It has always in the past been something of an annoyance for me when a celebrity dies. That’s not to say that I find the passing away of a famous man or woman a personal inconvenience, but it is more the reaction of huge swathes of the general public that grates on my nerves.
There is nearly always a huge outpouring of grief, as if these people knew the celebrity in question on some personal level. I have never understood how the death of someone you do not know can have any affect on you, other than a small feeling of “oh, that is a shame”, and possibly a feeling of sorrow for the loss the family has suffered. To try to hijack some of this grief is, to me, a little crass and selfish.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t feel anything when people who have been on our TV screens, magazine and newspaper covers and billboards – effectively crow-bared into our everyday lives – get ill or die and the very nature of humanity is to grieve at the passing of a loved one. But that is my point, really. These are not loved ones in the true sense of the word, however much we think we might know them.
I was sad recently when Neil Armstrong died. He was, in my opinion, a man who achieved massive things for science and the human race. He SET FOOT ON THE MOON! This is huge. He didn’t just stand on the moon, he was the first to do it; a pioneer. He certainly wasn’t alone in making this glorious achievement, but he was instrumental in it.
However he always shunned celebrity life. He was never one for the lime light and he seemed to be a quite family man.
When he died his family released a wonderful statement saying in part “when you look up at the moon, wink and think of Neil”. I have tried to do this as often as I can, just not in public when people might think I am odd(er).
I am also touched and saddened by the fact that one of my favourite authors, Sir Terry Pratchett, has got Alzheimer’s. He has, since being diagnosed, championed the fight for a cure, along with the right to take his own life. He was quoted, shortly after diagnosis, as saying he would make the disease regret catching him. It is a wonderfully Pratchett turn of phrase.
He will, when the moment arrives, leave a gap not only in my bookshelf (or kindle memory) but in my life. He has been with me since I was about ten.
But I won’t grieve for him. I couldn’t. I’ll be sad but true grief, to me, is a deeply personal thing. It is put aside for those I truly love. For anyone else it will be sorrow possibly but I’ll move on pretty quickly. Maybe I’m a bit cold hearted, but I don’t think so.
The thing is I think that I like, or would have liked, these two people in particular. In the same way I admire Stephen Fry, and many other people whether famous or not, and think he’d be okay to meet. But you know what? Maybe they are/were arseholes. Maybe I would detest them once I’d met them. Maybe they would have the same low opinion of me if we met that I had of them. Maybe not, but you never know. They are just people after all with opinions and likes and dislikes. You can’t get on with everyone.
So when the queen dies, or the next actor/singer/TV presenter gets found in a heap in the kitchen/bathroom with a note/gun/drugs I’ll shrug my shoulders and turn the page and read about sport or the state of the roads or something else and I’ll wait for the outpouring of “oh he/she was so wonderful” “he/she meant so much to me” and so on and so forth with gritted teeth.
I’m not saying people are wrong to grieve, I just wish I could avoid it. Social media don’t help in this with every other person fawning distress and affection for the latest to pass. It’ll happen to all of us one day, y’know… I suppose I could switch of the computer, radio and TV next time.
And don’t get me started on Princess Diana…(I’m sure she was lovely, by the way).

Anyway, whilst we are on the subject I’d like this played at my funeral, thanks.