Ooh Goth at the BBC is on tomorrow night, I shall have to dig out my crimpers and wear black. The former were last seen in about 1989 but the penchant for black never left me.
Far from being miserable our gang of darkly plumed odd bods were as happy as the next bunch of teenagers. Admittedly teenagers do have an image of being a bit grumpy and miserable anyway, but when not in our black bedrooms, choking on the smoke from joss sticks and candles, we were out in pubs and parks, giggling and larking about as merrily as any bunch of young people.
We used to have a marvellous time hanging out at Mary Shelley’s grave for example. For not only were Goths (or my little band of them) into a theatrical look, we also had a love of gothic literature, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Shelley’s Frankenstein. And as luck would have it we lived in a town associated with Mary Shelley – we could hang out in the grounds of her house (which at that point housed the local art school, where coincidentally many of our number attended) or in the cemetery where she was buried. Sometimes we held respectful discussions of her talent. Mostly we just got stoned.
I liked goth because it was one of the few musical genres my Dad didn’t understand. My parents are cool. They were an incredibly hip and handsome sixties couple who went to see all the best bands, I get my love of music from them. But when you are a teen you want to rebel.
We had a system in our family for long car journeys. We took it in turns to have our choice of music cassette played. Of course as a teenager my main aim was to play something that might offend them, the older generation (or my age now as it turns out- doesn’t feel so old or out of touch from this side of the fence – tho I am sure my teenager would disagree).
When you have a Dad whose choice was often Bowie or The Stranglers (which I thank him for my life long love of both) it is hard to find music he dislikes or can’t determine the inspiration of. The Cardiacs (a particularly manic punk esque almost theatrical band) were likened to King Crimson, The Sex Pistols were just good ol rock’n’roll with less rebellion in them than The Who (in his opinion).
Goth though, Goth he didn’t like. In retrospect he didn’t so much dislike it as find it hilarious, esp the Fields Of The Nephilim and their dirge like singing of the word Celebrate which had him giggling for hours. But at least he didn’t ‘get it.’
I don’t get it these days either, Nephilim are not a band that get a nostalgic spin after a few drinks. And actually I quickly moved from Goth to punk – an easy cross over with people like The Damned and Siousxie straddling both camps. I soon found I preferred the upbeat chorus of the Buzzcocks to the misery of The Mission. And it was hard work staying in character – I once spent most of a 2 week family holiday in Portugal hiding because to have a sun tan was sacrilege. Eventually emerging long enough to snog a portuguese waiter (an important rite of passage in the 80s), I managed to mostly retain my pasty complexion.
I kept the best bits though, The Cure remain one of my favourite bands, I still have a preference for black clothing over all other hues, and my ubiquitous black eyeliner is never going away – I shall have a thick black line across my upper eyelid on the day I die! I still love a hot vampire and occasionally waft my hands around in the air while swirling about, Goth dancing when drunk is fun.
It’s fitting that the show is on at Halloween as that was the highlight of our social calendar, with one of our favoured haunts having elaborate nights for the occasion – with fancy dress that really didn’t veer too far from our normal chosen attire and awesome gore shows and live bands. This year I will be at home, pumpkin lit, watching my youth on the telly. Which is fitting for someone of my generation. I suspect I shall at some point bemoan the kids of today for not having a sub-culture in the same way. But of course they do have their own versions of it, I just don’t understand them – and nor should I!
Love Miss Cisco XXX