i-D's alternative christmas speech by sue tilley

Illustrator, author of Leigh Bowery, The Life and Times of an Icon, and Lucien Freud's muse, Sue Tilley reflects on what Facebook says happened in 2014 compared to what happened in the real world...

by Sue Tilley
24 December 2014, 9:40am

I have a limited source of information, I read The Sun 2-3 times a week, The Guardian on Saturdays, Heat every week, Vogue monthly and listen to Moira Stewart on Radio 2.

I keep up with the news by following Twitter, Facebook and Instagram which gives me a very skew-whiff look at everything as most of the people I follow are East London gay men who have an interest in fashion, art, reality telly, puppies and kittens.

If I went by my Facebook feed there were only two major events in 2014; the appearance of Kate Bush at the Hammersmith Apollo and the Ice Bucket Challenge. I never went to see Kate Bush (turned down a ticket) and I didn't do the ice bucket challenge (no one asked) so how can I review 2014?!

But somehow I usually know what is going on, maybe my strange double life helps with this, working in a very regular job but having a finger in the world of modern culture. Politics are very boring, a lot of generic posh men in it for their careers and their own self esteem rather than because they want to do something good, something to make this country better. The most exciting thing to happen was the Scottish referendum and although I would have hated the UK to split up it would have been quite exciting in some ways just to see what would have happened, but in the end it was a damp squib with the BBC announcing a NO result after one declaration.

People are usually surprised at my interest in sport and although nothing can live up to the Olympics of 2012, there were quite a few excitements this year, one being our great performance in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. There was a personal interest in this as my nephew's girlfriend, Rebecca Gallantree, won Gold in the 3m springboard synchro. I'm surprised the neighbours didn't call the police with the racket I was making screaming at the TV! My favourite sportsman of 2014 however is Lewis Hamilton, winning his second Grand Prix Championship in the twilight of Abu Dhabi. He's so modern culture with his diamond earrings and pop star girl friend who is also a judge on reality TV.

Talking of pop stars, my major upset of the year was Jason Orange leaving Take That. He was Take That in my eyes - thoughtful, slightly quirky with his Mohican and in a tabloid survey of boy band members he was the only one they couldn't find any scandal on... I guess they ignored his romance with Catherine Tate (I did too). Mind you I'm quite fond of a badly behaved person…

Now there's no Smash Hits or Top of the Pops I'm pretty much out of the music loop, but by listening to Radio 2 I've gathered that singer-songwriters seem to be quite popular, and some of them even make good songs! I'm quite taken by Sam Smith and if they ever make another biopic of Boy George he's a sure in for the lead role. I also like that song Rather Be by Clean Bandit but I only realised it was a hit tune when I saw one of the group members on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, before that I thought bit was the rather catchy tune to a Marks and Spencer's advert.

Pharrell Williams continues to rule the airwaves and he really does seem to have proper talent, style and the secret of eternal youth. I love his pink coat. I can't believe the storm that his Vivienne Westwood buffalo hat caused. They've been around since the 80s!

As I'm writing this for i-D, I guess I'd better mention fashion… I'm not much of an expert though as nothing ever fits me, sadly my own personal designer died 20 years ago so I've had to make my own style. I've always thought it's better to show initiative and adapt things to suit yourself rather than be a slave to the fashion pages. However one look has come in this year that I've always been blessed with… A BIG ASS! I can't really understand the appeal, but Kim Kardashian has made them all the rage so I hope they stay that way forever.

I was very shocked by that thing that came over from America: Black Friday. People's greedy and stupid consumerism was shocking. If they had waited a couple of days many better deals have appeared on the internet and most shops start their sales well before Christmas.

One of my very good friends died this year and when we went to his flat to clear out all his belongings, it made me wonder what is the point of having a lot of stuff, does it really make you happier or make people like you more?

I've decided that next year is going to be the year of being frugal with experiences taking over from possessions. After a hiatus of 30 years I've discovered what a joy drawing brings and I've been offered a couple of exhibitions for next year.

So my advice for 2015 is take risks, say "yes", have adventures and embrace differences.



Text Sue Tilley

Lucien Freud
alternative christmas speech
christmas sppech
sue tilley