Gett off the computer, smartphone, tablet for that one day only, super-duper special offer you might miss out on for the one you love this Christmas. It’s a load of marketing twaddle. Stress, anxiety, normally sane people losing their marbles and biting someone for that TV because they’ve been whipped up into a frenzy by some shrewd yet utterly predictable marketing ploy. Hate to tell you, Black Friday now lasts for weeks anyway. You all know better! So instead, get the tunes on and listen to Prince. Make this Black Friday Purple!
As most people who know me will verify, every day is a purple day for me. I simply love Prince. Have done since I was 9 years of age. And it was love at first sight. I still remember it, clear as day. 1984 – another compulsory Thursday evening watching Top of the Pops. But that night was different. Because there was a naked man in a steaming hot bath! Eh? The stark beat had me hooked as did that voice: so high, so low, so emotive. I felt something shift in me instantly. With such bottomless eyes, he stood slowly and held out his hand…and I grabbed it with both of mine.
So, I grew up with Prince. I spent most of my formative years lying to my mother (sorry Sal) that I was studying when I was either listening to one of his albums or perfecting my dance moves to the Lovesexy video. In fact, I was so good at the rigorous Cat solo, I performed it for my sister and my best friend one night. With such gusto I danced and they fell into a round of applause and whoops and cheers when I had finished. Except it wasn’t them. It was a group of lads outside in the pitch dark street, my living room lit up like Santa’s grotto. I had been in love with one of those boys for a very long time. At least 6 months which is not bad for a 15 year old. Never looked him in the eye after that though…Needless to say, I ended up scraping into the University of Paisley unlike my sister who went on to the far more prestigious Strathclyde University. Suited me down to the ground – I loved Paisley and now had my very own Paisley Park flat!
And Prince was there during every significant event in my life, and although I never met the man, I considered him my very dear friend. How he lifted me in my lowest moments when he sang, “Stand tall, sweet baby. Don’t you fall. You ain’t the only one gettin’ beat down, it happens to us all.” He celebrated with me during the good times too and could bring the life back to a dying party like an electric shock to the heart. He was there when I walked down that aisle and sang while I danced the first dance with my new husband. My husband, unfortunately, had no choice in that matter! And in all that time, over all those years, I had just assumed – Prince would be around forever, wouldn’t he? Wouldn’t he?
Hearing of Prince’s death broke my heart. My hero…gone…but how? I felt such utter loss that this man who had been such a huge part of my life was no longer in the same world as me. I locked myself in the lounge with a bottle of wine and a box of Kleenex and just flicked through every news channel, listening again and again to the words I did not want to even start to comprehend…Prince was gone. I still cry now when I think about it. And I’m not a crier!
I went to the school where I taught the following morning, my eyes like two piss holes in the snow, still crying. Some of the lovely ladies I worked with gave me big hugs and big love. Others, however, didn’t get it as they almost scoffed their sympathy. But I got it so clearly then. The loss was never mine. It was theirs. To never have someone move your soul in such a way. To never feel that passionately for something. To never have a hero. To never love something so much bigger than you. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so empty anymore, not in comparison.
With the realisation of how utterly privileged I had been, I began to reminise through the happy memories instead, remembering the girl I once was, her dreams, how Prince put music into her soul too. And how she had lost an awful lot of that somewhere along the way. Wait? What? Hmmm….
It sounds crazy, but I realised, with his death and the reflection it brought, that my own life hadn’t exactly turned out the way I had planned either. The little ginger dreamer had become a very sensible, if not cynical, realist. She’d long since stopped dreaming. Got the house, got the career, got the car, got the fortnight in the med once a year. Got the fulfilment she’d always wished for? Erm…Another long Hmmm moment. And something magical happened – that little part of me which had been missing began screaming, very loudly and insistently, to be heard again. Do something! Make something! Create! Dance (maybe not the Lovesexy Cat thing, though. You are in your 40’s and remember that time you tried a to do a hand stand not so long ago to impress one of your foster children and your diaphragm nearly pushed your lungs out of your throat and you made an unearthly noise like HHHHHHEEEEEWWW)! But I did do something…
Not long after, I gave up the career which I loved but had sucked the life blood from me till there was not much left to feed on. Someone once told me that they like to take their staff to the absolute limit to get the most out of them. And she did. So I left. After 16 years. Best thing I ever did. I then said to my husband that I was going to buy a lap top as I was going to write a novel. Just like that. No idea where it came from. I’d never written in my life, not even a short story. My husband is used to me by now, though. “Alright,” he said without as much as a blink of an eye. He really is very good!
But write I did, surprising myself with the realisation I had at last found out what I wanted to be at the tender age of 42 – I wanted to be an author because I absolutely loved writing. Who knew? Like Prince, it moves my soul to that place. Before I knew it, I had one shiny novel. Then another. Then another. Earlier this year, I bit the bullet and actually published my first book. And of course, like his first album was for me, my first book was dedicated entirely to him. For You, I wrote. Meant it too.
Earlier this year, I experienced something I never thought was possible even when Prince was alive. I went with my sister to watch The Revolution play in London. Another dream realised! I had been to see a few, ahem, Prince imitation bands over the last few years. And although the slightly pigeon-chested man who tried really hard to pull Prince’s guitar face (but looked like he’s got a piece of foil stuck to his filling) was really entertaining, nothing could ever measure up to the real thing. Except the real thing. The Revolution was Prince’s family. His home. And although I had seen Prince play loads of times, this was on such a different emotional level. Never has someone’s presence yet absence been felt so entirely. Such a moving experience with all those like-minded people who just wanted to share their love, loss and gratefulness for the man. Of course, the band were amazing, including us in their loss too – making it ours, not only theirs, and Wendy had me in tears again with all her lovely words…It really wasn’t very pretty! I asked my sister afterwards how my make-up was. “What make-up?” she asked in reply just as a random man in a ruffled Prince 1980’s-esk shirt pushed through the crowd and pulled me into a bear hug. I then got very drunk and danced like I hadn’t danced in years. Full actions and everything – 2 thousand 00, Oops! Out of time! I would Die for you. Pure magic. Thank you!
So for all you Black Friday people out there, and for those who don’t have that something in their life that feeds their soul, shame. I wish you a love of Prince for Christmas. Me, I’ve got Prince on loop and I’m finishing my 4th book. What a gift that man was to the world, and moreover, what a gift he left behind for us all. Prince is not gone at all! And me, my name is JD Horner and I became a writer because my friend Prince told me I could.
PS – For your viewing pleasure and to help create some very realistic visual images of how my Cat dance went….Honestly.