After all the hype I’d decided not to read Morrissey’s biography. The old contrarian couldn’t be trusted to give anything but a one eyed account of things and the book was sure to be full of score settling and whinging. No, I’ll get by without it.
I was waiting for the train at Liverpool Street station with half an hour to spare, so wandered over to the bookshop. There it was, in prime position, right in front of me. I’ll just have a quick look. I opened the book on page 269. Siouxsie Sioux was “ a physical blancmange that is six parts Kate O’Mara, two parts Myra Hindley and two parts Fenella Fielding “. I let out a huge guffaw and immediately reversed my hasty decision not to buy the book.
Does it warrant it’s “Penguin Classic” status ? I’ve no idea and quite frankly don’t much care. It is a great read though and I couldn’t put it down, although on many occasions his, yes, whinging and moaning really grated.
The descriptions of his childhood, in what seems like a Dickensian Manchester conjure up monochrome images of lives of relentless graft and grind. His schooldays were not exactly a bundle of laughs either, with corporal punishment and a loathing of children seemingly mandatory requirements for the teachers.
As feared, much of the book is given over to score settling. Amongst those incurring the Morrissey wrath are Rough Trade’s Geoff Travis, Tony Wilson, John Peel, Seymour Stein of Sire records, Judges, New Musical Express, the British press generally and, of course Marr, O’Rourke and Joyce ( and, God, doesn’t he go on about the court case ). However, the person who undergoes the most comprehensive demolition is the odious Julie Burchill. Good work Mozza old boy.
The book seems to me to be a strange mixture of the very well written and the incomprehensible. Try this “ I will never be lacking if the clash of sounds collide, with refinement and logic bursting from a cone of manful blast.” What ?
There is, as expected, some great lines. “Naturally, my birth almost kills my mother, for my head is too big.” On “The Duchess of Nothing”, Sarah Ferguson, “ She is a little bundle of orange crawling out of a frothy dress, the drone of Sloane, blessed with two daughters of Queen Victoria pot-dog pudginess.” It seems every few pages someone incurs the elegant vitriol of the Mozza pen.
A fair chunk of the book is concerned with the infamous Morrissey/Marr vs O’Rourke/Joyce court case. He argues his case well and at some length and it’s very clear this particular wound is yet to heal.You do have to wade through a bit of the usual Mozza nonsense relating to animal rights and an especially ridiculous defence of the cuddly Cray twins. But you’d be disappointed if he didn’t make a bit of a twerp of himself at times, wouldn’t you ?
If you have even a casual interest in The Smiths or Morrissey read this book.