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Thursday, 15 November 2018

Thursday November 15th 2018 - Day 2618 And I'm dreaming of touching your knee

Theresa May has finalised negotiations with the EU for a Brexit deal, and surprise, surprise, it is a complete non-deal that she knows full well will not get voted through Parliament; in fact, even her own Cabinet ministers who helped her put the deal together are resigning left right and centre as I write this.

The UK is very obviously heading for a second referendum, where the choices will be A) Stay in the EU after all or B) Leave with no deal. We will be TOLD that Option B will be apocalyptic, and thus the masses will be too frightened to vote leave this time around, which is just what the authorities want. The Government have just been going through the motions over the past two years, with NO INTENTION of delivering Brexit - we are being controlled.... we are ALWAYS controlled. What is the point in voting when the result of the vote is overturned anyway? As a certain someone once wrote, "that's what Government's for, oh, you poor little fool".

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In far more interesting news, a wonderful article has been published on the internet by Jo Whitfield (no relation to June as far as I am aware) titled Dreaming of touching your arm. It is Jo's thoughts as to why Morrissey fans go to such great lengths to try and get on stage with him. Morrissey is obviously impressed with the piece, as it has been linked on Morrissey Central. Here it is in full:

Following a series of recent appearances by Morrissey in Southern California, it comes as no surprise to me that despite what the press would have us believe, Morrissey does still have fans, he does still get invited to appear on TV and radio, and his fans still love him as much as ever.

tropicalia fest
Tropicalia Fest. Source unknown.

Videos and photographs on social media form a collage; a testament to the special appreciation Morrissey fans have for him, and he for them. As well as the usual footage of Morrissey on stage, we have been treated to photos of him signing arms outside the Majestic Ventura Theater, various footage of a  stage invasion of hug seeking fans during Morrissey's headline set at Tropicalia Festival, a beautiful half minute of silent awe while  Morrissey signs the arm of an audience member in the middle of his appearance on the set of the AT&T Sound Studio, and last but not least, a frenzied  stage invasion at Copley Symphony Hall in San Diego.
But the press don't wish to report these aspects of the tour. It doesn't fit with their on-going narrative. Instead, they look for an opportunity to spread the lie that Morrissey is hated, rather than loved. Within hours of the San Diego stage invasion, headlines abound asserting that Morrissey was 'attacked' on stage. Actually, an adoring fan rushed at him too hard and Morrissey was forced to leave the stage half way through the final song of the night. Morrissey's  manager,  Morrissey himself, and  the fan involved have all since issued a statement. But not content with misrepresenting Morrissey, the press must now misrepresent his fans as well, and in doing so manage to turn an act of devotion and admiration into a fictitious story of violence and hatred. They really are that twisted

So I thought I'd write my own piece about what drives Morrissey fans to play cat and mouse with security at his shows. Somehow, I don't think it's because they want to punch him in the head.

Birmingham 2015.
From video by Sam Esty Rayner Photography.

Throughout Morrissey's career his concerts have been characterised by fans reaching over the barrier, crowd surfing over the barrier, and where possible, jumping on the stage in an effort to touch his hand or hug him. What is their motivation?
I've always felt Will Self got it completely wrong when he spoke about what he thought was going on with these fans on the 2002 Channel 4 documentary 'The Importance of Being Morrissey.'
"Flinging themselves onto the stage to catch the king's touch, you know, the king could cure in some way….."
Can he?
"Young heterosexual men and older heterosexual men respond to that at a homoerotic level. I think it speaks to the homosexual component of a lot of heterosexual men."
Please, stop.
And Miranda Sawyer adds her ten pence worth, stating that it's only  men that are flinging themselves onto the stage.
Wrong also.
I thought it best to ask some actual Morrissey fans, who came up with an interesting mix of responses.
None of them mention a sexual attraction, with one male fan making a point of stating that it's  "nothing to do with sexuality".
Another female fan also states,
"Outsiders assume it's sexual. It isn't. It's instinctual. His lyrics are cathartic."
However, she also writes that it's,
"..almost as if touching the hem of his garment could cure you from the crushing loneliness and desperation within."

Leeds 2018
From video by Sam Esty Rayner Photography

Another fan writes that when he reached Morrissey, " it felt like I'd been blessed."
I was a little surprised at this, since this has never been how I've felt about it myself. Certainly, Morrissey's fans identify with his lyrics in a very personal and emotional way, and for many, this is the man whose voice and words have provided much comfort to them over many years.
"He has been my security blanket for most of my life, good times and bad… from teenage at school to 50 year womanhood."
It's as if, for some, he's taken on the persona of a mythical character in their lives, one who has the power to sooth and console, whose voice and image have been there helping them through difficult times. To find yourself in close proximity with this man in person can seem a little unreal.
But for some, it is this very sense of an illusory presence that drives their need to touch him.
"I think it is a desire to make/prove tangible the creator of safety and security who has been living in your head."
Similarly, others want to make their existence known to him, and to experience that moment of mutual consciousness of this existence.
"I existed to him, for just a small moment…I think this is what many fans look for. A moment of existence to him, the man who has provided so much fuel and inspiration…."
This really resonated with me, as did another comment that mentioned not only eye-contact, but the knowledge that there had also been some degree of effort necessary on Morrissey's part to make the connection happen.
"A special part is also eye contact and him trying as hard as you do to make it real."

