Some of you who visit this place from time to time (thank you for that by the way) will know that Mr WIAA had recently entered a piece into a sculpture competition and that it had inspired me to write about a specific song (Alice, Jefferson Airplane and White Rabbit). The awards ceremony took place in London on Monday evening and I’m pleased to say that not only did he win a Bronze Award for the sculpture (up against stiff competition) but he also won a Gold Award for his entry in the 2D category. I also think I mentioned in my last post that there was no monetary award, it was just for the prestige of being the best in your field – Turns out I was wrong and the gold award winners do indeed get a cash prize! We left the venue with a spring in our step and headed back to the hotel for some nice food and wine.
So, we’d spent the whole of day one of our London Trip simply traveling down from the far North of Scotland, navigating our way to the hotel and attending the awards ceremony. On day two we would hopefully have time for a few of the things tourists do in London before it was time to head back home. Because the theme of the competition entry was the marrying up of sculpture with literature, a trip to the British Library was on the cards, mainly because they have the original manuscript of Alice in Wonderland housed there. After dropping off our cases at left luggage and acquiring our blue Oyster Cards (always think of the band Blue Oyster Cult whenever I get one of those but you probably have to be of a certain age to get that joke), we were free to navigate London via its venerable Underground.
I did spot however that we were starting off on the Victoria Line and which station was only four stops away? It was Brixton, south of the river, and birthplace of Mr David Bowie. I knew there was a mural there of David in his Ziggy Stardust guise which people went to visit and treated as a place to leave tributes. We had the time so why not? It turned out to be incredibly easy to find as the mural is right on the street opposite the exit to the station. It wasn’t very big and has now been covered with a perspex sheet to protect both it, and the messages left by fans, but considering my very first blog post was about the death of David Bowie I thought it was important to have seen it. (Excuse the glare from the perspex but unavoidable and a short film added right at the bottom of this post.)
Starman by David Bowie:
It isn’t big and overwhelming but I did enjoy visiting the Starman’s mural in Brixton – People like to have a shrine, a focal point, so that they can leave messages, floral tributes and gifts and this is just one of those places. It got me thinking however, here we were in Brixton but if we travelled back up the line to Highgate we could see all the messages and floral tributes left for George Michael. In view of the fact I have spent a lot of time recently writing about the sadness I have felt over the loss of George, this seemed the right thing to do. And so, at around lunchtime on Tuesday we found his very house and outside there is a little park which has become a bit of a shrine to him.
Again, just so many messages left by fans and here I was doing something I had never contemplated doing before, stalking a big star from the world of music but sadly just a couple of months too late. There was a really great looking little pub across the street from his house so we went in and had a lovely lunch. It wasn’t lost on me that he was bound to have popped in for a pint at some point but I was too cool to ask the staff if that was actually the case. I just sat there and imagined the scene of myself, George and Mr WIAA having a drink, some food and a chat, trying to put the world to rights.
So, “What’s It All About?” – It seems as humans that we like to be able to visit a specific place to remember our sadly departed. Don’t want to be morbid but I do actually want a headstone when the time comes as I do want my family to have a place they can visit. From what I saw this week the fans of David Bowie and George Michael also wanted a place to visit and I am glad that I was able to persuade my gold award-winning husband (its ok he won’t be allowed to get big-headed) to come along with me on my pilgrimage. For the record we did also manage to visit the British Library and along with Alice, the diaries of Sir Walter Raleigh and the Magna Carta, we also saw some scribbles by John Lennon and the rest of the Beatles, so again very relevant for the blog.
All back to normal now however and as we missed Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday because of our trip, darling daughter treated us to some tonight. I have already shared David Bowie’s Starman from 1972 but I will leave you with a live version of George singing Star People ’97, funnily enough from 1997 – Enough now, time to move on.
Star People ’97 by George Michael:
Star People Lyrics
(Song by George Michael)
Counting your money till you soul turns green
Counting the cost of your desire to be seen
I do not count myself among you
I may be living in a dream
It’s just seem to many of you
Can’t help but hope
There’s a difference between, you and me
You’re a star
(I’m talking to you)
You’re a star
Maybe your mama gave you up boy
(It’s the same old same old)
Maybe your daddy didn’t love you enough girl
Never forget your secret safe with me
Just look at all wonderful people
Trying to forget they had to pay for what you see
It’s a dream
With a nightmare stuck in the middle
But where would you be
Without all of that attention
We’d die wouldn’t we
(Well wouldn’t we)
Big, big star
Should go far
Talk about your mother
Talk about your father
Talk about the people
Who have made you what you are
Talk about your teacher
The bully boy who beat you
Talk about the people who have paid
For that new sports car
Did you get off on a bad foot, baby
Do you have a little tale to tell
Is that why you’re a star?
Is that what makes a star?
Nothing comes for nothing, baby
That fame and fortune’s heaven sent
And who gives a fuck about your problems, darling
When you can pay the rent
How much is enough?
Just in case anyone from outside the UK unlikely to ever see the mural in Brixton wants a closer look, here is a short film – a bit wobbly but a few good close-ups!
