My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all those that celebrate it, Christian or secularised. Have a wonderful day!

I promise I am not as grouchy and Scrooge-like as I appear!

Enjoy the time with your families, rejoice, sing carols, eat lots of whatever you have for Christmas dinner, engage in acts of cheery charity and generally be nice. Good will and peace to all! 

Friday, 21 December 2012

Happy Solstice!

Happy Winter Solstice everyone! 
Enjoy yourselves!
Have a very blessed Solstice, fellow Pagans, and Atheists can treat the Solstice as a secular holiday; it is the shortest day of the year and the days will get longer afterwards and that is scientific fact. If you neither see it as a good secular holiday or celebrate a different midwinter holiday, have a good day anyway. 

I shall leave you with some pictures taken in 2010 of me being a happy Goth in the snow. My Dad took these. I was having a lot of fun playing in the woods, throwing snowballs at my Dad, having snowballs thrown at me at by my Dad. I was generally being a daft and silly and enjoying myself. 
Enjoying The Snow
Snow is my favourite sort of weather; it is both cold and pretty. I am the sort of person to build elaborate snow sculptures and make snow-angels and have snowball fights and go sledding.

I used to have dyed black hair with red and white clip-in streaks (a bit babybat, I know). I think my grandma knitted the black hat with snowflakes pattern. The boots I was wearing that day were studded with three sets of buckles and biker-styled, and really, really, comfortable. Sadly they were cheap and did not last. The trousers were black velvet, really, really, really warm and got worn to death. I still have the leather coat, gloves, and neck-kerchief. 
I'd Just Been Snowballed
This picture was taken back in Oxfordshire, England. Scotland gets much more snow than England, but we had particularly good snow that year. I miss winter back down South, and celebrating Christmas with my Dad, and playing in the woods being a big kid, especially with our friends.
Happy Winter Solstice!!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Media Speculation around the Connecticut Shooting

The media speculation surrounding the shooter's motives is getting out of hand.

I have an abnormally high IQ and was skipped a year at school; I also had mental health difficulties as a teenager (predominantly due to severe abuse as a child) and social difficulties of an as yet undetermined cause (it has been suggested that I may be on the Autistic spectrum, but testing as a child seemed to point otherwise, yet more recently the suggestion has been revived) my entire life. I am quiet and shy with strangers, and incredibly outgoing with friends. I appear strange due to my eccentric dress sense and unusual interests and hobbies. I even like weaponry (swords, and bows specifically).

I have not, and will not, murder anyone.

I should not have to point that out!

All the press is doing is making it worse for young people who are, for one reason or another, different and find it hard to fit in. In several cases of school shootings, the perpetrators have felt outcast and bullied and the shootings have been their (terribly cruel and unproductive) way of railing against the word. Promoting this distrust of those who are different is more likely to fuel another shooting than prevent one. Yes, it is important if an individual is showing signs of being an immediate danger to themselves or others that they get the suitable help, but being different is not in and of itself such a sign.

I would like the speculation to end until whatever the actual reasons for the shooter's behaviour are revealed. It is understandable that in the wake of what happened, that people scramble to find some kind of explanation, something to answer the "why?", but in the vacuum of knowledge left by the perpetrator's suicide, it is not right for the press to be promoting hearsay rather than fact.

I am especially upset by the suggestion that the shooter was Goth. There has so far been no evidence to substantiate such a claim, and after what happened with Columbine, I am concerned about misidentification of the individual as a member of a subculture they are not part of, and the repercussions against Goths that might occur (such as the incidents I have heard of people being called in for interrogation based on their sense of dress, and of heightened bullying). There are already a lot of misinformed people when it comes to the Goth subculture. It may turn out that the perpetrator was a member of the subculture, but even him being Goth will not have been the reason he did this; violence is not part of our subculture, and pointing out any subcultural affiliation is sensationalism, and harmful sensationalism based on existing negative misinformation about the nature of Goth.

