As Long As There's Art


So here I am lying in our insanely big Soho Haus bed in Berlin. 2 hours before your birthday. Alone.

Alone because you saw a poster in Berlin’s gay district for a “Dark Side Party” and rued the moment that you decided not to bring your light sabre. But nevertheless you set off into the night determined to bring some Sith realness to the party with a childlike enthusiasm and optimism that, if it could only be bottled could potentially save the world. It certainly saved me on numerous occasions.

Meanwhile I, too old and too drunk for childlike enthusiasms, elected to stay at home to fully enjoy the full, uninterrupted width of the bed. And to do some midnight, drunken typing.

Tonight we dined at the Paris Cafe. Not because either of us are particular fans of that city’s butter-rich cuisine. But simply because, rumour has it, Bowie and Iggy used to dine there.

We’ve been coming to Berlin for your birthday for quite a few years now. We’re terrible tourists really - we do none of the educative essentials. Okay I think we went up that pointy tower with the ball on top once. And we may have accidentally walked over Hitler’s bunker. But at least we’ve never posed for a Grindr pic at the Holocaust Memorial (a gayboy must, apparently).

But we both felt a need to pay some kind of tribute at the altar of Saint Dave. And eating heartily and getting drunk in a one-time haunt seemed as good as anything. Bowie was born in Brixton, raised in Beckenham and then, apparently, he “lived all over the world. [he] lived every place”.

But for many of us (you and me included) he is synonymous with Berlin: a city of enthusiastic, non-judgemental creativity.

I expected to be more upset coming here this year, so soon after his death if I’m honest. His passing moved me no more than it did so many of my friends (and you). But that in no way detracts from how profoundly destabilised I felt by his passing. The light that guided us, snuffed out.

But Berlin goes on. As life must. As Bowie knew.

Because, as a surprisingly wise man keeps on insisting: Ars Longa, Vita Brevis (life is long, art is forever).

And we should all take comfort from knowing that.

Nevertheless, on this, the day that marks you as one year closer to your certain death, I gift you the song that for me heralded the beginning of the end of Saint Dave: the mournful, life audit that is Where Are we Now.

Speaking as a man who has surrendered dependancy to the extent that, despite our numerous visits, he has no fucking idea how to get the train from Potsdamerplatz, there are only these lines that truly matter:

As long as there's sun

As long as there's sun

As long as there's rain

As long as there's rain

As long as there's fire

As long as there's fire

As long as there's me

As long as there's you

And, mostly, in the remains of my short life, as long as there’s you.

Everything else I can deal with.

Happy birthday x

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