A Day in the Life of Teenage Morrissey
Ahead of the release of his new album 'Low in High School', we dug out Moz's schoolboy diary.
Illustration by Christina Tsevis
Morrissey is now 58, and his 11th album is out today, but once upon a time he was just a teenage boy trying to go a whole day without smiling in Manchester. We've found these previously unpublished excerpts from his diary, when he was a 15-year-old boy. And since this new album is called ‘ Low in High School’ we're sharing this powerful and very exclusive (and undeniably real) content with you in full. Behold, a day in the life of teen Morrissey.
13 May 1975
Last night I dreamt that somebody loved me, but I wake up alone, like every other morning of my miserable existence in mournful Manchester, still morbid and pale, hopelessly poor, 16, clumsy and shy. I don’t want to wake up alone anymore; after all, I’m only human and I need to be loved, just like everybody does.
I’m lying in my bed, thinking about life and thinking about death. Yesterday was Sunday so I spent the day in bed, and though every day is like Sunday in forgotten old Manchester, it is in fact Monday morning and if I am late to school I shall probably be caned by the headmaster, a belligerent ghoul who loves a ritual beating. Reluctantly I rise and from my lonely single bed to get ready for another typically wretched day of existence in knife-plunging Manchester.
Come torrential rain or hateful sunny day I always cycle to school, and I’m pedaling down the desolate Manchester hillside, when suddenly I have to swerve violently to avoid a double decker bus and then, immediately after it, a ten-tonne truck, flying over the handlebars as I crash straight into a darkened underpass and I find myself lying on the cold, wet Manchester ground, the soil falling over my head. My bicycle lies next to me; both wheels oscillate wildly, but one of them has a puncture. Oh, the luck I’ve had would make a good man turn bad. Heaven knows I’m miserable as I wheel my punctured bicycle out of this darkened Manchester underpass inexplicably located directly adjacent to a desolate Manchester country hillside in Manchester. Time is against me now, and I shall most certainly be late for school. The sky, the Manchester sky, is grey.
I am pondering life’s complexities and regretting that I was ever born, especially in Greater Manchester in the Northwest of England, when a charming car pulls up beside me. The driver offers me a lift but this is murderous Manchester in the sorrowful 70s so my first reaction is, naturally, to flee. I hesitate, but he is so charming, this man, and the rain is starting to fall hard on this humdrum town, so I jump onto the cold leather seat and we make our way through the wet and windy streets of unhappy Manchester to St Mary’s.
I try to sneak into the classroom without anybody seeing that I’m late, but it seems that Mr Shankly is feeling particularly malevolent this morning, and little William Smith has been hauled up in front of the class and Sir thwacks him on the knees repeatedly with his cane.
“S-s-sorry sir!” snivels William.
“No more apologies!” barks Mr Shankly, ringleader of the tormentors.
“What did he do?” I whisper to the afraid girl I sit next to.
“It was really nothing.”
“Morrissey!” bellows Mr Shankly. “Late again?!” He launches a book at my head.
A particularly miserable morning in the Victorian prison that is St Mary’s. I drift off during Algebra while daydreaming of running away to That London, and receive a clip around the ear that will leave me mentally and physically scarred for years to come. I want to go home.
Lunch time in the Dickensian squalor of the school cafeteria. I wait in line with the rest of the suffering little children as the headmaster performs his ritual military two-step down the lunch queue, looking for his next victim. Today is just like any other day, with grey animal flesh is on the menu - this time little defenseless lambs. I won’t eat the rotting carcasses of needlessly slaughtered baby animals because death for no reason is murder, which means I am destined to go hungry once again. I get up to leave, but the headmaster won’t allow it.
“What gives you the right to be so wasteful you little idiot?!” he barks at me.
“I started, Sir, but I couldn’t finish” I reply. Another clip around the ear.
Why should I give my valuable time to these people who don’t care if I live or die? It is too much to bear, so I decide to give up education as a bad mistake. Heading for the exit as the bell rings and everyone shuffles back to the unhappy classrooms of St Mary’s School of Ceaseless Suffering, I run down to the safety of the town (Manchester) and spend the afternoon browsing its record shops.
“Do you ‘ave Too Much Too Soon by t’New York Dolls?” I ask in every shop. The album was released last week, but has sold out in every shop I try, and I grow increasingly desperate.
Oh please, please, please let me get what I want, I think, as I reach the last record shop in this wretched town. They have it, but at £5.30 I cannot hope to afford it. I never thought I’d join the ranks of shoplifters in this world, but I must have this record. As I slip it into my jacket, I feel a heartless hand on my shoulder.
“Hand it over” says the shop’s owner, and I naturally flee, panicking, onto the streets of Manchester, slipping down side streets until I’m back home just as the school bell rings.
Sheila has called round to persuade me and my sister Jackie to come out tonight.
“Steven. We’re goin t’lads’ club,” she says, northerly.
“Oh, I can’t,” I reply, sighing deeply.
“Why?” Sheila demands.
“I haven’t got any nice clothes to put on.”
“Did I really walk all this way just to hear you say ‘I don't want t’go out tonight’?" Sheila demands.
With some persuasion, I decide that I shall go out tonight after all, because I want to see people and I want to see life. I spend the next hour tending to my beautiful quiff; there are brighter sides to life, even in Manchester, and my hair is one of them. Hair brushed and parted, I try on my most floral shirt, but eventually decide to wear black on the outside because black is how I feel on the inside. Jackie and I have agreed to meet Sheila at the cemetery gates, so that’s where we head, drunk on stolen wine.
Happy in the haze of a drunken hour, Sheila, Jackie and I arrive at the lads’ club disco. The girls rush off to talk to their friends, and I’m miserable again now as I stand on my own. I gaze around at all the young people falling in love, and feel so very lonely that my only desire is to die.
The DJ here is terrible. The music he plays says nothing to me about my life. Luckily I’m not the only one that thinks so. Jackie has invaded the stage and has seized the microphone. She is beaming as the crowd joins her chants of “Hang the DJ!”. Sometimes I think Jackie’s only happy when she’s up on the stage. I wish I could laugh, but it doesn’t make me smile.
Sheila’s mother is here to pick us up, but I’d rather stay at her house.
“Oh please don’t drop me home,” I protest. But Jackie’s home isn’t my home and apparently I’m welcome no more, so we drive back down Manchester’s sombre streets to the old house.
I climb into an empty bed. Oh well, enough said.
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