The incident is being used as a platform upon which various political ideologies are debated, from the nature of mental health care in the United States of America to whether there should fewer guns or more guns there, and the details of gun control (which I gather varies significantly between states.) to the role of the media and the internet in the glorification of violence, and in this debate, I think something very important is being lost:

A tragedy has unfolded in which 20 children and 7 adults have died, many families are grieving, many mothers and fathers have now outlived their sons and daughters. People have died, people are hurting. That is the important thing. I do not wish to name the shooter because I feel that in naming him, he is getting posthumous infamy, and becoming the centre of media attention, when the centre of our attention should focus on those who have been hurt. That includes the shooter's family - his brother, his father, as they have to deal with the fact that the shooter killed his own mother first

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Practical Goth Style

I Don't ALWAYS Wear Frills

What I look like a lot of the time. I have no idea why I pulled that face.
I don't normally have THAT particular expression on. 
Those who keep up with the Domesticated page on FaceBook will have seen that photograph before.  It's a selfie taken with the onboard camera on my laptop.

I'm not really sure where I am aiming with this post. It's mostly an alternative to the two main stylistic expressions of Goth I see amongst female (mostly) bloggers and club-goers and festival-goers.

I've been told that looking like this makes me look more masculine (Ok, I got some random delinquent shout "Oi! Dyke! You look like a fag" at me in the street. I'm not sure how that insult works; I think he was telling me I was non-feminine lesbian who looked like a gay man as if sexual orientation somehow externally visible and comes with a dress code... But what else should I expect from a rude and prejudiced delinquent? )but I don't like to think of it as "masculine" because I think the gendering of styles is a societal construct that is directly related to the time and place - a kimono is not a dress, a kilt is not a skirt, etc. - and I just see it as a non-frilled, more practical style with a shorter hair style and no makeup.

I think people should wear what they like regardless of societal gender attribution of the clothes in question, so where I call things feminine,  if you are a man, androgyne, or other and want to wear them, go ahead. Femininity in these cases refers to their current cultural attributes, not to anything intrinsic. 

Recently, I have noticed two main trends, if one is to call them that, in women's (gendered fashion, I know, but these styles are predominantly worn by people identifying as women or girls) Goth fashion:

One is a very "sexy" style consisting of very short tutu-style skirts, ripped fishnets, very high heels, corsets and not much else, combined with hair extensions and lots of makeup designed to emphasise female secondary sexual characteristics such as the curvature of the waist (corsets), the shape of the hips (corsets and the way high heels make a person stand), the bust (corsets and revealing tops) and  the cheekbones (makeup designed to give a sculpted effect). The emphasis is on a womanly body. 

The second is based on women's attire from the Victorian era and Lolita fashion, and is an abundance of frills and lace, again with corseting to emphasise the hourglass figure, and with full skirts that give a width to contrast further with the tight-laced waist, ornate makeup more focused on being art  and drawing attention to the eyes than on emphasising any specific facial characteristic, hair in ringlets or curls, and very precarious hats. Again a very "feminine" style according to those who gender fashion. 

These are fine, I like both of these styles - I've been known to wear both of these styles, especially the latter.  I like corsets, I like emphasising the bits of my "womanly body" that I like best. I am not criticising these styles, or those who wear them, all I am saying is that I see MOSTLY these styles, and not a lot else. Goth fashion was actually originally quite different - the Romantic Goth style certainly has a basis in the '80s (just look at some of Dave Vanian's and Patricia Morrison's outfits!), but did not really come to the fore until the '90s and the advent of mass-produced clothes designed specifically for the Goth market, as before then anything very ornate or fancy had to either come from high fashion aimed at the evening-wear market, come from theatrical costuming, or involve considerable amounts of DIY (even dyeing a wedding-dress black isn't that easy, especially with so many made from synthetic fabrics!). 

The skimpy outfits seem to be based in both Deathrock and Cybergoth (where Cybergoth is seen as a fusion of Goth, Industrial and Rave and not as a 'subset' of Goth) and again is a more recent thing, especially as corsets were far harder to come by and more expensive about 10 to 15 years ago than they are, and as the Cybergoth scene has influenced the Goth scene a tendency to borrow aspects from that style has increased, and also following the Deathrock Revival. 

