You’d probably forgotten about the mission anyway, so let me recap.
GolfontheMoon is a long term & resolutely amateur project of mine to get to the moon before I die without the aid of any corporate or government support (aka interference!). The project slogan is ‘Don’t Leave Space To The Professionals’. When I finally get there, I will do what human beings have always done with new wild frontier landscapes: I will create a golf course and play a round of the most pointless game known to man.
For reasons that are no longer clear to me, I have always designated David Bowie as my wingman, and playing partner (or, possibly, just caddie). Part of the mission was, therefore, to keep Bowie (and me) alive long enough for a space flight to the moon to become affordable and easy to do. Clearly, this part of the mission has been a failure. :(
Why did I choose Bowie? I think it had something to do with me loving his music and videos, and also something about him singing about space* a lot*.
Allying myself with Bowie allowed me to become ‘Major Tim’ for a while - ’til the real one came along, dammit. Bowie also gave me permission to dress up, do crazy silly, creative things in public without (much) embarrassment, reassess what an ‘action man’ could be, what a man could be - oh, and it also took me back to being a kid, watching Bowie on TV and being boggled by the possibility of being like *that*. I see now that Bowie made me much braver about my creative choices than I would have been on my own. A world without him in it is a gloomier, more conservative, less adventurous place - Osborne’s Britain, in fact.
So is the mission fatally damaged now that my co-pilot has gone? In the words of Ed Miliband - "Hell No". There are many ways to fill the second seat in the rocket. (The third seat is up for grabs btw). I’m pretty convinced that Bowie is the kind of guy who will have already downloaded his consciousness anyway, so it should be pretty easy to set him up inside another body quite soon; certainly within the timeframe of the mission.
Alternatively, we could build a Bowiebot - simply gather up everything that Bowie has ever said and sung, put together all the videos, filmed gigs and documentaries and pour them all into an artificially intelligent being as its ‘memories’, and - hey presto! - Bowie is back! Perhaps in the rocket we build, Bowie could become the onboard computer, a bit like HAL in 2001, but a bit nicer and with a better singing voice. Interesting to note that HAL went out singing at the end, just like David.
The other option is for one of us to become Bowie. Professor Will Brooker is ahead of the pack on this one, spending a year trying to live exactly like Bowie at key moments in his life - wearing the same clothes, living in the same cities, eating the same food, reading the same books. Alas, he has had to replace the industrial piles of cocaine Bowie consumed with a crate of energy drinks.
I’ve tried my own little experiment by indulging in quite a lot Bowie karaoke over the years, and trying to perfect the way Bowie speaks (I don't like to write 'spoke' just yet).
This started at the age 14, with me spending a whole afternoon trying to say/sing ‘It’s Monday’ in exactly the same way as Bowie does it on ‘Joe The Lion’. It’s harder than you think. It’s also quite surprising to find out how much you can start to get under somebody else’s skin by trying to talk like them. (Actors know this already).
So you see, the mission is far from over. If anything, the death of Bowie should spur us on. Even in his last weeks, he was dressing up, rehearsing the journey towards death by lying in a bed blindfold, walking backwards into a wardrobe and closing the door.
What he’s showing us is that playing, imagining, articulating future scenarios is a way not just to understand and master something - it’s part of making it happen, making what’s inside your head a reality. We will get to the moon if we play and pretend long enough. We will swing. As golfers, golfers can swing. We will be Heroes.