Monday 9 January 2017

Shocking celebrity deaths not 2016's fault (Was George Michael's death predicted by Last Christmas cover photo?)

Finally. It’s over.

2017 is here.

We can’t blame everything bad that happens on 2016 any more.

Yes, David Bowie died last year. Then Prince. Muhammad Ali. Mr S R Nathan. Daniel Ong and Jaime Teo’s marriage.

Not to be confused with Glenn Ong and Jamie Yeo’s marriage, which had perished a few years earlier.

I was more stunned by the news of the former couple’s divorce than a driver encountering a vehicle going against traffic on the expressway.

The lesson here is that if your name is Jamie or Jaime or Jiame or Jaemi or Jimea or, hell, just starts with the letter J, you shouldn’t marry a DJ with the surname Ong.

But 2016 didn’t kill those famous people or anyone’s marriage. Not even Brangelina’s.

2016 was just an innocent bystander who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

It got to the point where right after I woke up every morning, I would go to Facebook on my phone just to check what other celebrity had died while I slept.

2016 couldn’t catch a break even in the last week of the year, which was probably the most brutal in terms of celebrity deaths.

George Michael, Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds died within days of each other.

No, I’m not including the reported death of Mariah Carey’s singing career after her abortive performance on a live TV show on New Year’s Eve. All she wanted for Christmas was for the audio system to be working properly.

But for me, the most shocking death was Michael’s.

It was shocking because he was only 53. That’s just three years older than I am.

It was shocking because he died on Dec 25 when you could hear his song, Last Christmas, being played all over the place and thus, the world’s most morbidly obvious pun was born on Christmas Day

It was George Michael’s last Christmas.

Except that, officially, the 1984 song is actually credited to Wham!, the pop duo Michael was in with Andrew Ridgeley before Michael went solo.

So it’s actually Wham!’s Last Christmas.

Except that as far as I know, Ridgeley is still alive.

But should he be?

If you look at the inside cover of one of the original 12-inch single versions of the song, you will see a photo of Michael in Santa costume fake-crying over Ridgeley in reindeer costume playing dead.

This was 32 Christmases ago.

It is almost as if the photo predicted that a member of Wham! would die on Christmas Day.

Someone more insensitive than I am would say the wrong member did.

Which makes you wonder what kind of secret pact Ridgeley made with the devil.

Is your mind blown yet?

Wait, there’s more.

I have a 12-inch single version of Last Christmas and it was given to me by someone special.

Actually, it was my friend Stewart from the navy, although I do think of him as someone special. We sailed together to Thailand once.

I would like to say he gave it to me last Christmas, but it was actually two years ago and closer to Chinese New Year.

(I’m talking about the 12-inch.)

The vinyl record has been on display on my work desk since 2015 as an ironic homage to 80s kitsch, but now that Michael has died, it has become a poignant reminder of how we take a certain time in our lives for granted until it’s gone.

So as badly as we want to forget 2016 after it took away so many people who meant so much to us, at least it helped us remember why they meant so much to us in the first place.

So for 2017, our new year’s resolution should be to let those who are still with us know how much they mean to us while we still can...

I love you, Stewart!


- Published in The New Paper, 9 January 2017