Thursday, 7 June 2012

“I love those babygrows you’re selling – they look comfy and cosy. Do you have them in black with vampire teeth on the front? No?”

*lights candle*

Greetings.  I’ll dive straight in and say I’m here to talk about babies.  We had our first little child last October (I was holding out for Halloween but we didn’t quite make it), and she is now 7 months old.

Let’s just pause a moment.  I’m not here to ramble on how great my little baby is.  I know she’s great, but the world (or at least the small part of the world reading this blog) doesn’t need to hear it OVER and OVER and OVER again.  But some people do witter on about their little one as if they’re the only baby in the world.  They also talk about how worthless their life was until their little cherub arrived.  Oh dear...

The fact is, things change – sure they do.  You may not be able to go out as often as you did and you may have to make certain changes to your routine to accommodate the little one.  Other than that, your life is still yours.  Really.  Ignore the horror stories from other parents; it’s a load of bats crap.

Now, add into the general mix the fact that our little daughter has goffs for parents.  Now it gets interesting.  Do you dress your ‘gothling’ alternatively? After all, they can’t yet express their style and taste and are reliant on you to cloth them.  Or do you dress them like every other baby to ‘fit in’ with how other parents dress their children?

Well, these very thoughts had been popping into my head every so often, long before we had our daughter.  Gut reaction = dress future child in whatever we liked – i.e. goth him or her up a bit.  But my head would click in and I would be concerned as to what people would make of what she/he would be wearing – due to the MASSIVE misunderstandings non-goths have about the scene.  Then my stubborn side would click in.  Piss off, I’ll dress my child in whatever I choose – it’s none of your business...etc...etc...

And this would go round and round in my head.  Then, a bit of a revelation happened while we were at Whitby Goth Weekend back in 2009.  I was especially looking forward to this one as Christian Death were playing (Valor haters leave now).  Well, we got there a day early – wanting to soak up the atmosphere before we hit the bands over the weekend.  We strolled down to the Met where a DJ was playing – and as we walked in noticed that the small stage was rigged up with instruments and the Christian Death banner.  Thinking the band had changed venues – and had set everything up a day early – we thought nothing of it and enjoyed the DJ set.  About half an hour later, Christian Death came on and started playing (they explained it was a warm up gig before the main event the following evening).  No one got up to dance, so just for the sheer fuck-offness of it all, I got up to dance.  As far as I knew, I was the only one dancing – until I looked to my left...

There was this little girl dancing by the side of me – possibly 4 or 5 years old.  She was completely gothed up, wearing one of those cybergoth multi-coloured pull-on wigs.  She was smiling, having a great time – completely absorbed in the music.  I could see her parents were reasonably close by, encouraging her to dance if that’s what she wanted.

She may not usually wear anything like that back in the ‘real’ world, but it didn’t matter – she was proud to be wearing what she was wearing.  I bet her friends were envious when she told them where she had been on that weekend.

Lots of thoughts hit me at once: 

1)      It is OK to dress your child alternatively – in fact they might even enjoy the excitement of it all.
2)      Being different does not necessarily mean a child will be an outcast – it can shape their character, make them a more interesting person, give them something to tell their friends and help them decide what they really want to be.
3)      Being in a goth environment is one of the SAFEST environments to be in – no wonder the little girl’s parents let her dance on her own.
4)      Too many other thoughts to mention...

That image stuck with me right up to when we had our daughter.  Now, I can’t wait to take her to WGW when she’s older, as well as to other alternative activities.  If she wants to rebel when she gets older – so be it.  She will be happy, and at least I can say I never compromised who I was just because I had a child.

But unfortunately the prejudices continue.  I bought some ‘alternatively designed’ baby bibs for our girl – one of them featuring a pentagram design.  After putting the photo up on a popular social networking site, one of my friends asked me if I was worried about dressing my daughter in such a way.  He was only asking – even though his ask was a little loaded.  I had to explain that no, I wasn’t concerned - and that specifically the pentagram is actually one of the most peaceful symbols in the world (albeit a misunderstood one – see possible future ‘witchcraft’ blog).

