Rick McGinnis writes:
It was more fun being the only mod at St. Mike’s – definitely the only mod in Mount Dennis – and in any case I did learn from watching Roddam’s film version of the Who’s 1973 concept album that crowds made me wary and mobs were to be avoided. I liked the music and the clothes, to be sure, but British youth subcultures export very poorly, and Roddam’s Quadrophenia taught me that dingy council houses, sunless skies and a bitterly conformist culture screwed down by class divisions was probably the sort of thing my grandparents were lucky to leave behind when they emigrated from Birkenhead and Lanarkshire.
Quadrophenia remains my favorite Who album if you don’t count greatest hits packages like Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy, but I’ve always found it irritating that Pete Townshend felt a need to use a ponderous, trumped-up pseudo-psychiatric term to describe Jimmy’s very (to me) normal teenaged confusion and hormonal chaos.
Despite being a fully-paid up punk-for-life, I personally had a grudging respect for Mods. My cousin was one. This Is The Modern World was one of my favourite albums. I loved the Purple Hearts Million Like Us when I first heard it. I even owned a couple of nice button-down collar Ben Shermans acquired from charity shops. Buzzcocks always had a touch of Mod about them and Generation X were probably as influenced by the Who as the Jam were initially musicwise.
(Later) I found The Exploited’s song Fuck A Mod a vile piece of pointless aggression aimed at an underdeserving target (on the back of a parka). By all means fuck the police, government and so on, but Mods were harmless and just kids too young for punk who wanted their own piece of the action. That said, Secret Affairs ” We hate the punk elite” line (which was about Julie Burchill/Tony Parsons specifically) didn’t help matters on the streets of provincial towns.
I can remember in about 1980 hanging around the precinct and an approaching gang of mods out-numbering us three ‘punk wankers’ so we ‘ad it on our toes. As we were running thru the multi-storey car-park being chased by them my mate said “What the fuck are we doing? They’re all about 14!” So we stopped, made ugly warlike faces and went Waaaahh!!! and charged at the Mods who shat ‘emselves and legged it. (We were about 16 or 17 and the least ‘hard’ people we knew!) Enough small-town nostalgia…
So you think you’re a Mod, right?
You work in sales or accounts or some such drudgery in a tired, nondescript, grey office block on a random industrial estate in Barking with straight-laced nobodies called Ken, Derek, Sandra and Melanie who spout on endlessly about Top Gear, X-Factor and Eastenders, because if it isn’t on the telly it’s not worth knowing about. They snort at your style, laugh at your haircut and are amazed when you fail to know anything about Cheryl, Simon & Co, because you’re different.
You wear a well cut suit that was made by your tailor, a little Italian guy in a tiny workshop in some back alley down the Elephant or off Brick Lane. Two button, three button, single or double vent, high waisted, tapered trousers – all to your taste and specifications.