Scottish novelist :i’f catches up with
his hero and discovers that the ex-NME writer was so busy mourning pop legends that he almost overlooked the suicide of his
PICTURE THIS. UPSTAIRS, THE SON, WITH HIS RIMBAUD. Beckett and Baudelaire. his Dylan. Hammill and Drake. Because of a pair of trousers. he‘s seriously thinking about killing himself. His life is soundtracked by the (imaginary) Chorus Of Pain.
Downstairs. with his Daily [zit/wuss; sits the father. Except sometimes. he doesn't. ‘About then. it was never really mentioned: it wasn't on daytime TV: the Samaritans weren‘t as PR-savvied as they are now. You didn't really acknowledge that it might’ve been a crippling and complicated thing. When he disappeared. it was always "a breakdown".‘
The son. Paul .‘Vlorley — the finest (pop) writer of his generation. the man who ‘styled‘ Frankie Goes To Hollywood. from whom Jonathan Ross nicked his early persona — is telling me about his new book. Nut/ring. To
quote from its pages: ‘While I was living a fantasy of despair
and isolation. my father was elsewhere living the real thing‘.
What with one thing and another. it was the father who killed himself.
‘The thing about a suicide is it‘s not quite a death.‘ says Morley. ‘lt‘s very difficult to mourn. We don’t actually know. With the "breakdowns" he might have been going off and having a wonderful time. There's hints and clues that that was the case. Or he might‘ve been going away and trying to kill himself. but just couldn‘t summon the courage or whatever it takes to do it.‘
10 THE lIST 22 Jun—6 lo; 2000
'I'd talked to the Stings of this world about intimate, private things. I'd never done that with my family.’
There‘s more than a touch of shyness in Moi‘ley‘s voice. A solitary child. as a youngster he believed football was a game you played on your own. in the back garden. ‘11 was literally me and my bedroom.’ he says. ‘I didn’t really have any male friends. I wonder sometimes whether that might've been because I didn’t really want to take people back to the house and into that atmosphere.‘
Like a lot of shy folk. Morley has been perceived as arrogant. 'Sometimes i feel tremendously unliked rather than anything else.‘ he says. There‘s even a website comprising for—and-agailist—Morley quotes (users.ero|s.coin/dcrouch/morley.htm). A self- confessed ‘musical snob' who ‘loves all that discrimination'. his was neither the expanded caption style of Q. where everybody agrees that evei‘ybody‘s hip. nor the padded nostalgia trip of .llnju. ‘I see myself as a writer.’ he says. '.\'ot really as a guide.’
Yet for all its chilling sadness - during its 4()()-plus pages. I repeatedly found myself phoning round. checking everybody was alright ~-.\'urlzing is also a very funny book. Recognition humour: death’s rituals: growing