Sunday, 17 January 2016


I had already pre-ordered David Bowie's new album Blackstar and had it waiting on my phone when the same phone flashed up the news he had died. His music was the soundtrack to my teenage years: I bought the albums I had missed then everything he released. He was one of the few major artists I ventured to see in concert.

I've listened to Blackstar now and watched the video. It was released on Bowie's birthday, 8 January. He passed away two days later and the world learned the shock news the day after.

Tony Visconti, long-time producer of Bowie albums said, "He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was not different from his life — a work of Art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift."

Not only that, a theatre work called Lazarus, co-written by Bowie and featuring his music, opened in New York in December.

It seems Bowie was planning more recording, but was interrupted.

His cancer was diagnosed 18 months before. Strangely, my last post here, just a few hours before the news reached me, I called "Almost a sense of mourning", about how with the turn of the year my mental calendar shuffles to the left. Images that were "this year" are now last year. "Last year" slips away to be a more distant completed page.

These pages now stretch back, covered in images, to when I began this process of remembering every day that passes on 17 December 2011.

What struck me is how clearly I can now see 18 months. Standing on my mental calendar, I look to the right and there is the spot to step on to. That's how many days I would have.

A niece, my wife's sister's daughter, died of cancer a little over a year after it was diagnosed. Those key dates are in the images on my calendar, together with the days when I saw her. It is a way to never forget someone.

I don't know how and when I will die, just that somewhere in the pages to my right, there is an end.

Maybe there will be a diagnosis and time to prepare. Maybe it will simply be a day that began as any other.

When I was a young man at college, having my horizon's expanded, for a while I thought it clever to say that we are all terminal cases really and should live every day as if it could be our last - though not as if it is going to be.

I can see 18 months now. I can walk over the days that have not yet been filled. As an experiment, I am imagining they are all I have left. What difference will this perspective make to how I live them?

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