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Monday the 11th of January 2016. David Bowie is dead. The world is in mourning. Except for one person.
60 year-old Irish woman, Maisie Moynihan.
“It’s because of that man I’m an old maid. It’s because of that man I’ve been left on the shelf. It’s because of that man I have no eyebrows.”
Maisie remembers vividly July 1972. A sixteen year-old, watching television with her parents, Bernard and Assumpta.
“We lived in Wicklow. Which meant we had the English TV channels. Most of the rest of the country didn’t. That’s when I saw him. Like something from another galaxy singing ‘Starman’ on ‘Top of The Pops’. Ziggy Stardust changed my life. But not in a good way.”
Obsessed with Ziggy, Maisie, up until then a cautious and pragmatic girl, took the early bus to Bray, one Saturday the following month, and entering Clodagh’s Hair Salon requested to have her eyebrows plucked. On her return home her father was in such a state of shock he placed his newly lit pipe in the goldfish bowl (sadly Goldie did not survive) while her mother immediately fell to her knees and started strangling a pair of rosary beads.
“Mammy and Daddy were very put out. Over the next few months any time the relatives turned up mammy got me to tell everybody I had a rare blood disorder. If I remember correctly, we decided to call it Rossiehauser’s Syndrome.”
Then in February 1973. Disaster.
“Some of the girls found out about it in school. David had done this big gig in Hammersmith, London and announced he was killing off Ziggy. We couldn’t believe it. It was such a selfish thing to do. But over the years he was always a bit like that. It was always about him, wasn’t it? I want to follow my artistic journey. I want to be a major cultural figure and constantly evolve. I’m going to be a shape changer – whatever the hell that means! But what about the fans? And what about all those shaved off eyebrows!”
Maisie claims there were seven other eyebrow-less girls in her class that year. Only two found husbands in the interim.
“Emer Nesbitt met a guard from Nobber and June Kilbride married one of the Fureys from Gorey.”
By 1975 David Bowie had found American soul, and Maisie had found Leo Sayer.
“Leo was much more ‘me’ really. Don’t know what I ever saw in David, frankly.”
But sadly, as the years progressed the disappearance and subsequent non re-appearance of her eyebrows became an ongoing issue with prospective male suitors.
“As I got older I tried everything. I attempted to recreate the pencil-thin Marlene Dietrich look but I’m built like a combine harvester and I’ve got that ruddy-cheeked farmer’s wife look from my fathers’ people in Glenamaddy so Weimar Republic elegance and my genetic palette were not exactly a match made in heaven.”
Alternative remedies were also considered and dismissed.
“I had to put my foot down when that Chinese acupuncturist in Waterford mentioned badger semen, I said no, no, Lin-Lin I am not going there, I am sorry but there are certain limits to what I’ll try. “
She even travelled abroad to try and find a solution.
“I spent an absolute fortune flying to Zurich to Dr. Hans Pfifferlinger’s world-renowned Follicular Unit Transplantation Clinic. Did it get my eyebrows back? Yes. One snag though. I ended up looking like a close personal relative of Leonid Breshnev. The procedure had to be reversed.”
In reality it was extremely difficult for Maisie to find a man who was attracted to a woman with no eyebrows. And if one did turn up he was usually very odd. And there were few men odder than Theodore J. Cuddihy.
Theodore J. Cuddihy, scion of the famous Cuddihy family and estate in Baltinglass , wore jodhpurs under his pyjamas, was fluent in Finnish and had a slightly unnatural obsession with the actor Harry Dean Stanton. He was also an ommatrichophobic. Ommatrichophobia is a person who has a phobia about eyebrows.
“To be completely honest, Theodore fell down a bit on the wooing and romancing side of things” Maisie recalls.
“He approached our nascent relationship like a business arrangement. He even sent his valet, Dixon, around to propose marriage on his behalf. One morning Dixon turns up at our house and reads out a note in Theodore’s handwriting. Maisie you are not really my ideal woman, it stated, but because of my phobia I have an extremely small number of women, apart from some of your ex-classmates, to choose from in the greater Wicklow, Wexford and Carlow area. I am basically looking for a wife, companion and reproductive vessel for my future children. Any thoughts on the matter?”
Maisie sighs at the memory.
“Mammy who was also in the room looked over at me and said, I know what you’re thinking but you can’t deny that he’s a good catch.”
After some dithering Maisie accepted the proposal and promptly kissed a stunned Dixon on the lips. However the marriage was never to take place, as unbeknownst to Maisie, Theodore, to increase his chances of an heir, had also commenced an association with June Kilbride who had walked out on the Furey from Gorey and was to become Mrs. Theodore J. Cuddihy the following spring.
How can one man have wreaked such havoc?
Maisie sums up the whole sorry affair.
“He was the man who fell to earth. He was the man who sold the world. He was the man who ruined my life.”