It was about 1987 when I first discovered Goth. I mean, for me, it was Fiona prodding me with a slightly chewed cassette tape of Sisters of Mercy for me to indulge in that weekend.
I hadn’t been taken with anything sort of sub culture up until that point. For me, it was all a bit weird, and someone who wore black a lot of the time was bound to be suicidal or just mildly annoyed with the world. Punk had passed me by during the lat Seventies and New Romantics to me where just guys in too much lip gloss. Yet, that weekend, when I randomly stuffed Fiona’s tape into my stereo and hit play, my life change.
In those days, we didn’t have Google and YouTube. If you hear something you like on the, dare I say it, radio, you immediately grab your phone, Google what you think are the lyrics (if it was Nirvana, these were often debatable) or you go on to YouTube of Apple Music and found your newly heard track – all over and done with in literally seconds. Back then, you had to wait until the next time your mum could take you to the nearest library which had a half decent record section or music shop and half heartedly sing out this track until someone in the shop tapped you on the shoulder and either asked you to leave or better still, told you what you were singing.
At the time I heard SoM ‘This Corrosion’ on Fiona’s tape, I had already a stack of Number One magazines in the corner of my bedroom I was able to desperately flick through until I saw a smallish article on these black cladded, pale-faced sticks. I found myself not looking at the state of Andrew Eldritch, the lead, but the girl looking gormlous next to him – bassist Patricia Morrison, who gave SoM their sombre, morbid but brilliantly Gothic look.
After that, I plunged myself into black. The deeper the colour, the better. In fact, I would have been happy with a black so black that I disappeared into my own black hole. Yet the Morrison look, as much as I craved that dark, sinister yet very feminine look, wasn’t what ended up in my wardrobe. I found that as time when on, I was more Stevie Nicks in a bad mood than I was Patricia Morrison from Sisters of Mercy.
(I made sure brown didn’t creep into my wardrobe – that came later in my 40’s when I found Steampunk.)
Until about 1992, I remained faithful to my Goth roots. I dyed my hair bright, bright white and kept my page-boy hair cut (I was never any good at growing it) under a wide-brimmed black hat. I had lived in my black fish nets with silver seams and darkly long flowing pleated skirt and ankle boots with far too many silver buckles. I had spent years sticking drawing pins into the heels of my worn boots to give them that ‘I couldn’t care less’ clicking sound as I walked pouting along Carnaby Street in London.
After that it was life, motherhood and career which dragged me reluctantly away from Goth. Yet, I spend many years in my corporate life thereafter smiling and nodding at Goths I would pass in the street. I still craved my Edgar books and Wuthering Heights. I clung to all things Victorian and treasured my Mission and Cure tapes in the car. Once a Goth, always a Goth. It’s not a phase you grow out of. It’s a part of who you are. I chose to, and still do, dip into a sea of black flowing dresses and romantic hair dos when I am not in the office. Growing older now, I have discovered my love of Gothic culture again and feel that embracing it now is more about being settled in who I am.
The journey did end once, but I never threw away the map or gave up on the destination.
It begins again….