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24 September 2012 @ 10:32 pm
In which Sam Tom has some short breaks and breakdowns  
It's been nice to get out of Walthamstow for the last couple of weekends. The weekend before last was a long one, as we went to the house of our friend Gemma's parents in the New Forest. The parents were on holiday so we their large country home was available for us to enjoy, along with its two pleasingly stuffy British shorthair cats (one blue and one blue and cream), velvety red Rex rabbit, and a number of hens. Zara and her boyfriend Steven came too.

It was not an area that I had ever visited (Lydney near Gloucester) but I thought it was quite nice. On the first day we visited Over Farm, where we saw pigs, small horses and ostriches. The farm shop was amazing, with about ten types of Scotch egg, a wide range of fudge and other delicacies. We then visited Gloucester, with highlights including a Beatrix Potter shop-cum-museum. She was a local person and much is still made of the story the Tailor of Gloucester (a story in which an overworked tailor's work is done at night by mice). It was the subject of a coin-operated display at the shop, and there is also a clock in the shopping centre which comes alive with cat and mouse figures on the hour, every hour. I bought a tin containing a mug decorated with scenes from my favourite Beatrix Potter book, Tom Kitten, and a window sticker showing the iconic image of the rotund feline bursting out of his ill-fitting suit.

The cathedral was nice too, very ornate and Gothic-looking, with beautiful stained glass windows. The garden had curious art installations on the theme of prehistory, including a huge trilobite-type creature all made of wool.

The following day we went to Puzzlewood Farm and saw a huge Gloucester Old Spot pig called Lulu, pygmy goats and various fowl. We walked around its forest maze for a while (it wasn't a very hard maze). Then we crossed the border with Wales into a place called Penallt, and went to a nice pub called the Boat Inn. We had a drink from their bewildering array of ciders, although Zara was disappointed in her quest to get one that was sweet and 'like Kopparberg'. I had one called Welsh warrior that was quite mellow but pretty strong. We then went for a walk along the River Wye, before returning to the pub and eating some extremely satisfying pub food, which consisted largely of oven-baked cheese in various permutations. I was sat on by the pub cat, a friendly tabby called Mig, which was 20 years old yet looked like it had barely emerged from kittenhood. It was good to finally see Wales as I have many forefathers from there but never got round to going.

Last weekend was Delaney and Gemma's wedding (a different Gemma - also, neither are anything to do with my old flatmate Gemma, confusingly). Del is Jack's friend and former bandmate from Savage Furs. It took place at a mansion called Rushton Hall, near Kettering in Northamptonshire. The venue was lovely, huge and sumptuously decorated. It also has guest rooms so we stayed overnight there in a lovely room that used to be part of a cottage attached to the hall. Apparently the cottage is so old, it featured in the Domesday book and was built circa 1000! Yet it had all mod cons and was nicely decorated and very comfortable. I would have liked to have stayed longer.

The wedding had a kind of 80s Miami Vice theme (their honeymoon destination is Miami in fact). There were various neon lights and flamingo statues about the place, and music from Miami Vice was played during the ceremony. Relatives of the happy couple recited lyrics from Somebody by Depeche Mode and Heartbeat by Psychedelic Furs! I have never met anyone so committed to upholding the 80s aesthetic as Del, and I include myself in that, which is saying something.

They both seemed to really radiate happiness. It was actually slightly weird seeing people that happy. The reception afterwards was very well catered for. Each place setting had a pair of sunglasses customised with the logo 'LOVE IS COOL!' in a jagged 80s font on the arms, and there were exotic flowers and neon signs saying 'Love' on every table. The food throughout the day was delicious, but I sadly ate too much and ended up being quite sick that night. I didn't even eat huge quantities but I think I have become unaccustomed to eating quite so much meat.

At night there was a disco set up in the hall's cellars, with copious amounts of 80s tunes and screens around the walls playing a montage of Del's favourite 80's films. Del and Gemma had their first dance to Purple Rain by Prince, and then there was lots of prancing about. The couple's family and friends all seemed nice although none of them were like Del and Gemma at all, just seemingly normal Kettering folk.

The next day we explored Kettering a bit and it was better than everyone said. It was pleasingly quiet, with few people on the streets, and the shops were not bad. There was one shop called QS which was like a sort of latter-day Woolworths. I bought lots of kitty treats and black and red collars with bells and bows on, made of PVC (?!!) for very little money. I also got two pairs of stripy trousers for £30 from a local shop called Internacionale, which we don't have in London. There was in interesting-looking shop called Retro Shack that had loads of 80s stuff in the window, including a Tron annual, but sadly it was shut.

The only downside was getting home and seeing the usual vile and unsolicited photos of myself put up on Facebook by relative strangers. I hate this phenomenon so much I have deactivated my Facebook for a bit, at least until the whole MY UNFLATTERING PHOTOS LET ME SHOWZ YOU THEM post-wedding frenzy blows over. People don't understand but I am genuinely driven to thoughts of plastic surgery when I see bad pictures of myself. I have even approached a few clinics recently. Most people like being photographed and are flattered by the attention, but I hate it so much I always flinch from the camera, try to turn my head away. And that makes my face look even worse as I always get caught at some weird angle.

