Sunday, February 26, 2006

This Place Is Death With Curtains

When you're woken in the early hours by a black cat chewing your hair as the chill wind whips against the Victorian casements of your stately pile*, there's nothing for it but to resign yourself to an entire weekend of full-on Gothickness.

It started last night, when I somehow found myself at a neo-goth club night called Feeling Gloomy. In between cheery Leonard Cohen disco numbers, the lovely S and I were entertained by a band called Black Dog, who should win some sort of anti-lyrical prize for a chorus which intoned "Jesus knows my secret...and I know his" for what seemed like all eternity.

Contrary to what you might expect, we hadn't just wandered in by mistake (ha!), but had gone with a purpose - which was to see the Divine Ms P's band Anarchic Hand in action.

"The" Hand are quite famous these days - well, they've been in the Guardian - and were therefore conducting themselves in true rockstar fashion, cracking rude jokes, looking like Helena Bonham-Carter in Fight Club, and sporadically launching themselves into the audience to snog unsuspecting goth chicklets. During one such altercation I had a newly lit cigarette (ahem) knocked from my fingers, so I should really thank the Hand for prolonging my life by five minutes. Good work.

The only way to go from here was down, down into the dread pit of gloom and despair that is the Tate Britain's Gothic Nightmares exhibition. I walked all the way there, too, which took a mighty THREE HOURS.

As it turned out, the walk was the best bit. The show is meant to explore the theme of the "sublime" - the expression of physical and sexual violence, horror and the supernatural - in 18th century art, but actually it's all quite comical. But then gothdom *is* quite comical, as anyone who's ever heard the Sisters of Mercy's cover of "Jolene" will testify.

I found myself marvelling more at the moody lighting, red velvet curtains, faux-flock wallpaper and tastefully veiled porno section than I did at Henry Fuseli's paintings of phallic horse's heads, struggling Prometheuses and crouching incubi. No, give me Aubrey Beardsley or the French Symbolists over Fuseli any day. Sorry about that, Henry.

It didn't stop me coming home and downloading the Sisters' cover of Jolene, though. Gothtastic!

UPDATE: I should confess that since writing this post I have been indulging in a full-on personal Sisters of Mercy revival. I thus speak from a position of considerable authority in advising you that they never bettered their 1982 single "Body Electric", the b-side of which, "Adrenochrome", is, and always has been, awesome. Seriously. Terrible production though.


* For which read "compact second-floor flat".

52 comments:

surly girl said...

in the spirit of gothness i presume you spent the rest of the weekend in an impenetrable miasma of doom over your geography homework and the fact that your mum washed your best enormous black trousers?

that's what the goths round here do, anyway. mind you, they're all fifteen. and it's suffolk.

Pashmina said...

There's a Sisters of Mercy cover of Jolene? Superb. Or is it?

Betty said...

I can remember in the mid '80's that goths would descend on Birmingham at the weekends, and we would take the mickey out of their chicken dancing to This Corrosion in rubbish clubs. Then, in about 1990 they all disappeared. A bit sinister really.

That Gothic Nightmares exhibition doesn't look like my sort of thing either ...

patroclus said...

Surly - I tried, really I did. But somehow I just haven't been able to shake off this terrible sense of cheerfulness I keep getting.

Pash - Oh yes. And yes.

Betty - The William Blake bits are good. You have to love Blake, he was such a nutcase. But the rest of it is overhyped and tenuously thrown together nonsense. And the pictures are so *small*. And they aren't even good. And there were too many people. And they were selling *badges* of that incubus's face. Why would anyone want that?

DavetheF said...

I don't like incubi. I wouldn't mind being visited by a succubus.
There was a fairly good British movie about the Shelleys and their pals, presumably wasted on opiates, having a lost weekend somewhere Gothic. I'll have to track it down.

patroclus said...

Hello Dave, was it Ken Russell's Gothic?

*considers making weak joke involving Derek Jarman, thinks better of it*

Whatever happened to Julian Sands, anyway? Not that I really care. Everyone knows the best thing about A Room With A View was naked Rupert Graves.

Sorry, rambling.

DavetheF said...

