Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gothic Horsham

Horsham, for the past several years, has been on the migratory path of The Goth Kids. Every day they gathered around the edge of Shelly’s fountain, like crows on a telephone wire, looking angst-ridden and tortured. I didn’t mind; I like the Goths. They’re quiet, earnest, and dedicated to their fashion. And they’re very British. The gothic subculture, according to the 5-minutes of research I did this morning, began in the United Kingdom in the early 1980s as an offshoot of the post-punk genre. That’s what Wikipedia says, anyway, but I first encountered Goths when I was about 19, and that was in rural Columbia County, New York in the mid-1970’s, not London in the 80s.

The encounter was genuinely bizarre. I was doing some antique restoration work for a local eccentric; he had a PhD in something or other and lived in a dark, clutter house with his “ward,” a young effeminate boy named Jason. I got to know Jason a little through my visits and dealings with the good Doctor (he was just a few years my junior—Jason, not the doctor) and one day I ended up taking him and two of his friends to the Columbia County Fair.

His friends turned out to be two girls of about 16, who showed up with their androgynous companion dressed in black lace gloves that ran halfway up their pale arms, velvet dresses and hats—all of which they appeared to have found in an old trunk in someone’s attic. But I found this Victorian-esque style fetching, and it suited them and their odd, intense manner, so this experience is responsible for me, a fifty-four year old man, thinking Goths are cool. I hasten to add, the experience with my young friends came before poking metal studs into various and sundry parts of your body was in vogue, and although the young girls wore dark make-up, it was not of extreme variety applied by today’s Goths. Encountered someone with rivets in their skull and a bolt through their tongue wearing makeup that made them look like a panda bear back in 1974 would have been more than my heretofore naïve nature could have handled.

I would like to have a photo of our resident Goths to go along with this post, but as a species, they are elusive and shy and I was never able to get a good picture of them, so here’s a picture of Shelly’s Fountain, instead.

The Shelly Fountain, in all its glory.

Like a lot of things in Britain, when they first proposed to put the fountain in, people screamed blue murder, but now that it’s a bit run down and dated and they are discussion taking it out, well, it’s an icon of our town, and what would Horsham be without it, and where, pray tell, would the Goths gather?

So the fountain sits, fenced off, forlorn and used for nothing but a litter bin for local adolescents, leaving me looking forward to the day when they finally restore it to its former glory.

I realize this post isn’t totally about Britain, but that’s how living abroad is; some days you look around yourself and think, “Holy shit! I live in England; how cool is that!” and other times you stare at a disused fountain and think, “Where have all the Goth kids gone?”

The Shelly Fountain today; no Goths, no glory.


  1. I think today's young Goths are all part of that Twilight movement. You know - vampires.

  2. I'll have to go out looking for them after sunset then. ;)

  3. When I first saw Horsham, I immediately thought you were talking about Horsham, PA!
    I have to say I was glad when my daughter go over her Goth period!

  4. Joanie: Horsham PA is on my list of 'must visit' places, but sadly, not on this trip.

  5. Anonymous6:37 PM

    How very tragic to see such a beautiful, and thought inspiring monument go to ruin like this!! I have not seen it recently in person, but if the powers that be have let it decay so that it is in the state of the picture above, then its a discrace!!!

    If dirt and litter are allowed to accumulate on here, then it will only continue to do so, whereas, if it were regularly maintained, the slovenly few would feel much less inclined to chuck their rubbish in it!! Dont you think??!! Very, very sad . . .

  6. Anonymous: Co-incidentally, the Shelly Fountain has just been refurbished and turned ceremonially turned on yesterday. I will be posting about that soon.