It gets kind of awkward when people buy our little girl pink clothes as well.  I’m not talking about night wear, babygrows and vests.  I’m talking about outfits that she would wear out and about.  It’s always going to be a kind gesture – but on the other side of the coin it can be perceived as undermining and a little intrusive as everyone knows what we like to dress her in.  Sometimes I feel that the pink outfit they have bought her is simply to get a rise out of me, so as to give the buyer an engineered opportunity to criticise our taste in clothing as well as the choices we make for our daughter. THIS is what she should be wearing Dan, not that black stuff with bats on it you always make her wear!  Maybe it should be called Attempted Image Correction Therapy (AICT): the people around you ignore your taste in clothes and image and buy regular overly-girly pinky flowery outfits for your daughter to try and ‘wean’ you off your ‘bad’ and ‘evil’ choices of clothes for her.  Then maybe, just maybe, this will rub off on you until eventually you’re like everyone else, a sheep, blue jeans, white t-shirt, a ‘cardy’.................................

Jog on.

Saying that, we’ve had some truly inspired clothes gifts for Cub – someone has spotted something and has thought we’d love it.  And they’ve been right.  Not all black either.  That’s the thing – it doesn’t have to be black, fangs and vampires.  If it’s just a nod to the alternative, that’s usually good enough.  And the most important part?  We will dress her in that item of clothing, rather than shoving it to the bottom of the drawer until she grows out of it anyway. 

In all fairness if you choose not to use the internet and brave the high street, you will probably find nothing alternative there unless you stumble across a small family run type shop. Hit the internet and you will discover loads more.  Try these beauties:

Ebay – search for ‘Goth baby clothes’

Here are some examples from the three online stores above:

From Gothlings:  bottom left is the 'offending' pentagram bib.

From Stardust:  not really suitable for a little boy though.

From an Ebay store:  how cool are these!?!

Goth, or at least my kind of goth, was born out of punk via Deathrock.  Punk was, and is, a big two fingers up to the system.  Young people would express themselves by dying their hair, ripping and zipping their clothes and generally making a strong external statement.  Similarly goth makes a very strong statement.  Maybe the point of it all IS to get a reaction – to not fit in?  Maybe we do have to defend our corner more often than not.  It's just at times it can get a little tiring...

This blog was brought to you by winge-a-vision, whilst listening to a bit of Christ vs Warhol.

*blows out candle*

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

"Is that a Gargoyle on your roof, or are you just pleased to see me"

*Doesn't light candle today as it's so freakin' hot*

A Dan’s home is his castle. 

See what I did there? 

I crack myself up sometimes. 

I'd love one if truth be told.  An actual castle, with turrets, a moat and a draw bridge.  It would be a werewolf’s arse to heat, and a ghost’s fart to clean but amazing it would be.  In it would be period furniture, a bat or two and a large fire with a spit.  For my Quorn roasts of course...

Ok, realistically I'd settle for an atmospheric stately home.  Like the haunted one in Peter Medak's The Changeling - or the (other) haunted one used in The Others.  I would promise to keep all the doors closed if I lived in the latter.

There's something about large stately homes/mansions that appeal.  Most people probably think this way – all wanting to be rich and own a large house.  But there is something about Gothic architecture that appeals to, er, goffs.

First a bit of patronising history.  Gothic architecture came about in the late medieval period – but enjoyed a revival in mid-18th century England.  It featured distinct characteristics such as the pointed arch, vaulted ceiling, the flying buttress and an obscene use of gargoyles.  Whilst most authentic Gothic architecture is featured on large buildings of worship or castles, many private dwellings contain these features – and it’s this nod to Gothic architecture that I most love.

So let’s push open the creaky door of Gothic architecture a little more and delve into those key characteristics (told you it would be patronising)...

The pointed arch

Ok, a firm favourite, and unmistakably Gothic.  Although decorative, it was designed to be extremely functional as it distributed the force of heavier ceilings and bulkier designs and could support a lot more weight – hence its use in large buildings such as cathedrals and castles.  Of course, it was aesthetically pleasing also – and was a huge influence on the vaulted ceiling.

On my travels I have spotted many arched front doors on private houses – with huge black iron hinges.  These houses haven’t required the more practical use of an arch – but there’s nothing like walking up to an arched front door of a private house.  It tells the visitor a lot about the owner, and the interior style they have chosen for their home.

An example of a pointed arch.  Lovely.

The vaulted ceiling

A little harder to incorporate into a private home, but still very dramatic all the same.  Again, these were also functional as they spread the force and weight from upper floors.  They also provided an impression of height – which added to the overall feeling of grandeur and elegance.

A vaulted ceiling.  Spiffing.

