no longer among us. I am so grateful to my box of tissues that stood by
me courageously all day until it was drained. Part of me feels a tad
silly for crying over a man I never knew personally. But the depths to
which this man has rooted within me, I cannot begin to describe.
In my innocence I was adamant that I should learn English in writing
and speech in case I’d meet my idol. I’d have to be able to communicate
with him, after all. So when I was ten years old, I began to keep my
diary in English. Incredibly cute to read my phonetic scribblings, but a
deep love for the language was born and was not even lessened by the
overkill of an academic degree later.
Whether I had always been an
outsider or that I became an outsider by being a Bowie fan, I cannot
say. But my devotion to this star from a previous generation set me
apart from my peers. While they listened to mostly rock and pop with the
usual lyrics about love, I was deep into albums like Low and Diamond
Dogs, for which the words superficial or romantic do not come to mind.
Not only was Bowie’s music something else, his lyrics taught me to read
poetry. He was never much of a lyrics clarifier, so most of it was left
to my own interpretation which left much of it a mystery. A mystery I
loved, though, for it left ample room for my imagination to grow in.
Before I resigned in the mystery of his work, I went on quests,
though, trying to find as much information as possible. I’d buy all
books and magazines about him in all languages and since there was no
such thing as Google translate yet, I spent hours and days translating
them. So I got really, really good at other languages as well. I even
got pen pals all over the world to collect magazine articles. In those
days the world was a tad bigger than it is today and information was
more unevenly spread. So imagine the joy when an envelope with ripped
out Bowie pages landed on my doormat! And it left me some friends too!
My Bowie fandom was enriching in another way. I adored the man and his
work so much that I wanted whatever had rubbed off on him to rub off on
me too. So I’d read the books he spoke about in interviews; I listened
to music he listened to; collected albums from musicians he worked with,
etc. So at a young age already, I was looking at the world through eyes
that were by this experience a tad older and richer than I was myself
at the time.
In between sobs there was time for fond memories
today. Like my first concert ever my art teacher took me to when I was
14: David Bowie in Ahoy, Rotterdam. I had spent a semi-night in front of
the ticket office, expecting to find heaps of people aiming for
tickets. I and a friend were the only ones there until half an hour
before sales! But I managed to get tickets for me and my art teacher. So
she took me there in her rickety Deux Chevaux in which I had to keep
retaping the flapping windows with duct tape because they would
otherwise keep flapping open during the drive. Which in itself wasn’t
too bad a thing for in my enthusiasm (read: nerves) I had accidentally
spoilt half a bottle of perfume over my clothes, so my art teacher was
practically driving with her head out of the window to try and catch a
breath that wouldn’t dissolve her grey matter instantly. But of course I
hardly noticed ’cause the entire experience had shot me straight into
I will also never forget how all my high school
teachers accepted my signing my test sheets with Mandy Bowie rather than
with my own name. Even on my prelims! I couldn’t do it on my finals, my
mentor came to mention, because these would leave the building. But
once I got my diploma, I was called to the stage by my preferred name:
Mandy Bowie could come pick up her diploma!
And the letter I once
wrote Bowie at the age of 13, to ask if I could be his PA. I had seen a
photo of his and Coco Schwab and had then for the first time heard of
the profession of PA. So, I carefully applied for the job, should he
need one in the Netherlands. I got a letter back from one of his staff,
thanking me for the honour courteously. They would call upon me when
necessary. I was over the moon. And imagine the trouble I took to get an
address! Hunted high and low for that. But in all honesty I have no
idea where the letter eventually ended up and whether it ever got close
to anyone Bowie related. I sent it to an address I’d found in
Corsier-sur-Vevey where I’d heard he’d spent his holiday. But you know
something? The romance isn’t in the end result…the romance is in
trying. In a romantic teenager with dreams putting herself out there and
trying to get somewhere. And that was clearly picked up by the person
who cared to reply to my letter.
evening and my thoughts will undoubtedly remain in a realm far away and
long ago from here for a while more. But it doesn’t bring Bowie back.
He’s really gone this time. His energy and the quiet promise of a new
emergence has gone. He will not be easily forgotten, though. He leaves
behind a massive piece of work that we can always go back to and that
many generations to come will undoubtedly discover and rediscover.