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Mod to Suedehead - Page 9

post #121 of 25667
Originally Posted by Get Smart View Post
doesnt get more traditional than some of these fellas.....

Hanging out in London with traditional skins

Me and Bill, at the Camden Town "oi! oi! Shop" Oi is def not traditional music for skins but Bill has been in the London scene since the first days of the skinhead revival in '78 and prefers soul/ska/reggae tho still like his Oi music

group pic of having pints with some of the Camden boys at their pub, the Elephant's Head.

The fella directly to my right (Dave) with the "thumbs up" is in one of the more famous set of photos taken involving skins (scanned from the Nick Knight book). He's the guy in the black crombie on the left giving the biker a kicking (pic was used on cover of Condemned 84's "face the aggression" LP:

New Years' Eve soul/ska nite in London. Here with Jim Cox, one of the originals from 1968 (photos of him from 68-69 are fairly popular on the net as an example of "original skinhead")...still going strong as a ska/reggae DJ. His set was amazing, couldnt sit down to one song as they were all tops

Those are pretty awesome pictures, thanks for posting them.
post #122 of 25667
Thanks for sharing Get Smart.
post #123 of 25667

post #124 of 25667
that fool live in the dumpster??? man, you dont get more working class than that
post #125 of 25667
post #126 of 25667
Hello all. I'm in one of those photos, I won't say which one, at least not just yet. Great selection, especially the 60s/70s ones.
post #127 of 25667
Check this out for a great pic of some Chelsea skinheads, 1970
post #128 of 25667
From a 1971ish newspaper article in the UK, notice the selvedge jeans haha, SF approved **cheers to S&P, the gal who originally found this historical gem
post #129 of 25667
"2 boots, putting in, for the use of" ... Classic.
post #130 of 25667
new book out, might be of interest to some

Booted and Suited by Chris Brown (musta been written while he was beating up Rhianna, who knew that guy was such an authority on skinheads, respek!)

A bit of the text if you're REALLY bored:

PART ONE - 'This is a scene, there's some kind of code'

Can you remember those illustrated kids' books from a few years back 'Where's Wally?' - where you had to find a gormless, bespectacled bloke in a red striped jumper amongst a myriad of similarly dressed characters? Trying to find who or when the first skinhead appeared in Bristol, let alone Britain is a bit like that - it goes without saying the first sightings would have been in London, course it was me old china, you wouldn't expect anything else would you, those Cockney geezers have always been one step ahead of the rest of the country haven't they? Dick Hebdige, the British media theorist and sociologist claims that some mods were spotted with boots and braces during the notorious riots with rockers at Margate and Brighton as early as 1964 - which also ties in with Mickey Smith's observations in his book 'Who wants some aggro?' whereas the spring of 1968 seems to be the more commonly accepted date for their historic debut - and as for the exact location of where he first saw the light of day, Bermondsey, Willesden and Plaistow can all lay claim to be the birthplace of the forerunner of the modern day hoodie. One of the first recorded instances of this new teenage phenomenon appearing in public came during the Great Vietnam Solidarity March in London on 17 March 1968 - 30,000 anti war demonstrators were heckled and abused by 200 "˜closely cropped local youths dressed in Millwall football club's team colours', not that these lads were making a political statement, their venom was aimed at the massed ranked hippies as opposed to the USA's involvement in south-east Asia - political animals they were not.

John Waters, an original 60s mod from Upper Holloway, London remembers vividly two very different sorts of mods, the easy on the eye West End dandies and those with a more tougher outlook - the so-called "˜hard mods' who were just a step away from being bona fide East End boot boys. Writing on the "˜Modculture' website he recalls: "˜there were two distinct types of mod within the London area. The first was the familiar scooter boys which has become the generally accepted face of sixties Modernism, however, there was another type of mod back in those days. These were the members of the many Mod "˜firms'... members of these gangs would not be seen dead on a scooter, their preferred mode of transport being a car.' These gang members not only had a different outlook but also dressed different, more uniform - "˜they were meticulous in their dress, the order of the day being the mohair suit, velvet collar overcoats and as often as not a "˜blue beat' hat.' Dick Hebdige even puts forward the idea that these hard mods "˜started sporting close cropped hair which artificially reproduces the texture and appearance of the short Negro hair styles'. There's even claims that these first skinheads were in fact "˜aspiring white Negroes' - the very first "˜wiggers' even, how odd then that in years to come skinheads would always been associated with being far right racists.

It's hard to dispute therefore that the early crophead evolved from the dying embers of the mod movement which had acrimoniously split and gone its separate ways once LSD replaced dexidrine and Meher Baba influenced Pete Townsend more than John Lee Hooker. What is harder to determine is what the original boot boys were called - peanuts, lemonheads, cropheads and the previously mentioned hard mods - all got used by the rabid red tops, desperate to find a tag for the delinquents that they could then heap all of Britain's ills on to. Certainly in those early days 'skin' heads would have been way off the mark - witness the 1969 film 'Bronco Bullfrog' - Bronco's hair is a rather scruffy, and very common, short back and sides, while the amateur 'star' of the docu-film, Dale is constantly flicking the hair from out of his eyes - take away his size 10 boots and you're back searching for 'Where's Wally?'

Contrary to popular belief, the haircut itself was not a direct descendent of the American crew cut - which left virtually no hair at the back and sides but a longer length on the top. Despite this, rather amusingly in the late 60s, US military personnel based in this country were advised to wear hairpieces to avoid them being mistaken for native, booted hooligans. More often than not a request at the local barbers for a "˜square cut' resulted in the desired effect - it was not until a year or so later that the term skinhead entered the argot of the English language and became the tag that would stay forever with any future hooligan possessing a short hairstyle, with or without the boots - even the Prime Minister of the time, Harold Wilson, speaking in parliament in 1969 used the terminology, in describing certain Tory rivals as "˜the skinheads of Surbiton'.

Surprisingly though, as the embryonic skinhead took centre stage it was not the hairstyle but the footwear that defined the cult, however the greatly revered Doc Martens were hardly worn at all - it was their surly, ugly older brothers in the guise of calf-high paratroopers, steel toe-capped workboots, army hobnails or my own personal favourites, the infinitely more comfortable monkey boots that were the preferred choice. In April 1970 The Bristol Evening Post even saw fit to send their fashion reporter Barbara Buchanan out to hunt down the 'bovver boot', full of curiosity about the boots she made a trip to GB Brittons in Kingswood, who at the time were the largest manufacturer in the world for 'safety footwear' - an oxymoron if ever there was one when the boots were in the hands, or rather on the feet, of the young skinheads.

