Steve Bellamy - Mod Memories: So What Is A Mod?
I never set out to become "a mod", there just wasn't anything else to be. It's 1961 and you either identified yourself with your fathers generation - short back and sides with brillcream, trousers with turn-ups, cigarettes with beer, the BBC light service radio with the quickstep, and the working men's club with your Dad and his mates on a Saturday night. "Or" you rebelled. Rebellion in those days was painted in black and white. My school forbade long hair so we grew long hair. Cuban heel boots were not allowed so we wore them. The Beatles and Stones were considered the antichrists so we listened to them, idolised them and emulated them. Dad was old fashioned, we were modern. Anything he liked we hated. We were mods.Maybe not the mods you know but we had to start somewhere, right.
So a mod is modern. But modern for the sixties can't be modern now or can it? If you get out your calculator you can work out that I am now past fifty and still a mod. Stuck in the sixties you'd say. But if you think about it I got lucky. If the other choices are stuck in the fifties and dressing like a teddy boy or stuck in the seventies and dressing like a punk, I'll take my Fred Perry's and mohair suit any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Fifty years old with a Mohawk and a safety pin through my nose, are you fucking kidding?
Being a Mod is about what you do, not how you do it. Being a mod is four very clear facets to the culture, two are above the horizon, clothes and music and two are the flip side, violence and drugs. Clothes, music, violence and drugs. That's what the Who were on about when they sang 'talking about my generation' I happen to think and I can prove that mods are the teddy boys of the sixties but I'll save that little diatribe for later.
We dressed clean and tidy, listened to R&B (no we didn't call it soul yet) kicked the shit out of rockers and took blues and black bombers. We were Mods. We cruised in gangs and thought we were individuals, we worshipped Stevie Wonder yet despised niggers. Thought drinking beer was for old farts but took amphetamines, believed in 'free love' but punched the lights out of anybody riding a motorbike. We were Mods.
Things changed later. Our 'in' clothes became a pop industry that ended up at Carnaby Street. Our underground "soul" music became main stream that put The Supremes and Michael Jackson on 'Top of the Pops' Our Margate and Cleethorpes punch ups with the Rockers became the Nazi skinheads and soccer bovver boys and a simple amphetamine fuelled high became the living nightmare of cocaine, crack and heroin addiction that took the lives of so many of 'my generation' We were Mods.
And many of us still are. I haven't changed; I just got older like my Dad did. I still think pressed trousers and a sports shirt with a parka out keep out the cold is the height of 'cool'. I still dance all night to 'that driving beat' I still think that a popping a few blues and bombers is the only way to party and if you happen to mention liking any two wheel vehicle with a CC capacity greater than 250 in my vicinity then you are in grave danger of a swift kicking out in the parking lot.
Talk about imprinting at an early age. Talk about my generation.
It was Lord Chesterfield who said "we spend the first few years of our life acquiring habits and the rest of our life living with them. Choose your habits well". Luckily, as I said, I never set out to become "a mod", there just wasn't anything else to be. After all I didn't want to be what my dad was. So I'm a mod even today, I'm not a young mod but then again I'm not an old fart like my dad was, unless you ask my kids. They don't what to identify themselves with their father's generation, they are looking to rebel. They like music I hate, wear clothes I detest, take drugs I abhor and think they are the Mods. Always talking about 'their' generation.