To be honest, I was never a real Mod. Sure, in those crazy mid-Sixties I had the scooter, the parka, the tank aerial, tiger tail and a few other naff bits of kit, but in those days you needed money to be a ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’ to quote The Kinks. And cash was a commodity I didn’t have a lot of in those days. First as a schoolboy, then a student scooterist, I worked all day Saturday and Sunday in a Mace Grocers-cum-newsagent for the princely sum of two pounds, meaning that there was very little to spend on such Mod must-have accessories as Italian suits, Ben Sherman shirts, Lee Rider jeans, Desert Boots, umpteen mirrors and lights, and chrome everything. No money, no chance.
My first hand-me-down-from-friends scooter was a 1958 Lambretta LD – great once it started but a real stubborn sod to coax into life on a cold morning. Fortunately I lived near a steep road, and bump-starting her downhill usually worked. I later progressed to a sleeker Vespa 160 I affectionately named ‘Bubbles’ due to its side shape and that it ‘bubbled’ along, what a lovely unique sound they make.
Somehow I managed to afford it, and my allegiance swung to Vespas as the more reliable, if somewhat unstable love of my teenage transport life. Both types I came off numerous times, often sailing over the handlebars and thinking ‘I wish I’d put my crash hat on’, instead of having it dangling fashionably from the luggage rack. What a plonker – how did I survive all those dangerous days? Then aged seventeen and three-quarters I joined up to serve Her Majesty, and ‘put away foolish things’ as it says in the bible (I think). RIP Ma’am, I was proud to serve you.
So now if I fast forward fifty-five years (can’t be, surely) I’m doing it all again. Eight years ago on impulse I asked an English bloke on our Urb if he wanted to sell his Vespa that was parked outside his house. No was the answer but he put me in touch with someone near who sold them. Within the hour I met a big Brummy who owned a lock-up on the way to Elche. As he threw open a big sliding metal door I gasped in wonderment as I gazed around scooter heaven.
There were about 70 Lambrettas and Vespas, with models dating right back to the 1950s, all in varying conditions and every colour and shade of rust possible. There were even a collection of Spanish Post Office yellow scooters. Safely ignoring the financially-prohibitive and dodgy-starting Lambrettas I soon spotted a creamy-white Vespa, vintage 1989, classic Piaggio. ‘Bubbles 3’ was a TX 200 model with a kickstart, four manual gears and all the usual nobs and nick-nacks that makes scootering the huge pleasure it has always been for me. Soon it was mine – and re-sprayed to Garibaldi Red (Nottingham Forest colours). (BTW don’t ask what happened to Bubbles 2, it’s too painful to relate…).
And strangely enough I’m not alone… there are other like-minded scooter nuts, here on the Costa Blanca in Spain. We talk to each other in ‘Scootspeak’, a language only we understand, and nostalgically swap stories of the old days. Although actually now some of my two-wheeled friends are in their early sixties and were being born when we baby-boomers were busy breaking down and cursing our addiction to two-wheeled Italian designed transport. I call them the Quadrophenia generation – do you understand that?
We meet in San Miguel for coffee on Wednesdays and Sundays outside a typical Spanish bar where the locals traditionally put the world to rights playing dominoes etc. We then kick our babies into life and set off in line along the country roads of the Vega Baja. We all ‘ride out’ together, that’s Vespas, Lambrettas, and a few weirdy ones which we tolerate – all rolling back the years in traditional style.
Since my re-discovering scootering in 2014 our Costa Blanca Scooterists group have enjoyed three holidays together in Ibiza, three more in Mojacar and quite a few awaydays in yer actual Benidorm.
There are, I’m delighted to say still say a few of my real age and era, true old Mods from the actual Sixties. One has his fully-Modded classic Lambretta, complete with 104 mirrors, long aerial, British flags etc, and natty denim clothes to match. I still can’t afford all that stuff…
So there you are. If you are like me, a real owd Mod who yearns for a scootered two-wheeled blast from the past, and want to join mouldy-oldies like us, then get in touch. Or even if you’re not that old but enjoy small two-wheeled bliss come along and meet us, we won’t bite. It helps if you own one and live here most of the time, but at CBS we have all sorts so don’t feel inhibited.
Rolling back the years? Oh yes, modesty doesn’t forbid me….