Jim Burriss, a director of the company was naturally delighted with the latest teen fashion, Brittons had seen an increase of 29% in sales of steel-toe capped protective footwear in the previous year, but not wishing to align himself with the bovver boys he disputed that the sales were down to them entirely, 'it's a greater awareness of factory safety plus a first-class bunch of our salesmen' he stated, of course it was Jim, and just to give more credence to the fact he added that he thought ex-army stores were a more likely source for the favoured footwear, 'the old army boot could be pretty lethal, there are plenty of them available in surplus stores'. The intrepid reporter then tried her luck at an unnamed army surplus store where the proprietor stated that more and more teenage boys were buying a certain type of boot - 'these have a very heavy sole and lightweight upper, they're marvellously comfortable to walk in but the boys are buying them as a fashion'. I can only guess that they are describing Monkey boots as Doctor Marten's certainly didn't fit this description, when asked if the boys bought the lethal-looking hobnails the answer was that they did, and at 52s 6d (less than three quid) they were a lot cheaper than the others but it seems that it was the former unnamed boot that they wanted. Ironically Doc Martens came to be the boot synonymous with skinheads by a strange quirk of fate - later on in 1970 the police across the country decided that the steel toe-capped boot should be classed as an offensive weapon and that anyone wearing them could have them confiscated, or the wearer could even face arrest. That ban saw the shift to Doc Martens and within a few months they virtually became standard issue, with their simple utilitarian design becoming as much an anti-fashion statement as a very noticeable nod in recognition to their working-class roots.

Of course, you could answer 'so what?' - does it really matter why and where it all started? Click on Wikipedia, search for mods and you'll find prosaic and flowery expressions such as 'existentialist philosophy', 'middle class teenage boys' and references to French new wave films and 'penchants for jazz' - nice. Click on 'skinheads' and the hackles start to rise and the vitriol cranks up: 'entrenched class system' and 'working class sub culture' jump out at you and surprise, surprise once the brief history gets dispensed with there's a whole chapter on racism, anti-racism and politics - not so nice. It's all a bit clinical and prescriptive, there's the accurate but obvious references to the influence of home grown West Indian rude boys and the skinheads love affair with ska and reggae - but that's it, nothing that actually gets under the skin, as it were.

In some respects the early skinheads had a great affinity with the counter culture of the punks who were to burst onto the scene spitting and screaming less than a decade later, a young East End skinhead quoted in the Penguin Educational paperback The Paint House stated 'Everywhere there are f**king bosses, they're always trying to tell us what to do ... don't matter what you do, where you go, they're always there. People in authority, the people who tell you what to do and make sure you do it. It's the system we live in, it's the governor system.' Like the late 70s anarchists, skinheads grew out of disillusionment with not just those in authority but with pop and its excessive trappings. The uber coolness of the 'swinging sixties' when London music and fashion had ruled the world was on the wane - the summer of love of 1967 was the last straw, the music had lost its way, fashion had lost its head and the hair, well that was just asking for trouble. The working class youth needed their adrenaline rush as much as the more cultured middle classes, but whereas the grammar school types from the leafy suburbs escaped from their tedious life by immersing themselves in the flamboyant, expressive, drug-infused hippy culture, the comprehensive school kids from the post war concrete council estates tried to revisit an earlier period - they craved for a time when life was simpler and they tried desperately to recover a sense of tradition in a fast changing Britain, a tradition which to them, the hippy movement was trying its hardest to destroy - the social dynamic behind the skinhead cult is obvious, unequivocal and cannot be over emphasised. Thankfully these were the days when the working class were still looked upon with some affection, forty years on and the working class have been replaced by the Indian-inked, hooded, underclass - for the salt of the earth, now read the scum of the earth. It's often been said that the modern day sportswear-clad chavs have no respect for anyone or anything around them, they deliberately cover their faces and hide their eyes beneath hoods and ubiquitous checked caps - it's not respect for others the hoodies don't have, it's respect for themselves, something the first generation of skinheads had by the bucketload. Ask any skinhead from that era and they'll constantly remind you of how much they respected older people, embraced the traditional British work ethic, loved their country, loved themselves and most importantly, loved their mums.

While the cult of the hippy and flower power had weak roots, all things skin had strong ones based on traditional values. Skinheads viewed hippies with their mantra of individualism, drug taking, free love and doing their own thing as the enemy within - as one sixteen year old 'peanut' in an interview in 1968 when asked about what he was against, bluntly stated: "˜long hair, pop, hippy sit-ins, live-ins and the long-haired cult of non violence'. The reaction to the hippy movement and its music featuring sitars, cowbells and those obligatory 10 minute guitar solos, was as extreme as it was rapid, the skinheads chose to grossly exaggerate their working class background and deliberately accentuated its hard image - the braces, overtly exposed working boots, close cropped hair, collarless shirts - all stereotypical working class imagery - it could even be argued they were making a political statement but back then, politics was the last thing on a young skinheads mind, they didn't really care much for Vietnam, Tariq Ali or CND, their thoughts were elsewhere and it's those thoughts that I now hope to reveal and retell in the next few chapters, thoughts, memories and recollections of those first generation skinheads, those boys and girls who were around when the mods drew their final breath, cast off their parkas and laced up their boots, welcome to 'Booted and suited'...

I read somewhere that Bristol could have been as glorious as Rome, except the locals couldn't be bothered, or that it could be Britain's San Francisco - certainly the geography resembles the Californian city and Bristol's got an amazing bridge - and a prison, but that's where the similarities end, San Francisco was the birthplace of the free loving hippies, Bristol the birthplace of, Methodism, somehow I can't see the connection.

Since the 1950s coffee bars have played an important part in the life of the British teenager, from 'Coffee An' off Wardour Street in London to the 'Cona coffee bar' in Tib Street, Manchester, teenagers flocked to them in their droves - it's amazing what a jukebox, pinball machines and a Gaggia can do - warm, inviting, slightly racy, a hint of the continent, British youth is easily pleased. In Bristol we had the 'Never on Sunday' in Fairfax Street, just around the corner from Woolworths and the Co-op and just a stone's throw from the central police station, Bridewell, good thinking lads.

Iain McKell, the well-known fashion photographer who learnt his trade back in the 70s and 80s through shooting skinheads and new romantics and who photographed Madonna for her first magazine cover recalls: 'I remember skinheads the first time round, in 1969, when it was really hardcore. I must have been 12, 13 and I was in a cafe in Bristol when this bloke walked in, hair cropped, wearing a Ben Sherman shirt, braces, Levi's and DM boots. Then another one, and another one. And I thought hang on a minute, there's something going on here, this is a scene, there's some kind of code. And in those days it was shocking to see something like that.' A public schoolboy with working-class parents from Weymouth, McKell was awestruck by the skinheads' defiance and aggression, it wasn't long before he wanted to be part of this 'scene' - 'This big firm of lairy skinheads would stand behind the goal at Bristol City's ground [no accounting for taste], so one day I joined them, just to experience this feeling, this roar - they'd bang their boots against the corrugated tin wall behind them, then they'd surge forward in this big wave.' 'Defiance and aggression' - it's easy to see how the movement roared through Britain in the summer of 1969, a bit like Concorde had done so in the April on its maiden flight - from Filton, Bristol for the record.

