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David Bowie: When you look at his past, you realise he was a master at understanding the future | Ents & Arts News

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Bowie in 1964. Pic: Dezo Hoffman/Shutterstock

“Look up here, I’m in heaven,” sang David Bowie. “I’ve got scars that can’t be seen.”

The song is Lazarus, a track from the album Blackstar, released just two days before he died of liver cancer on 10 January 2016, exactly five years ago.

Was the lyric another case of Bowie being one step ahead of the world by predicting his own death? Perhaps we were supposed to see clues in the Blackstar video, in which the skeleton of a dead astronaut floats away into outer space.

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A fresh-faced Bowie pictured in 1964. Pic: Dezo Hoffman/Shutterstock
Ziggy Stardust. Pic: ITV/Shutterstock
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And looking glam in the Ziggy Stardust era. Pic: ITV/Shutterstock

The demise of Major Tom from Space Oddity? Nobody knows for sure.

But when I think about that day, I realise it’s the only time I’ve ever felt utterly bereft by the death of someone I’ve never met. This feeling is illogical, but real. It’s as if something about your own personal history has altered.

For teenage fans from the drab 1970s suburbs, Bowie offered a glimpse of extravagance, even decadence, and a thrilling soundtrack to our lives. We were hooked for life.

When you look back at his past, you realise Bowie was a master at understanding the future.

During the first rush of the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, someone shared an interview he did with MTV in 1983, which I’d not seen before.

He turned the tables on interviewer Mark Goodman by asking him questions about why there were so few black artists on the station. He was told that towns in the Midwest might be “scared to death by Prince… or a string of other black faces and black music”.

It’s jaw-dropping to watch this interview today.

Legendry David Bowie performs at Glastonbury Festival at Pilton for the final day of the annual music event. The first time he performed at the music Festival was back in 1971.
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On stage at Glastonbury in 2000
The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976). Pic: Studiocanal/Shutterstock
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The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976). Pic: Studiocanal/Shutterstock

Goodman said MTV had to choose music that suited all of America, and questioned what the Isley Brothers might mean in those days to a 17-year-old. Bowie came back, polite but pointed: “I’ll tell you what the Isley Brothers or Marvin Gaye mean to a black 17-year-old. Surely he’s part of America as well.”

He went on: “Should it not be a challenge to try to make the media far more integrated?”

Goodman had to agree. It’s a long road still being travelled today.

More frivolously, when you watch the 1980 video for the track Ashes To Ashes, you might think it was Bowie who invented the iPad, 30 years before Apple.

The video was, at the time, the most expensive and technologically sophisticated any artist had made. On two occasions, Bowie’s Pierrot character holds up a tablet with video playing. Surely it must have given people ideas…

Bowie saw what was coming. He was a slayer of convention and a champion of individualism.

David Bowie in 1970
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Pictured in 1970, the year he released The Man Who Sold The World
David Bowie and Iman arriving for the Serpentine Gallery Summer Party in Hyde Park. The annual fund-raiser is being held on the gallery's lawn in a glass and steel pavilion designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito and Arup.
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Bowie was married to model Iman

His embrace of sexual ambiguity suggested people could just be who they wanted to be, long before the evolution in gender fluidity we see today.

I’ve looked back this week at his interview with the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman in 1999, at a time when we were all just getting used to “surfing” the internet. Paxman wondered whether the claims being made for the internet were not hugely exaggerated. He raised a quizzical eyebrow at the answer.

“I don’t think we’ve even seen the tip of the iceberg,” said Bowie. “I think the potential of what the internet is going to do to society – for good and bad – is unimaginable. We are on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying. It’s going to crush our ideas of what mediums are all about.”

I saw the interview at the time and didn’t entirely understand what he meant. A decade later, we all got it. Bowie’s grasp of the future had already envisaged that the internet would carry infinite content and provide effortless interplay between users and providers.

In 2002, he told the New York Times that the days of mass sales of CDs would one day end.

A commemorative plaque to David Bowie's iconic creation, Ziggy Stardust, in Heddon Street, London, marking the 40th anniversary of the album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars, after the rock star died following an 18-month battle with cancer. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday January 11, 2016. See PA story DEATH Bowie. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
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A commemorative plaque to Bowie’s iconic Ziggy Stardust creation
Rock star David Bowie performs on stage at Wembley Stadium, London, July 13, 1985, during the Live Aid famine relief rock concert. (AP Photo/Joe Schaber)
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On stage at Wembley Stadium during the Live Aid concert in 1985

“Music is going to become like running water or electricity – the absolute transformation of everything we have thought about music will take place within 10 years.”

He told his fellow artists that they’d better get used to doing a lot of touring to make their money, because future streaming services would dominate music. Spotify launched in October 2008, and Bowie had proved to be far-sighted yet again.

His insights were the product of an insatiably curious mind.

He read Nietzsche, William S Burroughs and the poet Khalil Gibran. He was influenced musically by Little Richard, John Coltrane, Bob Dylan and The Velvet Underground. He was fascinated by George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali.

