:: Article

The Morrissey Exhibition

By HP Tinker.

The Morrissey Exhibition is a beautiful place, crammed with wonder, the furniture of dreams. Spread over four exquisitely furnished floors, the exhibition houses the largest collection of privately-owned Morrissey artefacts in the world・35,000 or so Morrissey-related exhibits, including:

- Morrissey’s priceless collection of identical panama hats.
- A plinth containing Sonny Liston.
- Selected feedback (1992/1995)
- A recently restored childhood trowel.
- Gilbert O’Sullivan’s monogrammed golf-ball, once used by Morrissey.

The Morrissey Exhibition should initially be visited when you are at a particularly low ebb, possibly having a hard time understanding your cat’s death or why your mother is attached to a respirator. When you stroll around the Morrissey Exhibition such things make greater sense.
It is a time for contemplation as much as celebration.
Later, you will repeat the experience, several times, probably with a close companion.

On the steps of the Morrissey Exhibition you can ponder out loud:
“I wonder which way our lives are going?”
Nobody will answer, of course

So try asking the same question again, with slightly adjusted phrasing.
“Who knows?” someone will reply, eventually. “Life is unpredictable, basically. That’s the thing. It doesn’t tend to resemble most modern American fiction. It’s hard to gauge, being both meaningful and meaningless at the same time, more or less.”

(NOTE. On the steps of the Morrissey Exhibition, JB Priestly is immortalised thoughtfully in brass, stroking his chin. Has this any known connection to the Morrissey exhibition? Nobody is sure. This is just one of the many enigmas associated with the Morrissey Exhibition.)

There are other attractions designed to compel your attention.
On Tuesdays, there’s the rare video demonstration of Morrissey’s telepathic powers. On the second floor, the Troy Tate Gallery houses thousands of exclusive personal polaroids: Morrissey at the Casino (1981), riding a bicycle (1964), contacting the dead (1988), wearing a rubber ring (1999), looking aggrieved at the site of the Peterloo Massacre, date unknown.
Meanwhile, in the listening room, the entire Morrissey back catalogue is continually played in reverse, an instructive experience you will find.

Celebrity guest have been known to make unexpected appearances too: Leo Sayer performing ‘November Spawned A Monster’ on the harmonium・Germaine Greer dancing the Watusi in a tutu・David Bowie stranded on one knee, weakly grasping a tulip. (During the interval, he will bend cutlery and play the spoons, if asked politely.)
The public flagellation of Mark Simpson is also a highly popular event.

Scattered through the foyer, several ex-members of Herman’s Hermits are strategically positioned, in aspic, although not technically available for general purchase. Official merchandise is for sale, however, much nearer the exit where you can purchase an authenticated limited edition wine sample from Ron Mael’s semi-retired moustache should you so desire…

The foyer of the Morrissey Exhibition is repudiated to be heavy with paranormal activity. Some say the ghost of Mickey Finn has been sighted looking slightly dejected, worried about things in general・nobody actually knows why.

Dedicatedly non-elitist, the Morrissey Exhibition boasts an unusually urbane carpeting scheme throughout which can disorientate the inexperienced visitor. You can certainly get lost in there. Totally lost. Completely lost. Utterly lost. Horribly, horribly lost. So horribly lost that you fear you might never find yourself again. What level am I on? you may well ask, on occasion. Is that way up or down? What’s through that door? Where in the name of Jesus am I? The experience of wandering through the Morrissey Exhibition is a constantly bewildering, exhilarating, ultimately rewarding process・

There’s a short guided tour through Morrissey’s subconscious (Saturdays only) and few remain unmoved by this experience. Teenagers of all sizes have been known to produce whole buckets of tears. All security staff carry emergency buckets in case of excessive weeping. The walls have been reinforced to withstand the depth of such emotion: “I am normally not like this,” several people will tell you, cheerfully sobbing to themselves, wracked with rare, usually unfelt, poignant depths.

