Column: what will you be remembered for?

 David Bowie, whose legacy spans generations
David Bowie, whose legacy spans generations


It would be lovely to think when we depart this world we will leave some sort of legacy, make some kind of mark, prove we were actually here, that we lived, spoke and took up oxygen.

And I’m not talking about a gravestone, a giant credit card bill, the biggest pile of washing-up known to humankind or a gaggle of charming children.

I’m talking something which can be anchored in history – a novel, a work of art or maybe a song.

Never has this been so much on the public consciousness as this year when we seem to have a lost a raft of people who have made a significant and memorable contribution during their lifetime.

From an entire musical movement, to a starry acting career, or a song which stirred and defined a generation.

From the very famous greats such as David Bowie, whose contribution was such his work crossed multiple generations, to those who made their mark on the wider consciousness with one huge song, role or moment.

They include the late Guru Josh, who transfixed a movement of 90s ravers with ‘Infinity’ and just this week Colin Vearncombe, known to most as the man behind the wonderful song Wonderful Life.

Frontman Lemmy and drummer Phil Taylor from Motorhead, Glenn Frey from the Eagles, Grammy award-winning singer Natalie Cole, actor… the list goes on.

We have been publicly grieving a whole retinue of stars and greats because of what they achieved – but crucially because of the impact they had on our own lives.

Famous strangers who insinuated themselves into our day-to-day with their work and talents.

All, of course, have a catalogue of other achievement, of private love and loss.

Some would rather be remembered for other things but nonetheless made headlines on their departure because of a moment in time, one work that pierced a collective psyche, that achieved stratospheric success.

We do not always get to be remembered on our terms – as demonstrated by the passing this week of Lord Cecil Parkinson who almost made Prime Minister but was dogged by personal controversy.

But it would be nice to make a mark.

Other than bills.