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..

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Rapture Night

Rapture is a Metal, Rock & Goth night held at the Karma Lounge in Inverness. 

Raven and I went out clubbing last night. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed the evening. I spent time ahead of going out on such things as heat-straightening my purple wig, painting my cut-out, leather-effect mask from Accessorise with glitter nail-polish at the edges, and hot-gluing glittery fabric flowers from Primark onto an alice-band after the original elastic snapped. 

Festive coffin! Photo by Raven

It didn't start on time, which is my only major complaint - the published start was 21:30, but we didn't get in until after 22:00, which meant a group of us ended up waiting and chatting in the cold. The weather wasn't that bad, especially for mid-December in the Highlands - it was actually unusually mild. No snow, temperatures above freezing, only a drizzle of rain. We were all mutually acquainted to some degree, which meant we could have a nice chat (the alternative scene up here is rather small, most of us know each other at least a little bit). 

The night itself was brilliant, with a lot of metal, moshing and head-banging to be done. I am certainly a Goth rather than a Metalhead, but even I ended up head-banging along with the others. I would say that Rapture leans more toward Metal and Rock than Alternative X, which is more varied. I made several requests and suggestions on the event's Facebook page in advance (I like to give a selection of suggestions rather than make a single request, that way it is more likely that a selected piece will match my tastes, the DJ's tastes, and the rest of the music for the night) of which at least two were played; 'Ribbons' by Sisters of Mercy and the Blutengel song 'Reich mir die Hand', which has all-German lyrics and therefore no awkward English phrasing, something that occurs in some of their English and bi-lingual songs.

One thing I feel I ought to note is that this is one of the rare times I have been out clubbing and not had the persistent attention of anyone trying to pressurise me with unwanted sexual advances - I don't know if security are doing a better job of keeping out known "creepers" or what, but I quite like having a night out without some person who will not leave me alone after being politely told that I am not interested trying to invade my personal space or worse still, touch me without my permission. 

I met up with lots of friends, some I hadn't seen in a while, and made a couple of new acquaintances (including a lassie who wasn't much into Metal, but really liked the Goth clothes of our little group). All in all, it was a good night, and I had a lot of fun (and trotted off for a chicken pakora later). I woke up rather late today (oops) and a bit sore from doing myself an injury by dancing too vigorously for my attire and lack of sobriety, but otherwise cheerful and satisfied. 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Glasgow Travels Part 3

Sunday 1st December
I, having not gone out drinking the night before, was awake before the others, trying to pack my things very quietly. We had to go at lunchtime and I didn't want to wake the others. My outfit for the day was Gothic Lolita style, with a knee length velvet tiered skirt worn with two petticoats for pouf, a black satin blouse with ruffles at the neck, lace gloves, my black wig, rose patterned tights, black ruffled knee-socks and black velvet booties with ruffles. 

Our plan was to visit the Tempo Tea room on Queen Street for bubble tea, and then visit the Goth shops along the same street. Sadly, most things open really late on a Sunday on that road - at midday, giving us little time before departing for out coach. Further along road musing is the Gallery of Modern Art, which we only had time to walk past, not visit. 

Wellington, wearing a majestic road cone into battle!
Outside the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow, photo by Raven
I did however, get to visit the Osiris Goth shop, and have peek in the windows of the two Goth shops opposite. There are two floors of Gothic goodies, with my favourite things being downstairs, including a nice selection of shoes including some frilly platform ankle boots that I WILL return to buy, some rather nice jackets from Hearts & Roses London, and mini-mini-hats (they're less than two inches across) and assorted Romantic Goth stuff. I could have spent a fortune (mostly on shoes) had I fortune to spend, but being on a tight budget, I bought an over-sized Ankh necklace because it seemed remarkably like the one Death wore in Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics... Yes, a Goth cliche, but I don't care!

I saw a good few Gothic types about the city, and especially around the Goth shops.

After a springbok burger (from the same stand as the kangaroo one the day before) for brunch, we went back to Sarge's apartment, finished packing up our things, with little time to spare, and rushed all the way to the coach station on foot, passing an interesting group of pipes and drums, and several more buskers. Buskers are something Glasgow has a lot of, and which I saw plenty of throughout my visit. We got there a couple minutes after official boarding time, but the coach was so full that Raven and I still ended up waiting in a queue for ages. The coach journey back was nearly four hours long, and I did not have a book or my iPod with me, and sadly Raven and I were seated separately. The lady next to me was engrossed in her book (a murder mystery, I think, from the cover) and the chap next to me busy on his laptop, so I sat quietly playing games on my phone for part of the journey, and getting really bored for the rest. I was on an aisle seat, too, so enjoying the scenery meant craning my neck. Sitting still doing nothing is NOT my strong point - next time, I will remember to bring a book to read. 

I really enjoyed Glasgow - it seems to have a lot of good restaurants, plenty of shops catering to my non-mainstream tastes, a large Alternative community of many sorts, many museums and galleries, a lot of interesting history, and plenty of nice buildings. Most of all, though, it has my friends. I would like to thank the Scottish Lolita community on Facebook for suggesting many of the places to visit (like the Christmas Market!), even if I did not get to visit all of them (or ran out of time, like with the bubble tea and the Gallery of Modern Art). I am sure to visit Glasgow again, and see new things the next time I am there. 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Glasgow Travels Part 2

Saturday 30th November
Saturday morning started early - Sarge woke up to missed calls from Cordelia and Raven to text messages asking if we'd been caught up in the helicopter crash. I somehow combined the two in my sleepy head and got worried that Cordelia had been hurt, having not yet established the time of the accident, or really woken up to clarity yet. Sarge went out to check on Cordelia, who it turns out had only been looking for directions to a particular bus stop, and was  safe well. While he was out, we looked up the news reports for the helicopter crash, and suddenly the shouting and sirens from the night before made sense.  The news made the mood subdued, but it was still St. Andrew's day, and nobody we knew personally was affected. 

Goth meets Visual Kei, Aristocrat style.
Thanks to Raven for the snap. 
Outfit rundown: Wig - offbrand ♛ satin ruffled shirt -  Zanzea ♛ waistcoat - modified from Oasis charity shop find ♛ lace gloves - Accessorise ♛ brocade frock-coat - Hearts & Roses London ♛ brocade trousers - Primark ♛ lace over-skirts - Gothic, Lolita & Punk ♛ platform buckle boots - Demonia 

I picked out my outfit for the day - one inspired by a mix of Goth and Visual Kei styles, especially some the styles worn by Versaille Philharmonic Quintet - one of my favourite Japanese bands. I had neither the amount of accessories and fanciness with me to pull off a look as elaborate as that of the band, nor the inclination. Raven wore all black with New Rock boots and a trench-coat.

I am a terrible photographer

After a breakfast of left-overs from the night before, we headed out, first to the Christmas Market in St. Enoch's Square, and then to the adjacent mall. I am not a fan of malls, but I needed to use the bathroom, so we went in. After I used the facilities, we had a wander around. The mall has some interesting modern art/sculptures on the wall, and fabulous Christmas decorations. It was also very busy, and I am not a huge fan of crowded places by any means (not to mention navigating my way through a crowd in platform boots while having spacial awareness and coordination difficulties is tricky!). One thing did make me pause in the mall - a shop called Pulp selling pop-culture merchandise (with an Adventure Time promotion) band t-shirts, horror-kitsch fashion and Gothic printed clothes. I saw a vinyl clutch with a skull clasp and skeleton finger print design that I did very nearly buy, and some Iron Fist zombie shoes that caught my with its eyeballs, but I had to be careful with my spending so alas, I left without buying either. 

Such Beautiful Intricacies

We went back to the Christmas Market, which smells gorgeous with various food stalls, and investigated it further. There was a stall of Nepalese things run by a Nepalese chap that some flutes from that area - I already have one, but I couldn't resist trying one out, and so I very nearly ended up with a second. We headed off to a stall sending non-alcoholic mulled hot drinks, and I went for a hot sarsaparilla with spices that was both warming and delicious - a little too warm when I tripped, steadied myself on Raven, causing him to spill his drink, and spilling mine across my hand. It wasn't enough to properly scald me, but it hurt, and holding my hand against the cold marble of a nearby stone wall helped a lot! 

Classical inspiration in an ornate facade.

Our plan for the day was to head off to the Necropolis, and so we set off on a hike in that direction. In retrospect, I should have brought more sensible boots, but I had anticipated travelling by bus and I hadn't anticipated how many cobbled and uneven paths Glasgow has - I am so used to the concrete flagstone pavements of Inverness! On our walk, I kept stopping to photograph interesting bits of architecture, probably more times than I ought to, as you can probably tell from all of these photographs! It's like there's a more elegant world floating above street level. 

