Hello. I’m Michael.
We’re meeting at an odd moment, at the start of what will be a very interesting year, so you’ll have to excuse me for being a little more abstract than normal. These blogs will mostly consist of me gushing about films, or stories that starting with “today, I was on the tube…”
This one is a little different. I’ll assume you’re more than twelve days old. So, like me, you probably know that 2016 was pretty terrible. I won’t go on about it. You could say that this year is going to be just as bad, and you’d have a pretty strong argument.
One of the big things that hung over last year was the relentless celebrity deaths. Again, you know who they are, and it’s a little insulting list some and not others, to limit mourning to a few within the roughly 55 million people who passed on. But I’m a hypocrite. I spent an entire week moping when Bowie died, gushed worse than anyone when Prince went up to the Big Purple Place in the Sky, spent Christmas Day drinking and playing George Michael songs badly on the piano, and watched Singing in the Rain again last week just to be around Debbie Reynolds one more time.
Sadly, the pessimists have a point. It’s going to carry on. Pop culture, the idea of “celebrity”, only sprang up in the 1960s, and from then on there were simply more famous people. So fifty years later, the spike in celebrities passing away reflects the spike in famous people. It’s the new normal. The only way to deal with it is, each time it happens, to celebrate everything that person has given the world. Even if it was just to be alive, which is pretty special in itself, as it is for all of us.
You could even say that some of the “bad things” that happened are going to continue. I spent two very memorable nights staying up to watch two very harrowing election results come in. So we’ll all be watching to see what happens, especially now that the rules have been changed around the nature of “truth”, the blinkered nature of Facebook news feeds and the power of populism.
But both nights, the same thought struck me, just peeking past the feeling that I’d been punched in the chest. It was the idea that we’re living through the moment in history that our grandchildren will learn about one day and think “wow, that must have been crazy”. It’s terrifying, but it gives us an opportunity. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’d like them to ask “so what did they do about it”, turn the page and think that we were smart, brave, and forward-thinking. Not bitter, scared and dismissive. Okay, it won’t be a page. It’ll be some kind of VR terminal, but you get what I mean.
So, for me, this year will be the year of doing. It doesn’t have to all be protesting and volunteering, it can be the little things. A few years back, I just “never got round to” visiting the Bowie exhibition at the V&A. And now I will always “never have got round to” it. So when Pink Floyd do their own exhibition this summer, I’m first in line, with my Dark Side of the Moon shirt on. The little things.
Oh, and I’ll be playing some music with a friend called Kier. I’m looking forward to it.
PS 2017 is also the year we get Blade Runner 2049. I’m trying not to be too excited, because I’ve been let down before with sequels. But I loved Arrival (same director), so maybe it’ll be good. Please. If you’ve never seen the original, take an evening to properly immerse yourself in it. The Final Cut or the Directors Cut, don’t bother with any of the others. Then nerd out with me about it. I once took a date to see the original when it was showing at the BFI, despite already going earlier that month. She thought it was “okay”. Needless to say, it didn’t work out.
PPS Winds of Winter might be out in March, according to George RR Martin. March is pretty close. So I might dig out and get going on re-reading the rest of the series. All 4,273 pages of it.