Walk on with hope in your heart
My passion for veganism and my love of Morrissey often intersect, but not usually in such a meaningful manner as they did a few weeks ago.
When I heard world wide web whispers of a vegan fair taking place in the Midlands town of Wolverhampton, I went through my usual Morrissey tragic routine of recalling the significance this UK city holds for lovers of the Mancunian legend. As any Morrissey fanatic worth their weight in NME-related litigation would know, over 20 years ago the artist bestowed the honour of his first solo gig upon Wolverhampton. The Smiths had recently been consigned to pop history and Morrissey wanted to show the world he was ready to tread the boards once again.
The fact that a vegan fair was taking place in this historically-significant (for Moz fans) city was almost enough to get me there. What I found out next sealed the deal and got me leaving the south and travelling north (no horses were harmed).
By some whimsical twist of fate the West Midlands Vegan Festival was not just located in Wolverhampton, but it was also being housed in the very venue Morrissey belted out those first solo songs all those decades ago. Oh yes! The fabled Wolverhampton Civic Hall was filled to the brim with dedicated proponents of veganism on October 29, 2011 just as it was with disciples of Morrissey on December 22, 1988.
As I approached the venue, I was rather taken by how meaningful it all seemed. Visual and audio documentation of the Morrissey show has been part of my life for more than 20 years and there I was walking up to it for an event promoting non-human animal welfare. Surreal indeed.
The main hall was crammed with stalls, vendors and charities. The breadth and scope of stall holders was staggering. Some people were raising funds to save lives while others wanted me to buy raw chocolate. Vegan cider was being sold by the bottle while scrumptious delicacies were served up hot. I developed a very strong relationship with a stunning plate of vegan fish and chips by one of my favourite food vendors, Something Fishy.
The entire day day was spent teetering between the excitement of attending a 100% vegan festival and the delight of being inside the venue where Morrissey became the ex-singer of The Smiths. Several times I found myself simply standing still and gazing at my surroundings. Just imagine the frenzied anticipation of the devoted hordes as they waited for Morrissey to swagger onto stage all those years ago! The stalls, the flooring and the stage all appeared somewhat mythical to me. My mind wandered to thoughts of the concert goers and whether they still loved the man as fervently now.
Of course I clumsily made my way onto the stage. How could I not? It was such a thrill to stand on the very same performance space as one of my musical and cultural heroes. As a young adult, I had read of this gig in the pages of the Australian version of Smash Hits. I simply adored pacing back and forth on the Civic Hall stage in 2011, even though I’m certain 1988-me down under would have been mortified at the sight.
It was a fantastic day. People who care about non-human animals coming together in a venue so deeply connected to a performer who has helped so many choose a life without meat. As moved as I was by the experience, I did leave Wolverhampton with a puzzling thought in my chubby head and heart. When will I see the day Morrissey stands up and announces he has transitioned from promoting vegetarian choices to a life of veganism?
I’m happy to meet him in Wolverhampton next year to show him how it can be done. I’ll even take a photo of him up on stage if he’s keen.
* Many thanks to The Vegan Butcher for taking photos of me making a fool of myself
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