London Learns of Jackson's Death

Article published on June 26, 2009
Article published on June 26, 2009
"Michael Jackson's dead," said a young, tall, blonde woman whilst talking excitedly with her friends in a tunnel at Bank station. This was the only phrase I caught. Neither child nor adult, black nor white, man nor woman, guilty nor innocent. Michael Jackson was a blank canvass of a man. He tried to please everyone.
As I sat on the underground last night watching the news spread like wildfire through the tunnels and carriages, it seemed that he really got close.

On the tube, two young men, one Black-American, one White-British were speaking animatedly.

"He died broke in the end ... Absolute legend ... Heart attack." 

"Excuse me, sorry, who's died?" I asked.

"Michael Jackson." The American replied.

"No way, I heard a girl saying it earlier, but I didn't believe it. When did it happen?"

"About an hour ago." 

"Everyone already knows."

"Yeah, my mate got it on his iPhone just before we left the pub," said the British man.

"It's already in the LA times," added the American man.

"I'm really sad, even if he was possibly a criminal," I said.

"Ah, that thing with the kids, it's just people chasing money. Money talks," said the American man

A thirty-something pale blonde woman, wearing pearl earings and work-dress, turned to the man to her side, a Mediterranean looking stranger, wearing a sharp grey suit and pink shirt.

She said: "Oh the poor man, only fifty. He never had a childhood, always pushed into the limelight, even when he was a boy. Such a shame.

The grey-suited man said: "Anyone in their twenties to thirties will be defined by this man."

They continued talking about him demonstrating great knowledge of his biography and discography.

Across the carriage was a light-skinned black-British boy in his early twenties. A black man with a shaved head looked earnestly out from his t-shirt. Dates commemorating his life; nineteen-sixty-something to nineteen-ninety-something were printed below. Next to him was a Nepali-looking girl with a British accent. The boy asked who had died and I explained.

"He was supposed to be playing the O2, wasn't he?" the boy said.

"Yeah, he was," I replied.

He and his date looked stunned for the rest of the journey.

As I got off the train I looked at my phone. An friend of mine had sent me a message: "Michael Jackson's dead."