The Wrong Boy
16 June 1991
I'm feeling dead depressed and down. Like a street-lamp without a bulb or a goose at the onset of Christmas time. Anyroad, I thought I'd pen a few lines to someone who'd understand. I know you probably won't answer this; I don't know if it'll even get to you. And, anyhow, even if you wrote back which I know is highly dubious it wouldn't get to me because I'll have gone. The above address is just a service station I'm stopped at. I'll probably not even post it. I'm writing this in the book I use for writing my lyrics and putting my ideas down. It's sort of a journal, I suppose; although that makes it sound more important than it really is. Anyroad, that's what I'm writing in as I sit here amongst the truckers and the tourists and the travellers and the transients. It's just occurred to me that you might have been in this cafeteria yourself, perhaps in the early days, on the way back from a gig and you and the lads pulled in for a cup of tea. It's a sort of comfort, the thought that you could have been here, Morrissey, perhaps even sitting at this very table that I'm sat at now. I wonder what your thoughts were as you sat in this shrine of self-service gratification, with its granary bar and its battered cod and its breadcrumbed haddock beached on a hotplate, far far from the rolling sea. I'm sitting here opposite a dead fat truck driver who's giving me a lift. I wish the bastard hadn't stopped for me. I could have walked here faster. It's taken nearly two hours to get from Manchester to here because he can't drive past a café or a service station without stopping for something to eat.
When I climbed into his cab he said, 'Where y' goin'?'
I said, 'Grimsby.'
He said, 'What for?'
I said, 'To work.'
He nodded over at my guitar. 'What,' he said, laughing at me, 'busking?'
'No,' I said, 'working on a building site!' He looked a bit dubious.
'Just doing a bit of labouring,' I said, 'and making tea and that.'
He nodded. And then he said, 'How come you're going all the way over there to find work?'
I thought about it. And then I said, 'Because of Morrissey.'
'Morris who?' he said.
'Morrissey,' I told him, 'not Morris who. Morrissey, the greatest living lyricist. He used to be with The Smiths.'
'Oh,' he said, 'that boring twat!'
I didn't talk to him any more. He put a Phil Collins cassette on and farted a few times which, in the musical circumstances, I thought was rather apposite.
He's just stuffed another bacon buttie between his teeth and he's laughing again so that you can see all the chewed-up bread and bacon and saliva in his mouth. He thinks it's dead hilarious 'cause I said I was a vegetarian. That's what started him laughing.
'I don't know what you're laughing for,' I said, 'because all sorts of people are vegetarian; like George Bernard Shaw was vegetarian. And Mahatma Gandhi! And the majority of the world happens to be vegetarian,' I said, 'including Morrissey. And me.'
He just laughed even more.
'And that's why I became a vegetarian,' I told him. 'Because of Morrissey.'
But I was wasting my breath so I shut up and let him laugh. What can you say to a Philistine who's into Phil Collins and Dire Straits and other such frivolity? I've got my Walkman on now so at least I can't hear him laughing. The only saving grace in having a lift from him is that he's so fat he makes me feel really thin. It's not that I'm obese or anything, not any more, Morrissey. But even though I'm not fat nowadays, I sometimes forget and still think of myself as being corpulent. And I hate having to look at pictures of me when I was fat. Photographs are just like computers - they never tell the truth. It's like that picture of Oscar Wilde, Morrissey, you know the one where he's got those boots on and he's leaning against that wall. And if that was the only surviving picture of Oscar Wilde everybody'd think he was a fat person, wouldn't they? But Oscar Wilde wasn't fat, not on the inside. And I wasn't fat, not on the inside, I wasn't. It was just a phase I was going through. And probably it was just a phase that Oscar Wilde was going through and he couldn't help it just like I couldn't help it. They used to call me Moby Dick! When we moved to Wythenshawe and they put me in that comprehensive school where I didn't know nobody and it was already the middle of term by the time I started, I walked into the classroom and Steven Spanswick looked up and said, 'Fuckin' hell, it's Moby Dick!'
And everybody in the classroom started laughing, even the teacher!
But I don't care about them now. I don't care about Spegga Spanswick and Barry Tucknott and Mustapha Golightly and all that lot. Hilarious bastards! Because I'm grateful really. It was because of people like Steven Spanswick and Jackson and all those other pathetic persons that I wrote my first ever lyric. It was called 'I Don't Care'.
I don't care
If you pull my hair
I don't care if you laugh at me
I don't care
If you point and stare
I don't care if you throw crap at me
I don't care
If you strip me bare
I don't care if you say I'm fat
I don't care
If you rob my share
I don't care if you call me twat
I don't care
I don't care
I don't care
Because I'm not there.
