Making Friends At The Goth Picnic
While the Gay Pride marchers were busy turning Piccadilly into a gigantic, drunk, rollerskating rainbow on Saturday, a much smaller, more marginalised subculture was gathering to celebrate itself in a quieter corner of the city. Kensal Green Cemetery held its annual open day last weekend, and London's goth army came out in force to ride around on penny farthings, look at graves and sell things to other people who like looking at graves.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by the lady guard of the cemetery, who gestured up the path and informed us that “the Goths, they’re all up there.” Here she is posing in front of the... wait, where'd she go?! Weird. I could have sworn she was in that shot when I took it.
Eventually the path opened out, and this was the scene that greeted us. What a feast for the eyes! (If you really like black pudding and liquorice.)
To be fair to the goths, you couldn't knock their shared ability to dress themselves in thoughtful and thought-provoking ways. These girls, hamming it up at the entrance to Mark "King of Panto" Speight's tomb, had me thinking of a time 200 hundred years from now, when it's fashionable for nice but painfully shy people to dress up as stay-at-home Somalian hutwives.
More thoughts. 'Are these clothes something you can run away from if your legs are long enough?'
'Do these guys dress like this so that when the Grim Reaper eventually shows up he feels underdressed and leaves?'
'What are they going to do to me and how long will it last?'
This is Chloe and Virgilio. They were good people. "We come here each year to meet each other and walk around and see all the tombs and crypts and headstones and generally just take in the atmosphere," Chloe told us, as she breathlessly tried to suck in souls from the air around her.
On the other hand, Rayven (second from right) and her husband (middle) attend such functions purely for the architecture and the history. Apparently, this was the 75th cemetery they'd visited in the last couple of months. Their kid looks fucking thrilled.
Another architecture enthusiast was James, who's also an Anglican priest. “These kinds of places have a certain grandeur to them," he said, "while most of the funerals I take have a rather clinical quality." I have no idea why you got into the funeral game, James, but if you've buried any of our readers' loved ones recently I'm sure they'll do the decent thing and get in touch to apologise for their limp shit-show of a performance.
Another thing we learnt on Saturday was that a cemetery open day is the perfect opportunity to advertise your own, small business, as long as that small business involves the manufacture and sale of a) cyber-Celt jewellery, or b) hearses.
This is proud hearse owner CJ. “The car’s a 1986 Chevy Caprice. It was a standard station wagon before we turned it into a hearse,” he told us. “Peoples' mouths drop open when they see me in it, but I think they’re more scared of me than the car.” Why would anyone be scared of a car?
His wife, Sonja, told us the rat came from a set of Christmas decorations. Very festive.
CJ and Sonja decided to make their hearse more attractive to potential buyers by filling it with pictures of dead children.
Wanting to escape the hubbub of the cemetery's shopping centre, we piggybacked on this tomb tour after hearing that one of the graves was occupied by a dead freemason.
We quickly realised that we didn't actually care about a dead freemason, but in the dappling of the summer sun the graves looked really nice.
Sadly, our tour guide nonchalantly bypassed this curiously fresh-looking display. Disappointed and somewhat spooked, we decided to abandon ship and return to base.
One thing that was striking about the open day was the number of kids who'd dragged their parents along. They all kept stealing this guy's bicycle. Not so fast you little scamp!
Give me it back!
No, seriously mate, fuck off.
This is Paul’s third consecutive year in Kensal Green. He comes to pose, but never in the same outfit. Out of all his outfits, this one’s his favourite because of its black minimalism. “Red velvet," he asserts, "is for the ladies.”
And then, before things got too awkward, my parents turned up to take me home. All in all, it had been a great day at Kensal Green Cemetery. I'd made a ton of new friends. I can't wait to meet up with the gang next year so we can celebrate our own lives via the absence of other peoples' all over again.
WORDS: ELEKTRA KOTSONI
PHOTOS: SOFOKLIS KOUTSOURELIS