I wonder how many people look back at their youth and find they are honestly appalled by the way they behaved? On far too many occasions, I have had sudden flashes of my adolescence and cringed with abject horror.
I, for one, was a tad confused and if I was born later than I was, I might very well have been labelled an ‘Emo’ for all the gut-wrenchingly abysmal self-pitying poetry, tormented soul-baring hi-jinks and the ‘nobody-understands-me’ vibes venting from every pore. It makes me shudder with each recollection.
For those fortunate enough to not have known me during those painful years, let me illustrate with a few details and anecdotes.
Attire had to be black. I had black cowboy boots, tight black boot-cut jeans, long black leather coat, black shirts (even one with a pirate-style lace-up job at the collar!) and a black fedora. My Mum became rather frustrated with this dour dress-code and gave me some money insisting I immediately go out and spend it on some shorts and t-shirts for the summer. Coming back from the factory-outlet store, she was gutted to discover I had spent her hard-earned cash on black t-shirts and black shorts; probably because they looked dreadful with the cowboy boots and fedora.
I did try to dye my hair black one day. I got my friend Rhian to colour my hair whilst leaning over her bath tub. It looked good in the artificial light, but then, when I strolled outdoors, it was a stunning purple. Not quite so cool after all. Having said that, I was doing some work experience at the local Old People’s Home, so I blended in quite nicely.
I grew a goatee beard and had long hair which occasionally got tied in a ponytail. It was the early nineties, after all. Hanging around Nottingham, wandering between shops dealing with various geeky items from cult television merchandise to Gothic accoutrements, I was often mistaken for a drug dealer and on one very bizarre day, Jesus. But that’s Nottingham for you.
Although not a fan of tattoos (not even temporary tattoos, but that’s because I can’t stand oxymorons) I did vandalise my skin with black or red marker pens inviting people to ‘cut here’. This was partly influenced by my rather dark sense of humour rather than an insidious desire to do away with myself. I will not deny that later on, I did have very dark days when the severely dramatic side of me sought a path to obliteration, but thankfully I was prevented from making an absolute fool of myself by friends intervening or the realisation that there was some good telly on that night.
The most embarrassing confession was my desire for a more vampiric lifestyle. Yes, this was years before Twilight and Buffy, but even then, there was something intrinsically cool about the immortal drinkers of plasma.
Despite the contemporary scares of AIDS polluting our consciousness since the Eighties, I still had a penchant for drinking blood and I did sip upon the sweet nectar from a couple of friends when accidents occurred. Before you reel back in disgust, they were willing donors and not the sort of people who gave themselves up to the pleasures of the loins on a regular basis. I may have been barmy, but I wasn’t totally stupid… well, maybe a bit stupid.
There was a time when I thought it might even be possible for me to become a vampire! I tried avoiding sunlight (plans which were continually scuppered when society dictated that I had to attend school) and I wondered how I could join the realms of the undead.
My idealistic notions were shattered when I realised I would no longer be able to eat garlic and I gave up the whole crazy shenanigans and ate some Chicken Kiev.
This period of morbid angst was, thankfully, a relatively short-lived one. These days, when having a gloomy-do, I just hide in my apartment with the curtains shut watching old Fred and Ginger movies on DVD whilst munching down a packet of custard creams and using my tea for dunking. A much more reasonable pastime, don’t you think?