Over the years, I’ve read many books about mods, scooterists, northern soul, and the scooter scenes. I’ve even written my own but have never got around to publishing it properly. Maybe I will one day.
During the recent lockdown I joined Kindle Unlimited and went on another reading extravaganza. I discovered that there were many books available from authors describing their mod and scooter experiences from the 1970s and 1980s.
Here are a few that I’ve enjoyed and I will keep adding to this post as I find more.
Read on for reviews of:
Mods, Scooters, and Soul by James Millar
Parked Up by Janet Hunter
Keeping On by Janet Hunter
Scooter Boys: The Lost Tribe by Martin Sticky Round
Glory Boys by Jim Iron and John Steel
A Crafty Cigarette – Tales of a Teenage Mod by Matteo Sedazzari
Books about Mods and Scooterists
(inc Kindle Unlimited)
Mods, Scooters and Soul: A Second-Generation Memoir, 1978-1985 by James Millar
I absolutely loved Mods, Scooters, and Soul and devoured it in one sitting. It’s very well written and even though the author emphasises that it is his own personal recollection, there is a lot of factual information too.
Not knowing who James Millar was or where the book was set, I become even more interested when I read he was from the south coast area. He started to mention many places I frequented on my own mod/scootering journey such as The Grange in Midhurst and the Wooden Bridge in Guildford. He even wrote of the Midhurst Detours Scooter Club which was my husband’s club in the 80s (albeit a few years after this book was set).
It was really interesting to read about the resurgence in scooter purchases from the second generation of mods, the early wave of national scooter rallies, the psychedelic mod, and northern soul scenes.
This short story can be read in an afternoon and culminates with the 1984 rallies including the Isle of Wight – my first proper national rally. Reading this left me with a warm feeling. Good times.
Available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited
Parked Up & Keeping on by Janet Hunter
Parked Up and Keeping On are probably more suited to the female readership rather than males but there’s enough of the scooter scene in them to be of interest to guys too. I would guess that they are both a mix of fiction and real-life experiences. It’s really refreshing to read books by women authors written about scootering.
Being a lover of chick lit, I really enjoyed these two books, especially the first one Parked Up. Keeping On continues the story where Parked Up left off.
In the stories, we follow 17 year old Annie as she starts to show an interest in mods and scooters during the 1980s whilst at college studying catering. I found my own life ran parallel with hers as she described how she worked hard and saved up to buy her first scooter, started going to the local pub for soul nights, and began to integrate with the local scooterists.
It shows exactly how it was for girls living in a very male-dominated youth culture, and addressed the problems that could happen when girls joined scooter clubs, leading some to start their own all-girl clubs.
The story does heavily focus on the relationships between the girls and boys at the time and let’s face it, they were a huge part of any teenager’s life. I think the author, Janet Hunter got it spot on.
Again, these books cover a couple of the rallies that I went on myself. I think I may have even been dancing right next to Annie during the Edwin Star gig. I found as I read the book I was reliving my own memories of those times as a 17 and 18 year old scootergirl.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading these.
Available on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, and in paperback.
Scooter Boys: The Lost Tribe (Two Finger Salute) by Martin “Sticky” Round
The Lost Tribe by Martin ‘Sticky’ Round was released in April 2019 and is not to be confused with the earlier book Scooter Boys by Gareth Brown.
The book starts with an intro by Mani of the Stone Roses recalling some of his memories and sharing some of the crazy, disgusting antics of the teenage scooter boys.
Martin’s own words tell the differentiation between scooterists and mods, something that riles any self-respecting scooter boy or scooter girl. Yes, mods rode scooters but the visual difference couldn’t be more apparent. It is given quite a lot of emphasis. Like any tribe, we wanted to be different but still wanted a sense of belonging, hence scooter clubs.
The book goes into detail about the troubles and many riding misdemeanors, but the reports are evened out with the camaraderie and good humour that could be found amongst the scooter boys and girls. Understandably, a lot is written about the customisation of the scooterist’s pride and joy.
There is a good mix of text and surprisingly good quality photos, especially bearing in mind that technology was not up to much back then. Very few of us had cameras, let alone camera phones.
This book is great for those who lived that lifestyle, a parallel tribe or for collectors of books that focus on nostalgia. I devoured it in a couple of hours then dipped back in for a more leisurely read.
Scooterboys – The Lost Tribe stoked many thoughts back to the good times of the 80s that many of us look back on with fondness and a sense of freedom. It is part of a series of youth cult coffee table books, along with others previously released about mods and skinheads.
Available as a hardback book.
Glory Boys by Jim Iron and John Steel
Glory Boys is the fictional story of a young London mod at the heart of the 1979 mod revival. Swot up on your cockney rhyming slang for this graphic depiction of a 10 day period full of drugs, violence, sex, music and scooters.
It is set pre-Quadrophenia release but there are definite similarities. At only 133 pages, it’s a short read but a good one for any aging mod that will appreciate the nod back to the birth of the revival.
Incidentally, this book is written by Garry Bushell and Craig Brackenridge who then went on to write another mod fiction book – All or Nothing.
Available on Kindle and in paperback.
A Crafty Cigarette – Tales of a Teenage Mod by Matteo Sedazzari. (Foreword by John Cooper Clarke)
A Crafty Cigarette – Tales of a Teenage Mod is narrated by the young schoolboy whose big brother was a mod, and follows his school and social life as he too becomes a teenage mod.
It is such a wonderful trip down memory lane – the Silver Jubilee, new colour TVs, pop stars, punk, and Rothmans fags. Even Garry Bushell gets a mention for writing about mods in the music mags.
As I read, I was reminded so much of my own school days and the beginnings of my own teenage mod years. The innocence and the belonging to something that was ours. From reading the music mags, to studying the record covers, singing along to the lyrics with all your mates, dancing at the youth club discos and buying your first mod outfit.
I’m not sure if this is fiction or biographical. It could certainly be either and ran parallel to many of my own experiences, even down to visiting local areas hoping to bump into members of The Jam in Woking.
I initially found the young lad quite endearing. It was something a bit different reading from the perspective of a child, but he did annoy me a bit towards the end. Maybe that was the mother coming out in me!
Worth a read though. Available on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, and in paperback.
I have other books about mods and scooterists that I’d like to read again and add to this post in due course. Those I can remember really enjoying were:
Scooter Boys – Gareth Brown
This is a Modern Life – The 1980s London Mod Scene by Enamel Verguren
Time, Trouble and Money: The Life and Times of a Scooter Boy – Mark Brough
You may also like to read some posts I have coming soon:
* Books about Ska, Punk and New Wave
* Books about Psychobilly & Rockabilly
Have you got any mod or scooter books to recommend?
Perhaps you’ve already read some of the above?
I’d love to know your thoughts on them.