1982 was definitely my year. I’d just turned 18 and in my mind,
parental control was out of the suburban window, despite the fact
I was still living between their walls. I was a self styled worshipper
at the church of New Romantic Goth; Numan, Siouxsie and
Marc Almond were my holy trinity.
I lived just south of Manchester, but its playground soon bored me.
I yearned for the glamour of London’s streets. I’d read about the
“Blitz” club and its stylish sisters in “The Face”. Glamorous
weirdoes, whose parents didn’t pass judgement every time a new
version of me left the restrictions of their magnolia walls.
I yearned to be a beautiful stranger too, and it was my
immediate ambition to fulfil that dream.
Everyone made their own clothes in those days. Everyone
who mattered. Stray off-cuts of lace and velvet from
the local market stall, rare charity shop finds and my own lavish
embellishments formed my own unique designer garments.
They were admired and coveted by others, but worn only by me.
Finally, with a suitcase full of my individualistic clothes, and a
headful of optimism, I bade a fond farewell to my parents via a
carefully written note, propped on the mantelpiece. “I’m going to
London. Don’t worry”, it said. Brief, but to the point, I thought.
I found myself at Euston station without a plan. OK, I was in London
but what now? My instinct instructed me to head for the King’s Road.
That was where it was at, so, I bought a Day Saver golden
tube ticket, dumped my belongings in left luggage, and set on the
metaphorical yellow brick road to my own Emerald City.
On the tube to my destination, I noticed that I wasn’t as “unique” as I
was up North. Lots of people had the same look as me, and I was being
ignored. I felt cheated; I was promised a magazine’s eye view of a London,
and what I’d got in reality was the throwaway free pull-out supplement. Highly styled individuals with no individuality, personality, or
commitment to their cause. It was all just “a look”, copied to the last bangle
on their fashionable little wrists.
At Sloane Square, I hit the litter-strewn dirty streets in my widow’s weeds,
and sashayed along the infamous Kings Road in my customised Victorian
ankle boots. The place was awash with goths, punks, skinheads; all looking the
same, just a variant on a theme of rebellion. These were not “my people”; I
had nothing in common with them despite my appearance, or perhaps because
I decided to head back North to be the big fish, in a somewhat smaller part
of the ocean. It was my personal rebellion against London, and its monoculture
magazine mannequins. Of course I would lavishly embellish the success of
my visit, just as I did my clothes.
After all, at the end of the day, we’re all just putting together “a look”.