Break a Leg

February 4th 1995

Motherwell Civic Hall

morrissey_yourarsenal

Half way through their support slot Marion singer Jaime Harding leans into the microphone to reprimand the audience who have been chanting “Morrissey” throughout the duration of his bands set.

“You lot will be paying £20 to see us headlining in six months” he says.

I happen to believe him.

It doesn’t quiet the acolytes and disciples gathered in this nowhere town which was once, before the horrors of the collapse of the steel industry, a somewhere town…or at least a town with jobs and hope.  They are here to see Morrissey and only Morrissey.

I am a bit more open minded than many others in the crowd and feel glad that Jaime has taken them to task for their rudeness.  What happened to these charming men?  Where are the handsome devils?  It is, as ever at a Morrissey appearance, a blend of the wavering waif and the borstal brats, a heady, intoxicating and, often, toxic blend.

When Morrissey does appear the usual mayhem breaks out.

Flowers flung.

Voices raised.

Tears shed.

Bodies battered and bruised by the barrier.

The barrier.

That is where I am.

Watching.

Waiting.

Ready to take my chance when it arrives…ready to clamber on stage and grab with grasping hands at the physical form of my God.

Bit much?

I agree.

But this was then and not now.

This was before the For Britain badge.

This was before the ugliness.

Or at least it was when he was doing a better job of hiding the ugliness.

Eight songs in and my chance presents itself.

The opening chords to “Jack the Ripper” are rumbling across the venue.

There is a gap.

A rush and a push and the stage is mine.

He looks at me just as he sings “Crash into my arms…” and just as he reaches “…I want you” I have his hand in mine, I drop to one knee, turn his hand, kiss it and stand to leave.  I don’t know what to do really.  The crowd have responded with a huge cheer.  Other bodies are flinging themselves over the barrier and are being beaten back by security.  Eventually I clamber off the stage and as I walk past the security guards, who are allowing me to head back into the audience, hands reach out to pat me on the back, to touch the hand that touched THE hand.

Then it happens.

A trip, a stumble…I have caught my left foot on one of the support rods for the crash barrier.  I reach out to stop myself from smashing head first into the pole.  Not the face…not the face…but as I focus on my eek I feel a sharp pain in that left foot.  A scream.  I crumple to the floor.  Then I am being dragged out of the pit and placed into the waiting arms of the St Johns ambulance people.  They take one look at my ankle and call for the ambulance.

Broken.

I refuse to leave the venue until the concert is over.

Well, I say I won’t leave and then the adrenaline washes out of my system and the true extent of my pain is revealed to me.

Another scream.

I have a very low pain threshold.

Was it worth it?

Then…yes.

Time changes.

People change.

Time changes people.