand. They don’t question if I burst into tears, they just hug me. They don’t moan if every day I mention him in some way, they accept it and even support it. I don’t think of myself as extreme but just someone who lost someone they loved.
Wednesday was the anniversary of his passing so I travelled down to Brixton as this was absolutely the place to be. I visited his house in Stansfield Road (as I always do when in Brixton) and met many friends old and new by the wall. I took my poem (The Worst Anniversary) with and put it up on the wall for others to see. I met a lady who had travelled from Liverpool to be there and we had a connection as we were both published in My Bowie Story. I met Nick, who sang Bowie’s songs by the wall with his guitar; it was heart-warming to hear others join in. I even met a couple who had travelled from Paris to be there. Bowie had touched us all. It made me think about the film close encounters and how those who felt they had to be in a certain place. This was the same thing. Bowie had touched us and now we had that urge to be in Brixton. Later that day we headed into the Dogstar where we sung Bowie songs so loudly that the pub put a Bowie tape on. It was a mix of feelings. I still miss him and think of him every day but being with others who love him as I do really brings a different perspective on it. He really lives on in all our hearts.
Friday marked the end of Bowie week but for me it was probably the most hectic. I was delighted to review Celebrating David Bowie for Gig Junkies. You can find my review of the gig here. I was very honest as it was a bit mixed and certainly not up to Mike Garson’s Aladdin Sane tour standard which was outstanding. As soon as the gig had finished it was a mad dash from Shepherds Bush to Clapham to see my friend Charlie perform as David Live. He was fantastic and the whole atmosphere at The Grand in Clapham was electric. Fans of all ages dancing and singing. Many dressed up in outfits such as Jareth or Thin White Duke. There was even the odd appearance of Hoggle but he was sleeping by the time I had got there so alas no photos. After leaving the Grand, the after show party carried on – but what happens in Clapham stays in Clapham.
Another year passes and he is not forgotten. Let’s celebrate his music and treasure what he gave us.
Love on ya.
David Bowie - I was there.
I am delighted to say I have had a piece published in a book. The book is one of the 'I was there' series and this one features David Bowie.
This piece has never appeared on my website so you will have to buy a copy of the book to read it. It describes the first time I ever saw Bowie live which was during the Serious Moonlight tour. I am featured over four pages but the book contains over 350 first hand accounts from people who knew him, met him and saw him live. It is a must read for all Bowie fans.
Red Planet Zone, (publisher) said: 'Thank you so much or your wonderful contribution!'
Buy it here.
A Saturday without you.
I’m sitting here on a Saturday morning going through my David Bowie CD’s to look at making my youngest sister a mixed tape (do we still say that?) as since he passed away she has said she would like to discover more Bowie and it is true to say I am an expert.
However, while looking at the CD’s I open it to see a flyer saying ‘looking for more beyond the legendary music?’. It hits me that David himself will now never know how much he meant to me and how he has been there for me throughout my life.
I am not just a fan. I am so much more than a fan. He is part of who I am. He is in my core. I have loved him and his music since I was 12 years old so it’s been one of my longest relationships in my life. There are those who would scuff at this and say I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me. I think these people are jealous that they can never know such a powerful love. Such warmth from just hearing him speak. Such excitement to see him perform.
A tear falls from my eye and I realise I am crying. I still feel so sad that I will never now get to meet him. I only ever wanted to tell him how wonderful he is. I always thought there was more time. I truly believed that one day we would meet. It felt tangible. I have really struggled to believe he is really gone. That chance; that opportunity has been taken away from me. Yes, I know this sounds rather selfish and of course I am terribly sad for Iman and his children too, but today I am talking honestly about my feelings about Mr David Bowie and what he meant to me.
For I truly think he was wonderful. He was generous – he gave his songs away and helped others. He had a great sense of humour – just look at jazzin for blue jean video. In fact, I think he was so wonderful that for the first time ever in my life I now have a tattoo that has the Bowie stars and ‘cause you’re wonderful’ on my wrist with a small heart. It has brought some comfort and for that I am grateful. But I still miss him and regret that I wasn’t more proactive in trying to meet him.
