Monday, October 31, 2005

We raise our hats to the strange phenomena

I really think our culture would benefit from celebrating Halloween properly. Not all this plastic pumpkin crap but I mean a festival of darkness for the grown-ups like the Day of The Dead or the Venice Carnival, where we all get dressed up, preferably masked and explore the side of us we usually keep under the bed.

In Whitby we've just had Goth weekend. Currently the town is swarming with folk of all ages (about sixteen to sixty-five), some in full Victoriana, others in rubber, PVC and leather, most men and women wearing
some sort of corset.

I do think it is notable that the Goth movement only really sustains itself in rather repressed teutonic cultures like our own, Germany and Scandinavia. Cultures where we actually
have something we keep under the bed. I like the Goths a lot. I don't know any other subcultures that can take over a small Northen seaside resort for two weekends a year without such as a murmur of local opposition. Plus some of them are hot.

The people to whom Halloween or
Samhain really belongs are folks like Marit over at Baba Yaga's Hut who has carved the most beautiful jack o' lantern I have ever beheld. She also offers advice on Scrying, whatever that is. Marit is a great artist you ought to check out.

As for myself, the only ‘supernatural’ phenomenon I am forced to entertain is the idea of some sort of psychic communication between us. There have been some rigorous experiments that seem to suggest that this exists – not in the sense that you and I could communicate through thought alone, but that sometimes it is possible to transmit information, particularly emotional information, between ourselves. I mean we are well aware about sorts of energy which we can’t see, hear or feel; radio waves, radiation etc. So despite my otherwise materialist worldview, I don’t think it is beyond the realms of possibility that there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Most people have many examples of when they happened to feel a sudden urge to contact someone at some random yet subsequently crucial moment. I have loads of such incidents, especially involving my family and closest friends. The most profound one within our family was when we were quite small and one weekend my Dad decided to visit my grandparents by himself. At this time, we saw a great deal of my grandparents and Andrew who was living with them at the time. We usually walked round there together, Dad never went by himself, but today he decided to do this and to go by car. He didn’t bother phoning before he went either, which my Mum thought very odd behaviour.

When he turned into their road, he was greeted with the sight of my granddad, his hair and shirt sticky with blood, standing in front of his car, my uncle Andrew behind the wheel. Andrew’s learning difficulties were so profound that it seems unlikely that he would have been able to make the car go forward, but if he had, he almost certainly wouldn’t have been able to stop it (if in this disturbed state it would actually occur to him to do so). My Dad managed to intervene, get Andrew out of the car somehow. I think this episode began one of Andrew’s periods under section. As I have explained before, the medication Andrew took for epilepsy and other medical conditions would send him rather loopy at times. He was no worse than a stroppy child, only he was the size of a man and as such became an unwitting danger to other people. My Granddad wasn’t badly hurt, only it was a scalp wound so had bled profusely. However, without my Dad turning up on this random visit, it could have been a lot worse.

As for ghosts, well almost all ‘hauntings’ are supposed to be connected to fairly dramatic events. It occurs to me that if there is some form of transmittable emotional energy as I describe, then there is no reason why these things can’t leave their mark on a place – rather like radiation. Souls haven’t returned to haunt a place, only the place remains ‘charged’ with what happened there.

However my most vivid and inexplicable first-hand ‘ghostly’ incident doesn’t really comply with such a theory. It happened one Sunday morning when Mum and I were walking to my other grandparent’s house. We had just begun to worry about my Grandad Wellfare’s failing health. Both my mother and I were very close to Granddad.

The people who lived on the end of our road were Catholics and often had coffee mornings and other meetings round at their house, so there were often a number of cars parked near the end of the road. Today I noticed that there was a very old fashioned looking car parked really close to the corner of the road – dangerously so really. I don’t know much about old cars, but it was very much the shape of a black cab. And it was black, but it wasn’t a taxi. In the passenger seat there sat a woman in late middle age. She was dressed in black, but in a quite old-fashioned formal way with a hat, and a lacey white color. As we passed, she smiled very broadly and waved, which I didn’t think much of because my Mum was always bumping into people she knew and I didn’t. I smiled back and when we were round the corner and a little way up the road I asked, “So who was that?”

“You didn’t see her too?” Mum said in surprise.

“The lady in the car, right?”

“Oh. That was my Grandma Wellfare.”

I don’t need to tell you that my great Grandmother had been dead for some time at this point. I was then sworn to secrecy on the matter, which I guess she’d probably let me off by now. What followed was a very painful period for us all; my Granddad had pancreatic cancer which carried him away within the space of a few months (an extremely santitised version of events). Yeah, I know. Well it wouldn’t be a spooky story if I included the rational explanation.

