All dead, all dead,

All the dreams we had,

And I wonder why I still live on.

He remembers it vividly. Kids born in the ‘wrong generation’ have nothing on him – he who states with heavy disappointment that he was simply born ten years too late.

On July 13th, 1985, his Dad, my Grandad, had a cricket match on the green opposite the house and my Dad, then a young, fresh faced boy, had spent the day running back and forth, throwing himself down in front of the bulky television and catching glimpses of Sting, Phil Collins, U2 and a world of popular music, and running off again without so much as a savouring moment. My Nan had strict instructions – to come running, screaming and hollering if Queen were announced while he was still outside. I can imagine her, legs tucked up underneath her on the sofa, age not yet settling into her softly amused, pretty face.
Still too young to have yet made the journey into London to see his beloved band play live, the twenty minute Live-Aid slot was
everything to my Dad.

He tells me this on the way home from coffee, and I’m still all caught up trying not to cry over the grand masterpiece we’d just seen on the big screen. No matter how many times he states ‘it certainly isn’t a biopic, the timeline is all messed up’, my Father clearly can’t deny the magic of Bohemian Rhapsody either, because I’d gently teased him for crying about it all the way to the coffee shop afterwards. He knows all there is to know about them, and I was now feeling just slightly guilty for stealing all his old Queen t-shirts to wear to college. Not that he needs them, honestly, the expanse of Queen themed tattoos down his right arm are merchandise enough, truth be told.  

Over the next few days, I have some time to reflect on why I personally loved the film so much, and why I’m suddenly listening the soundtrack on repeat. Spotify notes, with a teasing tone, that the songs are all in ‘heavy rotation’, considering I fail to listen to anything else at all. This is the same kind of reflection I took after saving over forty pictures of 1970s Tim Curry to my phone and reading article after article named something like ‘Ten Facts You Didn’t Know About The Rocky Horror Picture Show!”. Undoubtedly, I’d lovingly latched onto the fact that Freddie Mercury was a queer icon in a time where it wasn’t so fun to be a queer icon. For that I loved him dearly. Frank n Furter, with his shimmering garters and string of pearls, has been making space for an 80s Rock God in full lycra.

I begin to listen with absolute dedication and can’t help but notice the dog growing bored of being the one-canine audience to my intense afternoon dance sessions. That said, I think she rather enjoys that I dedicate Love of My Life to her every single time.

My Dad talks about live concerts and appearances with such longing, and when I ask him to send me some more obscure song recommendations, he sends me two long paragraphs worth, and then songs from each band member’s solo career the next day. I find my favourite song and it’s only when I’ve been rattling on about it to him for five minutes that I realise I must have the same dreamy, far off tone he often adopts. And it makes him smile a smile that reaches right up to his eyes, making them shine.

The Dad, with a face giving into the tracks and traces of age, is a young boy again, running across the green to catch his favourite band on television.

It’s something like a second chance, like brushing the dust from the record collection in the loft, and turning the handle of the music box lying still in his chest. 

But please you must forgive me,

I am old but still a child,

All dead, all dead,

But I should not grieve.




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