Day 17: St Neots to Hardwick

We walk our miles in record time over flat country with huge grey skies. Moses, (the dog) goes mad with ecstasy as he rolls in the wheat stubble that scratches his tummy.

We sit in the pub Marcus has chosen with trepidation as all his choices thus far have been poor.

But we are greeted by Rachel’s smile in the Willow Tree in Bourn, an excellent restaurant, to discover that she is a true English Rose, attentive and cheerful. The food is top notch and all in all we are all set to rip off the last five miles in record time.


Life on Mars

David Bowie’s death attracted vast publicity – 13 pages in The Times, no less – as if he had been a reigning monarch. But although he was clearly prodigiously talented and successful, and his message was obviously a potent one, it all soared many miles below my radar. Bowie sought to torpedo just about everything I believed in as a child. I was brought up just after the war, and my heroes were Monty, Slim and Churchill. The films we watched were Reach for the Sky, The Cruel Sea and Lawrence of Arabia. We believed in courage, emotional reticence, decency, fidelity, honour, the family and the CoE.

Bowie shrieked instead that we should be bisexual, wear luminous clothes and paint stripes on our faces. He tried to persuade us all that it’s okay not to work hard or be faithful: and that it’s okay to be sexually incontinent and to be a different person every 10 minutes.

He appeared to try to subvert everything I had ever believed in, so I tried to shut him out of my consciousness. I thought that most of my generation wanted to find meaning, genuine love, and something to do with a purpose – and to grow old knowing roughly who we all were.


Tweets to Heaven

The reaction to his death was akin to the emotional tsunami that swept many away during the days after Princess Diana’s death.

Millions of tweets were apparently sent to heaven asking God to allow Bowie to come back to earth. How spooky is that? And what’s healthy about 4.3 million tweets, mainly from celebrities, banging on about how they once spent three seconds (by chance) in the presence of the great Bowie?

In fact, Diana and Bowie had a lot in common: they were both deeply into themselves, and both sad and melancholic. Both personalities were deeply hysterical, and they appeared not to know who they were from one minute to the next. And what does reinventing yourself really mean? What sort of credulous ass thinks that this sort of behaviour could ever possibly lead to happiness? Go figure: the reality is that it’s bound to lead to marital breakdown, unemployment, stranded kids, crime, unhappiness and an early death.

Then came the “sob signalling”, a conceited, narcissistic and artificial practice that was paraded on social media. It was contrived rather to draw attention to the emotional state of the author than the dead Bowie. Sob signalling demonstrates that the more I weep, the more sensitive, caring, and loving I am. It’s runny nose, knicker-wetting, self-indulgent whiffle.

One Times headline screamed, “Debauchery seven days a week!” That’s the sort of wet dream I had when I was 14. Why should such behaviour be celebrated? It’s what happened at the end of the Roman Empire. Would you like that headline above your grave? Or above the graves of your children?

The whole thing lacked humour, although I did find one story I read quite amusing. Bowie was playing live at the Hammersmith Empire and during the interval he tottered backstage on his high heels to take a pee. The production manager showed him a stained sink.

“My good man,” said Bowie, “I am not pissing in a sink.”

The man snarled, “If it was good enough for Shirley Bassey last week, it’s good enough for you.”



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