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..

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Radio Carol?

I have been interviewed on two different radio stations; BBC Radio Scotland (NATIONAL RADIO! Terrifying!!) and on the podcast/internet radio page Cemetery Confessions, where I was a guest in the discussion as well as specifically interviewed.

My name is Carol (by abbreviation), hence the title. I tend to use 'The House Cat' on this blog rather than my full name, but that would sound odd on those platforms for people who don't know me.

You get to hear what I actually sound like, which means you hear my awfully polished English accent. I live in Scotland, but I'm not Scottish, I'm 'Franglais' - French-English. My French accent got pushed out of me by the time I'd hit my mid teens, sadly. I'm a bit self-conscious that I now sound a lot posher than I actually am; I'm not upper-middle-class. I was raised in poverty from a working class background, but ended up attending a private school on scholarship which is where I got the polished speaking voice. I think this was also made more apparent by my deliberately trying to enunciate clearly to make sure I was understandable. 

BBC Radio Scotland Interview
Firstly the BBC Radio Scotland interview. I was contacted by a represented Kaye Adams Programme to talk about hate crimes against Goths in the wake of the excellent news that the ::Sophie Lancaster Foundation:: has been granted substantial governmental funding to continue their work. I was interviewed alongside two people who have done a LOT more work towards the Goth subculture - Sylvia Lancaster, who is Sophie Lancaster's mother and who spearheads the Foundation and does a huge amount of work to tackle bullying and prejudice, not just against Goths but against all people who are different, and sociologist ::Dr. Paul Hodkinson:: who is a Goth himself and also a researcher who has studied the subculture he is a part of and is one of the preeminent sociologists studying us in an academic sense. 

The BBC Radio Scotland interviews can be found ::here::.  The show is quite long and in different sections, and the section about Goths starts at approximately 1:41:20 (hours, minutes, seconds), and starts with the interview of Sylvia Lancaster. I think it pretty much speaks for itself, and I will not write much about the content here, especially as it is a relatively short section.

I was really nervous about the interview, as it was on live radio, and not just that, but live national radio. I get terrible stage fright at the best of times, and I was literally shaking in the studio before the interview began (and needed the glass of water I was drinking to keep me calm). The first "hi" I say is so meek, with a nervous trying-to-sound-perky tone of voice, and the whole interview had me so nervous that I was talking really quite quickly - I'm sorry if I am a little too fast for some listeners, especially for those for whom English isn't a first language. 

Cemetery Confessions Episode 
I was also a guest on the latest episode of Cemetery Confessions, which is ::here::. We mostly talk about ::an article:: on Darkest Goth magazine. We're quite critical of what was said, but I certainly think the article's heart was in the right place. Even if I disagree with a lot of it, the general push towards Goth being inclusive and keeping away from elitist gate-keeping is a good thing.
I admitted in my discussion that I'm not hugely educated on the music theory and technical aspects of rock music of any sort. This one of the reasons I've not really written much more in the 'Music Monday' category on this blog. I know what I like and that most of what I like falls into genres in and around Goth, but I don't know much about guitar playing, drumming or poking synths - my music education has been mostly classical, and I don't have a deep musical understanding of what I enjoy. 

I was interviewed specifically about being a Goth in the Highlands. I did say that we don't get gigs - this might not be true any more, as one of my friends is trying to get some bands to play here, which should be brilliant. Our community isn't the largest, but it is very vibrant, and because it's a hybrid between subcultures we can get people involved that are outside the scene. I have talked about this at length both in Gothic Beauty magazine and in ::this:: article.

One thing I noticed in retrospective listening, is that I think that some of what I said could be interpreted as a resentment of Christianity; the only resentment I have is to the people and institutions in my childhood who used Christianity as an excuse to be judgemental and restrictive towards me, and those who now couch their prejudices against me in religious terms, although I think is more an expression of their self-righteous and hypocritical bigotry than an expression of Christianity itself, and I know personally a lot of Christians, Goth and otherwise, who are very tolerant and kid people, for whom standing up to injustice and prejudice is a Christ-like action. While I certainly appreciated the artistic, architectural and musical culture of my mixed Anglican and Catholic upbringing, I also did appreciate the sincere faith of those around me, even if it was something I couldn't truly share in myself. 

[One thing I mentioned was how physical suffering is often a component to the path to spiritual attainment in the stories and lives of martyrs and saints, as well as the crucifixion itself, and I didn't mean this as a negative or a criticism, more wondering if that was the origin of the attitude in Western culture for seeing a nobility and spiritual or psychological learning in suffering. As someone who has suffered quite a bit physically and emotionally, back when I was Christian myself as well as since my conversion to Neo-Paganism, I actually found that framework personally helpful. I don't want to romanticise pain as the path to enlightenment, but I found that sometimes I learned the most about myself and life when I was pushed to my limits by terrible circumstances. I don't really know how to express myself well on this topic.]

Again, I was quite nervous, but I think I spoke less quickly than in the more recent BBC interview, but I did stop-start quite a bit - my speaking was somewhat choppy, and I think I got more fluid as the interview progressed and I became more nervous. The interview about being a Goth in the Highlands was definitely marred by my having a cold and breaking out into a coughing fit. 


