Grief has weird ways of manifesting itself. It’s obvious one is going to be grief stricken when a loved one passes away, but how come we feel so bereft when a celebrity dies?
It started that fateful Sunday August 31st 1997 when our beautiful Princess Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris. The public outpourings of grief were extraordinary and unprecedented. I, for one, couldn’t stop crying on and off all day, and right up until the day after her fantastic state funeral, and it seems it affected a lot of the rest of the world the same way.
Not a lot of celebrity deaths have really affected me before that, or since, until very recently. I may have shed a few tears when I heard Elvis Presley had died, and I remember I had to take the morning off work on the day that Freddie Mercury died when I heard Bohemian Rhapsody being played on my car radio on the way to work. I was so overcome with tears that I just turned my car around at a roundabout and drove back home in tears. My boss was slightly sympathetic, but I don’t think my display of emotion did my career much good.
Since then, I was a bit upset when Michael Jackson died and when Amy Winehouse died, but I don’t think either affected me emotionally. I just thought what a waste of talent.
Maybe it is because I have lost some dear friends in the last few years. Maybe it is because I am reminded of my own mortality, and that of my contemporaries. Maybe it is because I am sitting at home in blissful retirement and have time to grieve. I don’t really know why it is, but all I can say is that it seems that I am not alone in my strange feelings of grief for losing someone I have never even met, judging by the tearful tributes expressed by Jill and Jo Public on Jeremy Vine’s radio programme today.
Last year we lost Cilla Black. That was the first time that I cried for days after a public figure died, apart from Princess Diana. Why did that affect me so much? Okay, so I used to watch Blind Date. But that was a long time ago.
Since then there has been a spate of celebrity deaths. Lennie from Mortorhead moved me slightly, but only because I started playing his music that I used to head bang to. Ed (Stewpot) Stewart died. OMG! Another sudden death of someone from my era. Then David Bowie. I’ve never been much of a Bowie fan, but I always appreciated his talent. I was in floods for days every time I heard one of his records being played. How weird!
Not long after that it was Glen Frey’s turn to go. One of my favourite groups has always been the Eagles, and there has been one of their CD’s on my player since my 70th birthday. I suppose I can understand why I cried every time I heard an Eagles track on the radio for the next week.
But yesterday I heard the sad news I had been dreading for weeks. Terry Wogan had been off the radio since November 8th, due to a bad back, as far as I had heard. Richard Madely was standing in for his Sunday programme and every week he just kept saying that he hoped Terry would be back soon. Nine am news yesterday I suddenly heard that Terry Wogan had died of cancer. I haven’t stopped crying for long since. Why?
I cried when Terry Wogan announced on his last morning show that he was retiring from that radio slot, although he was going to do a Sunday show. My mornings have never been the same since. Chris Evans just doesn’t cut it for me. He is too shrill and hyper for first thing in the morning. I need more mellow tones. I need Terry Wogan’s humour. Being one of his TOGs he knew just how to make me laugh, especially on the way to work, when I was feeling fed up with the thought of the stressful day ahead of me. By the time I got to work I was laughing my head off at one of his quips, or his Janet and John stories. I felt his loss badly enough when he left the morning show, but at least he made Sundays bearable, after Steve Wright’s stupid love songs programme and before Elaine Page took over the radio with her idiotic cackle and her awful selection of songs from the musicals. I quite often have to turn off the radio then, or take the dog for a walk before I punch the radio.
Maybe it is the power of music that does it, that causes such emotion. I have always had pop music on all day and every day, until the TV takes over in the evening. Music has always been part of my life. Memories come flooding back every time I hear an old record. I am immediately transported back to the time when that record was in the charts. Seemingly my life must have been basically happy, as they mostly all bring back happy memories, not sad ones, apart from a couple of records that still make me cry at my remembered misery when I hear them.
With the amount of my contemporaries’ deaths being announced, almost on a daily basis, I am wondering which celebrity will be next. I certainly cannot imagine any other DJ will affect me as badly as Terry Wogan has done. He has been such a big part of my life. Wogan played the right sort of music, had the right sort of humour, the right tone of voice and must be the best ever D.J., well in my opinion anyway. He even made the Eurovision song contest bearable. What a legend. He will be sadly missed by all of us.