This 'scene' was being repeated up and down the country, Chris Welch, the esteemed rock journalist, writing in Melody Maker in 1969 made a similar observation: 'it's a curious thing that whenever... a pillar of our bewildered society wants to cast stones, they instantly start talking about long haired louts/yobs/hippies/students etc... Yet anybody who has ventured on the streets will instinctively know that they have nothing to fear from the long-haired youth who merely wants to turn on in peace to his favourite band and chick. The sight of cropped heads and the sound of heavy boots entering the midnight Wimpy bar or dance hall is the real cause for sinking feelings in the pit of the stomach.' Strangely for someone who supposedly had his finger on the pulse of Britain's street culture, Welch identified the new breed as 'mods', it's probably easy now to look back and be critical but as the modernists first kick-started their Lambrettas some six or seven years earlier it's difficult to see how he arrived at this tag, but then again 'post-modern mods with big boots' just doesn't put the fear of god into anyone. Welch wasn't the only one who was unsure what to call this new breed of cropped haired adolescents roaming the streets of Britain - as mentioned previously the media of the day, although aware of the new youth phenomenon, were also unsure what to call them, during the period of unrest that erupted during the summer of 1969 on the streets of Bristol, the Evening Post constantly referred to them as 'The Cropheads' with their enemy of choice being 'The Rockers', as if they were two distinct street gangs in the mode of 'The Jets' and 'The Sharks' in West-side story, not that Bristol's city centre resembled Manhattan's Hells Kitchen and it certainly didn't feature Natalie Wood singing 'I feel pretty'.

Although there had been sporadic clashes between these two groups throughout the year it appears that the catalyst for all this mayhem was an assault on Saturday 19 July 1969 inside the Never on Sunday itself. A 19-year old ballsy greaser (the more common reference of the day for the rockers, or 'greebo' if you really wanted to chance your arm) from Knowle West entered the cafe and assaulted one of the 'Never' boys. In court on the Monday, he admitted that he 'butted the youth in the face threw him to the ground and kicked him', claiming that the youth had 'kept interfering with him and he just lost his head' - he had six previous convictions and was fined £30 plus £2 costs. This assault quickly resulted in a revenge attack on the '63 Club'* - the motorcycle gang's cafe in Old Market less than a mile away by the enraged cropheads, but this was just a prelude to the mass battle which took place on the following Tuesday when up to 300 youths fought in the City Centre. Under the headline 'Gangs at war' the Evening Post reported with as much relish as the modern day Daily Mail gleefully informs its outraged readers of yet another attack on a frail pensioner by a hooded thug: 'About 300 youths from rival gangs were involved in a series of running fights near the centre of Bristol ... a number of "nasty implements" were later found to have been discarded, including iron bars, sticks, broken bottles, knives and a scalpel. A number of youths faced charges including assaulting a policeman, malicious wounding, threatening behaviour and carrying offensive weapons.'

*My research threw up several names for this cafe, many seemed to think it was called the 63 Club but others offered up the '69 Club', while one of the few bikers who I managed to talk to from that era thought there was two cafes, the '66 cafe' and the '99 cafe' while someone else even reckoned it was the 'Route 66 Club'. There was certainly a motorcycle gang called the '63 Club' so it seems logical that they were named after the cafe they frequented.

Detective Sergeant Peter Webster, who opposed an application for bail by one youth stated: 'There is concern by the prosecution that they haven't heard the last of these incidents' - an understatement if there ever was one. Most arrested that night were teenagers, in fact nearly all were just 17 - most ended up with £25 fines while others were put on remand, the most serious offence by a 23-year old greaser of an assault on a police officer resulted in a two month prison sentence - or 'gaol' as it was commonly called back then. In an entirely separate incident the Evening Post also reported of a 21-year old man being shot and two other people suffering stab wounds at a party in woods in nearby Stroud in Gloucestershire. Of course this was the period of 'peace and love' - The Rolling Stones were performing for free in Hyde Park in the name of love in a concert which got hijacked by London skinheads while John Lennon and Yoko Ono were singing 'Give peace a chance' from their hotel bed, it sounds like it was falling on deaf ears, well in the West Country at any rate. The following Thursday the ante was well and truly upped...

Barry Cowan, an 18-year-old greaser from Stoke Gifford was killed when his 650cc Norton motorcycle was in a collision with another motorcycle and a Triumph Herald car in Temple Way. His distraught mother denied that Barry had ever been part of a gang, saying 'He wore a flying jacket and jeans when riding his motorcycle but never dressed way out, and behaved well at home ... and as for the German helmets and swastikas (common regalia for the bikers of the day) - he never wore anything like that and knew his father and I would not allow him in the house like that'. Undoubtedly the incident was related to the troubles of that week and perhaps this was a step too far, the next day the cropheads and the greasers met on College Green in front of Bristol Cathedral for a 'truce'. Under a photo of the two warring tribes shaking hands the Evening Post's headline proclaimed: 'Gangs relaxing but police stay alert' - the report went on to say that a crowd of 120 gathered and the truce was signed with a handshake - the two gang leaders collected £3 from their own members for a wreath for Barry. The Evening Post continued: 'Many members of the motor cycle gang seem to think his accident was an indirect result of their war with the cropheads. Police said it was being treated the same way as any fatal accident and that witnesses were still being interviewed'. What you can't fail to notice about the photo is the difference in both age and physique of the two gangs, the fresh-faced cropheads barely reach the shoulders of the greasers and while the bikers proudly display moustaches and sideburns the short-haired cropheads haven't got as much as a bit of bum fluff between them - one other curious thing about the photo is that if you look very closely you can make out a couple of black guys amongst the cropheads, more of them later.

After a week of reflection on the events the Evening Post took its eye off the Apollo 11 moon mission which was enthralling the nation and ran a half page interview with the Bristol police - the headline read 'This ugly rash will be stamped out...' the report by the esteemed reporter Roger Bennett went on to say: 'First there were the Teddy Boys. Then came the Mods and Rockers. Now, in Bristol, it's Hells Angels v. Cropheads. The names change. So do the uniforms - from drape jackets and crepe soled shoes to crash helmets and swastika-emblazoned jackets. But the disease is the same - an ugly rash of teenage terrorism. The battleground has moved from the dance halls to the streets over the years. And this makes police all the more determined to stamp out the new wave of juvenile belligerence'.

Chief Supt. George Fisher, commander of the Bristol police 'A' division discounted the suggestion that the teenage gangs should be put in a field and left to fight out whatever they are fighting about, 'whereas in the Teddy Boy era, most of the trouble was among young people in places frequented by young people, over recent years it seems to have moved into the streets. The general public, in particularly elderly people and the very young, can be badly frightened by this kind of behaviour, and we cannot allow it to continue. I must make it clear that if these young people continue with their course of conduct in the centre of Bristol or elsewhere, they will be dealt with firmly by the police.'

