Kirsty Young (in her very soft BBC Radio 4 voice) : Hello I’m Kirsty Young and welcome to Desert Island Disks where every week I ask my guests to choose the eight tracks, the book and the luxury item that they would take with them is they were cast away on a desert island.
Kirsty Young: My cast away this week is the person Harry Morris you may not have heard of him at all. To date he has not appear on television or on the silver screen nor has he won a Grammy, Oscar or any other accolade that we would normally celebrate and expect from our guests on the show. Welcome Harry Morris.
Harry Morris (in his deep, sexy, husky voice like perhap Chris Hemsworth in Thor or Batman): Hello and thanks for flattering introduction. I suppose I should start by saying that I don’t have a musical bone in my body, I’m tone deaf and talentless. I had various forays into music, obviously we all played the recorder in school at a young age, I never even mastered Baa Baa Black Sheep. But the first instrument I remember having instruction on was the accordion, yes that’s right leather straps and all; plus it came with a bullying bullseye on my back aswell. After that it was the piano, the saxophone and finally drums; all at great expense and all complete failures. I was so bad to the point that at a Christmas carol service one year, attended by mine and all the other parents, that before going on stage with the orchestra with my saxophone’s reed moistened and ready to blow that my music teacher took me to one side and instructed me, “just pretend to play, move your fingers in accordance with the music as best you can, but don’t give that instrument wind.” I think tone deaf is the phase.
Kirsty Young: We lets go to your list you’ve found it hard making your selections but your first choice if you please.
Harry Morris: Well I’ve just given you a brief history of everything musical for me and that explains the difficulty in choosing this short list. But to that end my first selection reminds me of childhood blunders, it makes me cringe just thinking about it, I give you Shania Twain, Man I Feel Like a Women”
Kirsty Young: (laughter) So tell me the story behind it.
Harry Morris: I was an awkward child and in some ways I still am today. I was with a small group of kids who unlike the rest of the school listened to the likes of Nirvana, Green Day, Metallica and even Marilyn Manson, we used to bring our CDs to the assembly room where there was a big sound system and hang, listening to music. Music was a huge social aspect in school. But for some reason I had formed friends with the kids in the year above which posed problems; we didn’t go to class together, play sport, we were in different dorm rooms with different bed times. So in an attempt to get in with the Top of the Pops lot in my own year, Top of the Pops was an unmissable Friday night event, that and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I had a plan. One weekend I went out and bought the number one, the chart topper, my way in. Well unfortunately it was Shania that week, she was number one and surely the thing to get me in with the other kids. Talk about a swing and a miss.
Kirsty Young: Your father was in the military, your mum a nurse and you along with your two brothers were packed of to boarding school at quite a young age. Tell me about your parents and your young life, how was it?
Harry Morris: Well firstly I loved boarding school. What’s not to love, you are there with all your friends 24/7, running around like mad men at the weekends, seven seven year olds in a dorm room…..madness. yes I’m sure there were tears at times and fallings out but you never remember the bad bits. Then when you go home for the holidays you are spoilt rotten.
Unlike most characters you interview Kirsty, who have either come from an extremely disruptive family back ground and have had say, six step mothers by the time they were twelve or have had a dark period of drugs and depression at some point throughout the course of their life I have lived a normal unexciting life. Yawn.
Me and my two brothers or I suppose I should say my two brothers and I had a perfectly normal southern up bringing; we say “bath” not “bath.” I actually had an Essex twang in my early youth as we lived in Colchester, my father used to remind me with a clip round the ears “little has two “t’s” in it boy” as I would always drop a t, “lit~le.” But boarding school quickly put a stop to that.
Kirsty Young: Tell me about this second disk, why is it on your list?
Harry Morris: We are not a family of huggers but my parents are fantastic, patient and let us make out our own mistakes. I suppose I’ve always been restless and after my GCSE’s decided that I needed a change and asked if I could move schools. So my supportive parents started window shopping, I went to look at a number of fine educational establishments and settled on one up north. It was in fact military school. So off I went bags packed and shirts starched. well things didn’t exactly go to plan and a year later I find myself at another school after a torrid relationship with the latter. This panned out to be a great thing for many of my closest friends I owe to that change in schooling. And for first time I was a day pupil and had to endure a morning commute each day. In the car with the old man or old women twice daily, we would often put in The Rolling Stones, Forty Licks. I’m sure this one has come up before and perhaps isnt very adventurous of me but here is: (I can’t get no) Satisfaction. The theme tune to the morning school run.
Kirsty Young: We’ll here it is then, The Rolling Stones, (I can’t get no) Satisfaction.
Harry Morris: School is not surprisingly a hugely influential part of one’s life, I’m a tad younger than some of your interviewees and therefore have less experience to draw upon. They say school is the best part of your life, so make the most of it. I call their bluff, I should certainly hope it isn’t for that would mean life goes down hill from 18, in my opinion life keeps getting better and better, with a few bumps of course. It is probably the most care free, depending on the child, but the best things about school is the sheer volume of time spent playing sport. Unless you are a professional sports man or land a job out doors you will never recapture that. Well the next one harks back to those school days and sport I suppose. Each morning we would have assembles and part of that was hymns. Now I’m an atheist so it s rare after being out of education for a number of years that I am afforded the opportunity to have a good sing song (conspicuously in a crowd). It is why I enjoy a good wedding, that and the free booze. This is one of the classics, we used to sing it in the morning assembles before a rugby match. Its an anthem, the hymn, Jerusalem by the poet William Blake.
