Our Daily Bread 371: Guest Post: NOTES FROM THE PSYCHIATRIC UNDERGROUND, or Why I Miss Simon Morris

March 12, 2020

TRIBUTE
Words: Dan Shea





Probably the most candid and personal post the Monolith Cocktail has ever posted, Dan Shea pays a special tribute to the late co-founder of the Blackpool punk and miscreant diy experimentalists The Ceramic Hobs, Simon Morris, who went missing on the 7th December 2019. His body was later found in the River Wyre on 20th December.

Leaving an indelible mark not just musically on Shea (the St. Helens musical polymath plays in a myriad of cult, influential bands, from The Bordellos to Vukovar and Beauty Stab) Morris helped him, in his own fashion, deal with the trauma of being raped. It’s an often difficult, unsettling read, potted with dark comedy, insights and anecdotes. An essential read I’d say.


NOTES FROM THE PSYCHIATRIC UNDERGROUND, or Why I Miss Simon Morris

It all began with a smirk edging across that kind fuck’s face as it dawned on him I wasn’t taking the piss with this patter.

“I’ve been into Ceramic Hobs quite a lot recently. I listen to Psychiatric Underground by them almost as much as I listen to Teenage Snuff Film by Rowland S Howard.”

Preston eccentric twenty years before you were born Mad “Mad” Tony wasn’t there to save me from my faux pas and stop me dribbling on about Ceramic Hobs to the guy whose band it was. He was busy chatting to Rose MacDowall about something mad people talk about. Simon didn’t correct me and I met him a further three times before he admitted that he WAS Ceramic Hobs, disappearing to Kate Fears car to give us some copies of a single he’d been aggressively handing to people.

You know, I didn’t know what he looked like. He’s not a Popstar or a pop tart (he definitely was a bit of a tart though – that’s a quaint way of saying he was a slut for anyone unaware, I know pot kettle etc.). I’m glad I didn’t because if I’d known who he was I would have had to wait for Rick to approach him or bully me into doing so – he’s good like that. He’s been the making of me, that guy.

Our unholy union was cemented with a round of “Whitehouse karaoke” over the sound of a malfunctioning white reggae bands malfunctioning sound behind a tent at a beer festival in Preston that Vukovar had been playing. As enquiring minds need to know I should specify the Whitehouse song was A Cunt Like You. This was the sound of being alive, cunt.





I know that this sounds ridiculous but I was incredibly nervous the first time he invited me to come to his house. I remember leaving Marilyn’s flat in Manchester and talking to him on the phone, nervously, about Kanye West. I remember every moment of that day, remarkable considering how much was drank. I won’t kiss and tell you can buy his book Sea of Love for the sordid details.

When we were sat in his living room finishing the wine the following morning, all nervousness had faded. He held me while I had a quick nap stroking my hair. Then when I awoke resumed his customary “conversation as blood sport” of scurrilous gossip; references to Oi! bands, dead porn stars and obscure high proof liquor you can only get from fucking squeezing a squids bell end dunno; genuine affection through insults and mockery through compliment. Walked me to the station in one of his fucking awful sleeveless t shirts and neither one regretted a thing.

I left Vukovar for a while and Simon, taking time off from pretending to be winding down Ceramic Hobs, good as replaced me. It was his presence was a major factor in bringing me back into the fold. I fondly recall a lot of silliness and moments of utter wonder.





I think of him bellowing his way through deranged country songs he may have invented as the lovely Gea Philes tried to sleep. I think of the camp, haughty way he’d begin a sentence “you know….” pushing his glasses up his nose and pursing his lips. I think of him winding Rick up by going on and on about his dad making a book for him when he was a kid called The Retarded Faggot’s Bumper Book of Willes.

I think of him referring to me for a whole day only as “the twink”. I think of us being sat in a pub in Preston talking about how his dad met Sleazy from Coil, and him suddenly deciding that I should be interested in a man across the bar and trying to introduce me to this poor timid guy (who was actually quite cute to be fair but I wasn’t in the frame of mind). 

He showed me Salo for the first time with a terrible American accented dub that turned it into a John Waters esque black comedy. He introduced me to Ramleh, Skullflower and lots of bands of that ilk. When I was in the pain of torments real and imagined he’d calm me down. He also introduced me to the idea of fish sticks.

The last time we spoke, after accusing my best friend of being a cop and having arranged for me to be raped at knifepoint, he went on to enthuse about Shane MacGowan’s solo records and the lesbian cult film Times Square that Marilyn, staying over with their now husband, had shown me. His last words: “you’re a gorgeous kid and I love you but you smell funny.”.

Does it hurt, Simon, turning luminous?