Another senior police officer, the aptly named Det. Supt. Frederick Clash commented '...the increasing use of weapons like sticks, knives, chains and stones, also increases the danger that someone will be seriously hurt. But it is unlikely to spiral into the use of firearms'. Then in a sentence that could be lifted from any of today's tabloids he states: 'the teenage gangs are composed of youths with juvenile minds influenced by films and TV'. However he then tries to lighten the picture somewhat 'This isn't gang warfare. It's two little groups of silly kids'. The night before this report in a scene reminiscent of the film 'The Wild One', over 60 of one group of these 'silly kids' - with names such as Danny the Pervert, Doc Puffer, Maverick, Big Jim, Ruby and Tank - all members of either the Bristol Nomads or West Coast Chapter of the Hells Angels rode into Keynsham on their Triumphs and Nortons where they stayed for an hour before leaving without causing any trouble. However the following evening 30 of them rode into Chipping Sodbury where they fought with local youths, 'beer glasses were thrown and there was fighting and swearing under the clock tower'. Contrary to the police's optimistic message, this 'teenage terrorism' was not about to fade away - the tension of that blisteringly hot summer continued into the flame red autumn, on Friday 5 September the violence erupted again, youths fought toe-to-toe on the streets culminating in a near riot. 200 youths clashed on the centre, one youth was seriously injured when he was thrown threw a plate glass window of an insurance company, a police officer also received a broken arm in the disorders which lasted for over an hour and also saw the overstretched Bristol police having to call for reinforcements from across the region - the truce was well and truly forgotten. The aggro wasn't confined to Bristol however, the same weekend saw 13 'soccer hooligans' from London arrested and fined after trouble flared at the Aston Villa v. Millwall match in Birmingham - the cult of bovver was well and truly on the march.

It was time to take off my anorak and stop leafing through the archives of the local press - I needed to talk to the instigators of all of this chaos - the faces behind this wave of juvenile belligerence. What made the young Turks of Bristol flock to the Greek-Cypriot owned cafe "˜Never on Sunday', named after the Nana Mouskouri record, on the fringe of the grim, post-war Broadmead shopping centre in the first place. I put the question to Jimmy Demitriou aka Jimmy Dee, who was born in 1953 in Bristol and whose Cypriot-born father (also known as Jim) opened up the cafe in 1966 - I had first met Jim at a reunion for the 'Never' boys at his smart cafe club, Bar-Celona, in Bristol's tough, uncompromising Kingswood district in April 2008: 'The Never on Sunday was first one unit, he [Jim's dad] opened it as a restaurant, serving mixed grills, omelettes, that sort of thing, but the kids would come in just for drinks - milkshakes, cokes - then the shop next to him came up and he bought that and put in juke boxes and pinball machines - he encouraged the mods to come in - the whole wall was just pin ball machines, the other side was seating and the juke box, we were the first cafe in Bristol catering for the kids. It was up to me and my brother (George) to buy the music - we used to get the records from Picton Street, it was Blue Beat and Motown - we had quite a few [black guys] around us like Carlton and Seymour who introduced us to Picton Street and from there on, they knew we were from the 'Never' and put the records aside for us - my own favourite was Wet Dream by Max Romeo.' This was a nice little earner for the tiny but famous RCA record store in Montpelier run by ex Teddy Boy Roy Pugh and his dad, these were the days when press coverage of black music was virtually unheard of and there was certainly very little airplay on national radio - even when it was played tinny transistors didn't do the heavily bassed-up Jamaican sounds justice. Black music charts were unheard of - word of mouth was how these records sold, get the 'Never' to put the records on their jukebox and the teenagers would flock to Roy's little emporium the following week to spend their hard-earned cash on classics by Jimmy Ruffin, the Four Tops, Derrick Morgan and Prince Buster - and the record which the Never made its own, 'Whisky and Soda' by the amusingly named Mopeds - in gratitude for boosting their profits Roy gave Jimmy a signed copy of Millie Small's 'My boy Lollipop' (giving to RCA when she once visited the shop herself) which he framed and proudly displayed in the cafe.

Jim had a good memory, he remembered fine details about his clothing and where he bought it, 'Millets' he answered, without a hint of irony, 'for the basics', he added quickly 'but a cousin to my father used to make our three piece suits', he also had a mate, Paul, who was a mechanic who souped up his Lambretta, 'it had copper sprayed side panels' he beamed - he also recalled wearing a gold chain in his waistcoat 'no watch on it mind, just the chain' he said with a smile, he was out to impress the girls. 'How about the clientele in the 'Never' Jim, can you remember the change from mods to skinheads?' I asked. Jim was hazy about the actual year but he could quite vividly recall the cold wind of change that blew down from the east 'of course the first skinheads were in London, but I remember lads being in the cafe one day dressed as mods, then literally the next day the hair was shorter and the jeans were up here and within two weeks they were all like it'. Jim went on to regale me with tales of how the lads would nick money from the pin ball machines but how his dad turned a blind eye to it, they obviously had a lot of respect for Jim Senior, well enough to nick his livelihood from under his nose that is. It turned out that the 'Never' not only had a reputation with the local constabulary for the aggro but also for the shoplifting - 'if you wanted something you could get it in the 'Never', there was one guy, he could get you anything, if you wanted a fridge he would get it for you, anything you want, someone once said 'I saw a lovely TV in Fairfax House [the large nearby Co-op departmental store]', this bloke he would ask 'what make was it?' he would then go along to Fairfax House, suss out the make, take a note of the serial number on the back, then go out and get changed into a pair of white overalls he owned - it even had 'Service engineer' on the back, he would then go back in with his overalls on and his clipboard - he even had a trolley, he would just load it up and walk out with it, anyone stopped him and he would quote the serial number and show it on his pad, saying it had to go back to the factory for repair - worked every time.'

The 'Never' eventually shut down for good in 1974, the cafe which the skinheads used to frequent closed a couple of years earlier, due in no small part to the criminal activities and the fact the kids had moved on to pastures new, the restaurant continued for a while but without the boys patronage the takings started to dwindle, on top of that, Jim's old man was heavily into gambling which didn't help - 'he went out one night with a top of the range Merc, came back with an old banger - lost it playing cards'. Jim himself obviously wasn't one of the 'top boys' - neither did he profess to be, but his clientele and his closeness with the lads in the 'Never' ensured that Jim or his dad for that matter always commanded a certain amount of respect on the streets of Bristol, if ever they found themselves in the need of a bit of 'muscle' the boys would not let them down, 'if someone threatened us, we knew we had huge back up'. Jim remembered an incident in the Silver Blades ice rink one Saturday afternoon 'I remember once I got whacked in the ice skating rink - I got nutted, there was blood all over the ice - and that was because I was chatting to some girl, Angelo [Pasco - he and his brother Willie were notorious characters on the Bristol scene] spotted me, 'Jim, Jim who did this?' Angelo wasn't skating, he walked on the f**king ice and bang bang, this bloke went down, it took five guys to get him off him. Our ties with the Pascos go further back than the 'Never' - they worked in the fruit market and my dad had his first cafe there, I used to take them their coffees and egg and bacon sandwiches - it was a real, real buzzing place, by 4 in the morning it was packed.' It turned out there was quite of few of these 'Never' lads who worked in the nearby fruit market - including one certain individual whose name would crop up time and time again, who as it turned out would 'borrow' his parents lorry to transport the skinheads around, often hidden behind the crates of fruit. More of him later...