I think I could tolerate my face better if I wasn't continually presented with evidence of it from terrible angles. But people seem to have an insatiable appetite for bad photos of themselves and others, and a need to smear them over the internet. It feels like it almost doesn't matter what I look like in real life, for in the virtual world where people spend so much time, the bad digital photo has replaced life. I am some ideological reservations about plastic surgery, not to mention the cost and risks involved, but it has gotten so bad now that I can't enjoy a night out at a club, friend's house or even a country walk without someone busting out their hand-held twit machine (© Dan Ashcroft) and producing, then circulating, a picture that makes me want to hurt myself. I spend a lot of time at social gatherings worrying about it and trying to avoid the cameras.

I really don't mind if people ask me first, and let me see the photo before uploading it - I think that's basic courtesy and most people who are genuine mates (which includes everyone reading this post by the way) understand that and are fine with it. It's nice to have a photo memory of a good night, if it's a half-way decent picture. But the bad pics make me not want to go out in public again.

At least my tailor-made suit turned out all right. It is light yet warm, being made of wool cloth, and has all the pockets and gentlemanly details (button hole, buttons for braces etc.) I specified. It is very structured yet quite comfy. I think I will be able to wear it for many occasions.
Even androids feel...: aggravatedaggravated
Electric Dream: goth wee medream_electric on September 25th, 2012 06:59 am (UTC)
That wedding sounds amazing!

I noticed last night that you'd gone from FB. The 'everyone must take as many photos as possible' thing is a bit tedious and I know several people that feel similar to you about them. Theres a gazillion photos of me on FB but there is also a gazillion untagged/hidden/deleted ones that I don't want anyone to see!

Oh, Internationale is a great shop. They have them in Edinburgh and when I used to go to Northampton with my last job, I always made sure I had time to pop in before getting the train back to London :o)
Lyle: Ivor Novellosam_tom_sam on September 25th, 2012 10:31 pm (UTC)
Yes, it's a shame as I found Facebook useful for events, messaging etc but it seems there is no way to stop appearing in minging photos except for removing the photographer's camera from their hands and stamping on it immediately after the picture has been taken.

I made all the settings so people have to request permission to tag me, but things still slip through, and of course if you are in a picture with someone else who is happy to be tagged, all your friends see it anyway. I don't think people realise how damaging it is. I was reading an article in Metro the other day about a young girl who was finally driven to having a nose job after one too many unsolicited party photos. I wouldn't rule out surgery myself but I don't want to be hounded into it by camera-wielding buffoons.

Anyway I am interested in coming to Only After Dark, as is Jack, although we would need to arrange cat care. I take it you have booked your room already?

Electric Dream: goth wee medream_electric on September 26th, 2012 01:02 pm (UTC)
Yeah, we have booked the same Ibis as before - this is the link:

Hopefully see you at Black Plastic/Bedsitland before then anyway :o)
Lyle: Cult Heroessam_tom_sam on September 27th, 2012 01:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link! I can certainly come to Bedsitland! I hope to make it to Black Plastic too although it sadly clashes with a mate's party. What time is your set? Maybe I can fit both in.
Joy Silencejoysilence on October 11th, 2012 12:22 pm (UTC)
I hope everybody who takes and posts unsolicited photos goes to some sort of terrible afterlife which in their case will be a party with shit music and nothing to do but drink alcopops and take each other's photo until the sun comes up, though of course it never will because this is the afterlife. I am still hiding from Facebook and don't blame you for wanting to leave. Perhaps next time someone holds their hand-held twit machine in your face you could say, "Oh, I've got a lot of photos of you too", rummage around in your pockets at length and then produce a handful of crumpled, dirty old Polaroid close-ups of unidentified parts of a naked human body, before saying "I took these last week. The focus isn't very good because you were moving about so much".

As a practical measure you could always wear a fan or a stiff black veil like the Victorians did stand in the corner all evening looking incredibly sinister of course.

I am jealous of the Tom Kitten mug. But you can't just mention ten types of Scotch egg and then not list any of them. That is a protocol violation.
Lyle: Patrick Nagelsam_tom_sam on October 11th, 2012 01:02 pm (UTC)
Ah well, the Scotch egg I had was simply entitled "Brunch", and contained delicious pork, apple, and cheese I believe. I can't remember all the others. Some had curry, chilli etc which I thought was inappropriate. Some were even vegetarian!

Maybe I can print some pictures off that Meat or Accident? site if it's still going, to thrust in amateur photographers' faces. I did consider wearing a beekeeping outfit to parties. But it might get hot. I wore a top hat and veil for a couple of ATS shows which looked quite good, but the veil wasn't as transparent as I wanted because I needed to still see the keys.

Edited at 2012-10-11 01:03 pm (UTC)
Joy Silence: Little Owlowljoysilence on October 11th, 2012 03:01 pm (UTC)
"I did consider wearing a beekeeping outfit to parties"
I hear samurai suits of armour are very now! Sylvia Plath wrote some scary poems about bees and bee-keepers though so that would probably be better for goth nights.

Gosh, Meat or Accident, that takes me back. I don't know if I would like a curry scotch egg but it's the sort of thing that annoys Daily Mail readers by being too diverse so it should be encouraged on those grounds.