These, and many other influences, were filtered through the multiplex of his brain and erupted in a frenzy of creativity, which delivered 13 albums in 11 years between 1969 and 1980.

David Bowie in concert on his 'Serious Moonlight' tour in 1983. Pic: Andre Csillag/Shutterstock
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In concert on his Serious Moonlight tour in 1983. Pic: Andre Csillag/Shutterstock
Heathen tour
David Bowie performs on stage at the relaunch of the Carling Apollo, Hammersmith, in west London.
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Performing on stage at the relaunch of the Apollo, Hammersmith, in 2002

Bowie electrified the 1970s to the same extent that The Beatles helped define the 1960s, feeding off the social fluctuations and paranoias of the age.

We could have lost him so much earlier than we did. His mid-’70s tour of the United States was relentlessly fuelled by cocaine. Pictures of him at the time reveal a pale, cadaverous figure, permanently on the edge – and sometimes over it.

Yet the creativity was never stifled. He managed to switch mid-tour from the rock-and-roll of Diamond Dogs to the soul of Young Americans, which he wrote and then recorded in Philadelphia, while on the road, and under the influence.

He has said himself that he doesn’t know what might have happened to him, had he not abandoned the American hedonism for a quieter life in Berlin. His Berlin trilogy – Low, Heroes, and Lodger – was the result of European influence and his embrace of electronic and ambient music in collaboration with Brian Eno.

It was a ’70s innovation which helped usher in the music of the ’80s.

There is at least compensation for the loss of such an extraordinary creative force. The music which sold 140 million albums is still here. His influence on music, art, fashion and style can’t be erased.

He sang on Blackstar: “Something happened on the day he died. His spirit rose a metre, and stepped aside.”

I’m not sure there’s anyone out there to take his place.

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Archie Lyndhurst: CBBC star died from brain haemorrhage, mother confirms | Ents & Arts News

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Archie Lyndhurst: CBBC star died from brain haemorrhage, mother confirms | Ents & Arts News

Archie Lyndhurst, the son of Only Fools And Horses actor Nicholas Lyndhurst, died from a brain haemorrhage, his mother has confirmed.

The 19-year-old died in his sleep at his home in Fulham, west London, on 22 September.

Lucy Lyndhurst shared the results of her son’s second post-mortem on Instagram, writing: “He died from an Intracerebral Haemorrhage caused by Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma/Leukaemia.”

Calling the details of the report “harrowing”, she said it was “not leukaemia as we know it” and that in medical terms, acute meant “rapid”.

An intracerebral haemorrhage is caused by bleeding on the brain, causing a stroke.

She also explained that the doctor had found “numerous bleeds on the brain” and that “Archie wouldn’t have been in any pain as it happened in his sleep”.

As Archie had shown no signs of illness, and his death was due to natural causes, she said there was nothing that could have been done to prevent his death.

Early reports following his “unexplained” death said he had died following “a short illness”.

His mother described the effect of Archie’s death on the family as “catastrophic”, calling him “an extraordinary magical human being”, “an old soul” and “incredibly advanced for his years”.

An only child, she said that she and Nicholas Lyndhurst were “grateful and privileged to have been chosen to be his parents”.

Archie’s father famously played Rodney Trotter, the hapless younger brother of Sir David Jason’s Del Boy, in Only Fools and Horses.

Archie had been dating his So Awkward co-star Nethra Tilakumara, whom his mother called “the love of his life”, and had celebrated her birthday with her just days before his death.

Lucy also shared a series of photos of Archie, showing him as a child, and later as a successful actor, as well as relaxing with his girlfriend.

Calling life “fragile, precious and sometimes incredibly cruel”, his mother said “to lose a child is every parent’s nightmare”, adding that she “wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone”.

She signed off her post: “Our darling boy, we love you forever and ever and thank you every day, for every beautiful memory we have. We will celebrate you always. All our love. Mama and O.M.”

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Archie’s funeral took place in a “tiny chapel” in November, his mother confirmed in an earlier message.

Archie trained at the Sylvia Young theatre school, and was best known for playing Ollie Coulton in CBBC comedy So Awkward.

He had also appeared in hospital drama Casualty and in Jack Whitehall comedy Bad Education.

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COVID-19: Town’s rapid coronavirus testing centres close as snow sweeps across parts of England | UK News

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COVID-19: Town's rapid coronavirus testing centres close as snow sweeps across parts of England | UK News

All three rapid COVID testing centres in Luton have been shut because of snow in the area, the council has said, while other parts of England have also woken up to snowfall.

Confirming the decision on Twitter, the council said it would be closing the centres “for the safety of the public and our staff”.

But social media users have complained of a lack of snow, with some branding the council’s move “utterly embarrassing”.

“Just been to the shop….more ‘snow’ in a snow globe!!!” wrote one Twitter user, while others said closing the testing sites was a “bizarre decision”.

