At fourteen, I was a bona fide Goth. Black of eyeliner, crimped of hair, and with a tendency towards a shyness and melancholy. Small-town life in rural Perthshire just wasn’t cutting it for me. I wanted to see bands, dance and theatre, but there was nothing within the vicinity and we were a working class family. So I lost myself- and subsequently found myself- in John Peel; literature and bizarre late night arts programmes on Channel 4.
Of course, I loved The Mission, Alien Sex Fiend, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus and so on. I was in love with Pete Murphy, dancer Michael Clark and those Gene Loves Jezebel boys, the Aston brothers (razor wire cheekbones).
I also had a penchant for Robert Smith, although not as much as my friend Anna, who utterly doted on The Cure. Smith epitomised a singular kind of masculinity, with his messy hair, smudged lipstick and big jumpers, lending him a tactile, cuddly quality. Of course the band are brilliant, a mass of contradictions, and this is inherent in Smith’s often androgynous vocals which forever vacillated between high pitched excited squeals and sounding on the edge of tears.
I thought this was adorable. Here was a man whose entire back catalogue was imbued with deep sensitivity and poetry. Faith,Pornography, The Top, The Head on The Door and Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me are all gems. I thought that there would be other boys like him out there in the real world.
Unfortunately, I really suffered from this unhappy assumption. It seemed Smith was something of an anomaly. As I navigated the dating world as a teen, not every boy was unusually emotionally articulate, caring and prone to sharing his feelings in a healthy way. My poor heart.
So Robert Smith, you tousled legend, j’accuse! Thanks for nothing. I’m kidding, really. I’m glad you exist. Disintegration was released today in 1989 and it’s still a classic. Few singer-songwriters expressed joy, yearning and pain with such beautiful eloquence.