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David Bowie

David Bowie

There was a great artist from Brixton
Whose son said he’d lately passed on.
He left us his work
The rest is just pork
And death shall have no dominion.

Along with handshakes at the podium, where in the time of Camelot there was theshooting of cuffs (thin white stripes and matching handkerchief), now the teeniest hintof a hip-swivelling pose – itsy-bitsy echo of a lad insane.

On Tuesday 12 January 2016 in his last-ever State of the Union address, as now he enters the final round of his second term of office, the President presents himself as Lazarus, called back from the twilight zone for all those Young Americans who need him still; to sugar the pill.

That’s too bitter. Politics in pursuit of the best we can be, promises he. And innovation and global leadership without having to be the world’s policeman. As if.

Yet here there’s also truth of sorts, and meaning – many meanings. Abundant as angels’ heads on pins. Hope enough for all ye who enter here.

Let’s dance, sings the President prancing with democracy, voguing the Enlightenment. But to the essential issue in modern politics – labour, POTUS is as Wall Street derivatives are to the substance of value.

By 9.00 GMT on Saturday 16 January his White House performance video had been viewed less than 60,000 times, while David Bowie’s deathbed selfie topped 21 million.

Men who fell to earth include Carlito Vale (d. 2015) and Jose Matada (d. 2012). Stowaways in the wheel bays of aeroplanes bound for Heathrow, they dropped throughthe sky as the undercarriage opened above South West London. Photos of Vale at home in Mozambique show he had bought a London T-shirt: he came in search of thereal thing. Another man who stowed away with him, managed to survive. These three African men appear here as the footnotes to which they have been consigned.