Saturday, 15 May 2010

'The Queen Is Dead' - The Smiths (1986)

“And so I broke in to the Palace,
with a sponge and a rusty spanner.
She said, “Eh, I know you and you cannot sing.”
I said, “That’s nothing; you should hear me play piano.””

I’m not sure if inflicting ‘The Queen Is Dead’ on to a largely uninterested Fifth Form English class is still part of the National Curriculum, but it certainly should be. It’s why I always looked forward to Ms Taylor’s classes twice a week – she was quite simply the most inspiring teacher in the school. In her classes, English wasn’t just about essays on the classics. It was alive and all around us in music, films and the NME (well, that’s how I interpreted it). If the town had put a ban on dancing, she’d have been the one encouraging us to go all Footloose.

When you’re at school, it’s hard to imagine your teachers share anything in common with you. (It's often hard to imagine they’re even real people – hence that shocking moment when you see your teachers in a pub for the first time.) But Ms Taylor liked The Smiths. More than that, she’d seen The Smiths live in Manchester. I was in awe.

I like to think that her idea to bring our favourite records in to English was set up knowing I’d choose some Morrissey to entertain the class. I don’t think we won over many new fans – no-one appeared to be defacing the Five Star stickers on their notebooks or writing Moz on their arm with a fountain pen. Spirits noticeably lifted when the title song came to an end. But were quickly deflated when it became apparent that Ms Taylor had decided we should listen to the whole first side of the album. The best twenty minutes I ever spent in a classroom.

I’d like to see Ms Taylor again. She truly is one of those wonderfully spirited teachers who make you want to stand on your desk and seize the day.

Spotify linky:
The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead / Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty [Medley]

1 comment:

  1. I should give another shout out to my cousin Grant, who introduced me to The Smiths and this album. I remember hearing it for the first time in the back of his dad's car as we drove along some seaside promenade. The windows were down and it must have cheered the hearts of passers-by to learn that bigmouth was striking again and some girls were indeed bigger than others.