Hammersmith 2015.
I only care that the two of us are there.

The first time I shook hands with Morrissey, I watched the footage on YouTube over and over the next day, and the thing that made me smile the most was the fact that he had stepped forward and reached out his hand. To  me! I was one person on what seemed like a conveyer belt of barrier jumpers that night, but for that moment, it was  me he was acknowledging. But the other thing about the incident that gave me so much gratification was the fact that I'd really been able to squeeze his hand, as this was my way, the only way available to me, of saying thank-you, for everything.
Another fan seems to describe similar feelings;
"For me it is a matter of gratitude. I want to touch the man who saved my life through his music and gave so much to me and many other people. I only managed a couple of handshakes and I felt so blessed even for this small connection. It is a way to say Thank You Morrissey you are so important to me."
Several other fans mention gratitude as a motivator.
"If the only way I can show him the gratitude he deserves is by touching his hand, I'll do it."

Leeds 2018
From video by Sam Esty Rayner Photography

It is certainly evident for anyone who has been to a number of Morrissey shows or watched much footage, that Morrissey appreciates the efforts his audience members make, and will go out of his way to acknowledge it. I have observed him on numerous occasions chasing the flailing hand of a hapless fan along the edge of the stage while security drag them away, helping fans up on to the stage, and leaning far over the edge of the stage to reach outstretched hands. And of course his apparent approval and positive response to these antics from the crowd will play a part in encouraging them to make the attempt. It takes two…well actually a few more in this case.
"My audience has an urgent need to touch, to shake hands, to move out of their seats, to defy so-called security, to make physical contact. They don't simply sit and observe, but feel the urge to act. It's a great compliment for me, and one that most Grammy winners could probably never imagine." Morrissey, 2013
Whatever it is, it doesn't seem to be something that everyone can easily put into words. One fan mentioned that she has managed to pull off a total of 6 hugs, plus numerous handshakes, and yet admits,
'I can't properly put in to words what drives me to brave the barrier."
Another stage invader writes,
"I don't really know why, it just seems you have to." 

Leeds 2018
From video by Sam Esty Rayner Photography


And yet the compulsion must be strong. With an army of ruthless and often unsympathetic security staff against you, getting over the barrier or on the stage is no easy feat, and competition for a spot at the front of the crowd is fierce. But something about Morrissey compels people to make this mighty effort, with some fans mentioning injuries they have suffered in their attempts.
In an old  video about Morrissey fans back in the nineties, one fan, whilst not talking specifically about jumping the barrier, expresses a deep admiration and respect, putting Morrissey on a level with other great writers she admires;
"There's so many times when you read something, you know, have read something, Oscar Wilde or Dylan Thomas, and just wished if I could only go back in time and be there and say this to them, and just express my appreciation to that person for writing that. And with Morrissey, you know, we can!"
This too, resonated for me. Morrissey isn't like any other pop or rock artist, and the level of his fans' admiration for him reflects this. It's not just the emotional nature of his lyrics, but the high regard for him as an artist that comes into play at his shows. This makes for a powerful combination.

Leeds 2018
From video by Sam Esty Rayner Photography

Without getting too scientific, the audience reflects the artist. Greasy heavy metal maniacs attract greasy heavy metal maniacs. But if, like me, you try and do something with a certain amount of passion or vocation or love, then the people attracted are like that. They understand me."  Morrissey, 1991
Yes, perhaps we're getting too scientific. It's really very simple. Morrissey fans are a passionate bunch, and they  really love him. Naturally, they feel a need to express that love.
"I would just love to throw my arms around him and squeeze! I've loved him since I was a teenager. He is a poet and his poetry just speaks to me."
It all makes perfect sense. We love Morrissey, and it is only right that he knows it.
"Jesus, I am loved. Having never found love from one, I instead find it from thousands - at the same time, in the same room." Morrissey,  Autobiography.

Jo is spot-on with her observations. I have attempted to get on stage three times, and each time it wasn't pre-planned, it was pure impulse. The first time was in Gt Yarmouth in 2009 - which I wrote about on Day 33 of FTM. On that occasion I made it onto the stage and managed to grab Morrissey's left knee before being hauled off him by security, who promptly evicted me from the building.



MORRISSEY STROLLING UP GT YARMOUTH PIER IN 2009 WITH SOME OLD SLAP-HEAD OR OTHER

My second attempt was just after Morrissey had mentioned 'toothbrush' in New York in 2013 - as reported on Day 484 of FTM. As I made the leap I was intercepted by Jay Joannides, who unceremoniously shoved me back into the seats. It can be seen in this video clip at the 1 min 33 sec mark:


My most recent attempt at getting on stage was in September 2015 at the Hammersmith Apollo - as reported on Day 1472 of FTM. I made it over the barrier but ended up in a heap in front of the stage, although I did get a handshake from the seminal artist as a reward for my effort.


I ATTEMPT MY LEAP - LONDON 2015

The bond between Morrissey and his fans is like NO OTHER.

In other news, there is no other news.

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