If there is a great mystery in Morrissey's life, however, it relates not to his business acumen but to his sexuality: a subject of endless fascination to his admirers ever since 1983 when Morrissey announced that he was celibate, thus apparently committing himself to a discipline attempted by only a few exceptional historical figures: men such as John Paul II, John Ruskin and Stephen Fry. How was it going?
'Well, I don't have physical relationships, if that's what you mean,' Morrissey said. 'But to use the word celibacy, to apply it to oneself is like implying that one has made a very firm decision. And that is not the case in my life. But physical relationships I never had. And if you never had, you never do,' he added, cryptically. 'The amount of activity I have actually experienced in my life could be crammed down to a rather pathetic couple of hours.'
His previous pronouncements on the subject have, I suggested, been rather confusing. In interviews he has said, variously, that 'I can't imagine my body ever feeling sexual excitement', that 'I wasn't aware of sexual experience until I was 28', and that 'I lost my virginity at 13'. These statements seemed somewhat inconsistent.
'Well — they are inconsistent,' he says. 'But not all of our lives are as cut and dried and black and white as they should be. Or as they might even seem to be.' So there you have it. Morrissey, who was heavily influenced by the feminist literature of the late Seventies, still argues that he as 'never seen the world as a gender-specific place'.
The abundance of homo-erotic imagery in his lyrics and album covers (Your Arsenal, for example, shows him brandishing a microphone in a highly suggestive manner) should not, he says, be taken as a veiled declaration of homosexuality. 'I'm not running ahead and leaving clues hidden behind bus stops, as it were,' he says. 'One of my physical encounters was with a man. That was 10 years ago. It was just a very brief, absurd and amusing moment,' adds Morrissey, in his best Oscar Wilde. 'It wasn't love. I have never experienced that.'
Has he slept with women? 'Yes. I feel completely open. If I met somebody tomorrow, male or female, and they loved me and I loved them, I would openly proclaim that I loved them, regardless of what they were. I think people should be loved whatever their gender, whatever their age. I am open to everything. I accept that my experience is different from that of most men. But I feel reasonably normal. I don't feel like a freak. My world is bigger. I never lived in a small town with small morals. I don't want to take drugs. I don't, so far as I am aware, want to take part in activities such as group sex. I'm