On December 7th 2019, Simon Morris was last seen walking about in Poulton. On the 19th, his body was found on a mudbank in the River Wyre, thus ending a life that had been much troubled but also one that had led to some great creativity through his project Ceramic Hobs and a recent turn at writing.
Gary Mundy from Ramleh described him as someone who:
…loved making music and performing but hated getting recognised for it by the people he saw as the wrong people. He beat himself up about doing a feature in The Wire about Ceramic Hobs and was dubious about places like Café OTO in London. As the band started to get more attention because of their great compilation album he broke the band up.
After the funeral, someone wrote that:
Simon appeared to have been quiet about his many friendships with his parents and they were somehow laboring under the impression that he was sat at home with no friends all his life … they’ve been staggered by the tributes.
John Howard, writing the introduction, describes how:
Simon was open and honest…about his mental health. In 1988 he was wrongly diagnosed as schizophrenic. He told us that one of the last times he saw a psychiatrist, back in 2010, he was told that it was likely that the 1988 diagnosis of schizophrenia was an error and that the drugs given during that section caused iatrogenic illness resulting in generalised anxiety disorder and PTSD.
A sad end to a life dedicated to art.
First published in 2016 (and limited to 100 copies), Consumer Guide has been reprinted by Amphetamine Sulphate, serving as a testament to the insight of the man, his history and his art. Running just over 200 pages, touching on everything from heartbreak to shit towns and fast food, it’s absurd, witty and containing a piercing insight that so many “commentators” lack.
Beginning with a look at some of his friends who are long dead, sectioned away or simply faded from view, Morris spins an autobiographical yarn that is darkly hilarious and just plain dark. Hearing stories of those who attended the Mad Pride (a movement intended to destigmatise mental health) gigs throwing fireworks on the Tube after September 11th and writing INLA on walls not long after David Copeland’s nail bomb attacks makes you very relieved that you don’t know such people, but you do suspect that they might be fun to hang out with for a night.
Discussing the likes of Martin Amis, Hubert Selby Jr, Manic Street Preachers, Sonic Youth, Paul Thomas Anderson and David Lynch with cutting insight, enthusiasm and awareness, Morris was clearly someone who consumed art and music with endless enthusiasm and the zeal of an evangelist. Reading his thoughts on the more recent works of Skullflower, Consumer Electronics and Smell & Quim, it is clear that he wasn’t someone who was willing to be blinded by reputation, calling out shite when he felt he was hearing it. This leads to a section magnificently titled “Your Favourite Band are Shit”, where he dismisses so called classic acts like Big Star and the Clash in a few, pithy lines. The sort of segment that will cause debates in the pub.
When discussing his own band’s records, he is humble in his proclamations (Q Magazine listing a record as an essential one is “quite nice” and also honest about some of the issues that plagued the band (line up changes, mental health issues). Outsider artists enthusing about their work warms my heart. Compared to so many careerists who routinely tell interviewers this new product they’re selling is the best thing they’ve ever done, the warmth and enthusiasm of the outsider artist (even when they’re being critical of their own work) stands out as a beacon of hope.
Simple, engaging, amusing and enlightening, Consumer Guide will lead you to discoveries you never thought you’d make and is all done in the tone of that Facebook friend whose posts help make your day in work go through that bit quicker.
Simon Morris, lest we forget.
Simon Morris, 2020, Consumer Guide. Amphetamine Sulphate. ISBN-13: 9781953559999.
⏩ Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist.