George Michael – a place in my childhood

When Bowie died, people felt that they had lost someone who played a big part in their childhood. He wasn’t really a part of mine so it didn’t affect me in the same way.

Then yesterday I head that George Michael had died.

Once more I was 12 years old, sitting in my bedroom. A single bed was in the corner. At the end was a Narnia style wardrobe that I often climbed into desperately wishing that the back would open into another world. Needless to say, it never did. I used to hide Christmas presents in there – cheap marshmallows and cheap chocolate, that I would then eat, and have to buy more.

On the opposite wall to the bed and the wardrobe was a dresser. On it sat a small horizontal tape recorder that I used to record the chart show on a Sunday and to record silly voices. You had to hold down the play and record button at the same time to record, and I often got it wrong, missing something important.

The wallpaper was a bit rubbish but that didn’t matter, because I got Smash Hits magazine and stuck the posters all over the wall

Wham were my favourite band, and specifically George Michael. My bed is in that corner and their posters were right next to my bed. This is probably typical of any teenager in the 80’s. We used Smash Hits for posters and lyrics. Duran Duran, East 17, Wham and many others were idolised and the source of many a young girls obsession and fantasies.

So when I heard about George Michael’s death it took me back to that room, to that bed in the corner, to the memories of the person I fancied most in the 80’s, to kissing his poster…and to being abused…in that same bed…in that same corner…with a wardrobe at the end of the bed I wanted to escape into.

The 80’s to me was a story of parallel lives. The life of a normal teenager, into bands like Wham, into wearing bright pink plastic jewellery and leg warmers, and the life of an abused child; scared at home, being emotionally abused and punished through the day, and never knowing what the night would bring.

Songs are powerful. People are powerful. They root in our subconscious and move us around time. As Maya Angelou said, people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

RIP George Michael.

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