Gorgeous columns - I wish shopping centres were still built this fancy!
Glasgow was considered the second city of the British Empire by many in the 19thC and when looking at its glorious and ornate architecture you can see plenty of architectural grandeur that was built to display considerable wealth at the same time as make the city beautiful. It is slightly unnerving to think that this was mostly built back in the days of colonialism, work-houses, brutal child labour and non-existant health-and-safety, so a lot of the buildings built then would have been funded off a lot of suffering, but this is just like every other major European city full of beautiful 18th and 19thC buildings, and old castles built on heavy taxation of peasants, etc. At least something beautiful that people will enjoy for centuries has come of it. I'd rather look at such architecture as a memorial to the people who toiled and suffered and the cleverness of the architects than as a memorial to the merchants and property developers who commissioned them. 

Bank Window

On the way to the Necropolis, we found some public art with a Pagan theme at the corner of Shuttle St. and George St. - stone benches around a well converted into what appears to be a fire-pit, with a circle carved into the paving around the well/fire with symbols for the four elements and rather poetic invocations of them, with a mini "avenue" of stones engraved with natural and spiritual poetry. It looked fairly recent, and the iconography seems genuinely Pagan, so it made me curious. This is something I would really like to know more about, so if any Glaswegian readers know more about it and care to enlighten me, do tell me. 

We headed up past a wonderful occult shop called ::23 Enigma:: (website doesn't appear to have been updated recently) selling items for Wiccan, Neo-Pagan, and other magical paths. I had to stop and shop! I really didn't want to spend much at all, so bought a black orb-shaped candle with moulded Celtic designs, a Green Man fridge-magnet and a greetings card to send to a friend. Their selection of Pagan and occult (and Gothic) jewellery is fabulous, they have a wide variety of books on topics from Wicca to ceremonial magic, wands, cauldrons, crystal balls (Raven bought a crystal ball) and the chap behind the counter was very polite and helpful. Sadly it, and it's sister shop - Ladywell Crystals (slightly more New Age) is under threat of closure as the building it is housed in is in dire need of repair, with a damp problem, but the company from which the building is leased have as yet refused to sort the problem. There is a petition ::here:: if this matters to you. 

Rows Of Graves - here they look jumbled!
View it on Google's satellite imaging and you'll see the neat rows.

After a trip to the occult shop, we headed up to the Necropolis, which is essentially a graveyard city, eternal resting place of many of the rich merchants from when Glasgow was at its Victorian peak as the second city of the Empire. As such, it has an amazing collection of monuments and mausoleums and is very meticulously laid out on the hill, which according to the chap from 23 Enigma has a long history before the Necropolis was built, and that it is home to far more ancient burials. This isn't something I had time to explore properly, but again, if anyone knows more about this, I would love to know. 

An Eerie Mausoleum... Can I Live There? 
It is incredibly beautiful, and these are only a fraction of the photographs I took, and a fraction of those I could have taken if I had stayed there longer. The Necropolis does have proper paths, but they are gravel paths, which was something I hadn't reckoned on them being, as they look tarmac on Google's satellite view! For my own future visits and those of others, I would recommend flat shoes, and NOT platforms. I can walk on a good variety of surfaces in those boots (and dance, and run... You'd be surprised!) but anything unstable like gravel is a definite no! Many thanks to Raven and Sarge for helping me down several of the sloped paths... 

I have no idea what this building is except pretty.
The Necropolis is on a hill, accessed by crossing the Bridge of Sighs (presumably so named after the sighing and weeping of the funeral processions that crossed it) and its elevation affords beautiful views across the city. I took a few photographs, including the one above. As you can probably tell from most of the photographs posted, it was a dull and cloudy day. Thankfully, it wasn't too cold out - a change from the Highlands! It wasn't completely overcast, and I did get one where the sun peeked through the clouds. 

Look! Warm colours! 
While I was busy photographing mausoleums and the scenery, Raven and Sarge got talking about more Jewish stories.

The next item on the itinerary was a trip to the ::Tchai Ovna House of Tea::. I changed into a frillier outfit with marginally more practical shoes and considerably more impractical skirts, and Raven into something less casual, and we set off towards the West End of glasgow via the subway from St. Enoch's. 

After a short walk through a district rich in things like vintage shops and proper grocers, we went down some back streets to 42 Otago Road, a small, old building in what looks like an old light-industrial set of buildings (it was dark by this point, hard to tell). The decor was very bohemian and eclectic with elements from locals quite fitting to the origins of the teas and shisha pipes. The Tchai Ovna House of Tea has currently got an exhibition of magical and fantasy art by Julia Helen Jeffery, which I am sad to be missing. Raven and Sarge played chess with each other while we drank a variety of delicious teas - I had a variety of Darjeeling tea, Raven drank a hot spiced apple fruit tea that he has become quite fond of and Sarge drank Faerie Blood - a mixture of fruits, flowers and spices with a rich blood-red colour. I had to try some (drinking it sounded like a particularly supernatural form of vampirism :P) and it was really quite nice! The plan was originally to meet up with Cordelia again, and another female friend, but that plan fell through. 