On the flyer it says ‘Join David’s community’. Well since January 2016, I have discovered just how wonderful our Bowie community is. I feel they understand my feelings, my love; my soul love for him. I don’t need to explain. I can’t explain. And I shouldn’t have to. It’s who I am. Just accept me for me.
So thinking about my sister’s tape, I am definitely going to put ‘Rock n roll suicide’ on it! Have a good Saturday everyone.
(First printed Saturday 21 May 2016)
Some of you may not even know what RSD is. Well it stands for Record Store Day and each year on the same day independent record shops get special limited edition releases to sell to the public. The idea was to promote independent record shops and it was a lovely idea. However, in practice it has not been a utopia as we had wished for.
For example, there are those who don’t live near an independent record shop that is participating…that means travelling and for me that would mean at least 20 miles to another town. I would have to pay to park but what car parks are open that early? Some people camp outside all night, but I hate camping and what about those with disabilities or long term illness? It is not really very fair to expect them to queue or camp out. Further to this there are those who camp and buy in their droves, just to sell on eBay for extortionate prices. This is not the ethos of RSD. And there are those record shop owners who give first choice to their friends before the actual day. (yes, this does happen!).
You all know I am a huge Bowie fan. The original RSD Starman picture disc was a standard price…but I don’t own one as they now go for over £150. They are not a numbered limited edition nor are they really that rare, but nonetheless prices for this have gone to silly money.
This year there are four Bowie releases. RSD has not done this before and it feels a bit like a money maker just because the starman is no longer with us. Of course, every self-respecting fan will want them so they will have a choice, queue up or resort to evil bay where they can exchange hands for triple the price or more. It has become a farce of what it was meant to be.
I can understand why some people are beginning to hate RSD and I am very grateful that I have some good friends who help me get them, but RSD as a concept is not really working and seems unfair to those who can’t make it.
Now that vinyl is a viable format again, do we really still need RSD?
One of the four David Bowie releases for 2017 and the queue outside Sister Ray Records in London on 22 April 2017.
So, I know you think I talk a lot about Bowie and it’s probably true. But when something as significant as a memorial is being considered I need to join in the conversation.
Most of you will already know that the mural in Brixton has become a gathering point for Bowie fans. Personally, I never understood why. It is not known if he ever visited the mural. Yes, he was born in Brixton but that is Stansfield Road and very few fans visit there. Stansfield Road is significantly deserving of a blue plaque.
There are other significant locations to consider for a memorial. Heddon Street is the location of the cover of the Ziggy Stardust album and a personal favourite location of mine. It already has a blue plaque on the wall but the telephone box is now around the corner. Much more could be done to promote this very special place.
Aylesbury is the birthplace of Ziggy, and a statue has already been commissioned there for a bargain price of £100,000. There is already a large Ziggy poster under the archway where the statue will be. This has been agreed with the local councils and the Kickstarter project has been successful in raising all the money required.
And of course, we cannot forget the bandstand at Beckenham, known as the ‘Bowie bandstand’. Bowie grew up in Beckenham so there are many significant ‘Bowie’ locations (such as the Three Tuns and where Haddon Hall used to be) but the most significant of all is the Bandstand. It was where he played in 1969 and it was on the steps of this very bandstand that he wrote the beginnings of Life On Mars.
But back to Brixton. It has been suggested that there should be a big red/blue ‘ZiggyZag’ next to the mural. It is planned to be three stories high and located by the mural. This is a terrible idea for the following reasons:
ZiggyZag is the wrong name. The flash is from the Aladdin Sane album and not Ziggy. This suggests that those who have come up with the idea are not real Bowie fans.
It is too big for the size of the area and will drown out the mural. It is also an issue for local residents.
It is not required in that location – it already has the mural and for many that is enough.
It is going to cost £990,000. That is a lot of money for something that isn’t even that well designed. Just stolen from the original artwork.
My view is that Bowie would hate it. It is not representative of who he was. It's commercialising him - and he liked to be challenging and controversial.
