Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Whitby--The Director's Cut

Okay, I'm going to go on a little so you should grab yourself a panad and a biscuit first.

The Hostel

We stayed at the Whitby Youth Hostel, and it was amazing. Swipe cards to get in and out. Bunk beds. A ‘help yourself to any seven items’ complimentary breakfast with scrambled eggs, beans, toast, pain au chocolat among other things... En suite shower that never ran out of hot water. I’d pick it over a Travel, Premier or Holiday Inn any day. And it’s set in the grounds of an old Benedictine Abbey, the courtyard of which you have to drive through to get to the car park. Even the Guardian says it’s bloody fantastic.


The first social encounter was with a friend of my SO’s, Carolyn. An acquaintance of hers through Steampunk Magazine, we met up on the Friday evening and she left us on the Saturday afternoon. There were five of us and one of her. I admire her for taking us on single-handed. She was wonderfully tolerant of our inside talk and jokes, intelligent and relaxed, and a pleasure to spend the majority of the weekend with. I’m looking forwards to seeing her again in September.

The Friday Night Set

Zeitgeist Zero, Last Dance and Abney Park were playing the night set. Zeitgeist Zero were okay. I haven’t hear live music in so long that I loved just listening to them. Last Dance were a great live band who played a very short set. Jeff Diehm made a great front man and shared a touching story about Abney Park’s early days.

Who were, of course, the main draw. I’ll be honest, before going I could sort of take or leave them, really. Boy, did their show change that. I would never believe that a band which relies on sequences could put on such an engaging show. Cpt. Robert was constantly on his toes, stealing the stage back from Nathaniel and Finn. There was no producers/consumers line, we were just altogether sharing an experience. We wouldn’t let them off the stage. They got through all their regular songs, and then their new ones. Then the old ones. Then the really, really old ones. Then any bloody song they could still play. It reminds me of the stories you hear about Zeppelin’s first American tour, when the audience wouldn’t let them leave the stage and they just played old Elvis songs until they could escape.


I’ve already aired my feelings about photographs at concerts, but they extend to all walks of life. You can’t photograph the feel of the wind, the intangible atmosphere of a moment or the small slips in reality which happen when you’re not looking, and you can’t experience them if you’re sticking a camera lens in-front of your face the whole time. This girl converted me a few years ago.

The streets were filled with goths and steampunks. They were also filled with people with cameras. I was in costume and walking through town on Friday and Saturday, and I couldn’t go more than five steps without someone asking if they could take my photo. It wasn’t just me--it was all the goths and steampunks who’d made an effort. Some of the photographers were tourists and locals (one adolescent child took great pleasure in snapping me on her ‘phone.) As Ngaio said at the time, it’s kind of weird to think I’m now part of someone’s holiday experience. A lot of the photographers were professionals, though, with many thousands of pounds (£s) worth of equipment. I suppose they’ll be appearing for sale or as promotional material in an internet near you in the next few weeks.

The Steam Bus

It’s an old steam-powered flatbed wagon that some guy rescued from the knacker’s yard, and turned into a bus. It runs on coal and when you go down hill, the cab fills with flames as the driver lets off the heat. Vernon Smith, the owner and builder, has been working with steam engines since he was eight-years-old and pretty much has steam instead of blood. Yes, it’s as cool as it sounds. If you go anywhere near Whitby and don’t take a ride on it, that’s a certifiable medical condition.

The Steam Meet

This is the part which really fried my brain.

When I was eighteen months old, I had an accident on a train and didn’t speak again I was sent to a speech therapist at the age of four. I’ve always had trouble with my words; when I speak, all the sounds fall out of my mouth in some sort of confused jumble and my tongue feels huge. It makes me hard to understand, and that makes people want to not talk to me. The fine art of conversation is never something I was introduced to, and even the crass art of conversation passed me by. Groups of people I’m expected to interact with lead to panic, withdrawal and wallflower manifestations.

The stream meet was in a cafe. It was full of strangers who were all part of a scene that I’m not part of (I’m never part of a scene, no matter what it may look like). I was there to engage them in conversation, and hand out business cards for Steampunk Magazine.

I finished my cappuccino and someone came over to talk to us...

When we left, I wanted more. I wanted more people, more socialising, more interacting. I wasn’t good at it I’m sure, but I enjoyed it.

It’s left me looking forwards to the first UK steam meet in September. I feel a bit like I’ve been dumped out a plane, at night, and landed in a foreign country where even the laws of gravity are different.

I should be talking about the wonderful and interesting people I met, I know, but this is a tectonic-plate sized shift in my head. Almost two years of CBT has done amazing things.

Saturday Night

A good proportion of the night was spent wading through quantum fish and chip shops trying to find somewhere to eat. We finally found a crepe place, and had crepes. They were nice, but I wouldn’t call them a meal.

We were all knackered by this point, having been on our feet pretty much constantly since Friday afternoon and only catching a few hours' sleep. The rest of the party had crashed during the day, but were still suffering. The music was okay but not worth enduring the pain for, so we got an early night.

Fountains Abbey

It was only an hour or so away and my SO has wanted to see it for over five years, so we took the time to do a grand tour. The abbey itself is absolutely amazing and the gardens spectacular. Well worth going to see, if you’re ever in the area. All the walking was hard work on my tired legs, though.

And back home again

We got pizza from a Hutt on the way home, and the best bit was seeing the cats alive and well and happy to see us when we got in. The second best bit was being back in my own bed. But bloody hell the pizza was good. Cheese, extra cheese, goat’s cheese, mushrooms and onions. Goat’s cheese is amazing on pizza.

So, those are my memories of Whitby Goth Weekend. I hope you enjoyed your panad.

Now I just need to finish--by which I mean start--my costume for The Asylum...

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