The flying buttress

The flying buttress is a key external feature of Gothic architecture – and again is routed in functionality.  Its main purpose is to act as a medieval scaffold – only a permanent one.  These elegant little (well, big) beauties took the weight off the walls and transferred the force directly into the ground.  As with all the other architectural features they are so elaborately designed in themselves, that it’s easy to forget – or not even notice - their function.  Which is how it should be.

A flying buttress.  It doesn't really fly.  That would be silly.

The (obscene use of) gargoyle(s)

One of the most notable characteristics is our friend, the Gargoyle; little monsters perched aloft roofs and battlements of buildings and castles.  Scary little blighters.  They were built partly to scare medieval peasants into the church or cathedral that featured them – in order to seek solace and safety.  It worked.

Unsurprisingly, their other function is, er, functional.  They were used as a medieval type gutter, enabling rainwater to drain off the roof through their open mouths.  Impressive stuff.

A gargoyle just hanging out, watching stuff - generally having a good day.

So, taking away the fact that a lot of features of Gothic architecture were born out of function and necessity, it’s clear that the general design is big, bombastic, beautiful and very dramatic.  Everyone has their own opinion on what they like or don’t like, but for me it’s the dramatic effect this kind of architecture has on me that makes me love it so much.  It’s a bit of a cliche, but stir into the mix the fact that churches also accommodate graveyards and the attraction is obvious.

These buildings are also heavily associated with tales of horror and the supernatural.  In the 1700’s the word ‘Gothic’ acquired a new meaning – a trend for a new genre in literature: the ‘gothic’ novel.  Possibly beginning with the 1764 novel ‘The Castle of Otranto’ by Horace Walpole, these stories told of horror and romance using castles, abbeys and manors as their backdrop.  This interest in Gothic literature continued through the century's with writers such as Mary Shelley who gave us 'Frankenstein' in 1818, Edgar Allan Poe who was writing in the mid 1800's and of course Bram Stoker's very own Dracula in 1897.  All intended to evoke feelings of fear in the reader as well as a dollop of romantic imagery in terms of the locations and buildings.

Whitby Abbey:  the 'mother' of all abbeys

These days, when people describe a building as ‘gothic’ it’s usually a combination of the two different uses of the word: the architectural style of the building as well as the creepy and spooky atmospherics that have Gothic literature  - and as time went by, film - to thank.

Now the appreciation for this fabulous style becomes glaringly obvious J


*blows out the candle he didn't light* *feels stupid*

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

"You need me to nip to the shop for you? Sure, let me just get ready. I'll only be an hour and a half..."

*lights-candle-action - get it? Sigh*

The 'corner' is a little bit cluttered today as have GOTH CLOTHES to show you. Except I can't actually show them to you what with this being the written word and all.  I shall use my descriptive skills to the max. And maybe a few website links if you're very, very good.

Yes, Goth Clothes.  Now, I'm not here to judge anyone - I'd rather dispense with the arrogant, bitchy and downright wankerish approach to goth thank you very much.  But hey, wake up and smell the absinthe, this is a goth blog so I will say this:  you can't really pull on a pair of black tight jeans, an appropriate band t shirt and boots and expect to be labelled a goth.  Sorry, it takes a little more than that. The royal 'we' will sniff you out and before long you will be crying over your Katy Perry CD once more wearing your blue jeans, white trainers and your polo shirt. 

As we are dealing with the external appearance of The Gothic in this here blog, I will say that being a goth takes commitment.  You've got to want to put on the 'uniform', even if it's just to go to G clubs in.  But it's not a case of feeling like you have to wear it or 'they won't call me a goth anymore' - it's a genuine want to wear it, to express yourself, to feel 'normal'. Don't get me wrong, you don't need to wear your New Rocks to do the washing up.  Unless you really want to of course.

So, what do you wear?  Well, that's tricky - there isn't really a set uniform as such and everyone is different.  You may want to go Victorian, Industrial/Cyber or choose a more Deathrock aesthetic.  I'm a sucker for boots, so have a fair few pairs of New Rocks and Mad Fish with a pair of Docs as back up.  You may not be able to eat for a few months after buying some but it's worth it.  I also own an obscene amount of Christian Death T Shirts. It's an addiction, but I can control it.  So yeah, quite partial to a band t shirt or 50.  

Black drainpipe/skinny jeans are reliable, but there's some great jeans and trousers out there - both for men and women (see my list of shops below). It's amazing what you can find on the high street though. Two of my favourite items of clothing were bought from River Island - although you would never guess if you saw them.  Skinny jeans can also be picked up from places like Top Man or H &M - you don't need to scour Camden Market searching for this stuff. 