Discussing the Brixton memorial on Facebook put me in touch with Michael Wicks. He has suggested an alternative to the ZiggyZag in the same location. A Space Oddity / Blackstar Monolith, located in the middle on the path facing the mural and compliments the mural. The suggestion is you would be able to look at the mural as you can now. The monolith would have a cut out star so you could walk around to the other side and you could look through the star at the mural. The monolith itself would represent both the start and end of Bowie’s career. Like the monolith from Stanley Kubrick's film, A Space Odyssey, that Bowie drew a lot of early inspiration from, the monolith would be a symbol of Bowie’s space oddity and the Blackstar cut out into it representing the of course the end and final chapter Blackstar. As the mural itself is full of colour, it would set a contrast and offer something different from another lightning bolt (there is already one on the mural). The Blackstar symbol is an iconic symbol now associated with Bowie and the Blackstar album.
It is my personal view that this is a much better and classier idea. It is thought-out for both the fans and on a deeper level for the die-hards as well as not overpowering the mural and still being in a central location in Brixton.
This is a controversial subject, but Bowie was controversial. What do you think? Do you love the Ziggy Zag or the Blackstar? Do you want to save the bandstand in Beckenham where David Bowie has a real connection or support an overpriced ZiggyZag?
Whatever the final decision is, Bowie’s real legacy is his music.
If you would like to support the Bowie Bandstand, you can find out more:
How I spent Bowie Week 2017
I always know it would week of emotions but felt the need to do something to mark the occasion anyway. I did not want to hide away like I did a year ago, when I heard the news.
On 8th January 2017 Bowie would have been 70. It would have been a significant occasion. However just because he is not physically with us anymore does not stop Bowie fans from marking the occasion. There were many events up and down the country, but for me it was always going to be with the netters. For those who don’t know the netters (myself included) were the bowie fans who were originally on Bowie.net. We were the ones who knew Bowie as Sailor and many talked to him online. Others have met him and some have even worked with him. This is where I want to be. With people who love him as deeply as me. So, I headed into London. There were many fantastic musicians doing covers of his work, hearing often songs that are underplayed yet the crowd sang along anyway. It was a lovely evening and as the clock struck midnight to start the 8th January, we all sang Happy Birthday to the main man who has touched us all in some way. It was truly a celebration of his work and I felt happy.
On the 8th there was only one place on the planet to be and that was Brixton. Standing by the wall I met a few friends and then walked over to his house, where he was born, on Stansfield Road. It felt absolutely the right place to be and I still felt happy. I was in a much better place than I was a year ago, when I had also mourned with the netters in the same venue and had visited the same sites in Brixton. Yes, a year was a long time but Bowie was far from forgotten.
But Tuesday had a very different feel about it. Gone were my celebratory moments of his life. Instead every channel on the radio talked Bowie and called it Bowie day. I really hated that. I did not want the anniversary of his death to be Bowie day. Any day but that one! They were obviously struggling for people to talk on the radio as one woman they interviewed loved Bolan and Ferry more. Could they really not find one true Bowie fan? They should have called me. I was feeling annoyed and sad. So, sad that I burst into tears while I was driving and had to pull the car over and have a moment to myself. When I completed my destination, I was back in Aylesbury. I pushed through market square and found myself by the wall where the planned Bowie statue will be. There are a couple of photos of Bowie under the arches and I sat and thought about him and what he has meant to me. As I got up I saw a notice board and on it was a piece of paper which said, ‘RIP David Bowie. If you see this take it’. I looked around (It’s not candid camera but still felt weird) and took down the paper and lovely homemade Blackstar beaded ornament. I was truly meant to find this. I messaged the lovely lady who had put it there on her Facebook and suddenly felt better. This was meant to happen. I could continue my day and felt comforted by a complete stranger. Yet again the Bowie community coming together to support each other. This is one of the good things to have come out of his passing. There is a real Bowie community.
I also wrote a piece to remember him. It was named The Worst Anniversary and I used his own words to say how I felt. You can read this further down the page.
Saturday 14th January is the end of Bowie week and I finished it off with my first ever trip to Lazarus. This is the Bowie play that he had worked on just before his death. I had avoided all comments on the show so I could see it fresh and make my own decision. I knew it was based on the character from The Man Who Fell To Earth. And I didn’t like that film at all. So, if you want to see what I thought you can read my review here.
