Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Memoirs of an original Mod from the sixties

Meet Mike Anderson. Someone who was there at the birth of it all. He has seen it, lived it and continues to perpetuate the ideals of the Mod way of life. I first got in contact with Mike through his Facebook page The Detroit Locker where he sells quality vintage Mod wear that anybody would be proud to strut around in.

The first piece I got a hold of was this stunning beagle collar Ben Sherman shirt with a pattern that you just won't find on the racks today. The old twisted label is something you don't come across on a regular basis. I knew right away that he had great taste.

Next was this seemingly standard looking 60s tie. The reason why I had to have it was that it's a vintage James Bond 007 article. The James Bond signature on the inside silk liner is the "killer" detail that brings it over the top. Nobody will ever see it but I'm sure it will give me the confidence to face any benevolent evil genius that will cross my path.

When I first approached Mike about sharing his story, he told me: "Many of my own experiences and memories don't match up to the "accepted" history of what Mod was like". That is when I knew I had to convince him to take a seat in my time machine. He graciously accepted.

Mike in 1966
The floor is all yours M. Anderson.

I was born in 1949 so I was at the younger end of the "original" Mods who were two or three years older than me. At school, many of my classmates were fashion conscious and we counted ourselves as "Mods" even though we were too young to ride scooters. Small matters like the width of the trouser hem were important and you'd get your Mum to taper and narrow them according to what the latest fashion would dictate.

We lived in a small market town 30 miles South of London and in rural areas the Rockers always outnumbered the Mods. It was the norm to align yourself to one youth cult or the other, even if you were only a nominal member. When Ringo Starr was asked which he was, he famously answered that he was a Mocker! I recall at school the greasier elements indulged in some internal wrangling about whether the Rolling Stones or the Pretty Things were the grungier group.

The Mods preferred Georgie Fame and American R&B. I began to take an interest in fashion when I was probably about 13 or 14. My first Mod item was a tab collar shirt. I was on holiday with my Aunt Cathie who was a head teacher and very indulgent to my brother and I. Seeing the shirt in a shop window in Yeovil, I only had to say that I liked it and I was taken in by Aunt Cathie to buy it. The shirt was blue with a round giraffe collar. I think it had two tabs and ever since I've had a thing about that style which to me is more Mod than the button down.

Mike and his aunt in Brighton.
Aunt Cathie's Vespa
Later that same holiday I bought a blue cuff link / tie slide set in Weymouth which I still have. Contrary to popular belief, not all Mods were flush with cash and living in a small town. The latest styles were not always available even if you had the money. Sometimes we would "make do and mend". When the Dr. Kildare shirts became popular (as worn by the Dave Clark Five) I had an old white polo neck sweater and I turned the collar inside out, inserted some cardboard in the collar and sewed two buttons on the neck.

A young Mike
My brother Patrick is three years older and had a Vespa Sportique. When the college sweater look was in, Mum cut out a letter "P" and sewed it to a plain tee shirt. At school we used to be sent off on cross country runs and often would go down to a mate's house to listen to Georgie Fame or other Mod favourites on his Dansette. He also lived next to a girls' private school which was another good reason to skive off, not forgetting to splash some mud on our legs before getting back to school.

A stylish Mike in Paris in 1966
I bought my parka from an army surplus store in Redhill in Surrey, went over with my older brother Patrick on the back of his Vespa Sportique. Just a cheap second hand garment then but I expect it would be worth quite a bit now!

Stuart Pope was the first in our School to get a scooter, a Lambretta LD, and was the envy of us all when he rode it up to the school gates and parked it on the road outside. Stuart had customised his ride with a big mudflap behind the rear wheel made from a rubber mat on which he painted "Stu" in white. I left School in '65 to go to Technical College in Crawley, a large "new" town built post war to house London overspill and a definite Mod stronghold.

My first scooter was an Lambretta LD with an electric starter which I'm told is very rare. Best of all was my last one, a Lambretta TV 175 Series 2 which had chrome side panels and had just that little bit more pace than the Li. Mind you I was pleased when I passed my car driving test and didn't have to suffer the cold and rain.

This is my wife Barbara. We started going out when I was a Mod. Another good reason to remember the 60's fondly.


I want to thank Mike for giving us a seat in his time machine. After reading his account, I can understand why he cherishes his memories of this by-gone era. Make sure to check out Mike's Facebook page, The Detroit Locker.