The horns the horns the horns…

The destruction of a perfectly good word;

So, when I was about fourteen I had a friend who was chronically ill, and she was in hospital quite a bit. One of the things that happened was that she got impacted bowels sometimes from being, well, confined to a hospital bed by the sheer amount of gubbins she was hooked up to. One day, when we were there, she was gleefully celebrating having had a massive bowel movement – “Litres and litres of the fucking stuff” as she put it, watery diarrhoea brought on by a bad takeaway that we’d brought in the night before. The nurse, who was not all that much older than us and was hanging around, put the theory that she had been cured by a lamb jalfrezi soundly to bed with a metaphor;

“You know the Tyne Tunnel, right? There’s always traffic jams, the lorries backed up all the way across the river. So you get to the roundabout on the way in, and there’s nothing but motorbikes…”

Thus meaning that, regardless of all else, I can’t use the word “motorbikes” without a puerile little giggle. Which explains my many circumlocutions to avoid talking about the plural of a motorcycle. Difficult when owning one, and having friends with more than one motorbike, and more than one motorbike-owning friend.


Motorbikes morotbikes motorbikes. Aaaaahahahahahaa.


But what else is this about – Well, it’s that friendship group. To a greater or lesser extent, we were all goths. Or enough into metal and poetry and victorian gothic literature and tattoos that the difference was negligible. And we were probably the most tightly-knit large friendship group that I’ve ever been in, beyond even the normal teenage things.

Could argue which direction the horse and cart are travelling in here, but since we were a group that read books and listened to music that adressed things like depression, physical illness, and loneliness we were both more ready to recognise it in each other, and to accept people who were suffering. When our friends were depressed, we could name it and knew the beginnings of how to deal with it. We knew that, sometimes, “I don’t want to be around anyone” really meant “I don’t want to be around anyone” and not “I hate you personally” which was a step up from most teenagers. We knew about the complicated relationships between the Byrons and the Shelleys and their friends, so we knew that “You slept with my partner!” didn’t necessarily mean that the friendship was over, or that the pair was doomed, or even that monogamous pairings were the answer to everything. And, of course, we were teenagers, so we got everything wrong, but we’d look for frameworks within our culture, and lo, there were plenty.

And now there’s another study out saying that teenage goths are more likely to be depressed, and that this means that goths should be watched more closely than other subcultures. And, well, that just feels wrong. I don’t think that being a member of a subculture, even one that does go digging into the dark, is going to trigger a mental illness. I think that, if you’re already depressed or heading towards a mental illness, finding a subculture where depression is considered to be just part of the spectrum of human experience rather than being either the bogeyman or something to be joked about is pretty much a relief.


Unrelatedly; Just got my 666th comment!


One thought on “The horns the horns the horns…

  1. You won’t be surprised to hear that I used to have a coterie of depressed, self-harming gothy bairns…

    The interpretation that we all put on the relationship or otherwise between gothiness and depression or self harm (it was discussed quite a bit as I frequently found that conversations around why we were there were helpful as a means of engaging someone, that and the meta-conversations about the processes involved and dissecting the meanings of the words we used) was that a significant number of more sensitive bairns with a tendency towards depression and/or self harm gravitated to a gothy subculture as it was more accepting of them as they were rather than how someone else thought they should be. That point is actually made in the paper you mention, even if some of teh meejah coverage doesn’t say that.

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