What you won't read in my review is at the end of the show, I was sitting in row B and people both sides of me weren't moving. So I decided to climb over that one row in front to get my photo taken with Bowie. You know what happened next! Yep! On my ass with my dress in the air in front of everyone looking towards the Bowie picture. But shhh, keep this to yourself. I don't need the world to think I'm an idiot!
This was how I spent my Bowie week. I am sure you all have your own ways of marking the occasion but for me, this was an emotional week of tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
Me outside Lazarus, Getting my photo taken with Bowie and the lovely Blackstar found in Market Square, Aylesbury.
At the V&A in 2013 and on what would have been Bowie's 70th Birthday in Brixton, 2017.
The Worst Anniversary
A year ago the most influential and inspirational person in my life quietly passed away. I was devastated and when I found out my raw emotions poured into a blog which is further down this page.
To mark the anniversary of David Bowie passing away, instead of using my words, I have written how I feel using his words. See how many lyrics you recognise. RIP David Bowie. Always in my heart.
The Worst Anniversary
Where are we now, without you? I’m not quite right at all.
Something happened on the day he died. They said the things to make it seem improbable, Whale of a lie like I hoped it was. And I cried for all the others till the day was nearly through. Cried so much my face was wet and kicked my brains around the floor. These are the days it never rains but it pours. The days float through my eyes, but the days still seem the same. I'm sinking in the quicksand of my thought. This week dragged past me so slowly. The days fell on their knees. I've heard a rumour from Ground Control. Oh no, don't say it's true. I look out my window what do I see? A crack in the sky and a hand reaching down to me. All the nightmares came today. And it looks as though they're here to stay. I’m Hitting an all-time low.
Time was waiting in the wings – but you never knew that. Now the wind is wild and despite being a rebel rebel, my love is lost. He was my soul love. Look up there – you’re in heaven – and I know that somebody up there likes me. But London Boy, can you hear me? Is there life on Mars? Panic, panic get me out of here…
This isn’t a modern love, this is Ziggy Stardust. He gave me more than five years… he told me that knowledge comes with deaths release; that he was a dead man walking and that all the pretty things are going to hell. I wish someone would phone or pick you up on channel two. When I live my dream you can be my hero. You promised that you would be king and I would be queen.
But the mountain moved its eyes to a world of realise and you stepped through the door to float in a most peculiar way. The stars look very different today. Can you see these tears so blue? An ageless heart that can never mend, These tears can never dry. I have to live without the sunlight. Love without your heartbeat.
But you tell me…
Fill your heart with love today, don't play the game of time. And then I know that as long as we're together, the rest can go to hell. I absolutely love you. Starman – don’t believe for one second I’m forgetting you. ‘cause you’re wonderful.
I would like to thank.....
You know that feeling when you are a kid on a roundabout and go around and around til you are dizzy and the world is spinning? Or swinging on a swing when you swing so high that for a few seconds you can’t see anything but sky and you catch your breath? Well I woke up like that this morning. Why?
Because I couldn’t believe how lucky I am to be a finalist in the Milton Keynes Digital Awards for my blog again this year.
And who can I thank? I thank my readers. Those who message
me kind words and comments. To all those who have offered
congratulations to me since I found out. To anyone who had read
anything I have written.
It has certainly been a year of mixed emotions and I have blogged
several times about Bowie and how much I love him and miss
him. I have also been to some wonderful shows and gigs and of
course blog about those. But I also blog about what moves me,
local, national and international thoughts I may have. And you guys read it. I feel so lucky to have your support…so thank you and cross your fingers for me!
UPDATE: Although my blog didn't win - I picked up two awards on behalf of About Milton Keynes, who I have been writing theatre reviews for over the last year. Well Done to the whole team.
My first Tattoo.
Since I was 16 years old I had always considered having a tattoo. My step-brother was a tattooist and was covered in them so from an early age I admired the artwork and talent. My idea of what design to have has changed over the years; as a teenager I wanted stars and a moon on my ankle. As I approached 40, I had decided on something abstract on my back. Unfortunately, I fell down the stairs and hurt my back to that felt it was the universe’s way of telling me not to have a tattoo. So I left it. I still had virgin skin.