An aside: Interestingly enough, a lot of what is referred to as 'Nu-Goth' has its roots in '80s Goth - backcombed deliberately 'unkempt' hair, oversized t-shirts with bold graphics and skinny jeans - all those things could equally describe various outfits worn by Siouxsie Sioux in the early '80s! I actually like how a lot of 'Nu-Goth' fashion looks equally good on either gender, is considerably more practical than some of Goths more ornate manifestations. (Clothes with tubing and clothes with lace are NOT practical). 

I don't always wander around in frills. A lot of the time wearing a really frilly outfit just is not practical - I'm either at work (where I wear work-specific outfits) or doing chores, or doing charity work, or doing something else where frills just are not suitable. If I am out and about doing something practical, the last thing I want to do is wear finery that could be possibly damaged, or which could cause me to get caught up and possibly injured. I don't feel that my practical outfits have to be any less 'Goth', or that I am any less Goth for wearing something that isn't ornate or flamboyant. I also don't always feel like following the anachronistic aesthetic - sometimes I prefer things with a touch of military inspiration from this century (rather than the ornate uniforms of centuries past - Hussards de la Mort, I am looking at you!) and sometimes I prefer things with a more modern, sleeker aesthetic - that's just my fluctuating tastes. I was "tomboyish" as a child, and retain a lot of fashion preferences from that period (pockets and zips, please!). 

No Frills And No Corsets Practical Style Ramblings:

⚔ Trousers are really quite practical, and yes, I am Captain Obvious. 
I love wearing trousers. It actually took me until I was in my late teens to show any sign of appreciation for skirts, before then I thought of them primarily as outdated and impractical rather than pretty.  You can run freely in most styles of trousers, you are unlikely to end up accidentally flashing your underwear if you attempt something vaguely gymnastic, they keep your legs warm and cosy without tights, and and there are trousers to suit and fit every body type. 

⚔ Combats are probably the MOST practical.
My favourite type of trousers are combats (cargo trousers in America - which is odd as I would have thought the more militaristic name would be preferred), preferably black. I used to have a pair of camouflage combat trousers as a kid, but since my teens I have preferred plain black. Since seeing some rather nice grey and black 'urban camo' pattern combat trousers, I've been interested in getting a pair of those, because the greys do break up the black. 

⚔ Strappy trousers are not the sole preserve of 'Mall Goths'
I actually like those trousers with the abundant pockets, extra wide legs and straps. The straps are often removable if they get in the way, the pockets are really useful, the wide legs fit and flatter a variety of body shapes, and they actually don't look quite as overtly militaristic as combat trousers. Sadly they have become associated with 'Mall Goths', which I think is perplexing as I personally associate them more with certain branches of Rivethead and Cybergoth style. Raven has a fabulous pair in black with red detailing that he wears as part of red and black Cybergoth-inspired outfits. Hearing them called "bondage pants" is odd to me (especially as a Brit- "pants" here are underwear! I do know that "pants" are trousers in America.) as they do not seem particularly fetish related to me (I would imagine "bondage pants" as something involving leather, chastity devices and lots of D and O rings to be useful for restraint and actual bondage... I may not have the cleanest imagination.) 

Aside: as a teenager I could not order that sort of trouser online because the "parental filters" that took the BDSM interpretation of the concept of "bondage pants" rather than the strapped trousers interpretation. 

⚔ Patent leather ankle boots and suchlike should be an obvious choice. 
Doc Marten's are the traditional brand; they are well-made, comfortable shoes. They have been worn by subcultural types for decades (sometimes literally) and are brilliant. There are a lot of cheaper imitations on the market now, as the style has become fashionable again. I prefer the original brand for quality and comfort.  

⚔ Army boots are not just for the army.
I have a pair of ex-British Army combat boots. They are warm (with an insole) and comfortable. I have a few military friends, all of whom have given me tips on how to achieve and maintain a high gloss finish (I'm looking at you, Sarge!). I have an acquaintance (who runs a shop selling antique militaria; I bought a sword off her) whose daughter was a Goth and who reliably informs me that the most hard-wearing and comfortable army boots to be worn every day, as tried and tested by her daughter, are those intended for the French Foreign Legion. I have not yet managed to try a pair to know for myself. 

