Today’s MLM is brought to you by the final band in my Manchester Top Three. It’s The Smiths with ‘Ask’.
You might think The Smiths to be an inappropriate choice for Much Love Monday, given the general melancholia of their lyrics – Girlfriend in a Coma, Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me – but with Johnny Marr’s jangly guitar, Morrissey could – and did – sing about the Moors Murders, making it sound as inoffensive as a bunny rabbit in ribbons.
I picked this one, though it was not my first choice. My first choice was “Girlfriend in a Coma” from “Strangeways, here we come” which shared rank in 1986 and 1987 with my Talking Heads obsession and my love of Depeche Mode. It will forever remind me of the old trains into Manchester and spending days roaming round Afflecks Palace looking at old Levi 501s and coveting old College Jackets à la Ferris Bueller.
Between Morrissey, Ferris Bueller and Duckie in Pretty in Pink, I had a serious quiff fetish.
I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved Ferris, Duckie and John Bender. I heard a rumour that Bender in Futurama got his name from John Bender in The Breakfast Club. John Bender, it must be said, did not have a quiff, but I liked him anyway.
I think these people all gave me a certain desire to be a little different from the usual crowd. Morrissey very rightly says that shyness is nice, but shyness will stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to.
I love that I am not shy. If I were shy, I would never have done so very many things like…
1. Mooned 29,000,000 people from the top of Roppongi Hills Tower in Tokyo.
Okay. I can’t be sure they were all looking. Or that they could see that far up.
2. Delivered training for 2,000 delegates in the Emirates stadium.
3. Wandered around Morocco on my own.
4. Had a drink bought for me by Seamus Heaney, Irish poet with twinkly eyes.
5. Patted Patrick Stewart’s head.
6. Offered to buy outrageous bass guitarist TM Stevens an iced tea.
7. Patted more authors than I can count.
8. Talked my way into more writing and teaching gigs than I can count.
9. Been told to be more humble on a performance review.
10. Aced the performance review anyway.
Some of these are kind of stupid, some of them are very stupid and others were just fun. But there’s not a one of them I regret. I often say to myself “I don’t want to be on my death bed thinking ‘I never did …'” and that’s my excuse for not being at all shy.
Sometimes, chatting to people gets you amazing things. A guy let me climb up a tower in Casablanca, even though it wasn’t open to the public, and I got the most amazing view ever. An old man in Japan took me to see his moss garden.
I also like to say “when will I ever see these people again?” as an excuse for doing crazy things and not caring for the consequences. Or, “It’d be rude not to!”
See… Morrissey was right.
I can’t think when this lack of shyness descended upon me. At 11, I was still shy. I didn’t backchat teachers; I was put in the wrong classroom on my first day of secondary school and I was MORTIFIED.
But, out of that tiny pre-teen, too scared to tell the teacher to to speak in class, well, THIS appeared.
I would like to point out that I am TRYING to cover my modesty.
I would also like to point out that this particular bout of anti-shy came straight out of a glass.
Generally, I like to think my anti-shyness and my whole silliness has taken me to some amazing places I would never have been otherwise. Largely, it’s the people who I’ve met that are most of the reward. Secondly, it’s its own type of fame. One day, I hope to end up like Bob in the following joke…
A guy named Joe was in a bar drinking with another guy named Bob. Bob turns to Joe and tells him, “I am the most popular guy in the world. I bet you $100 that if you pick any person in the world they will know me.” Joe thinks this is a good bet and he accepts, picking the president. They go of to the White house and George opens the door and says, “Bob! How are ya Buddy!” and they play a couple of holes of golf.
After golf Joe turns to Bob and says, “Ok that was a fluke. Double or nothing- The Queen of England.” When they arrive, the Queen opens the door exclaiming “Bob! I haven’t see you in ages!” and they have tea and crumpets.
After crumpets, Joe says, “Ok Bob, I bet you don’t know this last guy; lets try the Pope.” They fly off to the Vatican but the Popes security won’t let Joe through to see the Pope. Bob tells him that its ok, he’ll go up on stage with the Pope when he makes his daily speech and then Joe will know that Bob knows the Pope.
Joe goes into the crowd and waits for the Pope to appear and he finally does- with Bob at his side! All of a sudden, there is a great commotion and Bob jumps off the stage and runs through the crowd to where apparently Joe had collapsed of shock! When he comes to Bob asks Joe what happened. And Joe said,
“Well, even after seeing you up there with the pope, I was still skeptical of you, but I just couldn’t take it any more when the guy next to me said, ‘Hey who’s that guy up there with Bob’!”
Anyway, enjoy The Smiths, remember to say yes as often as you can, never be shy and have a good Monday!