Luton had a rate of new COVID cases in the seven days to 11 January of 808.3, according to Public Health England data. That was down from 961.7 on the previous week.

It comes after the Met Office warned that parts of southeast England and East Anglia will continue to see further snow on Saturday, with between 2cm and 4cm falling over the coming hours.

An amber snow alert was put in place for the east of England until 2pm, with yellow snow warnings for the South East until 8pm.

A further yellow snow and ice warning has been issued in a band stretching from the Midlands to the top of Scotland until 6pm on Saturday.

The Met Office said there was a likelihood of “delays or cancellations to rail and air travel, possible travel delays on roads stranding some vehicles and passengers”.

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COVID-19: India begins vaccine roll-out and aims to administer 300 million jabs by August | World News

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Biji Tony was the first nurse to be vaccinated at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital in Delhi

India has began its ambitious project of vaccinating its 1.3 billion citizens – as it aims to administer 300 million jabs by August.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the voluntary vaccination programme at 3,006 locations across the country this morning.

About 300,000 health workers will be vaccinated today and the numbers will increase as more capacity is enhanced every week.

In the first phase, vaccines will be given to 30 million health and frontline workers for free.

In its second phase 270 million citizens over the age of 50 and those under 50 with other health problems will be vaccinated.

There is an air of relief and optimism at the Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality hospital as the first beneficiaries line up for the jab.

There is also relief and celebration by health workers at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) Hospital in Delhi.

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Biji Tony was the first nurse to be vaccinated at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital in Delhi

Staff nurse Biji Tony, the first to be vaccinated there, told Sky News: “I am so relieved. It has been a very difficult year, working day and night.

“We’ve stayed away from family and loved ones. We are human as well. Now all this ends. We are not afraid anymore after we get the second dose.”

Dr Suresh Kumar, the medical superintendent at the LNJP hospital, told Sky News: “Today is a historic day and like a festival, we are feeling as if we have won a super world cup.

“But it has come with a lot of struggle. We have lost doctors and staff to the virus. But now we are ready to win the COVID war.”

The two vaccines, the Oxford-AstraZeneca’s “Covishield” and Bharat Biotech’s “Covaxin”, were approved for emergency use by the Central Drugs and Standards Committee (CDSCO) on 3 January.

Millions of doses of Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India at its Pune plant, and Covaxin, produced by Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad, were transported under security to various cities across the nation.

The approval of the latter has raised concerns amongst scientists and epidemiologists as third phase trails are still ongoing and its efficacy has not yet been published.

Prime minister Modi said: “The DCGI (Drug Controller General of India) gave approval after they were satisfied with the data of the two vaccines. So stay away from rumours.”

Professor KS Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation Of India (PHFI) – a non- profit organisation and a watchdog of public health – said: “Ideally at the best of circumstances one should see the phase three trials completed and efficacy data fully evaluated and out in the public domain through scientific publications as well as other scrutiny.

“However in this pandemic situation it was felt that given the large number of persons in India that need to be immunised the potential escalation of the epidemic due to mutants. I think the policy makers have taken the decision, I too wish the trial could have been completed earlier.

“But as far as the safety is concerned it has been adequately proven for Covaxin. But anyone who has doubts of the vaccine need not take it even if it is offered, they can decline it.”

Healthcare workers are being prioritised in the vaccine roll-out
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Healthcare workers are being prioritised in the vaccine roll-out

Indian Health Ministry spokesperson Rajesh Bhushan said: “There is no option for recipients to choose which vaccine they want to be inoculated with.”

Preparations for these dry runs took place in more than 700 districts across the country with mock transportation and dummy injections by more than 150,000 health staff.

The country has 29,000 cold-chain points, 240 walk-in coolers, 70 walk-in freezers, 45,000 ice-lined refrigerators, 41,000 deep freezers and 300 solar refrigerators for storage.

Immunising a country that is almost 2,000 miles north to south and the same east to west with over a billion people will be a herculean task.

Reaching remote and rural areas where most of India lives and where the infrastructure is wanting will be a challenge.

Added to this is a second jab required to complete the cycle.

And then there are the many summer months where temperatures soar to 40C (104 F) or more in most parts of the country.

It has been a tragic winter for the Sharma household

Deviram Sharma, 65, died within four days of being admitted to a hospital with the virus.

His son Avneesh is donning a PPE suit to perform the last rites at Nigambodh Ghat – the largest Hindu crematorium.

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Families have no time for mourning as farewells are hurried and from afar due to restrictions.

Traditional last rites are rushed under the overbearing shadow of the virus, the bereavement a mere formality.

Avneesh told Sky News: “It has jolted our family, it has shaken our roots, even I had to go on medication and am still feeling low myself.

“I hope and pray that this virus is removed through the use of vaccination and others don’t have to suffer what our family has gone through.”

With more than 10.5 million cases, India is the second worst affected country after the United States.

Almost 152,000 deaths have been reported so far and the need for a vaccine has never been as critical as now.

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