My favourite thing at the moment is to hunt down military jackets and customise them.  You can pick these jackets up at army surplus stores - although you may have to settle for a very dark blue one.  I won't tell if you don't :)

Also, you can wear something quite plain, but 'goth it up' with jewellery.  And you don't need tonnes of piercings either.  If you have your ears pierced, there are some great stud earrings that look like you've had something far more elaborate - and painful - done to your body.  My fav is a snake which curls round the top of your ear, and the lower part of the tail is the stud part.  So it looks like a snake has crawled through your ear lobe and has wrapped itself around your ear.  Looks elaborate but is simple and effective.  Try searching for it.

Richard & Judy hated being recognised at Whitby Gothic Weekend

You could trawl Camden Market, or the Oasis complex in Birmingham but there are some great online stores, namely:

For the kiddies:

Only in Whitby...
Unfortunately these stores come and go, so these are correct at time of writing.  I'm sure other people out there have more recommendations...

So, you've spent a fortune on clothes and you're on the way to the bus stop when someone calls you an Emo. How dare they! You look down at yourself and you're not wearing gingham trainers.  Nor are you wearing a cap.  You know for a fact that your black hair has not been blow dried and gelled to your face like a photo negative of Justin Bieber.  You rush home and check yourself in the mirror. Sure you're wearing your drainpipes, your New Rocks, your trusty Christian Death t shirt (1 of 15) and a crushed velvet jacket. Also, you double check your birth certificate just to make sure that you're not 15.  Unfortunately a few music genres have adopted some elements of the G look.  Metal fans have a habit of dressing slightly goth-like. Slightly. Although the sweat bands are a giveaway.  To the untrained eye Goths, Emos and Metalheads look mostly the same.  Don't worry though, Mr or Mrs Untrained Eye will no doubt be blasting Jessie J from their 'lowered' Vauxhall Nova; shallower than a bird bath...

I've never had anyone shout anything at me while I've been out and about. If they ever did, I wouldn't give a Robert Smith - it would just make me smile inside - at least I'm not a chav...  Apart from anything else, it must be a right bats arse getting your hair to look 'wet' all the time :)

So, this blog has been written by someone who is proud to wear what they like, who doesn't give a dead vampire what other people think and who loves it when he spots a goth out and about who has made an effort........................................................................................................................................
"Is it this way to the beach?"
Until next time...

*blows out candle*

Saturday, 21 January 2012

"Never mind the band, the marketing or the songs – what shall we call the drum machine...?"

*lights candle – it flickers a bit in the wind.  Well, it is a bit parky out*

Greetings.  Are you sitting comfortably? A drink in your hand?  Some good music on?
Good, that's what I thought.

So, the complex subject of GOTH MUSIC.  Complex because of people’s differing views on what is goth and what isn’t.  In their opinion obviously.  It can also get quite bitchy out there.  Try visiting a Christian Death forum and reading the Rozz vs. Valor comments.  It's like overhearing an argument in a school playground. 
Now, I’m not writing a book here so I’m going to get a wriggle on and rabbit on for a little bit about what I like. But first...

Dah, Dah, DAAH!  The disclaimer:
Not all music I’m going to refer to is strictly considered ‘goth’, but it is goth-friendly – meaning you will probably hear all this played at some point if you were in a G club.  They all sit reasonably comfortably underneath the black umbrella of goth if you will.

Right.  Quite a few G’s out there only like one sub-genre – be it Trad Goth, Deathrock, Industrial, Ethereal, EBM, Futurepop etc.  That’s absolutely fine.  I’m not like that as I pretty much like all the sub-genres (bar EBM and most of Futurepop). What this means then is that, broadly speaking, goth music has its own versions of rock, rock n’ roll, punk, dance,  pop and folk if you’re willing to embrace them all.  Not jazz though.  So you become spoilt for choice really – and there’s always something to put on whatever your mood.

Whilst I love all these little branches of musical gothdom, I do sit firmly in-between Trad and Deathrock as my main and favourite genres both musically and, I suppose, image wise too.

What the neighbours say
Nothing – as my room is soundproofed J

No really, in terms of other people’s perception of G music it’s usually wrongly interpreted as satanic and at best, depressing.  People aren't listening to the lyrics.  Granted, sometimes it's hard to make out if the singer is actually human, let alone what they're saying - but you get my point.  This is why you sometimes need to be into the scene to fully appreciate the beauty, excitement and – every once in a while – humour of G music (I'm looking at you Voltaire).

