Opinion

Bowie thrived on chaos, but this government's mess is something else

The financial recklessness of Truss's newly hatched administration has unsettled us all and left the country on the brink of ruin. As long as the nightmare continues, Big Issue is here to help

David Bowie

No one drew creativity from chaos better than Bowie Photo: Jim forrest / Alamy Stock Photo

I went to see Moonage Daydream last week. It’s the film about David Bowie, but not about David Bowie. It follows his life through some unseen footage, cut-up interviews, some new information and photos, the music (of course) and some arresting, repetitive kaleidoscopic images. It’s an elegy, a maximalist piece of work, said director Brett Morgen. It’s about art and creativity and the innate genius and oddness of Bowie. I was left feeling physically unsettled for reasons I can’t quite decipher. But it also had me wanting to run home and listen to Bowie.  

There hasn’t been anybody in popular music like him since he died. One thing he said was that he enjoyed chaos. He liked to draw on the creativity that can come out of chaos. It didn’t frighten him. If he were still with us, he would be having a right ball just now. If chaos is the catalyst, Bowie would be making the most inspired music of his career. 

 Every moment changes. As you read this, the Chancellor of the Exchequer could be different to who it was when I wrote this (still Kwarteng) or who it was yesterday (your yesterday). The programme for growth that became the budget for the very, very rich, that became the budget to crash the pound (future Labour government’s fault), that became the budget that allowed the small clique of market speculators who bet on currency fluctuations to make a packet, that became the budget that was hours from collapsing pension funds across Britain before the Bank Of England intervened, that brought on more ‘letters going in’ rumours that some MPs were already planning on seeking Liz Truss’s replacement, led to some people yearning for the steady hand of a Boris Johnson administration. I say that with a straight face. Just now Paddy Power is offering the same odds, 6/1, that Truss will be replaced as PM in 2022 as that Johnson will be the new PM. 

If you do bet, maybe get your winnings in dollars. 

Meanwhile, seven miles up above us, NASA crashed a spacecraft into a moving asteroid. It was done to see if the Earth could be protected from massive projectiles if they were hurtling down from space. That is quite an achievement. And in another time it would be a dominant story for several days. Sadly, the problems of the moment are rather more earthbound.  

The gnawing fear over everything that this circus of calamity brings is hitting everybody. Everywhere you overhear conversations about affording mortgages, about repayments on cars and loans, about how rocketing food costs are making people miss meals.  Family and friends have been discussing the lights-off, door-closing, big-jumper-wearing present they’re in and how they’ll grow it as winter closes. 

Schools remain places where foodbanks are needed. Warm banks are opening in towns across the UK. The answer to energy independence, we’re told, is to crack into rock and draw out shale. And we’re not in the belly of it all yet.  

This week, we launch our Winter Survival Guide, our way of directing you to the groups and funds that can help deal as situation darkens. I wish we didn’t have to. For a long time we have been working to help people deal with one crisis or another. But so long as this societal mess continues, so will our help. 

Maybe we should prescribe some Bowie from now on too.  

Paul McNamee is editor of the Big IssueRead more of his columns here. Follow him on Twitter

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income.

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