James Willstrop, the world's number one squash player, writes about Morrissey in his new book

An anonymous person writes:

One of Britain's best athletes, the world number one squash player James Willstrop from Yorkshire, has written about being inspired by Morrissey in his new book of diaries, 'Shot and a Ghost'. The diaries chronicle the ups and downs in a year of the life of one of the world's fittest sportsmen. He talks candidly about his rivalries on the world tour, the pain of day to day training, the death of his mother in 2000, and of course his admiration for Morrissey. See the extract below from the book.


One day at home, in the house I had once shared with Mum, sitting as I sometimes did, gazing at her pictures during a quiet moment of the day, I remember sobbing myself dry.
In the aftermath of this one episode, I turned on the television and skipped music channels, when onto the screen came a bequiffed figure wearing a white blazer, waving his microphone cord and arms in a way that was awkward, yet compelling. I didn’t recognise the song but I was immediately struck by how clear his diction was and found myself surprised that I could hear every word he said.
‘Irish Blood, English Heart, this I’m made of. There is no-one on earth I’m afraid of’, he practically snarled. It was powerful, angry yet melodic, and I was immediately drawn to it. ‘No regime can buy or sell me.’ With those words I was transfixed, and unbeknown to me at the time, the bloke with the white blazer was going to inspire me in ways I could never have imagined. I bought his new album. Apparently he was on a comeback. I played the first song and he told me through swooning vocals, ‘America: your head’s too big. America, your belly is too big.‘
It may not have been the most literate statement of his career, but I found it hilarious and appreciated such honesty. I had never heard music like it, and it was a world away from the insipid garbage that is all over the radio waves. The man’s music was saying something, through unusual phrases and words, in the sweetest, slow burning way. He called himself Morrissey.
This is where an infatuation with words really began and my introduction to Morrissey undoubtedly rekindled an interest in the writers I had studied at school, who in turn provided comfort through their work during the sad times. My dad says that I always look for the words in music. If he doesn’t like something that I am listening to, he’ll say: ‘I take it this is about the words’.
Morrissey came along at a good time. This weird sounding man became a helpful diversion. From then on, during those empty moments within days, spent in cars, on trains, in that house, I put Morrissey on. And how strange it felt that someone I didn’t know could communicate with me through a song better than some of my friends and family. In the midst of our loss I was neither there for them nor they for me. There was seldom any talking to each other about it, except fleetingly and superficially. "
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My secret's my enzyme.
Nice account.


Junior Member
Yes, a wonderful account ... and just imagine how exciting it must have been for James to go on to discover the rest of Morrissey's recordings. I sometimes wish I could go back to that time again.


I must have been under a rock as well, Anonymous.* It happens.

In December 2008 I happened upon a youtube clip of Morrissey's 2004 interview with Jonathan Ross. I was instantly captivated by his intelligence and quick wit during the interview.* He sang "Irish Blood, English Heart" and "Everyday is Like Sunday" and his clever lyrics and soothing baritone sealed the deal.* The next day I purchased his entire solo catalog and all of The Smiths albums and have had the most amazing journey discovering someone who has expressed many of my unspoken thoughts.* It is true what they say: Morrissey is for life, not just for Christmas.


Don't call me Junior
This statement totally fits me as well: "How strange it felt that someone I didn’t know could communicate with me through a song better than some of my friends and family."
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