So, who finds love at the Morrissey Exhibition? The girl with the dancing breasts? The duelling Glaswegian? The lipstick librarian? The balding curator?
Nobody, it seems・nobody finds love within those walls・love steadfastedly eludes all those who attend the Morrissey Exhibition.
However, you may be fondled repeatedly during your visit…
Moreover, you may be bitten ferociously on the nape of the neck by handsome young strangers who will bedazzle you with tantalizing questions only to disguise themselves later with tall hats so you won’t ever recognise them again.

Although love is frequently absent from within the perimeters of the Morrissey Exhibition, once I touched you there. Oh, yes. I did. Most definitely. At least, I thought I did. Or — at least — you touched me. It was one way or the other. Didn’t you notice? Much later, under quite different circumstances, you seemed decidedly under impressed. So maybe I didn’t touch you as much as I thought I had, maybe I didn’t touch you at all. Maybe I only thought I’d touched you and I was mistaken. Maybe you wanted me to think I’d touched you and then regretted it the next morning. Maybe I did touch you, a little, but you got embarrassed by the whole thing and you decided to act like it had never happened. The exact train of events is not clear to me, never was. And the whole episode has left me visibly saddened…
Was that your aim, then? To sadden me visibly in public?

Beware. The balding curator of the Morrissey Exhibition sees everything. Watching over the proceedings, wryly, from a raised platform in the foyer, maintaining an impenetrable mask of enigma. (Is that a smile on his face? A tear in his eye? Who can truthfully tell? And what is his ultimate purpose? How does he spend his free time outside of the Morrissey Exhibition?)

“The Morrissey Exhibition is available for functions,” the balding curator tells people. “In fact, there’s a lesbian wedding in the basement at this very moment・they are dancing topless as we speak…”

Marvellous new exhibits about to be unveiled at the Morrissey Exhibition:

His dream-stained teenage pillow.
A packet of Fox’s Glacier Mints (1991, unused).
Johnny Tillotson’s criminal record.
A leather garter once modelled by Violet Carson.
The small earthquake experienced personally by Morrissey himself on 3rd July 2002.
The balding curator is outwardly pleased with his new exhibits, inwardly pleased with himself. Silently, buried beneath a mask of discontentment, disenchantment, he marvels at the never-ending resourcefulness of his own nature・privately wondering if his life is travelling in the direction he originally planned, privately wondering if his life is travelling in any recognisable direction at all.

Morrissey himself, of course, is never in attendance. This is, mostly likely, due to the fact that he has several better things to do. Instead, over-weight bunny girls and waspish excitement can be found frequenting the exhibition excitedly on his behalf…

Sadly, there will come a time when you sit down on a hard-backed chair and ask yourself: is this the right moment to leave the Morrissey Exhibition? How can I extricate myself safely and securely without causing further complication? My companion has aged considerably since our arrival. Time has unfairly ravaged her. Did we stay too long at the Morrissey Exhibition? Did we outlast our welcome? There are such sights within the Morrissey Exhibition, you see: but did they ever really exist anywhere other than in our collective ponderings? And if we do leave, will we ever go back? Perhaps not, but we feel all the more human for having spent just a few hours there・

And so, holding hands on the steps of the Morrissey Exhibition, under the economical gaze of JB Priestly, we part, like former lovers. We don’t look back.
No. Not for one moment. No. Not at all. Why should we?
It is armed with nothing more than regret that I return to my other life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
HP Tinker lives in Manchester where he has been called the Thomas Pynchon of Chorlton-cum-Hardy. His fiction has appeared in Ambit, Pulp.Net, emwriting, CrimeSpree Magazine, Dreams That Money Can Buy, and laurahird.com. Three of his “post-Gibson, neo-Lynch” crime vignettes were anthologised by Nicholas Royle in Dreams Never End (Tindal Street Press, 2004) and praised by The Times for their “hilarious deadpan surrealism.”

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, August 10th, 2004.