Thursday, 4 February 2016

January is the cruellest month (Hymn for the Dudes)

When it’s New Year’s Eve, everyone says “Thank goodness that year is over”. I didn’t say that this time round, because 2015 was an OK year for me. But it’s gone downhill ever since.

I started January discovering I couldn’t afford to move house, and ended the month accidentally falling out with one of the people I love the most. That’s on top of the normal seasonal angst.

I have a note at the bottom of my Christmas card list. It says “You will be depressed on 27th December. Do something nice.”  I love Christmas, but when it’s over I start thinking too much, and reading articles like this one.

And then there was January 2016, and the Grim Reaper got the wrong list.

When Lemmy died on 28 December, I felt sorry because if you die between Christmas and New Year you get missed out of the “who’s died this year” lists in the media. But I didn’t feel sad because he’s one of those people you expected to be dead anyway.

On 10th January, David Bowie died at the age of 69, and something fell out of my world.

Four days later, Alan Rickman died, and people started saying 69 was the new 27. I was sorry because you know film stars from their films, not how they are in the present, and I still thought of him as the sexiest middle-aged man ever.

Within a week, Buffin was dead, and I cried for all the young dudes. (And yes, I count myself. I don’t consider “dudes” gender-specific.) And I felt as if someone had just drawn a line under my youth. It’s gone, finally.

When Glenn Frey out of the Eagles died, I didn’t much care.

But I should have done. Because these were all responses to the public image. And there’s another side to this: those are real people with real families, who mourn. And this was brought home to me when another “famous” person died. Because I’ve lived in Liverpool and I’d met Colin Vearncombe and a lot of people I know were friends with him. And the way he died was awful and sad for his family and friends. So this wasn’t anything to do with his public image: it was about a real person.

And every death diminishes me, as John Donne famously said. Even if I don’t much like the Eagles.

So I grieve, and wait for the spring.

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