Late-1980, in an effort to strike up conversation with fellow music lovers, Glasgow-based Robert Mackie placed a personal ad in Sounds magazine and, before long, had a new pen-pal in the form of 21-year-old Steven — a highly opinionated, often sarcastic writer from Manchester who was undeniably passionate about music. They exchanged letters for 18 months. Shortly afterwards, in 1983, by which time their correspondence had ceased, Steven formed The Smiths and became known as Morrissey. Below are two of the many letters he wrote to Mackie; one prior to their 1981 meeting in Manchester, and one immediately afterwards.
A selection of his missives — these two not included — were reprinted by Mackie in a fanzine named ‘Words by Morrissey’ in the 1990s. The transcripts of those can be read here.
Transcripts follow. Images found at Morrissey-solo.
Letter No. 1
Letter No. 2
Dear Robert Horace Mackie,
So nice to receive a skinned mouse through the post. You have such a refined nature, Robert….
And what’s with the ‘disabled’ postage stamp? Are you trying to tell me something? I’m very sensitive y’know…
Such a treasured joy to hear your cool, clear dulcet tones once more. And spending all that money too! Such flattery. I suppose you had to go a full week without Jelly Babies after phoning me? But still, what’s money? (I always use this sacred phase in relation to OTHER PEOPLE’S money.)
Don’t worry about being Scottish. Somebody has to be.
I really didn’t understand too much of what you said the other day. However, I do remember something about a leather raincoat. Perhaps we should try code? If you agree, tap once for yes, twice for no.
Incidentally, why are you reading this? Have you nothing better to do? Have you dressed your bed today? Why do we write to each other? Who are you anyway?
Please send another portrait. I require them on a monthly basis, to spot any alteration. Here’s a piccy of me trying to look as though I’m auditioning for a part in a 50’s B-movie. Why do I bother?
Do you really live in a rabbit hutch? You must find it very embarrasing when friend drop by?
As I pen this epistle I am listening to the lovable Monochrome Set’s “B-I-D Spells Bid”. Did I tell you that I’m presently having a sexual relationship with the Monochrome Set? Yummy!
22 Bowie albums! How embarrasing. I’ve only got 8. Does this shock you?
I’ve got loads of books, more books than waxings. I’m dead intellectual like. Do you like books? I’ll have those written in brail ready for you.
Well monsieur, I shall dash over, on my little Oliver Hardy legs, to meets you, and welcome you to Ohio. I’ll have these details tattoed across my chest, but I really do need to know what time your plane lands. Can’t you phone the bus company and ask them? And make sure you know where you’re coming in (probably Chorlton St.) Get this info otherwise we’ll be all at sixes and sevens (local dialect).
Bed and breakfast? Tommy-rot! (more local dialect), you’re more than welcome to stay here, but we run a respectable house mind, no hanky-panky.
You ask what we’ll be doing, well, after we’ve tied you to the rack, the bizarre Texan sex ritual begins. You’d never believe what my sister can do with cotton wool and a tennis racket! Have you got a strong stomach??
Ah-ha! That record sleeve! Those drawings! Ah-ha! Probably Ludus, whom I pinched the idea off. At least I’m honest. You’ll hear lots of Ludus when you come here. My record player is a museum piece, so don’t expect any dazzling technology.
You’ll have to describe yourself, because, as I may have mentioned, I’m blind as a bat. If you see someone being helped across the street by an old lady, that’ll be me. I’ll be wearing an overcoat (groovy!) if it’s cold, and if it’s not cold, I won’t be! So, if you see someone who isn’t wearing an overcoat, that’s me!
What do YOU want to do when you get here anyway?
As for trendiness, does it really matter? “Conversation is the bond of companionship” to quote some 19th century fag. I don’t expect anything of you, and if you don’t expect anything from me then we won’t be disappointed. It might turn out to be quite funny. However, I hope you’ve shaven your moustache off (I’m serious, they’re so un-hip, baby.) I can’t have the neighbours talking. Oh yes, I’m sure you’ll interest me very much, in fact I’m polishing my microscope right now.
Jesus thinks you’re O.K,
I’m glad you wrote (eventually.) I thought I had scared you off, but obviously you’re a glutton for punishment. I was astounded by the sketch — and everyone I’ve shown it to agrees that there’s a great resemblance. Why have you kept your talents hidden? I had no idea I was writing to a genius.
I’m sorry your visit here ended miserably, but that was your own fault. I will say that I did enjoy meeting you, but I often felt that you seemed to wish you weren’t here. And often you seemed very uncomfortable. But I never promised you that you’d have a good time, did I? Accept me for what I am — Completely unnacceptable.
Yes, poor Ludus are having a hard time of it, desptie making heavenly music. The world is cruel. I’m waiting for Nico’s album too — AND she’s doing lots of live dates. Such joy.
Encouraging to see you’re collecting the Monochrome Set 45’s. You are improving, aren’t you! Just in case you’re befuddled, here’s a discography:
45 – ALPHAVILLE/He’s Frank
45 – EINE SYMPHONIES/Lester Leaps In
45 – MONOCHROME SET/Mr. Bizarro
LP – ‘The Strange Boutique’
45 – Strange Boutique/Surfing Swiz
45 – 405 LINES/Goodbye Joe
LP – ‘Love Zombies’
45 – APOCALYPSO/Fiasco Bongo
Would you buy the albums? If you’re not too sure, I’ll gladly tape them for you. I’m especially ecstatic about “Lester Leaps In”. I had a letter from Bid the other week. His writing is really strange, medieval almost.
No, I haven’t been listening to Hazel ‘O Conner, so please don’t insult me with such an insane question — and if YOU’VE been listening to that [vile gorgen?] then you should be well punished for your morbidity.
I always suspected you were a Duran Duran fan. You ARE asking for trouble, aren’t you.
I’m sorry to hear that you’re losing all your friends. I recommend “Right Guard”…..
Life with me is as ludicrous as ever. I’m busy doing nothing. What can I tell you? Life goes on.
Have you seen “The Funhouse”? A lovely film, but less lovely is “Chariots of Fire” which bored me to death. I’m listening to The Fall and Sandie Shaw. Have you got any Sandie Shaw records?
Presently in mourning over the death of Magazine. So tragic. My life will change. Have you heard their “About the Weather”? Go out and buy it at once.
Did you read your Shakespeare? I expect not. I always hated him. You should have let ME choose your books dolt.
Went to London for 4 days last week, lots of fun. Do YOU ever have FUN? Please answer.
You should stop all this dancing — it’s not good for you, you know. Oh well, I’ve written enough haven’t I?
Black Is My Favourite Colour!
Love & Prostitution,