Catherine Naylor: Growing up with Michael Jackson's world

Related Topics

It was 1989. Hair flying everywhere, our brown lace-ups scuffed and knee-length socks falling down our shins, we stood together on the hot bitumen, ignoring the boys’ bulrush games as one by one, we tried to make our nine-year-old legs do the moonwalk.

Oh the innocence of it, when we had no qualms about spending a whole lunchbreak imitating a Pop God, when it was still the pure genius of Michael Jackson, unburdened by claims of child sex abuse, or shrinking noses, or baby-danglings over balconies.

Michael Jackson was one of those rare events – and his presence was too big to be contained within the human form – that pierced the self-encompassing nature of our Eighty-Baby childhoods. We might not remember the Berlin Wall coming down. Or Tiananmen Square. Or the Chernobyl disaster. But we remember "We are the World" and the famine in Africa.

Then as teenagers, when the weird stuff began and Jacko became Wacko, we felt a little horrified, a little disillusioned, like when you find out that your parents are not so infallible after all. We were embarrassed that we had been so foolish to do moonwalks in the playground, and angry that the innocence of our childhoods had now been somehow tainted by this fallen idol. We abandoned him, hid our cassettes, let them gather dust behind our new CDs of Pearl Jam and Nirvana and the Chili Peppers.

But he could still make us dance. At university, as we first experienced the freedoms of adulthood without the responsibilities, it was Michael Jackson that provided us with the anthems. It was Jackson that made us work the dance floor at those garish Retro-themed bar nights, when we would all, en masse, perform the "Blame it on the Boogie" routine or crink our necks doing "Your Black, Your White". We revelled again in the music, stripped of the headlines that had followed it the first time round. And then, perhaps, stilettos discarded, stockings laddered, we would attempt another moonwalk on the footpath that led us home.

And so yes, I am saddened to hear that Michael Jackson is gone, with all his fallen, tainted genius, and that this man who could make nine-year-olds dance under a hot lunchtime sun in Australia, and still dance 10 years later into the wee hours of the morning, had lived in the end such a devastated life.

But death can be kind to those it enfolds. The 24-hour music channel is playing all his hits. On Facebook, my friends write of their shock and sorrow, of how they looked up "Man in the Mirror" on YouTube and got all choked up, and how this death almost seems to mark the end of their youth, of our youth. In a way, it has resurrected the genius of the man, and made us remember the way he made us feel, when we did the moonwalk in the playground, trying to avoid the cracks in the bitumen and fighting over who really knew how to do it like Michael.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Jihadist militants leading away captured Iraqi soldiers in Tikrit, Iraq, in June  

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Robert Fisk
India's philosopher, environmental activist, author and eco feminist Vandana Shiva arrives to give a press conference focused on genetically modified seeds on October 10, 2012  

Meet Vandana Shiva: The deserving heir to Mahatma Ghandi's legacy

Peter Popham
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home