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Morrissey's Autobiography: The Lost Tome Found
David Stubbs , September 20th, 2013 09:05

David Stubbs finds the 21st-century's greatest work of "non-fiction" in a skip. We can unveil it exclusively here

Penguin Books recently announced that their planned publication of Morrissey's autobiography had been abandoned at the last minute, due to a difference of opinion with the author over the content. It is unclear what led to the contretemps, which has meant that no review copies of the long-awaited volume were printed. However, it seems that one sample copy was printed up for Morrissey's final inspection. It was thought to have been lost forever. However, Quietus contributor David Stubbs, while out cycling in the capital, caught side of a volume bearing the image of the former Smiths frontman, protruding from a skip next to Penguin HQ. Stubbs says he was struck by way the volume had clearly been “flung into the skip in a state of high dudgeon”, and immediately realised that this was Morrissey's own, discarded copy. We are proud, therefore, to bring you extracts from what might otherwise have been a lost scroll in the world of pop letters – the Morrissey autobiography they did not want you to read

ONE: CHILDHOOD

Contrary to others my age in the gaudy 1960s, I did not have a childhood. I was born interesting and intense. I actually recall the excitement of my parents as I struggled, at nine months old, to utter my first word.

“M – m – m...”

“E's about to say it!” exclaimed father, with an affecting coarseness typical of the humble and the narrow.

“M – m – m – Morrissey,” I blurted.

I sensed some disappointment. So I had another go.

“M - m - m -”

“Go on, Stephen, say it!”

“M – m... mother.” I said. It doesn't do to be impolite.

As other children played in the streets with their false plastic hoops or danced to dreadful, here-today, gone tomorrow songs by Tamla and the Motowns or whatever they were called, I sat alone in my bedroom, practising waving a tulip in anticipation of the day that it would be my turn to shine. I had my own valve television set on which I would watch kitchen sink dramas like The Angry Intenseness Of Loneliness, Love In A Damp Ginnel, Ada's Apron and Saturday Night Hand Jiving At The Abbatoir.

My parents abandoned me at an early age, every Friday night to go the bingo hall for a morsel of fun, leaving me in the charge of my Grandma. She would sit me in front of the two-bar fire and slip me the odd rich tea biscuit which I'd hide in my grey shorts for later mastication in a quiet place. “There you go, Stephen Patrick Morrissey.” Like all people who understood my genius, she would call me Stephen Patrick Morrissey.

I recall one weekend, when I was aged 11. “I've cooked you your usual treat,” said the old and grey lady. “Done just as you like it, nice and crispy.” And so she had – a bacon sandwich with Hovis white bread, delivered by the local boy on the pushbike.

As she returned to the kitchen, I got up and went to the umbrella stand in the hallway, where the telephone sat. I dialled the number. “Hello?” I said. “Is that the desk sergeant? I wish to report a murder.”

The next morning, I went out and buried that sandwich somewhere on the moors. All life, be it pig or human, is of equal value.

TWO: NOT YET A SMITH, ALREADY A WORDSMITH

“All that I have learned of life, I have learned from listening to an old lady talking to herself on the bottom deck of the number 63 bus to Gipton.” - Alan Bennett.

A few years later, in my teens, I had my first letter published in The New Musical Express.

“Dear Sir, Madam or Miss,” I began. “I have just sat down and watched the worst thing I have ever seen in what is already a quite sad and miserable life already thank you so much, and thought I would undertake correspondence with your kind selves, via a letter, to wit, this one. My letter concerns the Brotherhood Of Man and their Song Contest-winning song 'Save All Your Kisses For Me'. If superficial ditties like these are what it takes to dupe the common masses in the Eurovision Union, then I could almost, though of course not quite, wish myself Asian. Their coy, come-hither dance routines and invitations to a mass orgy of lip-sex may be enough to distract the ordinary mass man in the street but not a personage such as myself, who has stared long and hard at his poster of Elsie Tanner and knows that the path to love is an intensely unhappy one, full of grief and cobblestones. I bid you good day. Your humble and salubrious servant, Stephen Patrick Morrissey.”

The letter was printed under the heading “A 37 Year Old Virgin Writes”. I had been crossed by the NME, not for the last time.

THREE: A LONE BATTLE AGAINST THE DISCO SHEEP

It was 1982. A once-proud and grey England had been turned into a gaudy hell of discotheques and plastic enjoyment that said nothing about me or my bedroom. Diana Ross and reggae had taken over the country, just as Mrs Thatcher wanted, swamping the charts. Me and my friend, Linder Ludus, would go to the discotheques and watch as a generation gyrated and wallowed in the manufactured superficiality of the black music conspiracy. The sound of our tut-tutting was drowned out by the inane banalities of some disc jockey shouting things like, "C'mon, everybody, it's Friday night, let's have a good time!" But we were there to think, and to be seen thinking. We were completely intense and totally against mindlessness. What did these shallow morons "strutting their funky rub-a-dub" know of the sadness of Martha Longhurst, who died alone in the snug of the Rovers Return in Coronation Street as she nursed her milk stout? With her died England, I feel.

