David Jones

Photo detail - Talk to Me

It was a shock. Petroc Trelawney announced it during his early morning breakfast show on Radio 3. Then it was on the news. I called down to him. David Bowie’s died. It can’t be. He’s only…The papers are full of him. Pictures of him everywhere. I remember when I worked at Jim Henson’s in Hampstead and finding the drawers full of latex copies of his face. They’d made Labyrinth there. They’d said what a nice man he was. One for the ladies, apparently. No wonder. What a charmer, what an stylish man. I’d have fallen. And they are the same age. Were. Born the same year.

And Ed Stewart a few days before. Junior Choice, such a part of my childhood. He is reading his obituary over breakfast. He was a member of the mile-high club, he says. That’s rude, isn’t it? I say. Yes, it means they have sex in mid-air, on a plane. It seems inappropriate. Lewd even, that Ed ‘Stewpot’ would indulge in, much less admit to, such activities. One associates him with innocence and childlike fun. And yet, he was a man too. He was divorced too, he read. Odd, really, listening to him on the radio one thought of him as leading a cosy life, he says. Yes, I concur, me too. I didn’t really enjoy Junior Choice. It embarrassed me. He, it, was too gushing. Not quite authentic, even patronising at times. But nevertheless, it was ours. It belonged to us children. It was our time, our space, like Crackerjack, Blue Peter, Vision On, Jackanory and The Magic Roundabout. I could go on and on, Hector’s House, Play School….Did I really like any of them? I’m not really a TV watcher, never have been, but I do like that idea that something belongs to us, is dedicated to us. I think Ed Stewart was on air over the New Year. It must be hard to stop doing what you’ve always done. To bow out gracefully. He became a little forgetful, making mistakes, fluffing his lines. I liked him better for it. The gloss had gone.

Not the same with David Jones. He kept changing, moving elegantly forward. The White Duke. Aristocratic. Nobody knew he was dying. We all are but we forget in our day-to-day littleness. It’s coming, the falling away of all that was, that one thinks will last forever. It won’t and nor should it.

Rest in peace. Rest. In peace.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.