On the way back, only a few doors down, is a secondhand book-shop. Its atrium is stacked to the brim with books being sold at £1 each. I spotted a book on Pre-Raphaelites from the street (I'm not joking, I really did... I'm not sure if that makes me eagle-eyes or obsessed.) which was my bargain of the day. I didn't have time for a proper look 'round but it looked like the sort of book shop where many a bargain may be found. I think I spotted an old edition of a collection of Wordsworth's poems with a beautiful gilt hardback cove, which would have been nice to add to my collection of Romantic poetry books. 

We went back to Sarge's apartment and changed once more, this time for dinner. I wore the nicest (and above-knee) skirt I had packed, my sky-scraping red satin and black lace burlesque heels, patterned tights and a satin blouse with ruffles, with a straight black wig. Raven wore a suit with a jacket with a Mandarin collar and altogether neat black clothes. We all went to the Nippon Kitchen for dinner, and ate some rather delicious food. Unfortunately I had forgotten to bring my glasses and gave myself a headache reading the menu. I went for miso soup, battered prawns, a sea-food bento, and some nigiri, with black sesame ice-cream with poppy seeds and cream as a desert. Unfortunately there was a mix-up with the waitress and Sarge got served my nigiri! The restaurant were awfully nice about it and made replacement nigiri for me free of charge!

I, having developed a headache, retired to sleep after dinner. Sarge and Raven went out to at least one pub and came back in the early hours of the morning, with one friend they had met while out. I was asleep, but apparently a spillage of tea occurred and the letter I had written to send back to my friend got rather sticky and damp.

Check my next post for what happened on Sunday! 

Monday, 2 December 2013

Glasgow Travels Part 1

Friday 29th November
Raven and I headed South to Glasgow by coach. We arrived at the coach station at about 21:00. It was dark on our drive in, but I remember passing Stirling with the castle illuminated on its crag, and then approaching Glasgow, with the tops of tower-blocks ringed by bright coloured lights (I guess that's one way of making drab 1960's architecture more exciting) and then arriving at Buchanan St. bus station rather tired! We were met by our good friends Sarge and Cordelia, and walked from the bus station to Sarge's centrally located apartment. I kept getting distracted by the amazing architecture of the central shopping distract as we walked, and at one point was so distracted by buildings that I walked into a bollard!

Our original plan was to go to Sloan's pub, and then go out for drinks in various places, but we were both too tired and too hungry, and in the end settled for popping into the Tesco mini-shop at St. Enoch's to buy food. While in there I spotted a very lovely Goth lady wearing New Rocks [if you're reading this -"hello!" - I was the girl in Gothic Lolita]. We had dinner of pittas, houmous, olives and a something that was between paella and stir-fry. 

Sadly, that night there was a terrible and fatal air accident not very far from where we were staying. A helicopter malfunctioned and crashed into the Clutha bar which was at that point rather busy as it was hosting a gig by ska band Esperanza. I had no idea that it had happened at the time. I heard a bit of a commotion, but didn't think it any more than the sorts of commotions sadly frequent on late Friday evenings on many of our city streets. Quite a few people people died - the two police officers in the helicopter and their pilot, and at least six of those who were in the pub. My heart goes out to all of the families affected. May those whose lives were cut short in this tragic accident be remembered. 

On a more cheerful note, his weekend was part of Hannukah, and Sarge, being Jewish, held a little celebration, complete with a small home-made hannukiyah and a rather specific sort of jam-filled doughnuts (yum!) Apparently a Hannukah candelabra, while often referred to as a Menorah, is actually a Hannukiyah, as a Menorah has fewer branches. The story as told to me by Sarge, goes like this: "The candelabra or Menorah as they (mistakenly) call it in English represents the original Menorah of the temple of Salomon. The temple had been sacked by the Greeks during their occupation, but the rebel Macabis drove them back, and took the temple back. They were about to proceed to light the Menorah, which had seven branches, one for every day of the week, but all the oil pots had been smashed, except a small one, which should've lasted them a day, and yet it lasted 8 days, hence the 8 days of Hannukah  and the 9 branches on a Hannukiyah (as it should be called), so 8 branches for the 8 days, and one more for the candle you use to light the others with (essentially a taper)."

That was Friday - check out my next post for what I did on Saturday! Lots of photographs aheas