So Victoria Wood yesterday. And “Prince” today. A bad year to be famous.
I can identify with Victoria Wood (62, a year younger than me). I cant identify with “Prince” (57).
To some extent Victoria Wood was the comic voice of my generation and class. She was an observer….wrote comedy, did stand-up comedy, acted comedy and (because comic acting is the hardest) was an award winning straight actress.
Yet it is all about observation on Victoria Wood’s part. ANd recognition on my part…she observed that for the first two years of her life, she lay on her back in a Silver Swan pram and all she could see was the sky and trees. And I could recognise that. She observed that she went to school before Dyslexia was “invented” and children who found reading difficult sat at the back of the classroom with raffia paper. Tragi-Comedy and I could recognise it.
I think too much is made of her gender. Yes she observed the lives of women…much more realistically than contemporaries such as Jo Brand and Jenny Eclair. It was as much about Class….there is not a lot of difference between Bury (South Lancashire) and Belfast. So now coincidence that the best English male comedian is Peter Kay (from Bolton, South Lancashire). We have all observed…or in my case BEEN an embarrassing uncle at a wedding. “Garlic Bread!!!!”.
Of course Peter Kay is more than twenty years younger than Victoria Wood.
And Victoria Wood was really a person who benefitted from the pathfinding of “northern” writers like Alan Bennett, comedians like Jimmy Tarbuck and musicians like the Beatles. Some northerners embraced London life more completely than others. VIctoria Wood remained true to her…and my …roots.
So …”Prince” ….or the “artist previously known as Prince. I suppose at 57, he was just about a contemporary of myself. Yet it doesnt feel that way. There is a truism that you can go into a house and tell the date of the marriage.
Not quite true in my case (married in 1982) as my record collection (with few exceptions) stops circa 1974 with the Eagles “Greatest Hits” . It must have been the Year the Music Died. It was a short but active life. I have about 600 “45s” from the 1960s but they are buried in a cupboard. So…everything just stopped.
Actually Music did not stop. It just became visual. Video really did kill the Radio Star. If David Bowie (who was maybe a decade older than Prince) …and neither meant anything to me, they shared that same visual thing. So what really surprises me is that people of my age are on TV or social media are talking about Prince in much the same way that they talked about Bowie in January.
It seems strange. In the 1960s music was for young folks. As I reached my mid 20s, I had no need for music. This says more about me than it says about those middle aged men and women on TV and social media tonight. I am…it would appear….odd.