Morrissey’s List of the Lost and other people I have admired who have almost ruined it all by doing something truly dreadful

Former Smiths frontman. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Former Smiths frontman. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire - Credit: PA

I read the reviews of Morrissey's List of the Lost – none of which said anything even remotely flattering, indeed all of which offered the kind of criticism which would send most writers in the direction of the poison cupboard – and was determined to read the book and find them all wrong. This was a mistake.

Former Sex Pistols singer John Lydon in adverts for Country Life butter. Photo: Country Life/PA Wire

Former Sex Pistols singer John Lydon in adverts for Country Life butter. Photo: Country Life/PA Wire - Credit: PA

I have loved Morrissey since I was a black-clad wearing teen and I love him now that I am the black-clad mother of teens who themselves love Morrissey and The Smiths.

Several years ago, I interviewed my all-time hero, Billy Bragg, a nerve-shredding hour which I agonised about for days beforehand but which was ultimately a triumph because he was such a wonderful, warm man and really, I'd always known that he would be.

I would never, however, volunteer to interview Morrissey. In every one of the interviews he's given recently, he comes across as a surly whingebag with the warmth and charisma of Marks and Spencer's freezer room: I do not want to be disappointed by the man who wrote Every Day is Like Sunday.

Now I find myself in the position where I am disappointed by the man who wrote Every Day is Like Sunday because he has written a book that is such a stinker it should be issued with a gas mask and pot pourri – he once wrote a B-side called Get Off the Stage in which he berated a has-been rocker wearing 'misguided trousers'.


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In literary terms, List of the Lost is Morrissey's misguided trousers. The trousers could not be any more misguided – I would rather wear a pair of trousers made of ununpentium, which Google informs me is the most radioactive substance known to man, than wear Morrissey's List of the Lost trousers.

Anyway, Morrissey's terrible book got me thinking about other people I have admired who have almost ruined it all by doing something truly dreadful – a bit like watching Sharknado 2 or Grease 2, that moment where you think 'why did someone let that HAPPEN?'. So here is a list for you. You're going to have to make it last, because I'm away for a fortnight, getting over the disappointment of List of the Lost.

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1) Morrissey: List of the Lost: The plot in a nutshell involves four American college boys who are in a sprint team in the early 1970s, one of whom accidently kills a tramp (as you do) just before a woman tells the quartet that her baby was killed by the dean at their college, who buried the body in woodland. Some other people die. There's stuff about Thatcher and Winston Churchill and Ivor Novello and the Royal Family and, more importantly, the sex scenes are so excruciatingly bad that they confirmed to me that Morrissey really is, as he has always claimed, celibate. He calls a thingy a 'bulbous salutation' and a you-know-what 'the otherwise central zone'. The only irony involves a girlfriend in a coma. Please, please, please, let me get what I want – no more fiction from Morrissey.

2) Stevie Wonder: I Just Called to Say I Love You: If you needed to pinpoint the day the music died, you could be forgiven for proffering a date in August 1984. I was so angry when this single was released that I went into Norwich Central Library and asked an assistant if they could (a) find me the recording label details for Stevie Wonder and (b) an address I could write to so that I could voice my disapproval about I Just Called to Say I Love You. This is the man who wrote Superstition performing one of the worst songs in the history of music, and that includes Dire Straits' back catalogue. Don't even get me started on Ebony and Ivory.

3) Robert de Niro: The Big Wedding: It's actually difficult to pick the most disappointing film that de Niro has ever made because there are so many of them, although having said that, however bad the film is, de Niro always makes a token effort in it, which in a way is even more upsetting. Taxi Driver. The Untouchables. The Godfather Part II. Raging Bull. Mean Streets. The Deer Hunter. Goodfellas. A film in which de Niro and Diane Keaton play ex-lovers who pretend to still be married for their adopted son's wedding to a extremely devout Catholic with hugely wacky consequences. Spot the odd one out. There are people who only know di Niro from Meet the Fockers. It's an actual travesty.

4) Johnny Rotten: Country Life: I may have been too young to remember punk but even I know that anarchy in the UK didn't involve butter and if it did, it would have been used as an alternative to soap in the production of Mohicans. Advertising a brand of butter was a fairly far cry from the heady days of 1977 and the outrage that accompanied releasing God Save the Queen during the week of the Queen's silver jubilee. To choose a man who was apparently attacked by Royalists in the street in the 1970s as a British icon seemed an unusual choice. But, as with almost everything, what do I know? Sales were lifted by 85 per cent. Punk wasn't dead after all, it was just resting in the chiller cabinet.

5) Eddie Murphy: (Almost) Everything post-1988: It may seem like too great a leap of imagination, but there was once a time when Eddie Murphy was genuinely funny, when he had the Midas effect on every project with his name attached to it, when he appeared in films that were excellent rather than execrable. When Murphy made his debut on Saturday Night Live in 1980, he was the comic equivalent of wildfire, when he made his first films – 48 Hours, Beverly Hills Cop, Trading Places – they were trailblazing. Now? He's making Norbit, Daddy Day Care and Meet Dave, films so dreadful they make you wish you lived in a time before cinema had been invented.

6) Marco Pierre White: Knorr stock cubes: MPW was the enfant terrible of the restaurant scene, an astonishingly talented chef who became the second-youngest Michelin three-star chef ever, a mentor to Mario Matali and Gordon Ramsay and famously handed back his stars in 1999 when he quit the kitchen to concentrate on other projects. Such as stock cubes and turkey products. MPW's advertisement to persuade us all that turkey isn't just for Christmas was one of the worst to ever pollute a small screen. Entitled 'Marco Meets', the ad saw MPW tucking into turkey with Spandau Ballet star Martin Kemp, who confides that he'd always thought turkey was a 'dry meat'. No, says MPW, 'it's never dry if cooked properly', presumably having a pop at Shirley out of Pepsi and Shirley. The monster.

7) Russell Brand: The anti-politics stance: Russell Brand is an intelligent man, a great writer and a funny chap, to boot. Then he went and told people that they shouldn't vote when in reality, the only way anything will change is if we all do. Even Johnny Rotten said before the general election: 'You do have to vote, you do have to make a change' - and he sells butter for a living, for heaven's sake.

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