This Is The Modern World?
Tony Miles is in his late-30s, works in IT, and lives in London. He was interviewed by Robin Tomens

I read in The Guardian the other day that Mod is back. That's a laugh. Mod's always been here, in one way or another, but nobody noticed. I've been a Mod for years, but I don't wear a parka with 'The Who' painted on the back, or a red white and blue target t-shirt...that's just the obvious image. Mod's an attitude, as much as a style. You see plenty of well-dressed blokes around Soho, but they're not Mod, you can tell. They're just getting into that whole London wide-boy 60s semi-gangster chic. Gangster Number One and Guy Ritchie films...that kind of look. Which is OK, I mean, I'd rather blokes walked around looking like that than wearing Nike and all that sportswear crap.

As usual, the media think they can categorise Mod in simple terms, but it's not like that. Mod isn't about rules, really. In the 60s, fashion changed all the time. I know Mods who wear mad stuff, but it's well put together. It's about caring about how you look, and not being just another number. The 60s is a kind of blueprint, but you don't have to conform to any particular image.

The thing about Mod is that it can't be bought off and bastardised by the media. They might try, the fashion pages and all that, but they'll never get close. Even if it becomes trendy for six months, once the part-timers have been and gone, the scene will still be there. Trouble is, the Out Crowd flood a place and ruin it for the proper people. That sounds snobby, I know, but that's the way it is. It's like the Soul Jazz night up at Islington, 100% Dynamite, we went the other week and had to queue for half an hour to get in, and that was about half-hour after it had opened! My girlfriend laughed because I got pissed off even before we got in because I could tell by the types that were in the queue that it had gone totally overground. I mean, they don't want to be underground, I know but...when we got inside, it was full of fucking students and birds in high-heels with mobile phones. But a year ago, it was less packed and there were a few faces there, skins...people into the music. Their music policy's a bit iffy anyway. They play ragga and rootsy stuff. But we used to go for the ska, blue beat and Trojan stuff. We won't go anymore, anyway.

Saturday Night Fish Fry is better. It's in a right sleazy joint in Vauxhall, but the place is small and there were a few faces there. Good DJs playing rare funk and soul. That'll probably get too popular as well, although the location might put a lot of people off. There's a monthly night we go to, off Oxford Street, but I'm not going to name it! It's proper old school, pure ska and soul. Skins go there, but they're not bootboy idiots, not Oi types. I've never seen one wearing boots and braces. They wear suits. They're cool. No aggro.

I suppose a few more nights will start to spring up now that Mod's getting trendy, and that's OK. London isn't a particularly soulful town, these days, so any night that supplies soul would be welcomed, for me. Soul's getting into some funny places. We went into a trendy clothes shop the other day and what were they playing? Bloody 60s soul! Soul is the thing, for me. That and jazz like Brubeck, Quincy Jones. I mean, The Jam were alright, but people really think that they were some kind of 'proper' Mod band. As far as I'm concerned, The Jam aren't where it's at. Weller's a good bloke, but...

A lot of people got into Mod when the whole Two-tone thing kicked off, and some even got scooters. I have mates who had scooters in the early-80, but they didn't stick with it, which is fair enough. Times change. The scooter thing fed the new revival, I suppose. Even Oasis got scooters, didn't they? That and, what's his name, that chef, scooting over to the bloody veg market - that got a lot of people into them. I don't have one myself, but any way of getting around town that isn't another fucking car clogging up the streets is OK by me.

Rockers? Maybe they'll make a comeback next - ha-ha! Then I'll have to go down to Brighton for a punch-up, won't I? Fighting's for idiots. I don't know any Mods who would give a shit if they met a gang of Rockers now. Unless they had a problem, of course. There's no accounting for other people's stupid attitudes. Our war is against a greater enemy...the Square World! Every day's a battle against that. People with no taste, no style, no clue. It's not a generation thing anymore. I'm nearly forty, but I look at young and old and wonder where they're at. Kids looking like shit. What's that about? Some slacker baggy-arse crap from America, probably. Kids in black...boys wearing make-up, that pale-faced shit. If I had a kid who looked like that, I kill him - heh-heh! Goths! I mean...

Does anyone read anymore? I look at young and old and I think they're illiterate bums, most of them, which is sad if you had a rough upbringing, but half these kids are middle-class, aren't they? What are they rebelling against? Education? Knowledge? Good books, movies, music, it's all important. A lazy brain is nothing to be proud of, is it? I'm not advocating intellectualism, but I do stand for intelligence. That's the thing about Mod. It makes you smarter than the average nobody. Of course there are idiots, but... we take that self-education thing seriously... maybe it's a 60s thing, improving yourself, making it, in anything, photography, writing, art, whatever. You can have pride in yourself, no matter where you come from.

Read the next part of Robin's 'All The Time In The World' series here.


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