Right, I should have remembered: the movie was "Gothic", directed by the evil Ken Russell. IMDB says:

Story of the night that Mary Shelley gave birth to the horror classic "Frankenstein". Disturbed drug-induced games (plus ca change, eh surly?) are played and ghost stories are told one rainy night at the mad Lord Byron's country estate. Personal horrors are revealed and the madness of the evening runs from sexual fantasy to fiercest nightmare. Mary finds herself drawn into the sick world of her lover Shelley and cousin Claire as Byron leads them all down the dark paths of their souls.

And there were incubi and succubi, as I recall. Wonder if there's a DVD?

patroclus said...

Oo, maybe I should follow up my Seventies British Horror afternoon with a Top Gothic Movies afternoon. Or should I say matinée?

All welcome. Tea and cake will be provided. But what else to watch?

DavetheF said...

Oops, we cross-posted, Patro. I apologise. You beat me to imdb!

Julian Sands is still at it. He has made several "Warlock" horror films. He's sort of the English James Spader, isn't he? Did you see "Siesta", with Sands, Ellen Barkin, Gabriel Byrne, Jody Foster and others? Rather elegant, twisted sexy movie with a great Miles Davis soundtrack. If memory serves me, Byrne and Barkin continued their hot scenes off screen and subsequently got hitched.

DavetheF said...

Patro, IMDB can help. It offers 132 titles including Interview with the Vampire, Sleepy Hollow, Batman Begins, The Silence of the Lambs (classed as American Gothic). I'm not sure how to do the link, but just type "gothic" as a keyword in the search box.

patroclus said...

Good choices! For my money, Interview With The Vampire has the best ending of any film, ever. But then I haven't seen all that many films.

...but I *have* seen Sleepy Hollow many, many times. For, er, *research purposes*, obviously. I need very little encouragement to watch it again.

In fact the whole Burton/Depp oeuvre would make a lovely weekend's viewing. Oh yes.

Paul Pennyfeather said...

There is a blue plaque to Byron on the Thames Valley University Building (60's Brutalist Modernism) in Ealing.
Knowing that Byron had connections in Ealing ruins my view of him as the most romantic man in Europe (mad bad etc) and the original for Stocker's beast- he is just a suburban lad like me...

patroclus said...

PP, are you stalking me round the higher education institutions of south-east England? That's where I study Spanish. I've never noticed the blue plaque.

And, er, I've kind of dropped out of my Spanish class, too.

I'm going to be at the LSE tomorrow night, meeting my MA tutor. If I see you lurking in a corner, I'll say hello :-)

vfaxinux: this year's fashionable new open source operating system.

LC said...

I have nothing to add to this other than: Mmmm... Helena Bonham-Carter in Fight Club...

What is it about utterly fucked-up schizo headcase girls?

surly girl said...

the frisson of danger.

now then - the collective noun for teenage goths. discuss.

a despondent?
a futility?

patroclus said...

A morbidity?

Wyndham said...

I saw Julian Sands in a telly thing about Kenneth Tynan the other month. He was, would you believe, playing Laurence Olivier. Considering Sands is Absolutely The Worst Actor On The Planet Bar None I thought this must have been a tremendous joke on the part of the director. I do believe he's also lined up to play the villain in the latest series of 24 - if true, this fact will make me insanely happy.

Paul Pennyfeather said...

I look after the shop at the LSE as well, but wasn't planning to go there tomorrow, but if you need a little light stalking let me know.

patroclus said...

It did occur to me afterwards that I might be stalking *you*. I can't help it - I like mad, bad, suburban types.

surly girl said...

ooh! it's like blind date!

*rushes off to buy hat*

patroclus said...

Whoa there surly - as a blind date, I think it might be a bit of a non-starter.

frangelita said...

I love the way you've gone from hippy to gothic in just two short posts. What next? Fascist? Anarchist?

patroclus said...

Well, hippies and goths aren't too far apart. I think the common denominator is patchouli.

For my next trick I'm going punk. Cello-based punk, to be more specific.

james henry said...

I miss being a goth. Particularly the smell of burnt hairspray on crimpers filtered though patchouli incense and vodka.

*has massive flashback*

Also I was about three stone lighter. Great days.

patroclus said...

Crimpers?

*stifles giggle*

Have you got any photos?

taigathefox said...

I just spilled coffee on my keyboard, thank you.

