Today David Bowie died. I liked his music - my favourite song is Life On Mars but my memories will be forever shaped by a brief encounter in the late 1980's. I was experiencing my first upgrade to first class on British Airways from Heathrow to JFK. The seat next to me was empty and my books and newspaper took over the space. I was in the window seat. Just as the door was closing someone asked politely if I could move my things. I apologised and hurriedly tidied up. I looked at the guy sitting next to me and my initial reaction was, "looks like a cool dude" but beyond that no reaction.
As the safety film played I looked out of the corner of my eye and thought that I had seen him somewhere before. After take off the stewardess offered drinks - I ordered my G&T and my seat mate declined anything, pulling a bottle of mineral water out of his bag. A few minutes later my curiosity knew no bounds and I asked him, "Aren't you David Bowie?"
He smiled and said, "Yes."
Wow! My feelings were conflicted, here was a genuine legend but he was also entitled to his privacy. We talked inanely for a few minutes and then dinner was served. I ate (and drank) he settled down to sleep. Six hours later we landed at JFK. I said goodbye and he politely replied. As we left the plane he was met by "handlers" and was gone. But today the memories came back and I remembered the polite gentleman I spent 7 hours with.