So, there I was, a schoolboy in his last year, just coming up for seventeen, Punk rock was riding high, the year, 1979. One of my favorite "punk" bands was a three piece known as The Jam, I liked there style, I liked their suits. I noticed whenever I went into town on a saturday, punks with spiked hair wearing the same black suits.
Later at school the term Mod was being bandied about: "What's a Mod?" apparently they wear army parka's and ride scooters: "The Jam are mods, no they aren't, they are punk". How I now look back at my naivety: "Hey have you seen that film called Quadrophenia?" Some kid at school dressed in a parka asked me.
I went, I saw, and my life changed forever. I need not tell most of you just what happened next, the magic began...
Birmingham, by 1981 myself an a few local kids were full on Mods, we watched the film we lived the life, we were only young and only hung out round the shops at the bottom of our road. I had left school by this time and was working - oooow money a new concept for most of us. As time passed a few of our number were able to afford scooters and one by one our little crew grew up. It was time for me to get a scooter too.
Looking through the local ads, desperately wanting a Lambretta, I came across one about a mile from where I lived (if only it were that simple now) 'Lambretta jet 200 P reg' making it seven years old, £400. This sounded good lets hope it was in good nick. My dad took me along and we knocked on the door, the chap came out and took us to his garage, he was an older guy, not a mod, he had just bought a cheap run around but said it had been in the Garage quite a while. As the door swung up what I saw brought a tear to my eye (as it is now), a brand new Lambretta SX 200 with 400 miles on the clock! "Yeah I rode it a few times but didn't like it" said the bloke. I couldn't pay quick enough!! It was mine all mine the absolute best scooter out of all of the crew I hung around with. Mustard yellow colour in mint condition I could not believe my luck. At the time I believe a new Vespa was £1200-£1500 Lambretta's were not so easy to get hold of. So it began, I was a Mod, I was off to join the crowd in Birmingham were the scene had become massive. Straight over to Moto Continental the local scooter shop, for crash bars mirrors and fly screen, oh yeah away we go!
One of the major hang outs for the scene was a cafe on the now famous Broad Street, right opposite Bingley hall, It could have been the cafe straight out of Quadrophenia, but of course that was no accident. The major club at the time was The Top Rank.
On my first visit it was like the scene from Brighton, a huge hall rammed with Mods, outside a line of scooters. There were other smaller clubs around were the Mods joined with the New romantic scene (peacefully I might add) - places like Polyannas Peppermint Place. As the scene grew the pubs started catering for the scene and Digbeth became the hot spot with the Barrel Organ and Outrigger and various other venues, there was always somewhere to go.
I read an article on The Mod Generation about "hard mods". I must confess in the 80's there was plenty of aggro towards Mods and, much as I would like to have had no trouble, others were intent on it. So, yeah, I did see my fair share of fights - heavy metal greebos, skinheads, rude boys, and a strange cult known as scousers, who talked as if from liverpool?? They all wanted a piece of us.
Thankfully, a smart suit and tidy hair did not make us a bunch of wussies, in fact most lost out against us as they didn't realize just how effective a helmet on the end of your fist is at ending aggression. I never started trouble but I did end it a few times. I can hear my bones creaking at the thought of it now!! I do remember a trip to the Top Rank one night were we were ambushed by skinheads, what a shock they got when they realised we had no fear of them and slapped them silly, tossers!!
But thats not what being a Mod was about - it was the clothes the music, the girls, the hair styles.
The Sunday Runs
I am not referring to anything relating to a curry the night before, no the Sunday runs were great, mini rallies. We would all meet at the cafe on Broad Street, chat and catch up, then someone would decide where to go for the day. There were upwards of a hundred scooters some days, we would keep it local, 20- 30 miles, Stratford, Malvern and a few other places and, just as in the scene in Quad were they rode into Brighton, there we were about to decend on some unsuspecting town. Stratford was always good as it was a meeting place for bikers, but to be honest there was never any trouble, although it was worth it just to see the look on the faces when 150 Mods turn up, but we were there for a good time and if nobody started on us we wouldn't start on them, so all was peaceful.
This time was by far one of the highlights of my life, being a Mod was everything, I lived it breathed it, work was just a necessity to provide funds to be a Mod. As it happens I sprayed cars for a living and yes a few scooters got my touch.
Oh, who was the Ace Face? Me, of course! Well, I would like to believe I was but there were a few who took on the persona of Sting from Quad. I remember the Ace from the Top Rank was a guy called Lee who was the Dj. The Sunday runs had another natural leader Brad, I think it was just cos he was oldest, anyone 25 yrs old was ancient... Then there was the Mods who liked the clothes, who developed an "in crowd" of which I became a part. I was happy in just jeans and parka, or dressed in suit and with back combed hair.
What a scene it was, nothing before or after came close, it was the time of our lives and I never wanted it to end, but we all have to grow up... yeah right.
So anyone from that scene get it touch, let me bandy a few names about, see if you recognize yourself
Andy "AYF" Hayfield
Ray Carting, or Carling
Tom from Erdington
Mark "Walt" New
Stuart from Kings Heath
Dave Keo, the dancer
Conrad & Fee Fee (who was a law unto himself)
Tony (spitting image of Ray Winston)
Mark (his brother)
Steve Goff (would wake me up in the morning as his noisy scooter went passed on his way to work)
Teresa Jones from Pedmore (gorgeous)
Suzanne from Pedmore
Jenny from Pedmore
I did know a lot more girls, but what can I say, names!!!!!
Anyway I hope my trip down memory lane was good for you KTF.