responsibility for three young daughters, the punks milling around in
a mischief-inviting melee at the bus station had already stirred
latent feelings of anxiety in my motherly breast. Mohawk haircuts,
facial spider-web tattoos, black leather jack-boots and chunky
jewellery in a menacing tumble of chains and swastikas left me
feeling extremely apprehensive as I stepped off the airport bus at
Gloucester Green that September. Was this moving to England a crazy
idea, something I'd live to regret?
For months prior to
our departure from Canada, James and I had suffered from heavy
dollops of wanderlust, a subtle mind-infiltrating process that had
stalked us with a persistence that we found hard to resist. As with
thousands of others before us, its siren call proved irrisistible and
we succumbed. Just ten years earlier we had departed South Africa for
Canada – albeit for different reasons - and now after a decade in
Canada we were on the move again.
Africa, sunny and relatively warm year-round, with a landscape that
includes craggy mountains, deserted beaches that meander for
thousands of miles along a pristine coastline, abundant wildlife and
undulating wide-open veld, was for 35 years my home. Canada,
equally dramatic, equally beautiful, modern, well organized with four
distinct seasons and like its sister America, with possibilities
lucrative and pleasureable for all those who care to use their
imagination, was our home of choice. And now here we were in
Our plan; James and
our son Michael were to stay on in Canada until January when Michael
would rewrite his math exam. A pass was a requirement for his
eventual admission to Sandhurst, England’s military college. The
girls and I would head on over to England so that Melissa, Nicola,
and Gillian could start the school term afresh in September.
And so I returned
to the letter. “My daughter will be round
to welcome you. You’ll recognize her by her black and red striped
hair. She’s heavily into make-up and outlines her eyes with kohl.
Jewellery usually comprises a black leather choker studded with
metal. Her dress sense runs to long, and with her Goth leanings her
attire is black.”
Goths were a new
phenomenon to me. In 1984 they had yet to make an appearance in
Canada. I continued reading, but after a few minutes sensed that
someone was watching me.
I turned. And yes,
it was the Goth, and she was even more intimidating than her mother
had described. Her face was chalk white, like that of a geisha out
for a night on the town. Her lips were a startling vampire red. Her
dress slipped seductively from a pale left shoulder. If I hadn’t
read about her just seconds before I would have suspected imminent
mugging by an exotic female thug….and screamed blue murder.
Instead, I put out my hand and said calmly, “You must be the
daughter. So nice to meet you.”
She smiled, but her
eyes I suspected had picked up on my discomfort. “Just thought I’d
pop in to tell you about the cat.” Oh yes, she’d intended to
scare me, but her mother had pipped her at the post.
Billeted for the
next two weeks in our red brick, dark eerie house we set about
exploring our new environs.
In the sitting room
occult books were scattered about. In our meanderings we discovered
stuffed birds, beloved of Victorian wives, perched on branches
brittle with age in dust-covered antique glass domes. In the low
light their eyes glinted as they stared sightlessly into space.
Soft- bodied puppets perched on chests and others dangled grotesquely
- like the recently hanged - from hooks in the ceiling. Glassy-eyed,
they seemed to watch our every move.
More to follow tomorrow...
Photo copyright Anne Gordon
Posted by Anne Gordon on Monday, 11th November, 2013.