It’s a God-awful Small Affair

Bowie Cat
The cat who fell to Earth.


Yesterday, I listened to ‘Lazarus’.

I thought to myself, ‘this is a grower’. Then I slipped under the suds into the bath’s cocoon with my heartbeat and my blood’s rush.

My eldest daughter awoke this morning, rubbing her eyes and sporting her ‘David Miaowie’ pyjama top: a glam cat with the garish lightning flash striking across its face. Her favourite song is ‘Buddha of Suburbia’.

My youngest daughter loves ‘Changes’ – the ‘ch-ch-ch-ch’ tickles her and she knows that the song is about her growing.

When I was thirteen, I crept into my elder brother’s bedroom (he was out). I loved to root through his massive vinyl collection. That day, I stopped flicking at Hunky Dory – struck by the album cover. ‘She’s nice,’ I thought.

I put the record on. ‘Changes’ was already familiar to me; we’d put that on the jukebox in the Bugle (where they fell for my fake ID). ‘Oh, You Pretty Things’, ‘Eight-line Poem’, and then ‘Life on Mars’.

From the first line, I fell in love with the girl in the song: her tired sarcasm; her precocious ennui. In a moment, I aspired to her laconic sophistication: nothing would please me now – I wouldn’t allow it.

Of course, I was simply becoming a teenager.

Sometimes I think of childhood as a kind of nausea – an avoidance of life for fear of being sick. You spiral the commitment to living, fearful of being dragged into a maelstrom over which you have no control. But, sooner or later, you have to commit. And to commit to life is to submit to your body: to relinquish the illusion of control – to convulse with physicality.

Look at us cavemen go!

Today, I listened to ‘Lazarus’. And I did not cry. I did not cry. Admittedly, I circled my unspent tears releasing them in imperceptible tremors.

I laugh at myself and my little continued avoidances of life, my aloof evaluations – my standing and looking at life as if I am not in it and a part of it. And yet, the same tardigrades that swim in my veins, they swim in the waters of Mars.

Yes, there is life, and it is God-awful small.

Yet so, so, so, so pretty.


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