I feel I owe the ‘crime writers’ crime writer’, John Harvey, a huge apology for the comment he wrote inside my copy of his excellent book back in 2008 for I fear that – make that ‘I know that’ I have been guilty of exactly what he warned against – wasting time.
Fast forward to the 10th January of this year – the morning of the day we awoke to the news that David Bowie had left us – returning, presumably, to the stars.
Several things happened.
I had no idea just how much his passing would affect me. I’d never thought of myself as being a massive music fan, although now I realise I am and always have been – the ‘soundtrack’ to my life (if you’ll excuse the tired old cliche) being something I’d just accepted as a background to so many other things.
Then there was the Beckenham connection – I’d have never visited the public outpouring to other celebrities or famous figures who have passed, but the mourning and celebration of David Bowie was for the most part playing out on my doorstep.
Jumping off the train one stop before London, I was in Brixton viewing and reading the tributes there, I went to Heddon Street and did the same. And, of course, as they are in my home town, I couldn’t not pass by and stop and think a while at the site of the old Three Tuns Pub – my first and only real drinking place in my school and college years – and the bandstand at Beckenham Recreation Grounds. And, every visit was accompanied by one of the currently (looks at iPod screen) 675 Bowie tracks playing in my earpieces.
I’ve been collecting the music of his where there were gaps in my collection, devouring biography after biography, plus all the DVDs and magazine features I can get my hands on. Even my home music system got an upgrade in recent weeks, and a turntable arrived, to cope with the growing collection I’ve been playing and enjoying.
There are two things I’ll take from the experience of January into February 2016.
The first is to seek out more.
It’s not been enough to go to a charity screening of Labyrinth – I’m reading Walter Tevis’ novel ‘The Man who fell to Earth’, listening to Iggy Pop, will watch ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’, will read more William S Burroughs’. Hell, I might even watch ‘Bandslam’ – continuing to go out of my comfort zone I guess you’d say – so, in a way a second apology is due to Mr Harvey for my departure from crime fiction for a while.
But, the second thing is back to Mr Harvey’s dedication in my book, coupled with the image of David Bowie scribbling like mad into a notebook in the video for Lazarus – indicating to many that he was still striving to get more and more ideas and projects out before the starship came to collect him.
A combination of those things, plus the knowledge that no one owes me any form of living doing what I enjoy means that, as I rattle through from my forty-fifth to forty-sixth year on planet earth, I’d be striving to do what I want and need to do.
So, maybe, just maybe – all of those unfilled notebooks I’ve been collecting for years can now begin to be filled with snippets, ideas, sketches, stories and memories.
With thanks to John Harvey and now to David Bowie.
I don’t want to waste any time.
No more dead-time – that can always wait.