Golden Years

David Bowie was the first music star I came to appreciate, at about aged 12. A few years later a friend once asked me if he could look through the Cassettes in my car for music to play. There was about a dozen. “They’re all Bowie!” he declared. Not a problem. I’m still listening decades later.

Two days ago I bought Bowie’s album Blackstar on its release on iTunes. Watching the tracks BlackStar and Lazarus was haunting in a way I struggled to define.

Listening again in the car this evening on hearing of his death, I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was listening to his funeral songs.

I’m in shock in a way I haven’t been about the death of a musician or other public figure.

For me it’s a personal story of music threaded through almost my whole life. John I’m only Dancing in the early seventies, 1984 at the time I read the Orwell book of the same title, Station to Station which builds and builds and was one of the longest tracks I had at the time,  Heroes blasting in the car so loud you couldn’t think; China Girl  with its New Zealand video and Let’s Dance into the Eighties. Changes forever. There’s so much of his music I’m passionate about, it’s hard to know where to start – these are just off the top of my head, as is the title of this blog, so that’s what it’s titled.

I was there at Western Springs in the largest concert ever held in New Zealand. I’m pretty sure I’ve got all his music. For me none can compare. And he was a funny man. When interviewed on the Holmes show one evening by Susan Wood he was asked how he managed in public without being hassled.  ‘I put on a hat and buy a Greek newspaper, no one bothers me then’ was his reply.

Like the chameleon he was, leading to his death the expectation of which we knew nothing of, he had us all wondering about the music. Even my mother declared yesterday ‘Lazarus, has he run out of ideas?’ (I’ve no idea where she came to learn of Bowie’s new album or even have a passing interest but such is his power). He’s gone now and it’s sad. But we have no rights to not be shocked. A private man who lived his life away from the glare of publicity right to the end. A man without peer. As tragic as it is, he must have wanted Blackstar to speak to us after he was gone. And it does.

Thank you.  I have to borrow his title and say that these have truly been Golden Years of music for me.

Stephen

 

 

Short, dull and full of pain

And so it is said on the Woody Allen movie Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Of life.

Life has put a long time between blogs for me at the moment, but I’ve still been thinking!  A lot. Life is busy and it’s certainly short and for some I guess it is dull and full of pain.

We only need to look at any news site for the pain the many people are in. Take a walk at lunchtime and see how dull many people seem. They might not be of course. But it looks like it to me.

But if it’s true that life is dull, then what? Or maybe it’s pain? Caused by circumstance or by others. You might even be a victim.Image

But time has passed. A short time, because that’s all there ever is actually. But does it need to be dull? No.

I’ve watched another of Allen’s work, Midnight in Paris, a few times lately. The protagonist Gil Bender escapes his current dullness by visiting the 1920s. Yes, it’s far fetched.  Gil meets up with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Hemingway and others. He reshapes his life from a potentially mediocre existence of comfort and wealth to one of living a life that has meaning and adventure, for him.

You might have pain and I can’t judge or minimise that.  What then? Life is short. That’s a fact.  Dull? No way, there’s no excuse at all for that. Wake up and get on with life I reckon. Now. Which is why my blogs are few and far between right now.  Enjoy.As Cristina says on Vicky Cristina Barcelona, watch out for the “appropriate police”.

Stephen

Grandma’s Clock Part Two

Collecting the clock from after its refurbishment before Christmas the Clockmaker declared it “fully wound, you should rewind it every week”. The clock has three wind mechanisms – the clock, the hourly signals and the fifteen minute chimes. I don’t usually have the latter two wound, preferring not to be woken every fifteen minutes. Somehow Grandma could sleep through it though!

So I’ve been removing the weight, the thing that keeps the “tick tock” going, a lovely soothing sound, during the evening. Sometimes I’m too busy or don’t remember to put the weight back in so it’s taking quite a few weeks to wind down the offending chimes.

It’s a long weekend for the top half of the North Island and another one for the whole country next week, thanks to Waitangi Day being on the Monday. Having been back at work for two weeks there’s a lingering sense of holding on to the holidays with two long weekends in a row. And hoping that we might get more than a few summer days in a row!

Leadership is always on show – I’ve blogged about that many times. You know, if you run into a leader you admire in the weekend, will you find the same person you know or know of if it’s a public leader? You should do I reckon. If they’re an authentic leader.

But leadership is also about taking the weight off when you can and when you need to. Some people like Grandma never seemed to need to – she was a hardworking woman who was doing the accounts for a local business well into her seventies – and later, yes later, Patron of the local Bridge club.

I’m nursing some soreness which is meaning a bit of a stand-down from long runs at the moment, so that combined with the long weekends means taking the weight off for a bit. Even though it’s the start of the year, it’s still a good time to build resilience. In fact it’s always a good time to build resilience so take the weight off when you can, whatever time of the year it is.

Maybe just overnight, like the clock!

You’ll be a better leader for it.

Stephen