I could have spoken to Jim for hours, he was an engaging character and he looked backed on those days with a great deal of affection, his eyes misted over with many of the recollections, he was clearly not a big time player and whether through a fading memory or just a reluctance to name names I wasn't really getting into the zeitgeist of the day - I knew the 'Never' was not up there in the league of the Soho coffee bars that spawned the mods at the start of the decade, where Jack Kerouac and Colin McInnes were debated with gusto over their espressos while Miles Davis played effortlessly in the background, but I had expected a bit more than 'Viennese steaks were popular with the lads'. I decided to go for the 64,000 dollar question with Jim: 'Can you remember the very first skinhead in Bristol Jim?' I waited with bated breath, would my search for 'Wally' be resolved so quickly, Jim cast his eyes over his restaurant, scratched his head, looked at the ceiling, 'No' he answered, my search was to continue.
post #131 of 25667
^^ Many thanks. Work has been slow.
post #132 of 25667
^^ just for you then

Prior to the 'Never' reunion at Jim's club, the Evening Post ran a feature on the infamous cafe, perhaps not surprisingly there was no reference to 'skinheads' or of the bovver that was associated with it, even the photo that was reproduced which clearly showed a group of mischievous cropped-haired and booted youths was accompanied by the caption of 'mods outside the cafe in the late 60s' - 40 years on and the Post was still struggling with the taboo terminology. A week or so after the article in the Post letters started appearing listing name after name of bygone boys who had at one time stomped with pride through the streets of Bristol, one such letter appeared from Bob Feltham of Whitchurch:

'I got to know the cafe through a guy called Gary Briar who I worked with at the old Robertson's jam factory in Brislington in the late sixties, and after that through the Number 9 scooter boys from Broomhill. These included friends Johnny Love and Gerry Hodgson (who were neighbours) and the Broomhill and St Anne's crowd. This included Lawrence Hobden, Craig Britton, Martin 'Jinx' Jenkins, John 'Fitz' Fitzgerald, Martin 'Tap' Walters, Martin 'Taz' Taylor, Eggy, Tinker, Joe, Andy Gunton, Martin Webster, Danny, Johnny Calabrese, Brian Strange and Charlie Travis, among others. The names that I remember from the 'Never' crew were Brian Balson, Johnny Cowley, Chris Summers, Martin and Paddy Walsh, Andy and Paul Stone, Stevie Elvins, John Onuyfrik, Vernon, Snowy, Keith Langdon, Tony Horton, 'Daddy' Stevens, Mike Thorne, Dave Mealing, Carl and, of course, Angelo Pasco.' Bob continued: 'The 'Never' crowd were either in or outside the Locarno or at the Horse And Groom or the Way Inn on College Green. I also recall the trips to Burnham on a Sunday and to the Devon coast on bank holidays.'

I managed to make contact with Bob and after several conversations via email he went into a bit more detail about those days. Bob was born in 1952 and started frequenting the 'Never' in his teens in the late 60s, like many of the guys from back then he's a family man (married for over 30 years to Caroline) and a successful businessman who runs his own international shipping business. Perhaps those 'bad old good old days' taught these kids a thing or two, many of them were ruthless risk takers on the streets back then and maybe that 'savvyness' and sense of loyalty that they shared with their mates stayed with them in later years. 'I lived in Edward Road, Brislington in those days and travelled into town either on the back of a scooter or in Johnny Love's Triumph Herald. At the same time I introduced some other friends such as Dave Bonomi, Eamonn Kelly, Steve Pawlak to the 'town' scene, although Steve already knew two of the existing members (of the scooter club) - John Onuyfrick and Bob Knight who both hailed from Shirehampton. The Number 9s were mostly all already acquainted with the cafe ... I had an old Mark 1 Lambretta when I moved to London to work at Heathrow in late 1969, but returned in 1970 back to the area. I remember that the Number 9s had a variety of souped up Lambrettas and Vespas with all the 'bells and whistles'. In those days I used to wear a pair of 'Royal' brogues (bought from Hounslow), Ben Sherman shirts with or without braces, Sta-prest trousers or jeans. I also had a Crombie coat, pair of Doc Martens and of course, we were all spotless and smelled of Brut aftershave. If we wore a suit the trousers were of course flared and the jackets had about a dozen buttons on the sleeves. I guess that I was a true skinhead in those days.'

'We used to hang around either inside or outside the Locarno, in the Top Rank, in the Gaumont picture house, in the 'Groom' or in the cafe. I can remember the running battles in Weston-super-Mare during the bank holidays, the mass fight and subsequent peace 'charter' with the greasers in the city centre.'

'Also at that time I played rugby with Bishopston Colts with Gerry Hodgson [rugby seems to be a common theme with a lot of the Never boys]. Other members of the side were Seymour Baugh, Tennis Russell and Caron Downer who were later to become famous for their DJ activities in town. The music at this time was soul, bluebeat and reggae, with Tighten Up Volume 2 the top reggae album. I was a Rovers' fan in those days and used to travel away to watch matches, invariably ending up in some sort of 'rumble' with the away supporters - something that I am not proud of now that I think back, but it seemed the thing to do at the time.'

'As usually happens I became friendly with certain members of the 'Never' crowd such as Brian Coombes, Daddy Stevens (you didn't tangle with these guys), Austin Hardwick (Aussie) and Les English. I also met Steve McManus, who is a friend to this day, and Dave Mealing who I still see from time to time. There were so many guys that I knew from that era that I could not possibly name them all. Having said that how could I not mention Martin and Mike Thorne (Thorny), Martin and Paddy Walsh and Chris Summers.'

In later years Bob and his mates spread their wings and started going further afield, maybe the lure of the 'Never' itself was on the wane, Bob continued: "As time went on Johnny Love and I became friendly with Les Gortat and the inimitable Willy Pasco. We used to collect them from Willy's flat in Clifton (Willy would not sit down in case he creased his Sta-prest trousers) and drive to the Star at the top of the 'Roddy' in Congresbury where they had a disco. The Broomhill guys and a fair few of the 'Never' crowd used to meet up and chaperone the local 'country' girls. Good days! Other places that we frequented with the 'boys' were the Mexican Bar and the Hawthorns. And as mentioned earlier 'The Rank' where Jason was the DJ. The pre-club drinks were usually downed at the Way Inn (on College Green, part of the old Royal Hotel).'

Some of the names that Bob mentioned I recognised, one or two sent a chill down my spine, these guys were the stuff of legends, someone else who was making a name for himself back then was Phil Peacock who then lived in Sea Mills but who now resides in the US. I worked with Phil in the early 1970s, I had a lot of respect for Phil (as well as an irrational fear, he was built like the proverbial brick out house) and I knew that he had some stories to tell. Phil went on to elaborate on those trips to Weston-super-Mare that Bob had mentioned: 'It was customary to ride down to Portishead on the scooters and meet up with the locals there. Skippy being one. And then, after several laps of the town, head on down to Clevedon via the back roads. Once there the same thing would happen, ride around for a while gathering up anyone else that wanted to ride. Then on towards Weston-super-Mare. At this point we normally would meet up with others from Bristol also heading towards W-S-M. Many of these would be just blokes and their girls out for a Sunday ride. However, on those occasions when the 'Never' boys were out there was chaos in the air. One of their clan drove a lorry from the fruit market. They would put all of these empty crates up around the edges and the boys would be inside hidden from view. However, once they came upon some unsuspecting greaser on his bike, and there were a few as many from Fishponds and the other more popular motorcycle neighbourhoods would also ride down to Weston on a Sunday, usually for the same purpose - a bit of fun and perhaps a fight or two. Anyway, once alongside the bloke and his bike the lads inside of the crates would begin to hurl crates at the unsuspecting biker. Needless to say there was many a biker run off the road, knocked of his bike by flying crates or lost a passenger. Quite a lot of carnage to be had between Bristol and Weston in those days.'