I have had ‘The Cure conversation’ a few times though – and it makes me squirm as I can sense it’s going to rear its ugly head.  The Cure conversation goes something like this:

NON-GOTH: Ah, so you must like The Cure!
DAN (trying not to sigh - hard when another little part of me has just died): Yes..
NON-GOTH: Great aren’t they. Some people think they’re depressing, but they cheer me up.
                       Maybe that’s why they’re called The Cure...

Give me strength...

The never-ending hunt
I am, and have always been, on a never-ending hunt to find great new bands.  If you’re into pop music, you can simply head over to iTunes and have a shufty at the charts to find new music you might like. Like Cheryl Cole for example.  For G music, it’s much harder – and you have to rely on word of mouth, magazine reviews etc. 99% of G bands don’t have large record company backing, don’t have a marketing budget and certainly don’t have large distribution networks.  Well, Thank-The-Rozz for writers like Mick Mercer, who fairly regularly compile books that simply list bands.  This makes it easy to look them up and support them. 

While I'm on the subject, I think there is a great need to support these bands/artists.  When Coldplay (sorry) release a CD, they can afford to lose a few quid to pirate copies/illegal downloads. G bands can’t - they rely solely on you paying top dollar for their collection of songs they've slaved over for the past year.  So it's important to pay full price for their music.  Everytime.

The fun bit
OK, so I’ve wittered on a bit.  Here’s the fun bit:  most of the bands I like across all sub-genres (minus the really obvious ones).  If you know them, great.  If you don’t, check them out...

Adoration, Ahrayeph, Alice Moving Under Skies, All Gone Dead, Angelspit, Anima Virus, Attrition, Big Electric Cat, Birthday Massacre, Black Tape For A Blue Girl, Bloody Dead & Sexy, Chants Of Maldoror, Claire Voyant, Dreadful Shadows, Dream Disciples, Ego Likeness, Escarlatina Obsessiva,The Eternal Fall, Flesh Field, Funhouse, Gotterdammerung, GPKISM, Hanging Doll, I:Scintilla, The Last Cry, The Last Dance, Last Rites, Lesbian Bed Death, Lestat, Lycia, Malaise, Miazma, Miserylab, NFD, Play Dead, Pretentious Moi?, Razed In Black, RazorBladeKisses, The Shroud, Solemn Novena, Sopor Aeternus, Whispers In The Shadow.

Let’s cut out the crap when it comes to goth music, and support those smaller bands. Buy the CD’s, go to the gigs and chat up the lead singer..

Anyway, must go - the candle is burning down...

This blog was brought to you whilst listening to the excellent The Burning Circle And Then Dust album by Lycia.

*licks fingers**snuffs out candle**burns fingers*

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The smell of the snakebite, the roar of the smoke machine...

Someone asked me the other day if I've always been a goth.  In fact, I get asked this a lot.  It's a weird one, cos - deep down - I've always been a bit of a 'goff'.  Even when I wasn't wearing the uniform, I was still listening to the music or casting a sneaky eye over to a passing graveyard..
It got me thinking what it means to be a G - and I think this elicits two main responses among the goth community:

1) A full appreciation of all things G: music, literature, architecture, image and (ahem) state-of-mind. Nice.

2) Stop calling me a goth!  I'm not a goth!  Stop labelling me!! AAAaaaaaaaargh!!

Yes, it's 'uncool' to label yourself a goth.  In fact some say you're not really a goth if you call yourself a goth.  Now, this is a pile of wrinkly bollocks.  I'm proud of being a goth and don't give a flying bat if anyone says I'm not. I'd go further and say I sometimes quite enjoy being a 'member' of a movement - because when you come together with likeminded people you have stacks in common, you feel at home and you can finally talk about Rozz Williams again with someone who knows what you're talking about. Yours sincerely, Angry of Malvern.

For me it's like the reverse of wanting to become a member of the 'cool gang' at school; rather than aspiring to fit yourself in to an established group of people, I found that what I was into anyway neatly fitted into the studded boot of The Gothic.  I just wish someone had pointed this out to me earlier.

Next time I'm going to be talking about goth music.

This blog was brought to you while listening to the fab new Nosferatu album, Wonderland.

Sleep tight!

*blows out candle*