Living Out Quad in Brum

The film Quadrophenia was, as most of you know, a massive influence on the 80's Mod scene, it was our bible on film, we done all that we could relating to the film, here are a few episodes to intrigue you. All this happened in and around Birmingham...

The Cafe

The Cafe on Broad Street we went to, could have been straight out of the film, not particularly well decorated but it had a games room at the back with pinball machines, it used to get packed. The owner was a guy called Ray, I'm not sure where he was from but he had an accent...

"You gotta buy someting" was his mantra.  This was the time I got sick of Wagon Wheels and Kit-Kat's as it was those I bought to get passed him into the back room. That was a meeting spot all week long. We would meet there sometimes after the Top Rank and other places, it was another great mirage from the film.

It was from here that the Sunday Runs we went on left from.  Mods from miles away would all gather here on a Sunday for a ride out somewhere. So we had the Quadrophenia Cafe

The House Party

We all remember the house party at Kitchener Road from from the film. So many times at the cafe on Broad Street, on a Friday or Sat, some unsuspecting kid would announce their parents were away and would invite everyone to come to their house for a party - spectacular mistake!!

We all remember the scene of Jimmy riding around and around the garden, yep I done it, guilty as charged, sorry to whoever's garden it was - 'was' being the operative word.

Then there was the time 15-20 of us went to a house as the parents were out, but we knew the girl so didn't damage anything - not that we ever damaged anything on purpose,  So we were chilling chatting, there was all sorts going on in the bedrooms but eventually the inevitable happened, the sound of a car pulling up and the parents have arrived back. It could have been taken from the script. I was upstairs and saw them out the window, by the time I had got half way down the stairs they were in the door - what a laugh. So how long does it take to get 20 people dressed and out of a house on their scooter and away, I would like to say we hold the world record of about a min and a half. Poor Jenny, we didn't see her again for a few months, but the rest of us were in bits with laughter, as we made our get away.

On more than one occasion houses were wrecked, or some locals thought they would come round and start trouble.  I do remember one particular street brawl, where the local hard cases come round to sort out the Mods - wrong again.  They lost and we had to make a quick getaway, laughing I might add as we were on most of our getaways. As I always said to my mates, especially Lambretta owners, keep our scooters in good nick, so it always starts first time, I did, you never knew when you needed it to. Oh boy we had a good time!

If only I  had todays technology then, I could have filmed the lot on my phone and made a reality show "The Real Quadrophenia" or "I'm a Mod get me out of here" or "What the Mods did next" but its all in my head, and thats the best place for it, because at least it gets filtered through rosy glasses - and wont lead to my arrest.


We seen the film and wanted 'blues' the drug of choice by the mods so we could  get  "out of our brain on the train " as it were, however, in our naivety and never having taken drugs before,we knew nothing about what was about to happen.

One night a kid turned up with  some genuine blues at the Barrel Organ, one of our night spots.  Now the film and the line from 5:15 'out of my brain' led us to believe they would send us high, so we popped them and waited, and waited, and waited. Fifteen minutes later we were convinced we had been ripped off, however, nobody out of us noticed we couldn't keep still, we were twitching all over the place, then my mate who never danced decided tonight was the night and got onto the floor, and was giving it loads.  It was becoming apparent that something was going on, but I didn't feel " high" no, but wow, was I wide awake and full of energy. That was a Saturday night and after the Barrel we all headed back to mine, about five of us, as parents were away. We were awake all night and a good part of the next day, we finally started to get tired about 12 oclock Sunday afternoon. We had chilled and chatted all night, listening to music, and probably watching Quadrophenia.

We decided at about five o'clock, still wide awake, that we should make a cuppa and wonder off over the local park with it. I will never forget the look on a blokes face, who was obviously on his way to work through the park, when he comes across a bunch of Mods sitting drinking tea and wishing him a good morning. I bet he tells his grand kids who dont believe him. So that was our first contact with drugs and we never seemed to get hold of any again - but what a laugh.

