HE is great. HE is a genius. HE has been part of my life for thirty years. I’ve seen HIM just five times but each time HE has left an indelible imprint on my psyche. HE has made me the woman I am today. HE is with me wherever I go. In the car, in the kitchen, beside me, quietly guiding me through life with HIS wisdom. My children have been indoctrinated too; they have had no choice because HE is Morrissey.
Behind this pretty ordinary housewifey exterior lies an obsessed super fan. In the eighties, whilst my friends were dressing like Princess Diana and throwing themselves at Duran Duran, I was in my bedroom stroking a Smiths poster. Whilst my friends were listening to Girls on Film, I was listening to Girlfriend in a Coma. There is nothing like the humour and irony of a Smiths song, most of them were written by my idol Morrissey. So when HE comes to Dublin, up the N7 go I.
The only other Smiths fan I’ve discovered in Kildare happens to live down the road in Athgarvan. Out of the pair of us, Monica is the less hysterical one but neither she nor I are as fanatical, bordering on psychotically obsessed as her sister, Majella. She is the mega fan. “You know she kissed Morrissey in 1995?” Monica told me as we cruised up the motorway in the drizzle. “In Grafton Street HMV. At a signing”. That’s not all.
“She’s got an eighth of a sweaty towel from a gig in the nineties too”. “An eighth?” “Yeah, eight fans caught it when Morrissey threw the towel from the stage at the end. They all started fighting over it so in the end they cut it up and split it eight ways”. I know a nun who carries a bit of St Brigid’s cloak around but a framed slice of a towel with Morrissey sweat on it? That takes relics to a new level.
Majella stood outside the 3Arena with her friend June. Morrissey fans all look kind of the same. None of us wear bright colours and most fabric is man made. Everyone wears sensible shoes and looks a bit pale. Morrissey is a passionate vegan and Meat Is Murder is one of his most famous songs. We stood beside the burger stall outside the 3Arena and decided not to buy one. He once refused to play a gig because the venue smelt of meat and stormed off the stage in Poland last month. The very last thing we wanted to do was cancel this much-anticipated gig upset thousands of Morrissey worshippers.
He came onto the stage and the crowd went wild. Men in their fifties threw themselves against the safety barrier. It is a fact that for some reason, his fan base is largely male. The men outnumber female fans ten to one. Majella was instantly concerned when she saw him. “He looks tired”. The news of Morrissey’s cancer came like a bolt from the blue this year. Details have been scarce. “If I die, I die. So what?” was his reaction.
‘The Queen in Dead’ set the crowd alight before he launched into a string of songs from the new album. He had just a few words for the fans between songs, “Ireland, I am grateful and that is that” and “Has anyone stopped you in the street and asked you if you are crazy? Look at ME”. Two thirds in, Majella and June went to the bar. They went at the right time.
“It’s a cruel, nasty and vicious world. If you think otherwise, think again” he said before walking off stage to change his sweaty shirt. He left us with a short film. A ten-minute movie that brought silence to the packed 3Arena, images that would sicken anyone with a pulse came onto the big screen. Lambs and calves being slaughtered, tiny yellow chicks in a machine, having their beaks shaved off. Half dead pigs being kicked and beaten. Already pale fans went a shade paler.
Monica looked at me for help. I shrugged my shoulders. What could I do? A teenage girl in front of us began crying uncontrollably, consoled by her parents either side of her. This was hard-core animal rights campaigning. After twenty-five years of worship, we’re all used to it. It’s what he does. We all sat in silence willing him to hurry up and get a clean shirt on, which he finally did.
Songs that HE didn’t sing included “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”, “Unhappy Birthday”, “Last Night I dreamt That Somebody Loved Me” and “First Of The Gang To Die”, although he did delight every Smiths fan in Ireland when he closed the show with “Every Day Is Like Sunday”. Majella came back from the bar singing along like a lunatic, fist pumping and cheering whilst Monica whistled loudly beside me. The teenager in front was still sobbing, happy or sad tears I’m still not sure, as the pasty men all around us looked on emotionlessly. It’s an unusual adoration.
Before he left the stage after two hours Morrissey asked us all to graffiti the city with ‘MEAT IS MURDER’ stencils that were for sale at the merchandise stall outside. I didn’t see anyone buy one or spray the walls on the way out and despite the passionate pro-vegetarian movie; the food stalls outside the 3Arena had completely sold out of beefburgers.
Morrissey you are a legend and get well soon but I love a bit of bacon and that is that.