My Schooldays Insane
It’s strange to think that Ziggy Stardust, as a character only lived for a few years, if you take the birth as the start of the Ziggy tour, in January 1972 to the end in July 1973. And when you look at the tour dates it’s amazing that Ziggy didn’t kill off Bowie rather than the other way around.
I’m always amazed by people who start to analyse the lyrics on the album and some of the theories that they come up with, we’ve all met that type. They’re probably members of CAMRA as well and sit around talking about beer rather than drinking and enjoying it.
I’ve never been one for analysing lyrics, I tend to think that you can read too much into it. If a song tells a story then that’s fine, I know where I am. Take The Grand Old Duke Of York, he had ten thousand men, which he now strenuously denies, he marched them up to the top of the hill and he marched them down again.
No problem, I can see exactly where he’s coming from, and also where he’s going. Up and down the hill with his army. That is straightforward to me. I get it. But when I hear people interpreting lyrics I sometimes want to cringe, it’s not worth discussing it with them.
I much prefer it when lyrics are misheard. Brilliant. I’ve been known to do this all of my life but I don’t think I’ve heard a better one than the fella who thought that Ziggy Stardust was “making love with a seagull.” Can you imagine it, if anything it’s Alfred Hitchcock’s worst nightmare. Lights, camera and action, there’d be feathers and bird shit all over the place. “Ok John, we didn’t quite get that one, could we go for it again?”
That would be a great theme for a blog, misheard David Bowie lyrics, in fact I’ll see what I can find.
At this time I had my hair cut into a feathered style, oh the memories, and could run my fingers through it at will, these days the nearest I get to that is rearranging my eyebrows and looking like Patrick Moore having a bad hair day. It was just over shoulder length, not long enough to be considered hippy, but long enough to be tousled by passing old ladies.
I’d also got the chance of going to college, anything to get me out of standing in that shop all day long, absolutely nobody came in midweek and I was going stir crazy. The fast cars never materialised, in fact it was a year before I could get a licence, and the fast women certainly didn’t. I was not having the time of my life until 5.30 when I could get out onto the streets and continue causing havoc.
My family were moving out of London to Hampshire and I got a place at Fareham Tech, my last chance saloon as it were. This was great, they treated you as adults and there was no such thing as a uniform, also strutting around in Cuban heeled boots led to me turning a few heads. Cuban heeled shoes and platform sole boots were great for me. I could stand an inch and half taller, unfortunately when the fashion took off with everyone around me so could they, which meant that relatively I stayed the same height. The only advantage was that I could now see over the counter in the newsagents when ordering 20 Players number six, king size now I was a student, none of your coffin nail size fags for me any more, I was playing in a different league.
But the most significant thing about going to the college, forget about qualifications and turning my life around, was that they had a hairdressing department and they needed guinea pigs, or models, as they termed it. Great. I went across and signed up, which meant that I could have my hair cut and styled every week without paying. It was a licence to take advantage of the facilities, I was helping them further their experience, not taking the piss.
By this time almost every person on the planet, and even in the backwater that was Fareham, knew what David Bowie looked like so all I had to do was walk in one sunny day when the apprentices were let loose on the models and declare that I wanted my hair styled the same as David Bowie. No need to take a photo in to show them what I meant. To be honest these were apprentices and if I’d have known then that me and my hair only had a limited time together I may not have had such a cavalier attitude as to who I let near it with a pair of scissors.
This is the point that you expect me to say that I came out looking more like Ron Mael than Ziggy Stardust but I will now disappoint because whoever it was made a very decent job of it. All I needed to do was go back each week to get a bit of a trim and free lacquer and the job was a goodun. As far as I remember there wasn’t just one hairdressing apprentice that I saw, I was passed around the team.
But I had it, the Ziggy Stardust haircut and I strutted round like a peacock, it was all blown up at the front with a long back that I tried to get to flick out every morning in front of the mirror. I even bought my own hair dryer. The only problem with the style was that it was fragile, if it was windy I’d end up looking like the bastard son of the nutty professor, and god help me if it rained.
I decided to get myself a motorbike without thinking of the consequences, so I bought this little pop pop hair dryer on wheels and started to ride round the town thinking I was Marlon Brando in the Wild One. The only difference between us was the fact that he rode a nasty messed up cool Harley and I had a little bright red Honda with white leg guards. There was another difference which hadn’t occurred to me when I laid out on this machine that Noddy wouldn’t have been seen dead on, Marlon Brando didn’t have to wear a crash helmet, but in Britain the law of the land stated that I had to.
I’d get on my little red machine and travel off to the pub for a night out, when I arrived I would take off my helmet and make straight for the toilets to put my hair straight. There was no such thing as gel in those days and there was no way that I was wearing Brylcreem so I had to try and set it using water from the taps on the hand basin. Another thing that hadn’t been invented, or if it had it hadn’t reached Fareham, was hot air dryers. If I’d have had that resource I could have stuck my head under one and got a quick blow dry in fact I probably could have stood under it.
But I thought that I looked cool with my sopping wet hair every Friday night in the pub feeling the cold water drip down my neck making my shirt damp. I was ahead of my time, 15 years later and I could have been auditioning for the part of Wurzel Gummidge, plus I wouldn’t have had to spend as long in make up as Jon Pertwee who got the job ahead of me. It’s no wonder that bikers couldn’t care less what their hair looks like. Every time I tried to chat up a girl in those days their first line was, “I didn’t know it was raining.”
There must have been teenagers all around the world who were struggling to keep their hair styled with the Ziggy cut in those early days. It’s not a style that’s forgiving when it goes wrong and believe me, mine went wrong on many occasions. But I was prepared to suffer indignities in what was becoming a slavish devotion to David Bowie.
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