Now for some real horror, today I have been revisiting The Kick Inside by Kate Bush and singing along. Ooh, let me grab it, let me gra-a-a-ab your soul away-ay-ay...


pete said...

Hi Goldfish,
My daughter(18 then) was into Goth for a while. Before the slap(make-up as she called it)went on she looked really beautiful in layered skirts, corsets and ribbons in her hair. Very victorian and très féminin. The effect was rather spoiled by the boots. Huge, clunky and plastered with chrome plates boots. You could have gone deep sea diving with them.

Kate Bush I loved that woman to bits.

w1ld child said...

Love the footwear. I considered being a goth but as the Blades play in red and white the colours don't quite fit.

As an aside how do I put an avatar on my profile, pete's done me a great pic and I can't get it to display.

marmiteboy said...

I never really got 'goth'although the fashion did impress me somewhat. The women always looked very beautiful, especially the mohican's and multicoloured hair. There is a lovely goth girl at out local B & Q., I might have keep going back to buy rawl plugs. I couldn't stand the music though, especially The Sisters or The Mission. I really tried and even bought a Sisters of Mercy album once (I forget which one). I still have the first Dead Can Dance album on vinyl though.

I can understand AJ's reluctance to go and see the Medics. Comedy band they were. I used to know Vom, the drummer quite well as he was local to me and used to go the same indie club as I did. The two girls are Southend lasses too so I used to see them about quite a bit.

You mention your strange experiences with ghostly things. I'm a believer of sorts. I'm not sure I believe in ghosts, although I don't disbelieve your story but there are somethings that can't really be explained away. About 18 months ago my Granddad was in hospital. He had cancer of the oesophagus and had had a stent fitted to help him swallow. He had been taken in over the weekend because his blood counts were quite low.They had stablised him though and when my Nan, Mum and Dad left hospital that night he was really quite well. My Mum phoned me at about 10.30 to tell me this. At about 2 o'clock that morning I woke up with an inexplcable feeling of dread that I couldn't really explain however I eventually got to sleep again. As I was leaving the house that morning I had a feeling that I should check my answerphone messages, which is something that I never did in the morning. On it there was a message from my Mum to ring her, when I did she told me that my Granddad had taken a sudden turn for worse in the night whilst sleeping and had died at about 2 o'clock, precisely the time I had woken up.

Coincidence? I'm not altogether sure.

Gimpy Mumpy said...

Great boots!

I was brought up in a bit of an unorthodox household and so thought dead people always rode around in cars and such. My mom sees her friends (or thinks she does) who have died riding around all of the time. She'll say "oh look there's so and so" and I'd wave, only then realizing that they weren't with us anymore. Whether one believes it or not, I think this eased her pain a bit at the loss of so many friends over the years.

Anonymous said...

As a bit of an ageing ex-Goth (ah, happy days!), I was under the impression that *every* weekend in Whitby was Goth Weekend? And every week? :)

Lady Bracknell said...

Lady Bracknell is gladdened by the fact that Kate Bush's new album will be released on the 7th of this month.

The Goldfish said...

Well, as Vaughan suggests, there is an element of Goth weekend every weekend, but the October and April events usually increase the local goth population from a four or five hundred to four or five thousand - which in Whitby is a lot.

Mind you, not many people of Whitby call themselves goth. Many of my goth male acquaintances claim they only dress that way because no lady goths can resist the charm of a geniune authentic Whitby goth. And even I have been described as a goth by my sister's friends who live in Hampshire and buy all their clothes from M&S.

w1ld child, you could easily be a red and white goth. There are a whole tribe of 'fairy goths' who dress in white. They are rather sinister fairies however.

As for the music, there is really a huge variety that passes as Goth even though it's only actually slightly morbid - everything from Demeche Mode, Nick Cave, Sioxsie and the Banshees through to "Nu Metal" bands like Evanescence, with all what I call "Dalek Music" like Alien Sex Fiend in between. How The Medics feature in all this I don't know. There are purests who have pupport strict definitions but actually most goths I have spoken to know very little about the music. It's all about dressing up.

Lady B - Yes, Kate Bush's long awaited album is out next week but I must say I've heard some fairly pessimistic reviews.

Lady Bracknell said...

Lady Bracknell cares not for the opinions of the reviewers.

Well, not enough to not buy the CD, anyway....

Marit Cooper said...

:-D Thank you! *Hugs*