Sunday, 24 April 2016

Celebrity Death Bingo, 2016

Now... this Grim Reaper nonsense is all getting a bit silly. Those of us baby-boomers born in the halcyon days of the late 1950s and early 1960s have certainly had certain advantages.

1) We saw all the best bands before they were charging £50 a ticket to see them at the back of an arena. (My personal favourite: Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Newcastle City Hall, 3 support acts including a Punch and Judy show and all for £7.50. And they were throwing out free lapel badges at the end.)

2) Most of us had free education, and government grants (not student loans) to go to college or university (see above).

3) We didn't know it, but the Bomb we were all scared of dropping and wiping out Western Civilisation, didn't.

4) Tom Baker was Doctor Who.

5) We played games that could be enjoyed with others in the same room, involving dice, pieces, game-boards and the human imagination. It taught us to take turns.

6) The NHS, for all its weaknesses, wasn't staggering on the brink of a financial precipice.

7) Having only three TV channels led to a greater concentration of talent.

8) We, the people, owned the railways, the hospitals, the water and power companies, the schools.....

But we baby-boomers are now hitting the moment when a lot of the famous faces we grew up with in the entertainment world, are stopping to shuffle off their mortal coil, ring down the curtain and join the choir invisible, curl up their tootsies, start pushing up the daisies... well, you get the picture, and maybe the reference. But it is going to keep happening, so we'd better get used to it.

So why now? What makes 2016 the watershed? Perhaps we're seeing the inevitable approaching end of a whole swathe of baby-boomers who enjoyed being both at the top of the bizarrely unstable entertainment business (including the optional dissolute lifestyle for some) whilst enjoying the best care that private medical healthcare can now give. Something, is finally going to go 'twang'... and now we're seeing the tide come in.  I was born in 1958. In a few years I'll be 60. All those people I saw on TV in the 1960s and 1970s were adults, born in the late 1940s and early 1950s. They're in their 70s and 80s now. Go figure.

And it hurts, because all these showbiz departures are rueful reminders of our own mortality. As they are, so shalt we be, as the Grim Reaper will one day pay us all a personal visit. We might hope he'll be like Terry Pratchett's Death who speaks in CAPITAL LETTERS and is still, somehow on our side. But he will come.

So what's the best way to respond to 2016's continuing red-carpet queue towards the exit? Here's some suggestions.

A) Make a joke of it. Celebrity Death Bingo is a little game you can play with your mates for the rest of the year . Take some envelopes, get some friends together, and challenge everyone to come up with a list of who else 'famous' is going to go under, before the end of December 31st 2016. Everyone must choose five names. Categories are as follows. 1) Royalty.  2) Rock icons and others from popular music   3) TV/ Film stars and actors   4) Comedians and light entertainers.    5) Free choice.  Seal the envelopes, collect them all in, and at New Year, get everybody together to see who scored the most points. Best of luck, then. That's assuming, of course, that you get there too. And raise a glass for all those who survived the year.

B) Instead of waiting until they're dead, write a thank you message to someone (famous or not) and endeavour to get it to them. Explain what it is they've done or been for you, how they enhanced your life. Don't wait until they've gone to say 'I wish I'd said....' You never know what impact this may have. I did it for Wilko Johnson when he was diagnosed with something nasty, and he got better, afterwards. (True, if not strictly speaking, scientifically accurate.)

C) Spring clean and look forward. Plant a tree, make that phone call you keep putting off, sit down to write that novel, learn to pray, start looking after that bit of shared space, do that volunteering, clear out all that junk, go to church, repair that chair... do whatever it takes, every day, to begin investing in a future that is bigger than You.

And if this all seems a bit dark, it's actually intended to be a challenge to Live. Instead of understandably mourning the ones we've lost and anticipating our own mortality, how about celebrating and enjoying the life we do have, this constantly repeating Gift which for all its downsides, is in universal terms an amazing never-ending Miracle?

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Any requests of subjects for future posts in 2016? No idea too stupid for consideration. And yes, I know I am a bad writer, so don't bother saying that unless you can write something better. But maybe there's a topic buzzing around in your head that you'd like to see covered... because I've got a keyboard here, it's loaded with letters, and I ain't afraid to use it.