 

Mad Pride Worldwide

When someone gives you that hackneyed “it’s okay to not be okay” speech look at them with the pity they deserve and treat it the way you would the dribbling of a beloved senile relative.

It’s not okay. Some of us would give anything to feel clean again. It’s all fine til the illness starts manifesting itself in real, visceral ways like when I’m calling you at 5 in the morning all my windows and mirrors covered to stop them watching and asking you if you know when They started to conspire against me or when She or He sleeps with a knife next to her bed because of what They did to them. When all that we are dying to try conceals ways we are trying to die. 

It’s the scars and grotesque weight loss you look away from. It’s not socially acceptable. It’d probably scare your boss and your neighbours. And they should be scared but not for the reasons they think.

You know, when I was waiting on HIV tests following the worst knife point pain of my life we made a black comedy playlist for an AIDS reveal party. Lots of Queen, Infected by The The, Another Invented Disease by the Manics etc. I found out I was Negative and we were very happy. 

You still view schizophrenics as cackling caricatures from the Victorian asylum. You romanticise the diseases who take my friends and leave me a shambling drunken paranoid wreck. You who fetishise quirk and abhor weird. The words which describe our condition you use as insults.

You say I shouldn’t be ashamed just often enough for me to realise you don’t mean it. I’m a good whore who goes where he’s kicked – you’re ashamed of me but I’m fucking not. 

Hear the beauty of our Notes from the Psychiatric Underground (Dostoyevsky knew what he was talking about the old perv). This is why Mad Pride is so important: we all come into this world naked bloody and screaming and on occasion spend the odd weekend that way but it doesn’t have to be that we leave that way. We must not do this alone!

I think of him onstage with Smell & Quim naked but for an apron with a swastika on and looking like a Northern Leland Palmer. His onstage shout stolen from Consumer Electronics of “if you don’t behave Daddy won’t perform”. How he could have upped the tastelessness stakes by alternating it daddy for Maddy and wearing a Madeleine McCann mask. It’d fit perfectly with the Smell and Quim style I reckon. You should do it, Si!

Sleaze Daddy was a maddy but not a baddy. Sadly and madly went away.  It’s one hell of a sad long shadow to inhabit but I clutch at the void of his absence for warmth. Take comfort in the arms of women who knew you. It’s me, your little Venice bitch.

 

The Show Must Go On

It used to be I hated Queen. But through Simons love of them, and all manner of other stodgy classic rock it doesn’t behoove an art fag of my stature to even acknowledge, I’ve come to tolerate them.

I like that they are one of the bands UKIPPYBREXITCUNTS like but were fronted by an Asian queer who died of AIDS for one. For that reason alone they’re more subversive than a lot of people even if they did straight wash Freddie in the film about him.

I know I’ve not written about Simon’s music but I’m still not ready to hear his voice again. His voice was a sonic weapon, sculpted in Blackpool by years of booze, fags, screaming along to Whitehouse and drinking his coffee instantly without ever bloody waiting for it to cool down which used to go through me.

He loved it when I told him that Explosion in A Dustbin Factory ruined an amorous moment between me and a cute Korean guy.

Simon pointed out to me how much I Want To Break Free sounds like a coming out song and, now you mention it, there’s a yearning in that and Someone to Love of the hits that I do find very poignant. I don’t mind admitting that the first time I heard The Show Must Go On after his death I began to sob.

I’ve been doing a lot of crying since December, in varying states of sobriety. The day I found out I cried like I’ve never cried in my life. I miss that fucking incredible brain so much. I can’t believe I’m never going to think “Si, you daft bastard what have you done now”. I’m writing this at the stage of grief where I feel like part of me died with him. But another part was born, as every cradle is a grave.

 

Playlist 

 

My relationship with Simon Morris in chronology of song:

Love Letters Like Suicide Notes – Ceramic Hobs

Deep Water – Strawberry Switchblade

Absolute Beginners – David Bowie

Just Like a Cunt – Whitehouse

Explosion in a Dust Bin Factory – Ceramic Hobs

Final Solution – Lydia Lunch

Keep Yourself Alive – Queen

The Sound – Swans

Victoria Station Massacre – The Fall

Station to Station – David Bowie

Mr Brownstone – Flowers and Firearms

Too Drunk To Fuck – Dead Kennedys

Don’t Get AIDS – The Worried Well

Never Surrender – Blitz

Voices Seers Voices – Vukovar

The Wind Cries Mary – Jimi Hendrix

Mysteries of Love – Julee Cruise

Those First Impressions – Associates

Valentine – Sisters of Mercy

The Boxer – Simon and Garfunkel

Teardrops – Womack and Womack

Romeos Distress – Christian Death

Musette and Drums – Cocteau Twins

The Hanging Man – The Blue Orchids

Leave Me Alone – The Oppressed

Hope Is A Dangerous Thing For A Woman Like Me To Have – Lana Del Rey

Judas as Black Moth – Current 93

Heartworms – Coil

Double Heart – Robert Rental

Cement and Cerement – Vukovar

Summer in Siam – The Pogues

The Push – Consumer Electronics

Safe From Heaven – Ceramic Hobs





I, Supplanter

You can’t just emulate, Dan. You must fully replace. 