Also, fake 'military boots' with the zips at the side have proven unreliable in my experience; I have had the zips damaged or break more than once, especially on cheaper boots. 

⚔ Hiking boots do come in black.
If you're going hiking, don't feel that the boots have to be brown. My hiking boots are black. I do a lot of stuff that involves walking off road, up mountains and hills and in forests, and hiking boots are specifically designed for hiking. 

⚔ Shirts are for everybody.
I wear a lot of plain black button up shirts  - fitted ones, yes, but ones that are better described as women's work shirts than as blouses. I see blouses as having more decorative details and being made of more decorative materials. In summer I tend to wear black button-up short-sleeved shirts over a thin tank-top. I can vary the amount of buttons undone in accordance with the temperature, or just take it off and tie it around my waist if it gets hot enough (and, of course, slater on the suncream!). 

⚔ Turtle-neck jumpers are not only for the late Steve Jobs. 
In winter I am very frequently seen having traded in my frills and skirts for black combat trousers, a black turtle neck, a scarf and my leather long coat. Having a turtleneck on under the scarf is such good insulation, especially in the case of the accidental dislodgement of one's scarf. I have at least 5 black turtle neck jumpers in a variety of thicknesses, and one fluffy grey and black stripy one (although that one is between a cowl neck and turtle-neck). 

⚔ Leather jackets are traditionally Goth AND awesome. 
Do I REALLY need to explain why leather jackets are awesome? No, I didn't think I did. 

That is all, pretty much, I can think to write about. I don't consider myself much of a style guru. I'm better at being practical than being stylish, which I why I actually thought to write this (rather than "how to do look devilishly handsome on combats" or something) and I don't think I am breaking any new ground or doing anything beyond pointing out a few oft-forgotten but pretty obvious things. 

Oh and the ⚔ symbol? I'm STILL on the waiting list for fencing (argh!) and have no proper reason to use the symbol other than I miss waving sword-type things about the place! 

Shout out: Sarge, I KNOW are reading this. I'm hoping calling you generic "Sarge" is anonymous enough (those who know you AND me will know who I mean, hopefully nobody else does). I hope everything is going well for you, and I look forwards to seeing you again, and I hope you got my letters and stuff. You've only got a week left until you're back home! I look forwards to you rocking out on guitar when you get back! Stay safe. 

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Prize Draw!

I was going to run a Prize Draw on Facebook, based on the first 100 people to like my page, but that goes against the Facebook rules for running a page, so I can't do that. Instead, I will run a Prize Draw here. If you've already liked my page in hopes of winning, you'll have to comment here, too. Sorry about that! 

The prize will be a drawing by me, done in biro, based on a graveyard photograph I have taken. It will be between A5 and A4 in size, and unframed due to postage. It is open to anyone in the world, but how long the picture takes to get to you will vary by location. That's just how the postal service is, and is outside of my control. I'm not going to change the prize or offer a monetary substitute or alternative prize. This Prize Draw's prize is exclusively a biro drawing of a graveyard. At the date of writing this, the drawing is not complete, but it will be completed before the Closing Date. 

Have a look at my gallery page to see examples of my art style. 

Closing Date
The closing date to enter the competition was originally going to be based on getting 100 likes, but as this contravenes Facebook's promotions rules, and the fixed date rule from the Advertising Standards Agency, I am going to give a fixed closing date:

One minute to midnight, according to British time, on 1st February (Imbolc) 2013. 
23:59 01/02/2013

You've got about months to comment on this post (and ONLY this post - comments elsewhere don't count!). Any comments made after this time will not be added to the hat. Names will be entered into the hat, and drawn in the week (7 days) after the closing date. 

More Important Stuff
The draw will be supervised by someone who is not a relative of mine, not Raven, and not affiliated to this blog, to make sure that I've really put everyone's names into the hat, and that I'm not peeking. The winner will be notified within 7 days of the closing date. 

One entry per person. Family members of mine can't enter, because that would involve a conflict of interest.

Entry is free. Contestants will be notified by a response in the comments section, and we can communicate via more private means to discuss postage details (address) once a winner has been drawn. Make sure that your comment states clearly that you want to be a entrant into the Prize Draw. If you want to comment on it without entering, please state that in your comment, too. 

