Friday 26 June 2009

Rest In Peace, Michael Jackson

When I became a dad there were a certain number of things that I expected to happen and not sleeping well for several years and only going to the cinema to watch Disney films were the most certain.

However, these were heavily outweighed by the number of things that I did not expect – searching through discarded nappies for a lost contact lens was one of the earliest, going to the police station to help file a statement about my daughter’s ex-boyfriend was a more recent.

In retrospect they all seem logical enough and I chastise myself sometimes for not seeing them coming, not being prepared.

But if you had asked me 14 years ago when she was born, even with the impossible hindsight of experience, I would never have predicted that this morning my daughter would phone me from the phone box in the school playground and tell me “Michael Jackson died”.

My own tears didn’t come until I read for myself the report in The Guardian Newspaper, and the words of Quincy Jones who said – “for Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don't have the words.”

Anyone’s death is a huge loss but some people’s death touches many, strangers that never even met, and our lives are marked by those who passed; friends, family and dreams.

Michael represented a dream for us - family and friend for others.

However crazy and troubled his life became, he will always be the person who did this, and although I will never know what it really means to my daughter (my own feelings are muddled, confused and too personal enough) I suspect the memory of this young boy is part of it.

On August 16th 1977 I was 22 years old and working on an adventure playground in Reading England. Suddenly, bad news always arrives in haste, a group of young teenagers moved through the site.

I knew them, they had a history of causing trouble on the playground but we had a mutual respect. Something was amiss - they weren’t leaving the usual mayhem in their wake.

I called out a greeting, and asked what was going on. They stopped and turned towards me, “The King is dead”.

I had never realized that Elvis Pressley was important in their lives, that his death would affect them so much. I was surprised, death always does that, as I was later to see the photos over mantle-pieces in their parents’ homes.

Of course it is not the death that means so much, it’s their life and love.

The fact that Michael passes days before his public comeback adds hope, to love and life.

June 25/26th 2009.

More on Michael Jackson

No comments: