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Saturday, 5 March 2016

Day 1635 - They fuck you up, your mum and dad

Last Wednesday, whilst enjoying a top of my voice sing-a-long to the 2014 classic, Staircase at the Universi-tay, I got to wondering what could possibly have inspired Morrissey to write about such subject matter; after all, it's not as though Morrissey ever experienced being a revision cramming, 'A' level taking, teenage girl.... I don't think!

I decided to tweet Mademoiselle Fifi, to ask if she (although of course Mlle Fifi isn't actually a 'she', the original character was an effeminate he, so from now on I shall try to remember to refer to Mlle Fifi as he) had a theory, and yesterday evening at 6.50pm, I got a reply:

"Could it be about the Grey Lady of Durham Castle? Non, that was just a wild guess."

I quickly googled 'Grey Lady of Durham Castle', and found some sketchy information about an ash coloured apparition, who was said to have originally been a woman who threw herself down the black staircase at Durham Castle, but could find no reference to her being a student, so responded to Mlle Fifi by saying, "Hmm, the Grey Lady wasn't even a student! Are you pulling my ratty tail?"
Fifi replied, "you are so rational Rat."


At this point, Mlle Fifi dragged me into a cubicle of The Wrong Arms loos (pronounced 'restroom' to those reading in an American accent) and elaborated as follows:

"Some say she was killed by priests but some say she threw herself from the top of the staircase to avoid forced marriage. Isn't it sad that some people commit suicide because of their parents? The castle's now part of Durham University. It's just another silly theory, not the truth. I have to go, I don't want to be late for my second shift." And she was gone.


I decided to conduct a more thorough search of google, but could find no reference to priests or forced marriages, which leads me to believe that Mlle Fifi's information has come from a book, and therefore isn't "just another silly theory", I believe Fifi is telling the truth, and I was being too rational. The song isn't about an academic girl killing herself at a university; after all, the girl in the song hasn't even taken the exams yet, so she would't be at university, the song is actually about the more broader subject of child suicide caused by parents.

Suicide often comes about as a result of despair, lost love, addiction, seeing no future etc, but child suicide directly caused by the actions of a parent; whether it be as a result of abuse, avoiding forced marriage, neglect; or in the case of this song, the burden of expectation, is something different altogether. The verses of the song tell the story of expectation, where as the chorus of "Staircase at the university, she threw herself down, and her head split three ways" is almost a dream sequence, with our girl academic picturing herself as that woman in Durham university, throwing herself down the stairs to make the burden of expectation disappear - the fact that the Grey Lady wasn't a student is irrelevant.

Despite Mlle Fifi informing me that he (I remembered!) had to leave to go on a second shift (as barman at The Thomas House bar), he actually popped back into The Wrong Arms at 9.09pm, and posted a photo and brief statement regarding social justice for animals:

"Social justice for animals isn't much to demand because we're only asking humans to think rationally and with heart"

Fifi's statement was a follow up to a previous statement that had been posted on T-T-Y an hour earlier, entitled Morrissey: Mayor of London?, in which we were informed that Morrissey has been invited to become the London Mayoral candidate for the Animal Welfare Party. I don't know why, but for some reason, my thoughts immediately turned to the man who dressed as a monkey to run for Mayor of Hartlepool.... and won!

Morrissey would of course be a great voice for the voiceless (he already is), but I think he would be too 'pure and true' to successfully run for office. If he ran an election campaign based just on people (or Londoners in this case) treating animals with more respect, then I think he would get good support; after all, you don't have to be a non meat eater to have a love of animals, but herein lies the problem - I can't see Morrissey accepting this sentiment; especially as his latest TTY statement includes the line, "if you are a part of the milk-drinking population, then you condone systems of torture". He is of course right, but it is all about small steps. The vegetarians say to the meat eaters, "how can you claim to truly love animals if you eat them?", whilst the vegans say to the vegetarians, "how can claim to truly love animals if you eat dairy products?", and the ethical vegans say to the vegans, "how can you claim to truly love animals if you wear leather or consume/use products where animals may have been used in some way?" Ultimately it isn't a competition, and if we could just get the world to give animals as happy a life as possible, then that would be a step in the right direction. If Morrissey were to run for Mayor, he would have to become more diplomatic, and NOBODY wants a diplomatic Morrissey - would it even be possible?

*Goes off singing* March, April, May, she crammed night and day, I hadn't seen her smile in a while


  1. Intriguing insight into Staircase. Toxic parenting can indeed have devastating consequences. I generally consider myself blessed for not having children as I would be so afraid of passing on my neuroses.

    Mayor Morrissey has a nice ring to it. You would struggle to find a better advocate for animals. There would be no pussy footing around, he would speak & act with eloquence, heart & a deep passion for sure. I love how robust Morrissey is when he talks about animal rights, I find it so engaging, refreshing & compelling.
    One of the many things I admire about Moz is how he stays true to himself, I don't know if he may feel compromised by the process, bureaucracy etc.
    However if he decides to stand for Mayor I am confident he would do all animals across the land the greatest of justice.

  2. oh colonel whiskers, i'll miss all this when I'm gone

  3. Congratulation to your son Ratty! Morrissey for Mayor is a great idea, but I wish Morrissey as Rome's mayor...we're going to vote this Spring and I got no doubt: Morrissey or no for the first time in my life I will no vote. Have a nice evening!

  4. A very interesting take on Staircase. Fifi's 'theories' are always appreciated, and it's lovely to see that Astra is still lurking around. Idealistically speaking, I think Morrissey as mayor is a brilliant idea. I'd vote for him in a heartbeat and would relish watching him shake things up.

  5. Now that I've had some time to research Durham Castle, it's interesting to note that, in addition to the grey lady, it's supposedly haunted by the ghost of a student who lived at the top of the staircase and killed himself because he mistakenly believed he had poor grades:

    The sources I read said that the grey lady was already married when she fell down the stairs. However, I read about a ghost at another castle who died from trying to avoid an arranged marriage. Perhaps 'Staircase' was inspired by a combination of these stories? Whatever the inspiration, I'm so glad the song was written, as it's one of my favorites from World Peace.

    1. Thanks for adding this Heather. Staircase is one of my favourites from the album too & is wonderful live.
      So glad to know Astra is still floating around. I hope its not too long before she returns with all her warmth, sparkle & va va voom.

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  8. This morbid song reminds me of the scene from AJ Cronin's debut novel, "Hatter's Castle," wherein Nessie gets dressed up and hangs herself after having failed to obtain a scholarship to study at university. She is so scared of her crazy, megalomaniacal father's reaction that she kills herself. Nessie became a boy who shoots himself in the film version. In his autobiography, Morrissey mentions having been an extra in a television version of "The Stars Look Down," another Cronin novel, as a teenager. On a side note, I am Cronin's youngest grandchild, and I attended Duke University in Durham, North Carolina after having my acceptance to my father's alma mater, Yale, revoked by the jealous headmaster, Charles Lord, at my all-girls school (he was friendly with the head of admissions). He was also a Yale alumnus whose stupid daughter had been rejected outright several years prior and who disliked my father, Andrew - let's just say that the secret society Skull and Bones was also involved. Lord was promptly fired from his position as headmaster once the truth emerged (he had done similar things to other girls). I was rejected by Princeton because the committee assumed I had been admitted to Yale (and initially I had been) since these particular Ivy League schools, along with Harvard, used to share admissions information to prevent too many spaces from being made available, a practice no longer tolerated. Therefore, I went to Switzerland to study for a year before attending Duke (regrettably chosen over acceptances to the University of Pennsylvania, Wellesley, and Cornell) and graduating. I had been blacklisted by Yale. I left my husband at the age of 26, after having suffered through a year and a half of a loveless marriage, and went on to study English and American Literature at Harvard, obtaining straight A's. Another Morrissey connection, however tangential, is that pianist Peter Duchin and his orchestra played at my 5-day wedding celebration in the Bahamas, where my family has a home. Duchin also played at the legendary Black and White Ball in NYC which was hosted by Truman Capote, a Moz favorite. Furthermore, I attended the Morrissey concert at Madison Square Garden last June at a friend's insistence, never having even heard his name before. I wish I never had now. I am most decidedly not a fan of his for reasons that shall remain undisclosed - unless I decide otherwise. "Astra"'s (who we all know is just another Morrissey pessoa, of which there are MANY others) creepy tale about the father and the son who hangs himself, written the weekend of the Paris attacks, only added insult to injury since the son was meant to represent me. I am part of the "backstory" he mentioned in the comments; read: GET LOST - he is evil. Evidently Morrissey is not a fan of mine either, though the reason for his hatred for me is a mystery. I am tired of his deep-rooted ugliness and the pleasure he receives in tormenting others. Remember the Waylon Jennings cover (my middle name) last August? It would seem that the teal (even turquoise) that he wore frequently during his last tour (and particularly during that song and at his Las Vegas concert) just could have something to do with my email address: So this Grey Lady (my family has a house on Nantucket, aka the Grey Lady, and Moz knows I frequent the island) at Durham Castle is yet another veiled joke at my expense. Naturally, Morrissey will deny all of this, but alas, it is real. *ΚΑΤΑ*ΤΟΝ*ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ*ΕΑΥΤΟΥ*