The Barrel Organ

What was good about the Barrel was that it was split into two rooms. Under 18's could get into the music area and the bar at the back was for the bigger kids. Now that was fine cos some of the girls were under 18, but what that did was pack the place out . People came from everywhere at the weekends, it was the main spot for a while. By this time the Top Rank had closed but the scene was at its height and The Barrel was the number one spot, it had a great DJ and was hassle free most of the time. Next came the Outrigger just up the road. This is where my memory is slipping because I dont remember why we stopped going to the Barrel as the Outrigger became the in place to be. I think the Barrel may have had issues with under age people although they had the two rooms, but dont quote me on that, maybe we just got fed up of the same place.

It had become a tradition to leave at the end of the night and go to the "Tea Wagon" at the top end of Colmore Row, park up and get a cuppa.  Unfortunately this was one of the trouble spots.  We once ran into a few morons that came for trouble but ended up leaving in an ambulance. Crash helmets and hot tea, both effective weapons.  I must confess that sometimes the violence was too much, on more than one occasion I saw people hit in the head full force with a helmet - they dont get back up after that I remember going home sometimes wondering if the guy who got hit was ever going to wake up again. Thankfully it wasn't that often, but when were these people going to learn just cos we didn't look tough like a Hells Angel, or Skinhead, didn't mean we weren't. We had to be.

We did travel to different areas, as everyone knew everyone. The other side of town was a pub that held Mod nights and the local Mod crew were known as "The Source Force", dont ask!  We traveled to Coventry on a few occasions too - wherever it was going on we were there. I dont think there was a night we stayed in, we had scooters and we travelled.

The Outrigger

A pub that was a boat - well it was decked out as such, but this was irrelevant to the Mod scene. The main guys behind it were DJ Tony Reynolds and his brother Steve. I know Tony is still DJ ing for the Mod scene around Birmingham. The scene carried on - as some faces left others joined - and this was true of the Outrigger. The best thing I remember about it was they held  'alldayers' there on a Sunday. I seem to remember, though, this was the twilight for the Mod scene because I do remember going to the outrigger to meet up with mates then heading to a nightclub which had nothing to do with the Mod scene. I was 22 and the Outrigger was a place we knew to meet, but as far as the scene went, it had eventually died off, but it had a few years as the spot to be.

The Summer Runs To The Coast

 I must confess I  was never one for the summer runs and never went on many while I was into the Mod scene.  Once the main Mod scene had died it all moved over to the scooters. The scene had different factions - if that is the correct word - mods and scooter boys. I knew a few boys from The Brum Runners SC, who's whole existence was just the summer runs, hence the name, a good bunch of blokes. I went with my sister once, who's boyfriend was a member, we hit Brighton, Weston and one or two more. I cant seem to recall any great moment from any relating to the film except one...

Brighton, yep you will have guessed it by now, going up to the Grand Hotel and shouting 'Bell boy' through he doors, another one to mark off. I dont know why I was so surprised when Sting didn't come running out.

Although I did go on a few runs in the summer by this time they were becoming organized - rather than us just turn up somewhere unannounced. The sheer joy of being a Mod had gone. I was getting older and had been having the time of my life but the scene I lived for no longer existed. You didn't dress up to go on the runs, no we were turning more into bikers, where the clothes we wore were dictated by the scooters.

Time to settle down and be a grown up, I sold my scooter and got a car.  No more frozen fingers and face, no more water trickling down my back. So ended an era but, as with most into the scene, it has never left me.  The two to three years of living out Quadrophenia, shouting "bell boy" into hotels, trying to get a girl up an alley to do the biz (never mind the Mile High Club, the "Get Steph Up An Alley Club" was much better) we had done it all. I had loved every minute of it.

"Oh Jimmy, I do hope you get another job, I can get you a job on the carts, Yeah she said your good at going up and down in alley's"

I hope you enjoyed my ramblings and if I remember any more I shall post it


Chris Queen

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  • I was at Jenny's house when the prents came back. The mother made us all call our parents the next day to tell them what we'd been up to - it was mortifying. But worth it!!!
  • Great stories Chris - thanks for adding them!

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