'As for Sunday I had a friend on the back of my Lambretta headed from Portishead to Clevedon and then onto Weston. There was quite possible 20-25 scooters. About 15 miles out of Weston I blew a spark plug. So I pulled over to the side of the road to effect repairs. Paul my buddy was crouched down watching me. He was to my right. The next thing I see is Paul rolling over onto the grass with his mouth all busted open and blood all over his face. Looking back I see a procession of greasers riding by. I then looked up the road and there is one riding with his left foot trailing. Paul later recalled that he heard the noise of the bikes and turned towards the sound and the next thing he knew was a boot was kicking him in the face.'

'My scooter took a few kicks from passing greasers as did most of the others who had stopped to wait for me. That was one thing, you never left someone on the road by themselves for this very reason. Once back under way, our group caught up with some of the back markers and took revenge. I smacked one biker's right hand with a big spanner, used for the rear suspension on my scooter. The police would stop you and want to see if you had any weapons, so any thing that could be explained away as a tool for repairing the scooter was not seen as a weapon per se. Anyway, I'm sure I broke his hand and then a couple of kicks and he was in a ditch, bike and all. The others began to harass the greaser and they finally took off towards Weston.'

'The greasers would hang out in a cafe across from the pier. It was down a few steps and located in a basement of sorts. The name escapes me. I recall an ornamental garden across the street from it and I think it was the Winter Garden at the end of the road. Ken Dodd was playing there, or was coming. Anyway, upon arriving in Weston, most if not all of the mods, skinheads and 'Never' boys would park their rides across from the beach front. Word soon spread of the incident and I would estimate 100 of us began a march on this little cafe. Funny really, the beat cops began to scurry away and call for help. As did most of the locals. Businesses would lock their doors. Vandalism reigned. Upon arriving at the cafe a steady stream of us began to enter through the front door. Once the place was jammed tight, with all of the greasers confined to the back of the cafe, with no avenue of escape, all hell broke loose. I cut one bloke's face open with a razor knife. He may well have lost the use of that eye, but he has a spare. That was the feeling then anyway. Today it would be different. (I hope)! Blood covered everything. You didn't dare go to the floor for fear of being made part of it. Chairs and table legs were being used as clubs. Some of the lads went over the counter and began throwing crockery and others, [unnamed] and his little group I believe helped themselves to the cash register.'

'The scrap went on for maybe five minutes and then the call went out that several Panda cars were seen coming our way. Exit stage left! The stream of bodies that exited that cafe was something to behold, lads were running this way and that so as not to get caught. Those that couldn't get into the cafe knocked over bikes and smashed them as best they could, and slashed the tyres. I later heard from a friend travelling in a Morris Minor with three others from the 'Never' that they were pulled over by a single cop in a Panda as they tried to head out of Weston towards Brean Down. He offered that a certain individual wanted to get out and do the cop in. He was talked down by the other three! They were able to bullshit the cop and get on their way - though several were caught and arrested. I was able to get out of Weston with my buddy Paul, Skippy and a few others. We went out past the old pier and high tailed it through the country roads back to Clevedon and Portishead.'

I had unearthed stories in the Bristol Evening Post which confirmed Phil's recollections - the Bank Holiday weekends of 1970 in particular saw large scale outbreaks of violence, with the Easter weekend signifying the start of the aggro season. After a long dark winter it would be inevitable that the youngsters from the cities would want to stretch their legs, grab some rays and breathe in the sea air - and cause mayhem. The Evening Post reported that an estimated 200 youths were involved in disturbances in Weston over the Easter weekend of 1970 and that nine were arrested and charged 'after clashes between skinheads and rockers' broke out on the town's seafront, at least the Post was beginning to get the hang of the terminology even if they were still confused over what they should call the bikers. 'Extra police had to be called in when steel-helmeted and crop-headed youths were seen converging in packs on the Promenade. Officers posted near the pier went into action immediately fighting broke out near the pier entrance, a running fight ensued and spread on to the nearby sands - several youths were arrested on the sands and frogmarched across the Promenade before being bundled into police cars.' Superintendent Gerald Lockyer of the local police believed though that their decision to break up the gangs of youths had in the main been successful: 'If it had not been for our prompt action I believe a very nasty situation could have developed'.

Not that the bovver was confined to the beleaguered Somerset town, there were outbreaks of violence at many seaside resorts around the country, any beach town with the misfortune to be within a motorcycle or train ride from a large city was likely to be targeted by the greasers or the boot boys. That same Easter weekend also saw trouble in Rhyl, North Wales between a 200 strong gang of bikers and a much smaller gang of only 30 skinheads, this in itself was unusual as in the main the bikers were usually heavily outnumbered, but what made this attack even more bizarre was amongst the standard terror fare of weapons used to inflict damage - wooden posts, metal rods, studded leather belts and motorcycle kick starters - an 'animal bone of unknown origin' was also used, six 'long-haired youths' subsequently appeared in court where a Nazi steel helmet was confiscated and fines totalling £165 were handed out. The Whitsun Bank holiday in May saw a repeat of the trouble at Weston when up to 500 teenagers caused a 'frightening scene' according to the police and in Brighton on the south coast skinheads wrecked the train they had been travelling on from London and knocked over people as they strolled along the Promenade.

By the time the Bank Holiday season drew to an end the boot boys were in the mood for a last huge hurrah. The police estimated at the time that around 2,000 skinheads from Bristol invaded Weston on the August Bank Holiday Monday of 1970 and around 200 were involved in an afternoon of running battles, assaults and general mayhem, under the headline 'Skinhead battle - town counts cost' the Post went on to report that: 'at one stage a bunch of bovver boys and girls, complete with reinforced bovver boots, were parading down the seafront clapping and chanting "We are from Bristol". The police were less than impressed, nevertheless vicious fights still broke out all over town but those tended to be between various gang members. More frightening were mass charges by packs of howling teenagers which bowled over any unfortunates who happened to get in the way.' The Evening Post continued: 'Skinheads hurled bottles, stones, dustbin lids and clods of earth at the police who were trying to confine the gangs on the beach. One policeman was cut on the face and others badly bruised by the missiles as the battles moved into Oxford Street and the roads leading from the seafront. A gang of 50 rampaged through an outfitters in the High Street grabbing anything they could before police arrived'. Another incident occurred in the famous Forte ice-cream parlour on the seafront where one youth went into the toilet and stole the pipework, presumably to use as a weapon, Miss Olga Forte, owner of the parlour told the Post: 'This youth came out of the toilet. He didn't buy anything. He just said "thank you" and left, five minutes later we had a flooded toilet and we have to get new pipes fitted.' Well at least he had the manners to say 'thanks'. More disturbing was the group who 'enjoyed frightening the ponies and donkeys on the sands' - I mean, you wouldn't want 'animal worrying' on your police record would you? People might think you were Welsh.

