Like one of those small-town Indian restaurants with a faded sign in its window boasting "Health & Hygiene Certificate: Bronze", Morrissey's Autobiography has been launched upon an unsuspecting and largely uninterested public amid a flurry of qualified superlatives and hollow brags. Its publisher grandly announces that Morrissey was voted the "second greatest living British icon … 2006", for example. And, according to the press release, "It has been said 'Most pop stars have to be dead before they reach the iconic status that Morrissey has reached in his lifetime'". It's true, it has been said: just now, in the press release.
While some diehard fans queued up to see the emperor in his shiny new clothes – a bookshop in north London sold 60 copies when it opened at midnight on publication day – others immediately pointed at the nudey Mancunian: The Independent's review on Friday was one of several to mention the "droning narcissism" of the 457-page book. Meanwhile, Buzzfeed launched a "guess the autobiography" quiz, with quotes from those of Morrissey and Alan Partridge. So, who said "Naturally my birth almost kills my mother, for my head is too big." Yup, that's the Bard of Davyhulme.
But, while some were quick to scoff at the arrogance of the book, which Britain's Second Best Living Famous Person 2006 insisted must be published as a Penguin Classic, others seem to have taken him at his word. "This is the most important thing to happen in the history of literature", announced one man and his publicity team. "Quick, we'd better beg for a copy!" responded most of the world's media. In fact, Morrissey's is not even the most interesting book to have been published last week.
Have you noticed in your workplace a bloke who spends all his time swaggering around loudly broadcasting how brilliant he is, and does it annoy you how everybody seems just to buy it? Well, it's not just you: that bloke exists in every workplace, and last week in the publishing world, that bloke was Morrissey.
Meanwhile, at the cosier end of suburban Britain, one woman has achieved success through constantly insisting how rubbish she is. The Great British Bake Off's Ruby Tandoh is the culinary equivalent of that woman in every workplace who wins everyone's sympathy by crying heartbrokenly that her report is a mess, she's never used this technology before, can't read and write …! Only to whip out an A* report when the boss arrives to garland her with praise. It's not popular … but it's a technique.
What is surprising is that anyone gets away with these performances more than once. Bloke: you are not a genius. Woman: you are not a pathetic loser. Behaviour like theirs may be acceptable in publishing and on the telly, but in towns like the one in which Morrissey grew up there's a label for all that nonsense: showing off. He's not the last of the famous international playboys, he's a very naughty boy. Maybe even the second naughtiest in Britain, it has been said.