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Mods 1979

This segment from the British national current affairs programme, Nationwide, has recently been unearthed and loaded to YouTube. It means a lot to me for a ton of reasons.

My older, late brother Dave, was a very early member of the Mod revival, and a massive influence on me. I was still in primary school at the time, and Dave, 12 years older, had left home, but was back for a bit. He had a homemade, prison-style Secret Affair tattoo, The Secret's Out with the band's keyhole logo, on his forearm. He was a snappy dresser. He never had a scooter, he reckoned he didn't have the coordination to be allowed to be in charge of one. The truth might be he liked drinking and substances too much to trust himself with one (or to be able to afford one). He never learned to drive either.

While my brother Dave never had a scooter, I bought one as soon as I was old enough, 16, in 1987, having saved money from working on mile rounds (bad hours, good money) and paper rounds. I had a few Vespas, but I really wanted a Lambretta. I had a couple of different ones, a beautiful Italian GP being stolen from outside my work, before I got a 1966 SX200. I still own it, 30 years later, though I haven't ridden it for a long time.

I grew up in Yorkshire, where the hardcore scooter riders in the report are from. The lads with the thickest accents are from Barnsley, and I can imagine they are barely understandable to many English speakers outside the north of England. Their self-deprecating humour is pure Yorkshire. They thought the rockers, 'The big dirties' were going to kick their heads in. 'I shit meself', one tells the interviewer. No bravado. Know when the odds are stacked against you. I have one particular mate from Barnsley who accent is similar, but not quite as broad.

York Scooter Club were not only still going five years after the report, as the narrator suggested it might be, but is still going now. One guy shown in the clip, Tom Petch, was an extra in Quadrophenia (giving him legendary status in scooter world), and was a really friendly presence on the scooter (not mod) scene when I got into it, and I was proud to be on nodding terms with him. He was one of the OGs (as absolutely no one said back then), meaning no one would have been surprised if he'd looked down on the new generation like me, but he didn't. He was a genuinely nice bloke. I'm sure he still is.

The revival was kickstarted by the film The Who-financed film, Quadrophenia - which was/is to scooters what On any Sunday is to dirt track. When I started riding, in 1987, the film was eight years old. To a 16-year-old it felt prehistoric, things moved so fast. The scooter scene I joined was little to do with mod, as I explain in this column on Scooterboys.

Also, you'll now know Secret Affair never did make it huge, though they had a few decent tunes, and appearances on Top of The Pops, when that was a big deal. The 'mod revival' band (though they hated that label) that broke the mould were The Jam, and that was down to Paul Weller.

One element that is nothing to do with me enjoying the Nationwide report, the opposite, in fact: how unnerving is John Entwistle's Yorkshire Ripper facial furniture and sweaty boat race?

I hope you enjoy the report as much as I did, but I doubt you will. It's unlikely to mean the same to you.

#1970s #scooter

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