  1. First of all, I must confess to not listening to the entire "Cemetery Confessions" episode. It was very long and I skipped around, trying to focus on the most pertinent parts. That said, I got to hear quite a lot of it and I listened to the BBC interview in its entirety.

    As for your performance, you did a wonderful job. You didn't sound nervous to me at all during the "Cemetery Confessions" interview, and only slightly so at the beginning of the BBC program. You loosened up quite nicely and focused on the information at hand. Your polished English accent worked well, in my opinion. It made you sound sophisticated and intelligent, which I believe reflects much more positively on us than had you been inarticulate or without a good command of the English language. Plus, I love English accents; so it was nice hearing what you sound like.

    I really enjoyed your description of Inverness and its Gothic attributes. I really have to agree with the program moderator in wondering why there aren't more goths living in your area. Still, you did a great job of describing the geographic and demographic aspects of your region.

    I was also amused by the discussion of goth in the United States. I say amused because the scene seems quite small here in comparison to the U.K. and Germany for example. Of course, my perception may be due to the fact that I live in the southern Bible belt and until the last 20 years or so, my area was somewhat isolated from the rest of the country. I do know that there's an active goth scene in cities such as New York and San Francisco, and perhaps that's what the program's moderator and the author of the article under discussion were talking about. Otherwise, it seems that we face the same problems with the setting up of events as you. People are getting older and are married with work and children etc.

    The person who wrote the article under discussion certainly had some unique perspectives on culture, subculture, and counter-culture. I'm not sure that I agree with her perspective; and quite frankly, I question the desire to dissect goth culture as much as she did. I like things simpler: I know goth when I see it.

    In closing then, I just want to compliment you on a job well done. You've been in a magazine recently and now you've done these two interviews. You're getting known as a go-to person when people have questions about goth, goth fashion, and even architecture. I suspect that there are more interviews in your future and I can't think of a better person to do it.

    Now, if I could only make it to the Highlands to see all of the intriguing things you speak and blog about! That bronze age cemetery sounds like a must see.

    1. I'm glad I didn't sound as nervous as I was. Speaking to such a wide audience with the BBC radio broadcast was utterly terrifying. I was literally shaking with nerves, and glad that my lace gloves did something to disguise that my hands were sweating!

      I think there aren't that many Goths in the Highlands because we've got into a declining spiral; there's fewer shops and events to get people interested, so there's fewer people, and thus they don't put as much into the scene's economy, so the shops, club nights, etc. dwindle further, etc. I hope to organise more events like my graveyard walk and picnic this year to give people the opportunity to congregate, and to give those who need a reasons to dress up and show their true (lack of) colours the excuse. Another issue is that several people have told me they're nervous to dress Goth in public because of the negative reactions. I personally have had less harassment here than in big cities in England, but perhaps the 'small village and town' aspect means there's not the same anonymity as can be found in a city of millions.

      The bronze age cemetery is Clava Cairns, and I've blogged about it, but with terrible photographs. I will have to go back there and take better ones.

    2. I think the decline of the Goth scene is not just in the Highland I think it seems like it's happening nationally with a few exceptions. After meeting you and visiting the area I can appreciate the difficulty trying to maintain that subculture would be difficult for example the public transports not good. I;'m comparing to Newcastle.

      In Newcastle the scene is definitely taking a nose dive. there was goth night that happened and ended but there other issues going on their as well without getting too much into it. I know their a process of possibly getting another one started up. We have decent alternative clothing shops, despite having Phaze from here there is no shop. I remember as teenager we Kathmandu consisted of two shops. There is a thriving rock scene and there has a been a goth band which was a lovely change.

      I think the Goth scene seems to be thriving in larger cities in York, Leeds, Manchester and London. I can't comment in Scotland as I don't know. about it.

      I'm going to stop rambling. Thank you for showing me your wonderful City.

    3. Yes, the public transport is relatively good within city limits, but beyond that it can be sparse. Even within the city there are reliability issues.

      Inverness is a very historical city, and I hope you liked the cemetery/necropolis at Tomnahurich. It was nice meeting you too.

  2. You did really great in the CC episode! It was a really interesting discussion.

    1. Thank-you :) I have a tendency to wander off on a tangent sometimes, but I think I manage to stay mostly on topic, and I'm glad the discussion was interesting. The Count's always really interesting.

  3. Congratulation on your recent success. I couldn't think of better candidate to representative the community and as both a goth and blogger. As all your posts are well researched and executed in presenting all the arguments with your personal perspective. I often feel as I'm actually reading a academic piece rather than a blog posts. Personally, I prefer this style and will endever to listen at some point. I look forward to more your highland series.

    1. I'm hoping that Ill be able to take more photos of people in the local Goth scene soon now that the weather is improving. We've had a "mild" winter in so much as it hasn't been snowy, but it's rainy and windy instead, and that's equally bad for photos (as the ones in my New Year's Resolutions post show!).


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