Rhodri Marsden: Why it's not overly healthy to compare oneself to David Bowie

Life on Marsden

Share
Related Topics

A few days ago I found myself walking around the Bowie exhibition at the V&A, gawping at his prodigious output during the 1970s and bemoaning my failure to produce anything comparable during the same period. While Bowie was recording "Heroes", I was playing a goblin in a mercifully short run of a school play called Jan's Journey written by my headmaster, Mr Curtis. It's an unhelpful comparison, obviously.

Bowie was a spectacular talent reaching creative maturity, working with Eno and Fripp. I was six, working with a bunch of six-year-olds who wouldn't know dramatic irony if it was served up for lunch with chips and beans and called "dramatic irony, chips and beans".

But you can't help but make these pointless comparisons when confronted with an exhibition like this. Bowie was 24 when he wrote "Life on Mars", for chrissakes. I just thought back to when I was 24, and I think I spent most of that year worrying whether I might have new variant CJD. Brilliant.

Faced with the problematic atheist position of not knowing what the purpose of human life is, I tend instead to perform arithmetic based upon other people's achievements to work out what I ought to have done by such-and-such a year. For example, I frequently have the niggling thought that by the time my dad was my age, he already had a 12-year-old son. Me. I was getting into The Smiths at the time. In fact, "Hand in Glove" by The Smiths came out exactly 30 years ago – and if you go back another 30 years, Elvis hadn't even set foot in a recording studio!

What does this mean? Not much – but it contributes to an unsettling feeling of underachievement coupled with the seemingly rapid passing of time.

A few years ago I started avoiding reading biographies of people who'd achieved stuff at an early age, consoling myself instead with thoughts of Kenneth Williams, who wasn't in Carry on Camping until he was 43, or Mother Teresa, who didn't bag the Nobel Prize until she was 69.

So there's still hope, right? I still have time to appear in a bawdy British comedy, surely, or perhaps set up an orphanage, I think to myself, as I slump on the sofa on a Sunday, stuffing some Pringles into my face because there's nothing else to do.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker / Trainee Broker / Closer - OTE £250,000

£30000 - £250000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker/ Trainee FX, Stoc...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL)

£30 - 40k + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / ...

Recruitment Genius: ICT Operations Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is the single governing and regul...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A cervical brush used for to perform vaginal smear test analysis  

If I had let the stigma around cervical cancer stop me seeing a doctor then I could be dead by now

Karen Hobbs
 

I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality

Farhana Khan
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935