Strange Tales from the Cookie Kitchen.

“But today there is no day or night, Today there is no dark or light, Today there is no black or white, Only shades of gray.”   Shades of Gray by The Monkees.

I returned from the Dominican Republic to find MJ dead.  He had overdosed the night before.  My first love, my partner of eight years, the person I had moved to Amsterdam with.

My father died in 1971.  MJ´s father died in 1975.  No one teaches you how to deal with the pain and we both carried the scars.

College 1978.  I was sat in the common room, listening to Spirit’s The Twelve Dreams of Doctor Sardonicus, when MJ walked through the door.  Barefoot, ripped jeans, long curly black hair, an earring, and John Lennon glasses.   It was love on the spot.  Who hears warning bells at eighteen?

I was fourteen when I went to see Stardust. It was the 1974 sequel to the film That’ll be the Day.  It follows the fictional band, the Stray Cats,  who were David Essex, Keith Moon, Paul Nicholas and Peter Duncan.  Essex, a real-life pop star, playing the rise and fall of Jim Maclaine, fictitious pop star.  Managed by Mike, played by Adam Faith.   Kind of mixture between fiction and reality.

Spellbound from the start,  I was in the film every step of the way.  The music, the clothes, the drugs, the glamour.  I was living it.   Jim Maclaine, who had become a megastar and split from his band, was being used and abused by the business; and eventually goes to live in Spain in a castle, becoming a  recluse, his manager in tow.  No one has seen him for two years,  at which point he is talked into giving a live interview, in his castle, which he absolutely does not want to do.   As he sits in front of the cameras, he starts to talk,  but makes no sense.  Publicly there was triumph but privately disintegration.  Mike realises that Jim has OD’d, calls an ambulance and goes and pulls him out of the press circus.   You see him carried out and put into the ambulance on a stretcher.  And then he dies.

I was absolutely blindsided and started to cry.  I could not stop.  I wept all the way home, and as I went into the house, my mother came running, asking what was wrong.  I kept crying.  She told me it was only a film, but it was so much more than that.  I felt that I had known Jim, and my heart was broken.  I cried for the rest of the night, a deep pain in my chest.

MJ and I spent the next nine years together, the last two of them in Amsterdam.   A couple of busts.  A shitload of fabulous music, the punk years, the club years, the festivals years.   No TV but always a good sound system.  Music day and night;  reggae, punk, hippie, psychedelic;  Stooges, Velvets, The Clash, Stones, Talking Heads, Grace Jones, the music that accompanied the slow descent into a heavier scene.  Funny stories, sad stories and some quite terrifying stories.

MJ. 1959 – 1989.  I loved not only him, but his amazing family too.  And still do.

I had not been back in Amsterdam for 36 hours from the Dominican Republic, when I found myself on the way to the airport to meet his mother and brother. off of a plane.  I was in total shock.  It would be some time before I was able to cry, my heart so broken that the pain had not yet set in.




“It was easy then to know what was fair, when to keep and when to share, How much to protect your heart, And how much to care, But today there is no day or night, Today there is no dark or light, Today there is no black or white, Only shades of gray, Only shades of gray.










Filed under Stories

21 responses to “Strange Tales from the Cookie Kitchen.

  1. Hamamelis

    Thank you for this tender tale from the Cookie Kitchen. Incredibly sad, but incredibly beautiful too. Humans are so strong but sometimes so frail, as life is. How poignantly vulnerable we are in our formatory years, and how urgently alive are we then too, and that is certainly the scent of your tale. Reading this chapter of your life’s story brought back my early chapters for a moment, which in some ways knew similar grief, against the background music of Bowie, the Talking Heads, and always Van for me, and sometimes Amsterdam. I have travelled on, a long long way, reading your story reaffirmed that once more. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Hamamelis. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I don’t think we see any of it clearly until we look back on it from the advantage of being many years on. Grief that shapes our lives; indeed. It totally affected my life, right down to how I taught some thngs to my children. I am so incredibly thankful to still being touch with MJ´s family, and that I was never made to feel responsible in any way for what happened. After the funeral, Chris took me to the States for a year. We worked there, and had a totally new circle of people. I never told a single soul there what had happened. That was my way of trying to dal with things. But it has never left me. I may or may not write about the two days with his Mum and brother; from police station to the morgue. Dear Lord. 😦 On a brighter note, I hope we can meet up for coffee (!) one day in Amsterdam huh? Big Hugs. xxxx


      • Hamamelis

        That would be fantastic, coffee ha! I would love to visit Salzburg or Wien one day, no idea if that is close enough for you to have coffee, but we are so busy with our business, especially my husband, that holidays are few and far between, and mostly on sunbeds somewhere warm.
        And…a dear friend brought your package to the postoffice for me last week! It should arrive in Austria next week. Big hugs back. XXX

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hamamelis

          PS. How these memories (of going to the police and morgue) are etched in our minds, aren’t they. And what a good thing Chris did, I think sometimes the only way to deal with that amount of grief is to physically get away from the place we associate it with. And how true that what is most difficult in our lives shapes us, often for the better.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for trusting me and the readers with your story, CQ. You tell it beautifully.
    You and MJ clearly had a very close bond and shared so much. That kind of connection runs deep.


  3. Diana

    You must have been devastated beyond words. I can relate both to the grief of losing a partner and to the way you felt after having watched Stardust: I’d had a similar premonition long before I lost a close one, as if losing him just once wasn’t enough.
    Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You say it well. Yep. It was 15 years after Stardust, but I somehow knew. So weird. I also knew the three months in the Dominican Republic that something was not ok. And I was haunted by bad dreams there. That you take the time to read means a lot, thanks. Makes it worth writing, Sometimes stories need to be told.


  4. What a poignant and moving story of lost youth and love. You never truly understand what is going on in other people’s heads, but you will always carry the memory of MJ and those great, wild times you had together in your heart.

    Cracking picture too!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Thanks, there are so few pictures from this days, thank goodness. And I wanted one that his family would be ok with. It is a nice one. Although we both look about 18 there, we were in fact 26ish. Oh yes. they were great and wild beyond belief, and I barely regret a moment of them. xxxx


  5. Maya

    Thanks for sharing. I got somewhat emotional. I lost my great love a long time ago in a motorcycle accident. It permanently shifted my world. He had a deep love and joy of life and everyone called him the free spirit After he died I could hear him say to me – Hey S (my nickname) what the f**k are you doing? You’re alive. Live and enjoy it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It does permanently shift your world. It also breaks a piece of your heart, that when touched, will always hurt. But he is right, we are alive and owe it to ourselves to live and enjoy it. Thanks for sharing that. xxx


  6. Why are our first loves lessons Val? Sorry you lost your guy and had to deal with the fallout.
    Portia xx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It is such a sad story, Val. I’m glad you survived it and build your life the way you did (well, at least how we see it from afar). But it’s such a loss with which it feels impossible to deal. Thank you for sharing. And hugs to you. ((<3))

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes things do feel impossible to deal with, but we do. I’m so thankful to have moved out of the scene I was once in. Now I have gray hair and bake cookies. Hahahaha. Hugs back. ❤️


  8. Amy

    I’ve got nothing wise to say, but thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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