In January 2016, David Bowie passed away. I have loved David Bowie since I was 12 and would describe myself as so much more than a fan. He is a part of who I am. He knows me. He loves me. He raised me. I felt lost without him. But in my grief of his loss I found the Bowie community, many who felt the same way as me. They felt the loss as deep as I did.
So when some people started to get the ‘Blackstar’ tattoos I considered it too. I felt it was a permanent way of telling everyone how much I loved him with no words. Not that I needed a reminder, but it would also comfort me in my grief. It would be a big step as I hate needles and after watching all those tattoo mistake programmes I was worried about having something permanent on me that wasn’t perfect. But I knew I really wanted this. I wanted to join the gang.
I couldn’t just rush into it. I wanted to research to make sure I made the right decision. I found out that all tattooists should be registered with their local authority. Hygiene is very important too – so as I was faced with new photos of other people’s tattoos everyday on Facebook making me want it more – I still took my time to research.
I wanted a personal recommendation. It was hard as my friends offering suggestions hadn’t used the person they suggested. Or the artwork wasn’t the sort of design I was looking for. I knew I needed someone who was good at line work. Luckily since January two Facebook groups had been set up just for Bowie tattoos. This was great as I was able to look at variations of their Blackstar designs. I asked them for personal recommendations and narrowed my options down to two tattooists that I really liked and that were commutable. One was in Coventry and one was in London. I liked them both. When I found out that the London one wouldn’t do the stars as small as I wanted, my decision was made.
I nervously rang up Queen of Hearts in Coventry and spoke to Natalie. I was put at ease straight away. I felt nervous for so many reasons.
1. I’d never had a tattoo before so was unsure of how it works
2. I was worried about design and perfection of executing the design
3. I was worried about hygiene
4. I was worried about pain of the needle
5. I was worried I may change my mind on the design after its on my skin
However as soon as I spoke to Natalie all my worries disappeared and I booked my appointment. I had about six weeks from my initial call to my appointment and during that time I emailed her and spoke to her about all my worries and questions. All were answered and put me at ease.
So almost three months to the day we lost Bowie, I caught a train to Coventry. I hadn’t been for many years and it has changed in places with new buildings and landscaped greens. Almost unrecognisable from the 70’s look of many buildings I remember.
I headed for the cathedral and with a print out from Google Maps and my smart phone tried to find my destination. When I found it I was warmly welcomed and offered a cup of tea. I relaxed and not felt rushed or hurried at all. We discussed the final changes to my design and I chose my final font for the lyric which was actually a difficult decision. The font was called ‘Angelface’ which felt right and looked right.
I had decided a while ago I wanted the Bowie Blackstar’s. I like the abstract design that spells out Bowie but that not everyone would know. I like the idea of being part of a secret bowie society. I have always been a lyric person and knew that I also wanted a lyric on my arm. This was a difficult job as I love so much of his work and so many of his lyrics mean so much to me. Eventually I narrowed it down to two.
‘It’s only forever’ from Labyrinth. I liked this as my love for him is forever and so will the tattoo be. And I do spend my life quoting from the film ‘she chose down? Too late now’. ‘Come inside – meet the Mrs’. ‘I need you Hoggle’. Yep I was always a big Labyrinth fan and especially ‘You have no power over me’.
‘Cause you’re wonderful’ from Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide. I like the fact he could be saying I’m wonderful, or I could be saying he is wonderful. My blog is called ‘It’s a wonderful life’ and Iike the positive connotations. I also sang this loud when I visited the V&A Bowie Is… exhibition. When he says ‘Not only is this the last show of the tour but it’s the last show we’ll ever do’, I always cry. It was the winner and the right decision to put it on my arm forever.
I wanted it to look like a bracelet around my wrist and to finish it off have a small red heart as Bowie will always be in my heart. This was my original idea and I had not seen anyone have anything like this to date.
I don’t know what I had been worried about. The tattoo space was lovely and decorated in a quirky way. It certainly appealed to my personality. I felt excited about doing this. It was the right time and the right place. Natalie asked me what music I wanted to play and I chose Young Americans and Hunky Dory albums. I’m a 70’s Bowie girl at heart. I admit that I had a small tear in my eye when 'Somebody up there likes me' came on.
