For reasons of my own Victorian likings, I find myself ‘following’, or receiving the re-tweets of, a number of types with very active leanings towards a more – how to put it – lacey lifestyle. I rather like the sort; have never been one to baulk at a Pre-Raph, or to begrudge anyone a floaty outlook. I’m from Leeds – Gotham City – and served my late teens in the Merrion Centre’s ‘Le Phonographique’; am therefore no stranger to the appeal of the pale. And when I moved from Leeds to a Home Counties uni, I found how very neatly my crow-black dovetailed (if crows can dovetail) with the winsome ivory of the girls in garlands I met there. And how poetically grateful we were to the Cocteau Twins, bringing us all together, quite ethereally, at dusk.
I grew out of Goth as surely as I did Numanoid beforehand, and blended into the art college mainstream via something vaguely psychobilly and onwards to the Smiths, The Fall, The Wedding Present, and from that time on would never again dress in a way that spoke terribly much of the music I liked. The odd tour-date T-shirt and bouncing sole aside, clothes just again became clothes.
Which is why I still keep a glad eye out for the Goths and the be-laced Romantics; not the Twilight kids or Emos, but the grown-ups who’ve stayed their course. And I watch these adult legions precisely because of their living projection to other times and worlds. When Billericay Rockabillies cruise into our consciousness, the impeccable gloss of their get-up feels within our generations.
But the Victorianas… I have a fascination in the daily reconciliation of their purple-and-blackness with their putting up a shelf, or reading the back of a cereal packet, or renewing pet insurance. I’m enthralled by the image of a Lizzie Siddal looky-likey, legging it to her Twingo when the neighbour leaves a coveted parking spot.
There must be Pre-Raphaelites, too, on computers, ordering from Argos. On the phone to Thomas Cook. Ophelia, tweeting. Otherworldly waifs with squeezy Marmite.
Statistically, certainly, there are Goths in rented houses; in flats that come furnished, with carpets and curtains out of kilter with their tenants’ velvet moods. A carpet of green and chocolate swirls; a lot of MFI. A lampshade in ice-cream pastels, repeatedly bumped by an undertaker top-hat. Goths, living Gothy lives, among rented soft furnishings. The cats of Goths eating Whiskas.
There must be, somewhere, Goths and Rossetti Romantics on the boards of big businesses. They can’t all work in local councils. And this way a dozen comic sketches rain down: The Motivational Goth; Dying to Win; The Negotiating Lute.
Which is naughty, and mocking, which wasn’t my intent: which was to marvel that these devoted wearers of hearts on trailing sleeves are real Romantics alive among us: are the Old Romantics. And real ghosts of my own.
© Copyright, Steve Mitchell and Fisher Lane, 2012