    1. Good morning. I admit that I didn't entirely grab everything you wrote, but if you feel tormented by Morrissey wearing teal, or even turquoise, maybe the problem could be solved if you stop paying attention to what colours he wears. This of course only works as long as he doesn't promenade up and down the pavement in front of your house, but I heard that he's currently in Dublin, so no need to worry so far, but I hope he doesn't suddenly turn up on Nantucket, to continue his malicious mission of torturing people with shirt colours. I'm no stranger to this kind of problem, I'm telling you. He might however not even go there himself; his mesmerising follow-up to Quarry is, after all, named Ringleader of the Tormentors, which I suppose means that he has his private Army of Evil, ready to go wherever he directs them. If you notice an increase of teal-coloured shirts around your neighbourhood in the future, it might be a sign that he's definitely on your heels, for reasons so far undisclosed. Unless it's merely a sign that you're paying disproportionately high attention to shirt colours, but who knows. I, for one, am tormented when he wears brown, I really really dislike that colour, which I'm sure Morrissey is entirely aware of, but it doesn't matter how hard I try not to take it personally, and how often I tell myself that it's a chacun à son goût thing. There's just no point in denying the truth. I am deeply convinced that he's only wearing those to make me suffer. In fact, I even picture him putting on these shirts with a nasty smile, knowing full well that each time he does it, I die a little bit. I know that I'm right, and that all of it is real. Because there IS no other explanation for wearing brown.
      And don't get me started on sh*ny shirts. It's nothing but adding insult to injury, and I'm not strong enough to go there now.

    2. Thank you for posting, AJ. I like your idea that Hatter's Castle could have been another influence on the subject matter of Staircase ATU. It is a shame that you don't like Morrissey, as I think that you would fit in really well with the Dreary Deluded Dozen (DDD) who frequent these parts.
      I am rather confused about your relationship with Morrissey though. You claim not to have even HEARD of him until last June, and yet you certainly seem to know a lot about the man whose concert you didn't even like! You also seem to know a lot about his pessoas. Hmm. And how exactly does Morrissey know about you, and why would Astra write about you? I don't suppose you happen to know Kate 'Dolly' Ryan or Jenni T? No, of course you don't.

  9. oh whiskers, you will get my lynched.. my London calling quote is a coincidence nothing more, who on this planet would confide in a little old nothing like me

  10. FIRST, I WANT TO SAY TO CLOVER DEAN, urrr photoshoped picture gave meee the WIDDDDDEST smile EEVVER, thanxxxx.
    I have not yet read the comments abovve mine, but I have my own theory as to what "staircase at the university" is about. I think it relates to Alsatians cousin and handsome devil for school reasons. Basically, a girl is learning all she can about Morrissey and ultimately what she finds out, breaks her heart.

    I think it also relates to "shame is the name" and "because of my poor education"
    Also because he sneezes in the live version of the song, I think it's his way of blessing the girl. I heard him say at the FYF Fest in 2015 "If you have a God, may He or She bless you."

    I have at least 3 interpretations of this songgggggggg.

    1. I also think it relates to the song "boxers" because of the album artwork, where he stands in front of a school? called "Battersea Training Unit" which have the bsides, "have-a-go merchant" and "whatever happens, I love you" Basically, a girl that believes her dad hates her, but she will always love morrissey even if he breaks her heart.


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