Nigel Morris: ‘Take it easy and calm down’

Nigel Morris.  PIC: Chris Berry
Nigel Morris. PIC: Chris Berry
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Nigel Morris encourages young musicaians, enjoys real ale, garlic cheese and Tommy Cooper. Chris Berry reports.

Nigel Morris has enjoyed a colourful life having run shops and an open stall in Kirkgate Market, a retail business and a disco in Harrogate, and played rugby league for Featherstone Rovers. He was born in Wakefield the younger of two children.

His passion is live music and he has promoted local acts in pubs for the past fourteen years, handing many their first performances. He started out at The Grove and the Duck & Drake.

In recent times he has suffered from lymphoma cancer and spent six months undergoing chemotherapy but has returned to the music scene.

He has one son, Marcus, and is married to Trudi.

“The best thing about Leeds is its sense of community. Although it is a big city the people are friendly.

I like a good pub, particularly The Hop in the Dark Arches. I also like the market. There’s still a strong community spirit there.

The countryside is right on our doorstep and both Golden Acre Park and Temple Newsam Estate are favourites of mine.

The area that I’m specifically committed to is music and the bonds amongst the music community in Leeds are very strong.

“My first job was working on a building site when I was 13 during the summer holidays. My family has always been involved in construction.

I attended Thornes House School in Wakefield and went to 6th Form but then decided further education was not for me so I took on my first full-time job as a purchasing clerk for Sutcliffe Rubber Company in Ossett.

I stayed there three years becoming chief buyer and left with the intention of starting my own business although I ended up working on building sites until I moved to Harrogate when I was 19.

The best piece of advice I ever had is to take it easy and calm down. I used to get a little too hyper. Trudi tells me when I need to calm it. She’s really good for me.

“My guilty pleasure is real ale. I’ve loved beer from being 13. That’s right.

My current favourite is Excelsior from Ossett Brewery for its flavour and strength. It’s 5.2 per cent.

“My pet hate is the lack of respect that exists in modern society largely from younger people. Many will get on buses and not have any consideration for the elderly. It doesn’t cost anything to have respect.

The one thing that I couldn’t live without is cheese. I love soft, creamy garlic roule, but really any cheese will do.

One of the worst things whilst I was undergoing chemo was not being allowed to have any soft cheese.

“I’m most proud of bringing on young talent and giving them a chance. Music really is not about money. It is about musicians loving what they do and getting the applause.

Currently I’m putting on musicians at The Hop on a Sunday, The Crowd of Favours in the city centre on the first Thursday each month, The Buffers in Scholes every Thursday, and The Travellers Rest in Armley on a Saturday.

I’m hopeful of another pub coming on board soon. I also provide occasional consultancy for the Tap Room in Batley.

“If I could meet anyone I’d love to have seen Jimi Hendrix, simply the best guitarist; Ghandi and Karl Marx, it would be good to get their opinions; and Bobby Darin, the greatest swing singer. He had an interesting life.

“My philosophy on life is to live every day as if it is your last.

“A joke? I’m not good with jokes but I can tell you the comedian I like most of all. Tommy Cooper. He made a buffoon out of the establishment.

“My most embarrassing moment was when I was ill. I’ve had double pneumonia and swine flu from my cancer and for a time two years ago I lost all control of my bodily functions. It’s horrible. I’m a very proud man, of my background and who I am, and I try to look after and be respectful to myself as well as others but when you lose that cohesion it is very embarrassing.

“What might surprise people is that as a kid I went to church. I attended Wakefield Cathedral carrying the cross and a candle. I went because it allowed me to go to the youth club that had good girls.

In recent times I’ve also become an artist and have designed two album covers for local bands. I describe it as comic book surrealism.

“My childhood days were not brilliant. I had a very singular childhood. My sister was nine years older than me and my father didn’t particularly like me. I was even told that one time by a friend. He was a hard man, a clerk of works on buildings on the cusp of the mining community.
“I played rugby league and was a lot slimmer in those days, loose forward or centre were my positions. I went from Wakefield Trinity Colts and played a few games for Featherstone Rovers, but my father never knew. I didn’t tell him.

He was so competitive. If we played a game, no matter what it was he’d want to beat me and didn’t encourage me to learn. My mum was very compliant. I was a bit headstrong.

My best friend was and still is Bill Gillatt. We became friends in a youth club at 13 and he’s been my best man twice. He’s a friend who can disappear for a year and as soon as he comes back it’s like yesterday. I don’t have any other friends from back then.

“My first love was Sandra from Wakefield when I was 14. By the time I was 16 I was suspended for having an affair with the art teacher at school.

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