Looking back on it now it seems deadeningly didactic and somewhat simplistic. In fact it's highly embarrassing, predictable and derivative. But every artist has to start somewhere and the important thing is that despite what my lyrics were like, I had at least started writing them. Oh shit, what's the Greasy-Gobbed Get saying to me now . . . ?
The Back of a Carpet-Fitters'
Somewhere in the Pennine Chain
I'm still dying of embarrassment. I couldn't get out of that service station fast enough. These carpet fitters are headed for Halifax and they said they'd drop me there. I don't even know if Halifax is on the way but I would have accepted a lift to anywhere just to get out of that service station.
I'm glad that at least it happened in such a transient sort of environment and so hopefully I'll never have to see her again!
Having my Walkman on and writing to you, I hadn't realised he was talking to me, the Incredible Bulk. By the time I took my earphones off he was shouting, 'Hey! Look, look!'
I looked to where he was pointing. And that's when I saw her, stood there by the mix-it-yourself muesli counter. She was smiling at me and she sort of half waved. And though normally I don't have a great facility for a smile, I just couldn't help myself smiling back at her; because although I hadn't ever seen her since that one time at the bus stop by the bottle bank on Failsworth Boulevard, I'd never forgotten her, the girl with the chestnut eyes. I didn't know her, and she didn't know me. We'd just been stood there, with all the other people in the bus queue. She was almost at the front of the queue and I was stood at the back. I was slightly shocked at first, when she'd just nodded at me. I must have looked puzzled though because she smiled again and opened her denim jacket so that I could see her tee shirt. And I understood then. And I smiled back at her. Because she was wearing exactly the same tee shirt as me! The same one that I'm wearing today, the one with the picture of Edith Sitwell on the front and Morrissey written on the back of it. And it's always brilliant, that is, when you meet another Morrissey fan. Even though you've never seen them before, you know there's something important that you share with that person. She called back to me, from where she was stood up at the front of the queue, she said, 'Where was it that Morrissey lost his bag?'
I laughed. I said, 'That's easy, Newport Pagnell.'
She laughed then and all the people in the queue were starting to look at us as if we were soft or the sort of decadent drug-crazed delinquents that they read about in the Failsworth Fanfare. But I didn't care. We didn't care. We were Morrissey fans!
I said, 'What job did he apply for at the YWCA?'
She laughed again and she said, 'That's easy and all: backscrubber.'
We were having a great time, just stood there at the bus stop, me and the girl with the chestnut eyes.
'What was Morrissey carrying', she asked, 'when he broke into the Palace?'
We both shouted out the answer together, shouted out, 'A sponge! And a rusty spanner!'
And we both laughed then. And that's when I noticed her eyes, noticed that they were as dark and as shiny as chestnuts that have just come out of their skin. I think I must have been staring at her then because she sort of shrugged a bit. And then she asked me, she said, 'Have you got the New York mix of "This Charming Man", the one with the misprinted cover?'
I nodded. And she looked at me like she was really really impressed. The bus turned up then though and someone behind her told her to get a move on and stop holding up the queue. She moved along towards the bus and got onto it. I hoped she didn't think I was being sort of superior or gloating about it when I'd told her I'd got the New York mix of 'This Charming Man' with the misprinted cover. I didn't want her thinking I was bragging about it. As I moved along the queue I decided that if I got to talk to her again when I was on the bus I wouldn't mention that I had the New York misprint cover of 'Hand In Glove' as well! She might very well think it was somewhat ostentatious or even slightly vulgar, a person having not just one but two of the most collectible Morrissey collectibles in existence.
As it turned out though, I never did get to talk to her on the bus. I never even got to get onto the bus! Because when I got to it the driver said, 'No more. We're full up!' and I started to protest but he just hit the lever and the doors snapped shut in my face.
And I never saw her again after that, the girl with the chestnut eyes. I never saw her anywhere. I always hoped that I'd bump into her again but I knew it was highly unlikely, especially as I never venture into the outside environment unless it's absolutely necessary. Most of the time I'm quite happy being miserable in my bedroom. And even if I did go out more, like my Mam was always urging me to do, I still don't think I would have bumped into her again, the girl with the chestnut eyes. I knew from her accent that she wasn't even from Failsworth. So that day when I'd met her at the bus stop, it was probably the only time she'd ever been in Failsworth in her entire life. That's why I knew I'd probably never see her again.