Flipping the bird at the Grim Reaper

Flipping the bird at the Grim Reaper

Christmas is over and the new year approaches, hand in hand with personal reflections about the year that was and considering how we can improve our lot for 2017. 

I don’t know about you, but my personal reflection time is being interrupted by the passing of some of the greats from my childhood through to my twenties and beyond, and that is not on! 

From Alan Rickman to Gene Wilder, Bowie to Harper Lee, Prince to Muhammed Ali – the list is long and non-discriminating, with firm favourites bowing out with alarming regularity.  Carol from the Brady Bunch.  Glen Frey from the Eagles.  Carrie Fisher. And her mum! It’s starting to get depressing.

But rather than ponder on mortality and the injustice of age and disease, I’d prefer to flip the Grim Reaper a figurative bird and instead remember George Michael.  Or more specifically, dancing around handbags, pool tables and kitchens to George Michael’s ridiculously infectious music.

Look, I know you’ll either love him or hate him but as a self-appointed former disco queen, I have placed him pride of place in the Legend’s Hall of Fame for most Danceable Songs.  From Freedom to Faith to I Knew You Were Waiting, his are among those feel good songs that ripple through your body and make your feet want to move. 

When I was 25 or so, I lived in London for a couple of years in the mid-eighties, on a working holiday abroad.  I remember very well dancing with a group of work colleagues after a Christmas do at an Ealing nightclub.  The yuletide drinks had obviously done their work, with a group dash to the dancefloor as Wake Me Up started playing.  We formed a reckless kind of circle and handbags were dropped in the centre as we sang at the top of our voices and let our bodies dance with true abandon. Which was unfortunate, because had I abandoned my body less, and maintained a little more control over my feet, I might have avoided what happened next. 

A handbag strap, perhaps, or simply stepping on something that tipped my balance – I’m not sure exactly what it was that toppled me into a jaunty, sideways hop that ended with me prone on the floor.  (A case of guilty feet with no rhythm? I digress…)  I don’t remember hurting myself (though the bruises that followed told another story) but I do remember the girls shuffling their circle (and nudging the handbags with their feet to keep them in the middle of the ring) across to pick me up in time for the last chorus, to which we sang and danced until the last note. I remember the laughter and fun, the people and the music. 

These days, I tend to dance around my kitchen (no handbags lying in wait for the feet), no longer horrifying my young-adult children (exaggerated eye-rolls is all they can manage – must be used to it?) and George features from time to time, often to tap into that feeling of fun and freedom.  He was good at that.  Making a moment, creating a memory through music. 

Tell us yours.  What memories spring up at you when you hear a particular song or piece of music?  We know you’ve got a few…

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