The Evening Post went on: 'Twenty youths were arrested and 12 detained. At a special court the following day, one was sent to a detention centre for assaulting a policeman and seven were fined for obstructing police, blocking the highway and threatening behaviour.' No doubt many of those involved in the disturbances that day frequented the 'Never'. Like the outraged Evening Post I sensed with Phil Peacock that although he was very much part of this 'scene' he wasn't particularly enamoured with the 'Never' boys: 'quite a few out there saw them as nothing but a bunch of yobs who stole everything in sight and beat the crap out of everyone that either crossed them or had something they wanted. I walked up on [unnamed] and a few of his cronies mugging a bloke just off the Centre one night. Not a pretty sight, the poor bastard looked like raw meat in a suit. [Unnamed] saw me and told his buds to split, he then told me that I better not say a word to anyone, stuffed a fiver in my hand then high tailed it towards the fruit market. I picked the bloke up, took him into the Unicorn (a hotel on the waterfront) and cleaned him up. Then I gave him his fiver back and got him a cab.'

After my meeting with Jimmy Dee I knew that to get a sense of what drove these lads on I needed to talk to the real 'movers and shakers' of the day. I wanted to know what attracted them to the 'Never', but more importantly what attracted them to the skinhead movement in the first place. Lloyd S. was one of the black 'kiddies' that Jim had mentioned and whose young fresh face can be seen in that famous photo of the 'truce'. Lloyd was astute, meticulous on detail and at 58 a few years older than Jim, his memory was unfailing and best of all he had an impressive, if faded, collection of photos circa 1969-1971 featuring the Never gang - one of which he permanently kept in his wallet, those days obviously meant a lot to Lloyd, he loved that sense of camaraderie and loyalty with his mates, many of whom he still counts as friends to this day. He now worked for the prison service, working with young offenders, you could tell he had a real sense of responsibility about him, was he trying to give society something back? Not that I was suggesting that he took anything out in the first place. Lloyd brought along one of his good mates from those days, Eugene Sharpe - we met in the Shakespeare Tavern in Prince Street, one of the few remaining pubs in the city centre and one that probably hadn't changed much since the heyday of the skinheads. I let them put their sides of the story, these guys remembered the good times, their memories faded somewhat when I probed them on the bad times - one question I asked related to the supposed drug scene that undoubtedly featured strongly in the mod era but seemed less important to the emerging skinheads, and how about the 'hard cokes' that I had read about that could be bought in the Soho cafes with a nod and a wink, the ones that had the 'extra' ingredients, 'Phensic, said Lloyd, 'we used to add Phensics to our coke'. The two giggled like naughty schoolboys - London had Drinamyl, Bristol had Phensic - yeah baby.

Although it's been well documented that the early skinheads evolved from their older cousins the mods, it appears that many of them didn't really have much time for their close relations - perhaps it was the arrogance, the peacock strutting of the mods they objected to, there was even a hint of the effete about many of the mods and their choice of clothing, hairstyles and mannerisms - their Italian palaces on wheels that they lovingly cared for and coveted were not for the skins. If the young cropheads did manage to get their hands on a scooter it was not looked upon as a fashion statement as the mods viewed them. The skinheads would routinely strip them of their fripperies and crank up the engines - gone were the banks of mirrors which the mods adorned their Lambrettas with (in order to check themselves out more often than not), as were the fox tails and the myriad of fog lamps - to be replaced with the pared-to-the-bone, engine-exposed, down-to-earth embodiment of the skinhead itself, the "˜skelly'. Eugene however put forward a more simplistic explanation as to why the skinheads weren't so taken with Milan's finest, "˜we were skint, we would scrounge lifts - we had limited amounts of money, if you were spending it all on scooters you had nothing for going out or buying clothes.' As an apprentice engineer on less than £6 a week Eugene found the choice was simple, what was the point of being able to afford a flash mode of transport if you couldn't afford to go out on it - and "˜going down town' was without a doubt, what mattered to the lads more than anything else. It's an interesting observation, virtually all of the skinheads from that period were young lads, mostly in the 16-18 age group, barely out of school - booted and suited but without the means of a pot to piss in.

There's a certain amount of "˜rose tinted glasses' going on when it comes to looking at the past, especially when it comes to Britain's teen cults, nostalgia certainly isn't what it used to be. We now look back on mods with a great degree of affection, even fondness, "˜clean living under difficult circumstances' as The Who's manager Peter Meaden observed of the self-obsessed working class dandies, whilst we conveniently overlook the gratuitous violence, the drug taking and petty criminality. An admission now that you were an original mod back in the 1960s will get you admiring glances, a slap on the back and furtive questions about what scooter you owned, admit to the fact you were a skinhead and you're in big trouble, you might as well confess to being a kiddy fiddling fundamental Islamist. Yet perhaps skinheads should also be looked upon in a more favourable light - certainly in the fashion stakes they were up there with the mods - they too had a penchant for sharp clothes and sharp looks, Ben Shermans, Doctor Martens, Crombies, sheepskin coats - all cost big money and were all worn at some stage by the sartorial street warriors but truth be told, for a lot of lads back then you made the most of what you could get, a lot of the clothing was purchased at ex-army stores (as were the famed mod Parkas and Yogi coats) - especially the boots and the jackets or as Eugene recalls, from works catalogues where he bought his first pair of steel toe-capped boots - "˜I could never afford to go to London, let alone shop there'. As I was to discover through many interviews there was one mode of transport that was as unusual as it was practical for the boys from the "˜Never' - the aforementioned fruit and veg wagon as owned by a character called "˜Barney'.

Eugene recalled a time when all the lads piled in to Barney's ex-army wagon (it wasn't just boots the skinheads got from the MoD) and headed towards the coast, on the way they inevitably got stopped by the law, the young copper looked into the back at the gathered boot boys - all eagerly looking forward to their outing to the seaside - the copper who clearly had a sense of humour eyed them all up and stated the obvious: "˜you lot must be bananas'. At times though, the sight of the wagon coming into view wasn't a laughing matter, for some it caused genuine fear, 'that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach' as Chris Welch recalled - and this fear wasn't just felt by hippies and greasers, other lads around town weren't immune from the attention of the Never boys, Jim Burnham, a streetwise mod remembered the Never and the fruit wagon well: 'The 'Never' gang went around for a while in what was called 'The Fruit Wagon', I guess one of their guys maybe worked down the Fruit Market and I guess he would 'borrow' it from work. They would cruise around, all piled in the back of this truck, on their way to 'do' some other gang over, allegedly with a few tools (crow bars, bits of wood and even, again, allegedly a few scaffold poles!) Whether they actually used these, I don't know, but the thought of it at the time scared the living daylights out of everybody! I can remember being in Clifton village with a couple of mates one Saturday night, we were wearing suit jackets, Ben Shermans and Levis (I guess it's what you might call smart/casual) and we saw the Fruit Wagon coming around the corner - I don't mind admitting that we were shit scared and ran like f**k!! They were notorious for beating up anybody they didn't know or didn't like the look of - we weren't prepared to hang about!'

