Young Morrissey lying down

Morrissey: He’s an odd boy.

It’s Stephen Patrick’s birthday today and what better way to celebrate than with this… interesting  story from Johnny Rogan’s Morrissey and Marr: The Severed Alliance.

The youthfulness of Morrissey’s parents was a constant refrain amongst his contemporaries. Although she was now 35, Betty Morrissey was still attractive, even to  her son’s school friends. As Mick Foley reminisces : “The mother wasn’t working then , and she always seemed like a bloody model!” Even her sister-in-law Patricia Corrigan noted: “Betty was very ladylike and quiet.” Not surprisingly, some neighbours saw these traits  as evidence of aloofness and privately dismissed the elegant blonde-tressed Irish woman as “hoity-toity”. Morrissey always betrayed a strong filial affection for his mother, which even his classmates noted. Mike Ellis still recalls the first time he saw Mrs Morrissey. “We were 13 and sitting out on the grass when she walked by,” he remembers. “Steve walked right up to her and he gave her a kiss on the lips. That was really unusual. It was a sign of affection that kids of that age just don’t do.” The last person you want to kiss is your mother, especially in front of your mates. But she was more like an elder brother’s girlfriend. After Elizabeth walked away, the lads gathered round Morrissey and asked in erotic amazement, “Who was that?” 

An Albert Goldman would probably base an entire Oedipal history round this moment, [actually Mozza slashing his sister’s George best pictures with scissors]   dragging in Morrissey’s unusual closeness to his mother and his subsequent conflict with his father, while later throwing in androgyny, celibacy and a Moors murder “fixation” to produce a harrowing portrait of soul tormented monster. However, such reductive psychology would do Morrissey as much a disservice as the pre-packaged portrayal of John Lennon as murderous, mother-loving misogynist. Morrissey certainly did have a troubled adolescence which contributed significantly to the  strange pop being he became, but there were many more influences, films, records and books, all of which helped create the myriad and occasionally contradictory figure that so brilliantly illuminated the music press of the Eighties.


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