This is not about the recent demise of Prince. Like many people at the moment, I wrote last week about the worrying level of celebrity deaths we appear to be having in 2016, and woke up the next morning to the news that the Prince was dead. About an hour later my husband got up.
‘Another celebrity is dead,’ I announced.
‘Which one now?’ He asked.
‘Prince,’ I replied. ‘He was found dead in his lift.’
He thought about this for a split second, ‘Was he going up or down?’
So I am not going to jinx another life. I sat down to write tonight fully aware that I did not have the time to commit to the next piece of fiction I have an idea for – unless I do it in two parts? Not sure I want it to be that long. I searched online for something to listen to and found a BBC Radio 2 show that was playing Donny Osmond singing Puppy Love and I was instantly transported back to my teenage years. The reason was that a musical is currently touring the UK called Jackie: the Musical. The name comes from the highly popular UK girls’ magazine of the 70s and it features, by the sound of it, a vast catalogue of music from that era.
I loved Donny Osmond when I was a teenager. In the UK, you were either Bay City Rollers, or the Osmonds and while I was not too fussed about the other brothers, the little runt Jimmy or Marie, I loved Donny. Reading an interview with Jackie magazine, I learned that his favourite colour was purple and so of course it became mine too. I bought a purple spangly ‘boob tube’ in Donny’s favourite colour and wore it to the local disco. Halfway through the evening, the DJ played a track and announced the best dancer would win a prize. Yours truly in her sparkly purple won the dance and her 75p entrance money back. I was living the dream.
But Donny lived on the moon, or might as well have. I had a poster on my wall and I may have planted a kiss on his paper lips from time to time – bugger Paper Roses, there’s a title for a song – but that was the nearest I would ever get to my idol. I taught myself an American accent listening to his records (or fancied that I did), knew all the lyrics to the songs although I barely understood what they were about and thankfully never had the chance to be one of the screaming hordes of teenagers hanging over baracades because he was touring in the area.
My father, observing my passion with wry amusement, posed me a question: If it was him and Donny Osmond up against the wall and I had to choose who was to be shot, who would I choose to spare? He sat back in his chair, believing that his question had finally pricked a hole in my teenage obsession by placing the real and tangible love of my family next to a man I did not know.
I thought about it.
‘I am sorry, but I would have to choose Donny,’ I decided, ‘because he gives more to the world in general through his music and you are just an accountant.’
That had to sting. Not only had I answered in favour of Donny, but I had thought about it first. I had sacrificed my father for The greater good of humanity.
‘Serves you right,’ said my mother. She loved it when my father was caught on the hop by what she considered to be over confident behaviour on his part.
However, as charming as I am sure Donny Osmond still is, time has swung the pendulum inevitably back in favour of my father, for what he lacks in musical talent and a predilection for things purple, he had made up for in being my dad.