His body is dead but his influence is multiplying. Just as his books were all for poor sweet Calum Terras then everything I do from this point on, creatively at least, is for Simon.

want so much to impress you. It’s you it’s you it’s all for you. Notice me, Sleaze Daddy. I’ll even call you that for real without retching this time. It’s me your little Venice bitch.  

The thing is that I know everything you’d say anyway, the things you’d spew vitriol about but secretly enjoy and the things you’d say you loved to keep the image of the great contrarian (emphasis on cunt). I keep running into you in dreams and maybe that’s where our real lives are.

I think about recording your vocal to the Vukovar song Cement and Cerement. You crouching and howling with all your beautiful intensity, singing that painfully prophetic chorus over and over, then quietly asking “can I go back upstairs and watch my nonce hunter videos now”.

You’re safe and warm and home in heaven now: heaven for you a cheap hotel room with a constantly refilling fridge full of red wine and Morrisons garlic breads, and Jesus is showing you how to use incognito tabs cos he’s sick of getting recommendations based on the pervy shite you’re watching. It got a bit awkward when he read the phrase “stigmata handjob”.

Or are you walking among us? Eternally wandering, exploring. Are you watching me, like in Wings of Desire? You could be over my shoulder watching me write this as I sit in a bar: I struggle to write in my flat, I need the ambient sound of strangers conversation and music I wouldn’t listen to by choice. Several times people have come over to check on me because they can see the tears in my eyes. John, the barman, is telling them “he’s fine he comes here to write and he’s an emotional guy.”.

The grey eyeless world sighs, blood red and steeple dark. A shroud of rune cloud embeds his name in mine, in ours. I wish he was here with me. I wish he could help me write this. They say never meet your heroes and I disagree but with a qualifier: make heroes of those you know. Love them in their complicated, messy, infuriating ways. See their beauty when it’s there and please I entreat you to let them know. I just hope he knew how much I love him. Not past tense. He whistles through the defective circuitry of my soul.

Sometimes I forget you’re gone. Sometimes I send you messages or emails of things I know you’d have an opinion of. Is it that you read them in heaven, you’re just not allowed to respond? I’m forever grateful that I did actually get to tell you how much I love you before you go. 

I miss you every day, Simon.

 

Blackpool Pleasure Avalanche

 

Neglected in our own time

We leave on our own terms

This our final disagreement

Mentalist mentor

Artistic tormentor

Time will prove us equally wrong

What happens when the symbols matter?

What happens when the analogue signal fades?

Our culture likes its head cases

Safely beneath headstone

Reality the monkey on my back

Tearing at my eyes and veins

Endless red eyed arguments

And drunkenness on trains

Here comes the Blackpool

Pleasure

Avalanche

Another warm jet

Across your pages

Grimoires of dead desire

Grimoires of dead friends

You forced me to write the sequel

Rather than allow our inclusion

By extension prolonging my suffering

“Endless

Endless

Endless

Endless”

Twat

Blackpool. Pleasure. Avalanche

Dream on Texas lady

Of a future that sputtered out

An American red head girl

Who as a child taught her friends

How to masturbate

And some pissed up

Rape survivor twink

Looking out on the burning sands

You’re a long way from Kansas now

Twitched the man behind the curtain

Bringing them together

Closing some circles

Shattering others

Once rampant now estranged

Drowning in language

Your footprints will drown me

Before I am calcified

Blackpool

Pleasure

Avalanche

 

Does it hurt, when you turn luminous?




Related post from the Archive 

Dan Shea Rowland S Howard Article 

Vukovar Cremator Review

Beauty Stab Interview


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Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

5 Responses to “Our Daily Bread 371: Guest Post: NOTES FROM THE PSYCHIATRIC UNDERGROUND, or Why I Miss Simon Morris”

  1. […] read on Dan’s friend and foil Simon Morris (of the Ceramic Hobs infamy; the piece can be read here), who took his own life last […]

  2. […] read on Dan’s friend and foil Simon Morris (of the Ceramic Hobs infamy; the piece can be read here), who took his own life last […]

  3. […] read on Dan’s friend and foil Simon Morris (of the Ceramic Hobs infamy; the piece can be read here), who took his own life last […]

  4. […] read on Dan’s friend and foil Simon Morris (of the Ceramic Hobs infamy; the piece can be read here), who took his own life last […]

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