Kirsty Young: So take me through your next track.
Harry Morris: I don’t think you hand talk about your musical history without bringing up your first ever gig. It is a monumental moment in any young persons life. My friend Matt and I were the first in our year group to go to a proper gig, unsupervised. We must have been say twelve at the time. His dad was the head master of the junior school and one Saturday he drove us up to Bristol, he dropped us off at Bristol Academy and we excitedly joined the queue to get in and see Jimmy Eat World. Over the next few years we and a few friends were listening to the likes of One Hundred Reasons, Hell is for Hero’s and Biffy Clyro (before they were extremely famous) and when ever they came to the southwest we would be there. So this song is by Jimmy Eat World, taken from their album Bleed America, it’s The Middle; and is dedicated to Matts dad, Justin Backhouse. For a headmaster he was a good egg.
Kirsty Young: So you are in your thirties, single, where is Mrs right?
Harry Morris: Ha, are you fliting with me? No I cant say there is one, I always seem to have one foot out of the door and I have hand my share of blunders like everyone else. Lots of my friends are women but no one has stuck in that sense. I am perfectly capably at talking to women sometimes, a drink helps of course but at times I can be very awkward, like Father Ted in the M&S Lingerie department.
My first school boy crush was I remember was Ginger Spice, Geri Halliwell, and for every child growing up in the 90s the Spice Girls were everywhere. Spice up your life. So for my next song… it has to be….no I could never take the Spice Girls to a desert island they just wouldn’t do.
Kirsty Young: Harry Morris, you let school and went straight to the university of Leeds where you read Geography, you have not given me any indication that university was a significant time for you. In term of the university its self for some people it really defines them and the rest of their life.
Harry Morris: I feel into the middle class trap of leaving school and going to university, not because I had a calling for academia, medicine or engineering, no, more because it was expected of you by your parents and school; frankly I had nothing else better to do. It was from school, to university and then straight into another big institution, the Navy, which is essentially school with more rules.
I could never regret university, I wouldn’t turn back time if given the opportunity, I met great people, lived independently (ish) and drank oh so much which obviously means I had a lot of fun. But it is at university that I first got into travel. I worked in various bars during the year, saving for my summer travel fund. For my first trip I went to South East Asia and did the standard circuit through Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand . One thing I remember from this trip was visiting the Killing Fields in Cambodia and learning about the Khamer Rouge. It was eye opening, then it was to Vietnam and an education in agent orange. It really was eye opening and travel still is today, just eye opening. Apparently I’m not feeling very articulate today as “eye opening” seems to be on repeat. There is so much about the world we don’t learn about in school or discuss in the media. Why we learn about the Tudors and ancient Egypt in school I don’t know, sure its interesting but there is so much important modern history that we don’t get told about.
I also had thee opportunity to study abroad and applied on a whim to move to Canada for a year. It turned out to be one of the best things Ive ever done. Living over there I made fantastic friends who I still see today, we travelled around the states a bit and I ended up in Australia for a few months as well. A girl. The music that reminds me of those days is Empire of the Sun or Architecture In Helsinki but the song I will choose is MGMT’s, Time to Pretend; it just takes me back to those care free times.
Kirsty Young: I’m afraid we have run out of time and we only have enough spare seconds for one more track selection so make it quick.
Harry Morris: Oh ok. Ummmm well I better quickly pick one of my last three tracks (…..the sound of fidgeting, a brain deliberating and a cough…..) I’ve got it. I was going to go with the music from the Last of the Mohicans, it is a great piece of music it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end and my heart rate increase, Promentory by Trevor Jones. But there is little music out there with the ability to get a group of people laughing, happy and moving their hips than my last choice. My not so final selection will have to be Parov Stelar, All Night.
Kirsty Young: Harry Morris, it’s time now for me to give you a couple of books, you get the complete works of Shakespeare, the bible and another book of your choice.
Harry Morris: Um yes the bible, well paper is useful in many ways and Shakespeare will certainly keep me going. Well I’m not really one to read on holiday, I normally like to keep busy but I suppose I will need some entertainment for all that free time I will have on my sandy oasis. Well there is no point in taking my favourite book as I know what happens, plus the hobbit is really short. I will go for Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrel by Susanna Clark. It is a book I once started and didn’t finish and I hate leaving books incomplete.
Kirsty Young: And of course your luxury item. Nothing to useful mind.
Harry Morris: I will go for one of those catering sized bags of Yorkshire Gold, you cant read a good book with out a good cup of English Breakfast; so long as a get a good porcelain mug and milk to accompany it.
Kirsty Young: I will tell you what, you can have a life time supply.
Harry Morris: No no, one bag, well one bag of at least 1000 bags. It needs to be finite for it would make each cup special and when you get towards the end you would really savour them. It would be ever increasing motivation to escape.
Kirsty Young: And which would you save from the rising waves, if you only had time to rescue one?
Harry Morris: Well that’s easy it would have to be Parov Stelar, All Night. It would always pick you up when you were down.
Kirsty Young: Harry Morris, thank you very much for letting us listen to your Desert Island Disks.
Harry Morris: No thank you.
Music: Theme tune.