A letter to David Bowie

David Bowie as Aladdin Sane
I visited the David Bowie exhibition on 10th August at the V&A in London. I was totally blown away and affected by it. The event lingered in my mind and I was compelled to capture those thoughts in one of my journals. It wasn’t enough and now I find myself sharing with you.

Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s for me was all about fitting in, to be noticed was to be different. I was already different. I was ‘Asian’, ‘Indian’, a ‘Paki’. My differences were pointed out to me, practically, on a daily basis and occasionally accompanied by violence. I longed to fit in and be ‘normal’, Bowie worked hard to be one in a million. Ziggy really was an alien. I didn’t get it. 

David Bowie has always been in my peripheral vision but never a feature. He is a very attractive man, I was intrigued but I didn’t get him, he was just another rock star who dressed up for attention. 

Another reason why he was off my radar was the type of music he produced. Many of my tormentors could be identified by the clothes they wore – the clothes related to the music they listened to. Any punk, rock, metal or mod band was out. Disco and pop was safe. My husband will watch certain performances by The Sex Pistols and The Jam and get goosebumps, I do too but for very different reasons.

At the exhibition my eyes were opened to a new view of him partly through the education of the show but also because I’m a different me. Over the years I learned how to be myself and be happy with all my uniqueness! Ready to see and ready to listen. 

I’ve never been to an exhibition with more energy – I was swallowed by it, passed through it’s organs to be transformed and reborn at the exit. Time means nothing in a good exhibition – I like to lose myself and be fully immersed. I didn’t look at my watch for fear that I would wake from my beautiful dream. It was a great experience – very well thought out and delivered perfectly through clever use of music, headsets, visual aids and prompts. I had no idea of the breadth of his work, processes and output. A true iconoclast. 

The main theme that struck me as I wondered around the exhibition was freedom. David Bowie gave himself freedom to think, feel and express. It dawned on me that Bowie and I could never have met before. As a child I didn’t know freedom was a possibility for me – in thought, expression, fashion, personality or heart. I was conditioned differently and my expectations set low. Creativity through design was my door to the freedom I now possess. Freedom to really open my eyes and see things my own way. 

Maybe it was me who was the alien?

Dear Mr Bowie, 

Thank you for sharing your life and experiences so openly and honestly.

I’m glad you were there to push the boundaries and inspire. I pushed too – in my own way. 

Now time has passed and things have moved on, I’m very glad to finally meet you.

Yours sincerely,


6 thoughts on “A letter to David Bowie

    • Hey there Tom – Me either!
      The exhibition gave so much information but now I want to know more and not just about his music. His creative style intrigues me.

  1. I discovered Bowie as a teenager but most of my friends were into more current stuff, Tears for Fears, Ah-Ha, or the one-hit-wonder of the day. I still remember the flood of happiness from a chance discovery that a girl in my class was also a fan. Just like me, you’d never have guessed from the outside, we were both innocuous as church mice; I gave her tapes and she copied all the albums she had that I didn’t.
    I loved Bowie because he was different, and like you, I knew I was different. I was an expat kid with a mentally ill Dad – our house was a universe away from my school life. Bowie’s originality made my spirit soar but it was still years before I stopped trying to blend in and started living on my own terms.
    Creativity is a drug and Bowie is like Columbia.
    Great piece.

    • Aisha, First of all I’d like to apologise for such a late reply. Thank you so much for responding to my post with such a great comment. It seems Bowie touched a lot of people in a very positive and life changing way – I’m just a bit slow on the uptake! It’s great that he was there to show us the way, a different way.
      We can all see where we need to be, the reality of change and acceptance (even by ourselves, for ourselves) is a daunting prospect.
      We got there though, right? And what a journey!

      Z x

  2. Pingback: Mumsnet Blogfest 2014 | ihijinx

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