10 thoughts on “David Bowie, George Michael and “Star People””
40 years ago, I made a similar pilgrimage to Golders Green crematorium shortly after Marc Bolan died. He was a massively important influence on my young life and I felt the need to be among like minded people (no internet to bring us together back then!) – there were hundreds of fans in attendance. I didn’t go to the actual funeral, but it was only a few days afterwards. The majority of the people I spoke to that day were either going on to, or had come from, the site of Bolan’s fatal car accident – a location I’ve never felt the slightest inclination to visit. Shamefully, Bolan’s headstone has been stolen or otherwise damaged several times over the years, though I believe something far more substantial is in place now. I’m glad you had the opportunity to visit the temporary memorials of Bowie and George – I wonder if anything more permanent will appear somewhere down the line?
Congratulations on your success Mr WIAA – very well deserved!
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Thanks for your Marc Bolan story as I did maybe think it was a bit excessive going to both “shrines” but we’re not often in London and since starting the blog last year we’ve lost both of them, so it felt appropriate to go along. No defintiely wouldn’t want to visit the scene of a crash but I certainly can understand how Graceland has become a shrine for Elvis fans.
Problem with permanent memorials is that they can be damaged (I think the Elvis one is now under lock and key) – Quite like how these temporary ones just spring up although I can imagine that his neighbours in Highgate will be hoping that their little park can return to normal again at some point although not sure if it ever will.
Managed to upload my music clips now but couldn’t at all yesterday – Not sure how good Blogspot is but we sometimes get these fails over at WordPress!
What a lovely travelogue, Alyson. Congratulations to Mr. WIAA on what I’m sure are two well-deserved awards, and to you for being able to take advantage of the London trek to pay homage to two of your heroes. Great photos as well.
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Thanks – will pass on the congrats to my other half!
Did wonder if I’d overdone it with my pilgrimages to these sites but not in London very often so took advantage of being able to. Both have died since I started the blog last year and I’ve written about them a fair bit so much more relevant than might normally have been the case during a visit – I did think last year was a tad freakish despite the fact there will more departures every year now. We are now into March and so far this year no shock deaths from the world of music but maybe I shouldn’t have stated that, as will no doubt now tempt fate – Hope not!
I went on holiday to London in January and by coincidence we also went to the British library, among other things. It was a first to be searched before entering a library! Was educational to learn about the Magna Carta and origins of law making, a shame the other manuscripts in the big room didn’t have audio/video soundbites. I was curious to see the Gutenberg Bible from 1450 which I knew about from school.
Didn’t know your husband does sculpture work. Well done on the awards and I’m sure the money will come in handy! What is the box made of, looks like wood? Did he make the colored figures as well?
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Yes being searched going into a library is odd but has to be done nowadays I suppose – We went primarily to see the original Alice in Wonderland manuscript but it actually wasn’t on display at the moment so we had to content ourselves with the other things and the Alice gift items in the shop. What a great library though! Looks very plain on the outside but very impressive on the inside.
I’ve mentioned in some of my posts that my husband makes small miniature sculptures so yes he made all the small figures and the book on the block of wood. The block of wood was done by someone else but has phrases and words from the Alice in Wonderland book lasered into the surface.
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Congratulations to Mr. WIAA, very welcome news as I thought his entry was excellent. Sounds like a good trip all round.
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Thanks – will pass it on. Yes a flying visit to London but managed to pack in a lot of relevant stuff. Shrines and libraries!
Sounds like you had a very full-on but really worthwhile trip – a lovely travelogue post. Big congrats to Mr WIAA on the awards and well-deserved. Curious to know by the way – what will happen to his prize-winning piece now, will you keep it?
Great photos too – and lovely to see that very stylish youthful looking lady in them! 🙂
The ‘shrine’ thing seems quite a strange thing really for an increasingly secular society like ours (when you analyse it!) but I get that people need to feel united in their expression of grief – I imagine it’s pretty moving to see it all (in both instances) and, as you say, people want a place to visit as a memorial. Great little film you’ve made there too. I guess the imagery will be forever evolving, so it would be interesting to visit it again in another year or so!
I’d never noted the lyrics to George Michael’s Star People – but it says it all.
Finally – I feel very lax that, in spite of many trips to London over the years, I have never stepped foot in the British Library! This is perhaps particularly shameful as I work in the world of books…. hmm, I must address that!
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Yes a really busy 24 hours in central London but good. The sculpture will be part of a set of 3 for the local library – We have last years entry sitting in our office (which didn’t win a prize) but this one might be sold.
Funnily enough I’ve never thought of visiting these kinds of shrines before but because of the blog, and the fact a friend has visited DB’s mural recently, it just seemed like something I wanted to do. As for the British Library you must go – We had never been either but what an amazing place with so many really historic manuscripts, books, sheet music, bibles etc etc. Right next to St Pancras station so really easy to get to. Sadly the original Alice in Wonderland wasn’t on show at the moment but we didn’t mind as so much else of interest to see.
Doing a good job of retaining my anonymity but being photographed from the back made me realise my roots need done – Will have to do something about that!