Later, a little man called Johnny Marr came knocking at my door asking if I'd like to form a group. I decided to nickname him "Rubber Johnny" for amusement. The self-appointed critics often miss my humour.

"Fancy forming a group?" he asked. "Someone said you're always hanging around the discos, obviously desperate to be some sort of pop star."

"Will I have to skank? You know it's illegal not to be in a reggae band nowadays, or might as well be, thanks to the Queen."

"No, it's guitars. Got any songs?"

I showed him two ditties I had penned that morning - 'Shoot Disco Tex And The Sex-O-Lettes In A Barrel' and 'Hello, Little Asian Fellow'. They seemed to go over his guitary head.

"Well, er - yeah. Or something, anyway. Rehearsals are tomorrow afternoon. You in?"

"I don't think so, you silly, tedious little man," I said, with a frown like Myra Hindley's.

The next week, we were on Top Of The Pops. We had conquered the world and already I was bored.

FOUR: SUCCESS AND SEXUALITY

“The purpose of great writing is not to open one's heart but to open one's shirt” - Oscar Wilde

The years that followed saw The Smiths achieve smash hit after smash hit. There was 'Shenanigans In A Back Alley' (no. 17), 'Dennis Nilsen's Biscuit Barrel' (no. 17), 'The Excellence Of Me, The Tedium Of You' (no. 17), 'A Bangladeshi Trouser Faux Pas' (no, 17), 'Curtseying With Clarence' (no. 17) and 'Killing Kool And The Gang Is Not Murder' (no. 17).

Inevitably, as I became a permanent fixture in the living rooms of ordinary people, there was some speculation as to my sexuality. What was it? Where did I keep it? I can say now that the whole idea is obscene, as a devout vegetarian. I would not have sexual intercourse with a pig or a chicken. Why, then, should I wish to do so with a man or a woman, since human beings and animals are equal? It should be nothing, or all. Those people who have sex to each other but refuse to offer the same pleasure to a farm animal are guilty of the foulest hypocrisy, to my mind.

Much as I loathe the Monarchy and feel that “Her Majesty”'s throne should be converted to an electric chair with immediate effect and forthwith, there is one thing that gives me an uncontrollable erection and that is the Union Jack flag. As a teenager, such were the colours of my duvet cover. I remember my mother complaining about it as she fished it from the laundry basket and smelt it all over. “Have you been gluing model aeroplanes together again, Stephen? All this sticky mess, I'll need two cups of Persil.”

When supporting Madness in 1992 I'd intended the whole thing to be my grand “coming out” moment. Yes, I was in love with the British flag, be proud and get used to it, and we were going to get married and adopt babies, little brown ones perhaps. Instead, the hateful, so-called mass-media ignored the raging, tumescent bulge in my trouser area as I draped myself in that flag and thought I was making some sort of National Frontist statement. But I am no mindless, right wing patriot - unless it is “fascist” for a man to be sexually attracted to the flag of his country?

FIVE: LOS ANGELES AND DISILLUSION

“Ooh, 'eck” - Rita Tushingham, Clodagh's Cough Mixture, 1964

Hounded out of my own country as “deviant and truculent”, I went to the only place a man can go who despises the fake and the shallow, the garish, a place where a man can dream of Golden Syrup for tea, mother in the kitchen rotating undershorts in the mangler and the sounds of the Rex Humphries Serenaders on the radiogram on a Sunday afternoon mingling with the tap-tap of raindrops on the window pane – Los Angeles.

Returning for a brief visit, I saw at a glance what had become of England for want of my influence. I decided to check if the New Musical Express was still being published, and wrote a letter to the editor of the letters column.

“Dear Sir, Madam, Miss or “Ms”, or Miscellaneous,” I wrote. “On visiting England recently, I was disappointed to find that everything was in colour. This is a terrible mistake. I have nothing against colour – some of my best friends are in colour, including the little lady who does for me of a Tuesday and a Thursday though she doesn't always do behind the settee if the truth be known. I do feel though, it would be better if everything was in black and white, the way it was in my childhood, when England was England, Vivian Nicholson was spend, spend, spending, the Kray Twins only killed their own and packets of crisps came with a bag of salt in a sash rather than all this chicken korma flavour nonsense you read about. I blame the Queen, Margaret Thatcher and The dreadful Pointer Sisters. What are you going to do about? Nothing, I suppose. I hate you all. Your humble and truculent servant, Stephen Patrick Morrissey."

The letter was printed under the headline, “A 13 Year Old Idiot Writes”. And so the wheel, which brings us back to ourselves, like the one of the pushbike of the Hovis boy, had come full circle.

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