Monday, 26 December 2016

RIP GEORGIOS KYRIACOS PANAYIOTOU



My patience is stretched, now. I find myself wanting to herd all these bleaters yelping about the 'malevolence' of 2016 for 'taking' so many cherished stars away from us, and bang their unthinking heads together.
Let's go again. Time is intangible. It is an illusion, a construct, a concept. It doesn't exist. It was invented by man, just to keep track of all that we are up to. It varies, in fact, depending on your point of view. You can make a day longer than a year whenever you want to. Try it. You can make it last a lifetime in your mind: that's what baby births, wedding days, anniversaries and the so-called 'big birthdays' are about. Time is no more than an abstract measurement, a scale by which we chart our existence. It is supposed to give shape to the way in which we go about things, and to make life easier. As such, it is not to be blamed for the things we would rather had not happened; an excuse for devastation we cannot explain.
So another one bites the dust. Time - 2016 - is, of course, to blame. Get real. We're talking 'timing', not 'time', in this instance. George was always the first to say that 'timing is everything'. The suggestion that he may have taken his own life on Christmas Day, as some are saying, is therefore not so far-fetched. George was an extreme control freak, a planner, an obsessive. The significance of the designated birthday of our Lord will not have been lost on him. He created 'Last Christmas', one of the great modern Yuletide classics, to link his name indelibly with the season. Every Christmas, for evermore, we will now remember and give thanks for George on Christmas Day. The arrogance, though breathtaking, should be forgiven.
I spent enough time with George and Andrew Ridgeley in the Eighties. We worked together on numerous occasions. His former manager, Simon Napier-Bell, and his Sony publicist Jonathan Morrish, remain two of my most cherished friends. I have other close pals who went to school with George in North London. On more than a few occasions, I got to glimpse the real Yog. He was a tormented soul who lived a damnable lie for longer than he was able to be true to himself. He never came out to his family while his mother was still alive. He felt compelled to wait until she died to be open and honest about his orientation.
The self-deception of his youth was a cancer to him. The self-inflicted damage would not be repaired. George admitted to a void, created by his distance from his parents and wider family, which generated unbearable deprivation. He acknowledged that he sought adoration from complete strangers, in order to try and fill that void. The harder he tried, the less he found himself able to compensate. He did not know the true meaning of peace. He accepted that his need to become an artist was a cry for help. He agreed that he was desperately insecure, and that he was addicted to applause. He fell in love with Elton John at a very young age. Performing his Elton favourite, 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me' on stage with his idol was, he said, the pinnacle of his career. The pair later fell out, made up, fell out, made up, in that intensely emotional manner that tends eventually to become the downfall of superstars.
George pressed the self-destruct button years ago. He gave in to his desires, and even did time for them. He lost out in love, giving away his whole heart, and having it returned to him in shreds. Few can recover from that, least of all those whose every nerve ending is exposed to and raked over by millions of needy fans, dependent on his music and demanding, ever demanding, answers about love and the meaning of life that he was never equipped to give.
This is how I want to remember him: at Live Aid, 13th July 1985. George was twenty two years old, in his exuberant prime, thrilled to be part of the greatest show on earth, and lapping up every blink of it. I watched him at point blank range that day, getting everything he needed in the giving of so much ... if only in that moment. At least he had that. At least we still have the music. God rest him.


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