Black Box Recorder – Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide

Only a few posts ago (Dec 19) I wrote about my trip down to Kent to see a friend diagnosed with Lung cancer and secondary metastasis in her neck. She died this week. She had started radiotherapy and it wasn’t going well – her body reacted against the damage by swelling. She got as far as session #2 and that was that. Huge and sudden shock.

Inevitably, you compare it to your (my) own situation. I’m not stronger, or braver. Just luckier.

When you visualise Death, is it the Grim Reaper you see? I don’t. Not any more. That image is too rational. I see Death now more like a feral teenager from the local sink estate – the stuff of a Daily Mail reader’s nightmare. Death prowls the edge of our property, sees our stuff; and he will steal from us. He doesn’t even know why, he just does.

So you go back to just remembering the person. Three or four memories maybe at most. That’s what we become. Maybe of a garden we planted. Or a meal cooked for friends. Or a glass of wine too many taken in guilty pleasure too late into the night.

She was a smoker, so Bowie’s “time takes a cigarette” came to mind. They say it’s based on the poem “Chants Andalous” by the Spanish poet Manuel Machado (1874–1947) in which he compares life to a cigarette (“La vida es un cigarillo”):

Life is a cigarette
Cinder, ash and fire
Some smoke it in a hurry
Others savour it

In Bowie’s lyrics it becomes:

Time takes a cigarette, puts it in your mouth
You pull on your finger, then another finger, then your cigarette
The wall-to-wall is calling, it lingers, then you forget

I took a version from Black Box Recorder rather than David himself. Alternatively, watch Camille O’Sullivan cover it live on YouTube. Camille’s channelling of Jacques Brel, Berthold Brecht, Tom Waits and the entire absurdity of it all captures my mood today.

Camille O’Sullivan – Misery Is The River

My next chemo day is Monday next. It all depend on the bloods of course. Don’t mind either way. I’ll get through it sooner or later.