Me and my husband are now seasoned veterans of Whitby Gothic Weekend. We have been going since our university days; in fact i think this will be our eleventh year and many of those we made the pilgrimage in both April and October.
I hear you cry 'how can a festival hold that much interest? Are you not bored after going to the same place so many times?' and to you I give an understanding nod and know that you have never been.
The home of Bram Stoker' Dracula at Halloween.........how on earth could be not fall in love with the place when it is completely overtaken by alternative types? The whole town embraces the festival and strings bats and spiders from every possible inch of space and even the second-hand shops tailor their window displays to show off their black velvet dresses, top hats and cravats; pubs advertise snakebites and restaurants change their menu descriptions to reflect the darker side of the palette. Besides all that it's the archetypal quaint fishing village with cobbles streets and shambles, but for miles around the most dominating feature of Whitby is the ruins of the Abbey perched on the top of West Cliff gazing out to sea.
But mainly we go to catch up with our mates, the people we only get to see at these events. Friends we made at university who moved on to live their lives in different towns. It's a great excuse to rent a large cottage on a cobbles street at the foot of the steps to Whitby Abbey, stay up all night catching up on each others escapades and behaving like we never left the place.
In recent events I have taken Sock Horror along and set up stall at the magnificent bazaar - as I am doing this time, and have had just as much fun educating people in the world of The Doldrums and the lore of lost socks.
This year however will be a new experience for several reasons. For the first time in many years we are descending on Whitby with depleted numbers; instead of the customary 12 or 14 of us that go as a group there will only be 4. I wonder how this will change our enjoyment of the event. But perhaps more notable is that it's going to be a real family event. When I say this I do not mean there is a miniature Madame Horror or Uncle Roblin for us to take along, quite the opposite.......we are going with Uncle Roblins' parents...........
They are not Goths. The whole thing passed them but without so much as a whisper, yet here they are throwing themselves into the preparations with such vigour I'm in awe. Gone is the curly blond hair to be replaces with a sleek razor edged style shot with pillar box red streaks. For months they have been trawling the country for unique items of clothing as only befits Gothic gentry (for the Internet is not their forte) and have deliberated over the perfect skirt shape to sit on the crinoline purchased last month and mused over whether a lace or ruffle parasol would finish the outfit more definitively. Morning suits have been specially tailored, pocket watches purchased and even armour rings bearing pentagrams have been chosen to adorn their fingers. In truth they are going to be more prepared for the coming event than we who have wardrobes full of Gothic couture and nothing to wear.
Is it right that you can be upstages by your in-laws in a lifestyle you have been carving yourself for so long? Oh I'm in no doubt that we will have fun; there is many a weekend we sit up chatting till 5 in the morning, but still I have the sneaky suspicion I will feel like a parent opening a new world to two impressionable teenagers.
I'll let you know how it goes.