*throws patchouli sticks and black cat silently away*

You should buy Apocalyptica cd next time you visit Helsinki. They play Metallica with four cellos. Lovely.

james henry said...

*rummages through chest of drawers for photos, can't find any, is secretly quite relieved*

patroclus said...

Shame.

NB an entire paragraph of my dissertation is going to be dedicated to an in-depth exploration of the cultural significance of the practice of describing actions in between asterisks in blog comments.

Just thought I'd say.

james henry said...

*makes appropriate and amusing response*

surly girl said...

*gasps in awe of proper telly-and-book-writer's mastery of describing actions between two asterisks*

patroclus said...

*surreptitiously takes notes*

DavetheF said...

*Thinks: In the absence of think bubbles ....*

taigathefox said...

*Becomes aware of an intresting inciting intertextual incident and waves kindly to an another fox*

belladona said...

*Is slightly at a loss as what to do in the big city at the weekend instead of visiting the exhibition*

patroclus said...

bella, might I recommend the "Feeling Gloomy" club night at the Academy in Islington?

MinCat said...

oooooooooooo i LOVE that painting!

patroclus said...

It's an interesting picture in that Fuseli was like the Damien Hirst of his day - deliberately setting out to shock people. But for weird, gothic stuff I still think you're better off with the likes of Odilon Redon (whose spooky Eye Balloon picture was last seen gracing the cover of Ian McEwan's "Enduring Love"). Those crazy Symbolists, eh?

the Beep said...

interesting banter should

the Beep said...

hit

the Beep said...

40.





Yeah.

Dave again said...

Are you just diverting all your energies to the comment column, rather than writing new entries? I'm not being facetious.*

Anyway, happy St David's Day to you.

*The other example, I believe, of words with vowels in the correct order (unless we wish to go to botanical words like acheilous and caesious, the rare zoological word annelidous, or the chemical term arsenious).

patroclus said...

Touché, Dave.

Actually I'm diverting most of my energies to moving office - to a huge, new, evil, capitalist citadel, not dissimilar to the Death Star. It's got its own kitchen and secret toilets and everything! Score!

Pashmina said...

But does that mean you're leaving behind the delights of Fopp?

(by the way I discovered at the weekend that a branch of Fopp has opened pretty much bang opposite my old flat. Only five years too late!)

patroclus said...

Ah, no, we've only moved across the corridor, so still well within striking distance of FOPP.

[girly mode]

By the way, did you discover the delights of Blink when you were in Chiswick? A goodly portion of my salary now goes on their fabulous necklaces and bracelets.

[/girly mode]

kyahgirl said...

*snickers delightedly at the comments section and skulks out of the room*

ScroobiousScrivener said...

Dear god why do I always come to the comments party so late.

I was *this close* to volunteering to throw open my flat - pink leather sofas and all - for purposes of Gothic-movie-watching extended blogmeet. (Beloved works weekend, it gets dull, plus we have a biggish TV.) Then I came to my senses.

Still sort of want to, though.

Please post that *paragraph* when it gets wrote. I'd be just *fascinated*. (Keep telling myself there's nothing a pair of asterisks can do that italics - and possible square brackets - can't, but I don't really believe it.)

patroclus said...

Sounds like a great idea to me, Scroob. How many gothically-inclined bloggers can your pink leather sofas accommodate? And I've got DVDs of Sleepy Hollow, From Hell and Edward Scissorhands, if that helps.

Pashmina said...

Gah! How did I contrive to miss a top girly shop the one time in a blue moon I was in W4? I must have walked right past it as well.

*sulks*

By the way that extended gothic moviefest chez Scroob sounds like a great idea...

Spinsterella said...

Crikey Patroclus, what an awful lot of comments.

I've forgotten what I was going to say...

Oh yes - goths - hilarious.

Especially fat ones.

Most especially fat ones in the summertime, sweating away in their crushed velvet full-length smock'n'docs, make-up melting...

frangelita said...

Just realised I forgot to salivate at the gratuitous JOhnny Depp mention earlier. Doing it now *goes off staring vacantly into space with a slightly dirty smile on face*

ScroobiousScrivener said...

Oh dear. See what you've made me do.

patroclus said...

Woohoo!