Tuesday, 15 September 2009


This summer seems to have been punctuated at every turn with well known people dying...practically every time I open Facebook there is a slew of status updates noting how these well loved names were iconic to my friends, especially from childhood.

While it is sad when anyone dies, especially after illness and pain, I have been mildly concerned to find that very few of the big celebrity deaths in the past few months have had any great impact on me. Either I am somewhat cold hearted or I spent the 80s living in a box...

I just felt sorry for Farah Fawcett having her death overshadowed by Michael Jackson's on the same day, while his death was mainly noticeable to me for the media circus it produced. I have barely any childhood memories of him other than my best friend at primary school playing 'Bad' til I thought I might scream.

Edward Kennedy's death was notable for the feeling of the end of an era, but not being American it wasn't as momentous as it might have been. John Hughes' premature demise made me realise I had never seen any of his classic 80s films. Somehow I had no idea what Ferris Bueller got up to on his day off.

Today brought news of two more celebrity deaths as both Keith Floyd and Patrick Swayze departed this earth. Most people have been discussing the latter and obviously since I have never seen Dirty Dancing or Ghost, I have been unable to contribute much. It has been reminding me of the sad loss of my own grandmother from pancreatic cancer, but I do not feel any personal connection beyond this.

Strangely the death that has saddened and affected me most is that of Keith Floyd. I grew up watching his delightfully barmy wine soaked cookery shows in the 80s and my parents owned a selection of his cookbooks. Unlike all the other iconic deaths this summer, I feel a connection to my childhood. His shows remind me of my parents entertaining with a glass of wine in hand on sunny summer evenings and I feel both old and nostalgic for times past. I suddenly get what other people have been experiencing all summer.

Unfortunately I am unlikely to be able to avoid this feeling again in the future. More of the people I consider iconic or influential in my life, whether they be people I have never met or those dearest to me, will be checking out in the foreseeable future. I am suddenly the age when you start to feel mortality as a presence in your life, while nostalgia seems to be everywhere.

I am not about to don a veil and start lurking about the shadows looking mournful, but I am going to start looking round me more and apprectiating these people while I can. I may also want to start pretending to have a clue about popular culture in preparation!

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