This prize draw is being run and promoted by me (HouseCat of Domesticated Goth) and is not promoted, managed, run-by or affiliated with Blogger, Blogspot or Google. 

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Alternative X - Or "HouseCat Goes Clubbing"

I rarely go clubbing. I went out for drinks a couple of weeks back for somebody's leaving 'do', but that was not 'clubbing'! The last time I went clubbing properly was on Halloween night 2011, where incidentally I went to another Alternative X night in Inverness. Back in 2011 Alternative X was held at a club called 'Cake' but when Cake closed, Alternative X was made venue-less. I think Halloween 2011 was their last night for quite a while. 

Anyway, Alternative X is now hosted by Karma Lounge, on Young Street in Inverness. Karma Lounge has hosted other nights that I've really wanted to go to (including UV nights! I love glowing!) but have always been so far unable to go to. Partly it is because I live outside of the town, and don't like travelling around the city as an alternative female on my own. I get a lot less bother when I'm out with Raven. Anyway, I heard some of my friends were going, so arranged to meet up with them and go out.

I hadn't been inside the Karma Lounge before, and it seems like quite a nice place. The main floor is divided into four areas - an entrance area with steps and a ramp, a standing area (part of which was the dance-floor), some seating and tables, and at the back were what looks like cushions and sofas - presumably what gives the place the 'Lounge' aspect of its name! They appeared closed off for the club night, though. Toilets were upstairs and a bit odd to navigate to - I thought I'd accidentally wandered into staff areas to begin with. They have a quote from  Paul's letters to the Galatians about reaping and sowing painted on a cross-beam. There's a building not far away with Bible quotes on the outside wall, telling people not get drunk engraved into the walls, so it's interesting to see the Bible quoted in such different context in the same city (from different centuries).

I was the first person of our little group to arrive, and ended up sitting alone. Two guys sat down next to me, this was fine, they were polite, asked first, etc, didn't bother me. I heard them speaking in Polish, and I recognised the voice... Started a conversation with them, later found out, after talking Roller Derby, that the chap I was talking to was a friend of a friend and that we'd met before at that leaving do I'd mentioned earlier, but in this different context, neither of us had initially recognised the other! Proof that it is a small world (especially in the alternative scene) indeed.

I caught up with my friends, ended up only buying a couple of drinks in the whole night (for others) and people were constantly buying me drinks (apparently I dance well or something... I think I dance badly and people are getting me more drinks to lower my inhibitions and therefore have me dance more (and in a less co-ordinated manner) in order to giggle at this... Perhaps I am paranoid). Drinks were reasonably priced, the Amaretto was tasty (downing shots of it, though, is never a good idea for me!). It was a free entry night, and usually when clubs run free entry nights, the price of the drinks are inflated, but it didn't seem the case with Alternative X and Karma Lounge. 

The music erred more towards rock and Metal than Goth, with a dash of Punk (I was screaming along to the Sex Pistols at one point) but that seemed fair given that the majority of the clientele were Metal-Heads rather than Goths. They did play 'Lucretia, My Reflection' by Sisters of Mercy and 'Spellbound' by Siouxsie and the Banshees, and a couple of other tracks that catered towards the more traditional Goth scene, but I didn't hear EBM or similar, though (although I guess that for those that don't like 'Cyber-Goth' that will be a good thing. 

I met the host, Brian, who is a very friendly person, who went around, looking to see that all the patrons were enjoying themselves. He also introduced me to his wife (whom I first noted for wearing a gorgeous fitted long leather coat, frilly shirt, cincher and New Rocks. Romantic Goth done excellently!) and his wife and I seem to get on really well - we were  chatting away for ages! It's nice to see a Goth night run by someone who seems really passionate and involved with the local scene. 

I had a lot of fun dancing (which is my primary motivation for clubbing) and hanging around with my friends (something that can be done without clubbing, so doesn't count as a motive for going clubbing specifically.) The only bad bit was me accidentally knocking someone's drink out of their hands while dancing. I'm definitely planning on going to Alternative X again. I really wish Raven had been able to go out with me that night, but he was working in the morning; hopefully he'll be able to go to the next one.