To my surprise it didn’t hurt at all. And suddenly I had a tattoo. It had taken me years to find the right design, the right reason, the right place to have it but now I was a Blackstar and proud to be so.
The Loss of David Bowie 11.01.16
I blog. I blog about things I feel strongly about. I blog about things I love. So today of all days – what else can I do but write down a few feelings on the passing of my idol, David Bowie.
Those of you that know me, already know that David Bowie has been a huge part of my life. I may have met some of you at the Bowie Is exhibition or a Holy Holy gig…others I may never have met. But today we are all in mourning. Today is not The Next Day but the worst day.
It is surreal how I found out. I was actually sick last night and took today off work. When I woke I had lots of texts from friends offering their condolences before I knew what they were on about. I logged into Facebook to find more messages. I couldn’t believe it. Surely it cannot be true. I rang my sister to confirm it. She thinks I have a sixth sense as I was sick the day he died without even knowing. I am struggling between moments of disbelief and moments of terrible grief. I cannot stop crying. Even when I am not sobbing I have the odd tear sneaking down my cheek before I can stop it.
My husband ‘likes’ David Bowie and has tried to comfort me. But right now I need to be around people who really ‘get’ Bowie. People whose lives were changed forever by him. People who share and understand my grief. I have often joked that I would get rid of the husband and kids before I got rid of my Bowie collection. Of course I love my husband and kids, but it was me trying to explain how much Bowie meant to me.
So why do I love him? It’s hard to explain. I love his individuality – how he wasn’t scared to be different. This spoke volumes to me as I never felt I fitted in a ‘normal’ society. And he didn’t much care for being successfully commercial. He kept reinventing himself. Killing off Ziggy was such a brave move yet he made it work. Who else would do that? Even when he had huge commercial success with Let’s Dance he admits it was one of his less creative periods.
I love his compassion and generosity. During his early years he shared his songs, resurrecting the fading career of Mott the Hoople with All The Young Dudes. He quietly gave up a slot in his performance on Live Aid to show a film about the starving children. He always gave to others.
I love his talents. He doesn’t just have a few tracks or a few albums that I love. I love his diversity and range of genres. His ability to continue to shock with his music. This doesn’t mean I have loved everything he has released. I was never keen on Tin Machine and more recently I hated Sue. (I’ve never been a fan of Jazz). But ask me which is my favourite album and I would struggle to answer. I love Hunky Dory. Kooks always makes me laugh. I love Ziggy and always thought Five Years was a genius piece of writing. Young Americans is such a sexy album and Station To Stationis one of my favourite tracks from the album of the same name. I have recently rediscovered and adored, The Man Who Sold The World, especially ‘All the Madmen’ which feels like ‘All the Bowie fans’. A huge thanks in part to Holy Holy for bringing this album back to life to live audiences. It really felt special to be part of it.
It’s not just his talent for music that I love. He is (was? – I’m not ready to put him in the past tense yet – it’s all still too raw) an accomplished actor. Just watch him in Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence or see a clip of his performance of The Elephant Man to know he was Oscar worthy. And everyone’s guilty pleasure is watching Labyrinth as an adult. My personal favourite is Absolute Beginners. Not because of the role he played particularly, but the entire film feels like a cult film and the theme tune of the film by Bowie is an outstanding piece of music that always sends shivers down my spine.
He has a wicked sense of humour which can be seen in his extended video of ‘Jazzin for Blue Jean’ Video where he plays two parts. The end of the video he is arguing with Julien Temple, the director, to say Vic should get the girl instead of ‘Screaming Lord Byron’. Its truly perfect.
I grieve his passing. It is a personal loss. I am as devastated as if it were a member of my own family. But it’s not just my loss. It’s a loss to all his fans all over the world. All those who loved him deeply even if they had never met him. It’s also a loss to all those potential fans who may ‘get’ him now. I hope you do. You don’t know how much you miss without Bowie in your life.
I will give the final word over to Morgan Visconti (Tony Visconti’s son) who said -
"Another day, another adventure!" was the last thing you said to me. I'll always remember that. My hero. Rest in peace, David Bowie.