Being a Bristol Rovers' fan I got on to the topic of football allegiances within the clientele of the 'Never', something I had already brought up with Jim Dee; like him Lloyd and Eugene both confirmed that football didn't feature high on the list of their pastimes, this surprised me, skinheads and their proclivity for violence together with football's tribal history and the lure of the terrace for a rumble seemed to me an obvious attraction, but although many of the 'Never' boys had a passing interest in the beautiful game (mainly it seemed with Bristol City - perhaps because of the amount of greasers who followed Rovers) it didn't seem the obsession as it did with me. They had other priorities and perhaps better ways to spend their money - I suppose if you analyse it there is an absurdity about getting up at four in the morning as I often did, to travel half way across the country just to roll around in the dirt of a gravel car park of some grubby northern town - and more often than not get a split lip in the process. Of course you could turn this on its head and say it dispels the myth that all football hooligans aren't interested in the game itself, just the violence - no matter what I was a football nut, I enjoyed the football as much as the aggro, the 'Never' boys with their fearsome reputation would have been naturals for the terraces - some were and indeed many of them forged their notoriety on the terraces of City's East End or Rovers' Tote End but it clearly didn't form part of the cachet of the cafe or indeed divide it - reds and blues rubbed shoulders with each other in there, sometimes it may have been uneasy but it rarely, if ever, spilled over in the cafe itself, as Lloyd observed: "˜The crowd down there was never into football, or if they were it wasn't mentioned.'

Eugene recalled his first excursion into the world of the terrace terrors which perhaps goes someway to explaining why the Never boys weren't so enamoured with football: "˜I went in to the Never one Saturday morning, and these kids said they were going to a game, so we jumped on the train and went up to Birmingham, as soon as we got off the train there was all these local kiddies waiting for us - the kids I had gone with weren't regulars at the Never and we wouldn't have run but they all legged it, I was lucky there was a couple of coppers there and they chucked me in a shop doorway, stopped all these other kiddies doing me in like. I was thinking this gang of kids I went up with, if they was going to have something, they would stay and fight.' The fact that they didn't 'stay and fight' had a long lasting impact on the young Eugene, to this day he has little interest in football.

It became quite evident during my research and talking to some of the older lads that the divide in Bristol football in the late 60s and early 70s didn't manifest itself on the streets or in the pubs and clubs of Bristol as it did in later years. The aggro was more or less restricted to the terraces and the surrounding area when the two teams played each other - as in the Gloucester Cup final in 1969 at Eastville when City fans invaded the pitch after a lucky 5-0 win and not only broke the crossbar and painted the goalposts red and white but also trampled the famous flower beds behind the goal. The following year really made the headlines when a ferocious battle erupted in the exotically-named Maritas greasy spoon cafe on Winterstoke Road before the game, which saw not only rival skinheads fighting each other but greasers thrown into the mix as well. Something else that was thrown was the lit workman's lamp which went through the window, thankfully it failed to ignite unlike the flare that was let off during the game itself. There were over 50 ejections from the ground and 43 arrests, some of whom were fully paid up members of the Never who weren't particularly interested in the football. Bizarrely of all, one of those arrested was a Rovers' supporting 'Never' boy who really found his loyalties tested when he came face-to-face with his arch-rival greasers decked in the blue and white of Rovers - a rock and hard place if there ever was one. The following court case resulted in hefty prison and borstal sentences being handed out to those involved, including one or two well-known 'Never' boys. At the time Rovers' General Manager, Bert Tann, commented in the local press 'I can only repeat what I have said many times before, we will only stop these things [the violence] happening when we start smacking their bottoms hard'. The comment is as laughable now as it was back then. These divided loyalties were causing quite a headache for many of the skinheads, although it was not unknown for both Rovers and City skinheads to join up and take on visiting supporters if it seemed necessary. One old mate of mine who I had always assumed was a dye in the wool Rovers' fan got arrested at Ashton Gate in 1969 for fighting with visiting Watford fans - he was fined £50, but to his eternal shame he was referred to in the local press as a Bristol City hooligan, something that to this day still haunts him.

Lloyd and Eugene recalled other venues the skinheads would gather in - the Top Rank, which was actually part of the same building complex that the Never was in, the Locarno with its famed Bali Hai bar resplendent with plastic palm trees and two small but significant pubs, The Horse and Groom and The Horse and Jockey (now the Queen's Shilling, a notorious gay establishment). The Horse and Groom in St Georges Road behind the Bristol Council House in particular had been a favourite with 'town kiddies' for a number of years, my brother Mike and his mates Dave Baker and Rodney Manns were regulars in there, showing off their bespoke mohair suits in the post-mod, pre-skinhead era. The 'Groom' was a honeypot for lads around town due to the fact the landlord turned a blind eye to them being underage, it was here you could serve your apprenticeship in town away from the prying eyes of the law and sample the favoured drinks of the day - the famed light and brown splits, lager and lime, rum and coke, vodka and orange, rum and black and the fearsome Barley wine - strange then that following on from the wave of violence that erupted on the streets of Bristol in the summer of 1969 the landlord of the Horse and Groom, Peter Jacobs, speaking in the Evening Post stated "˜I've had to turn away scores of them . . . but the main gathering point seems to be outside, in the car park opposite. I'm afraid to leave my car there, I'm leaving soon to take over a pub at Stapleton and I shan't be sorry to go.' Another popular pub was the nearby Pineapple, speaking in the same article landlord Roger Baker-Gill stated that he "˜planned to give up his pub and emigrate if teenage mob rule continued in central Bristol'. In just three nights he had barred more than 100 young people from his pub, he continued "˜These gangs of youths and girls are taking over the central part of the city and frightening away respectable people', nearly 40 years on and the same complaint is being reeled out about today's alcopop-swilling chavs - no change there then.

So determined were the lads to get in an extra bit of drinking time they would often jump into cars and head into nearby north Somerset where the pubs were open until 11pm (Bristol pubs shut at 10.30 in those days). As Bob Feltham had recalled, The Star near Congresbury on the Weston Road was a particular favourite, he had mentioned that the local girls were particularly taken with the boys from the big city, although the local lads weren't so keen on the booted and suited interlopers. The inevitable conflict was brewing, 'they took umbrage' as Eugene put it - one notorious incident occurred one weekend when 20 or so Never boys entered the pub and a ferocious brawl broke out almost straight away - various weapons including an axe were allegedly used. Perhaps not surprisingly both Lloyd and Eugene suffered a severe case of amnesia when I queried them on this incident, I thought it best to move on...

The two of them were honest enough to admit that they had spent time in Her Majesty's establishments for their misdemeanours, they were both however, reluctant to go into detail - I thought it wise not to probe them too much but Eugene, who obviously was up for a laugh on every occasion recalled one incident with a distinct amount of glee: 'I remember coming out of the Locarno one night and a Panda car was parked outside - the coppers had gone up the stairs (to the Locarno) to sort out some trouble, this was a two door car, a Morris 1000, and we thought we'd take it to get home, I was just getting in the back and the f**king copper seen us and shouted 'Oi' and the others legged it - I was getting out of the car and I seen a helmet on the back parcel shelf so I thought I'd have that ... I was running down the road with this coppers' helmet on and I just got under the bridge on Park Street when they caught up with I, I chucked the helmet up in the air, I got a beating for that, I got a £10 fine but they got a bigger bollocking for leaving their car unlocked.' (You sometimes have to question the mentality of some of these lads, I mean who in their right mind would think of getting away with nicking a police car? See chapter 10.) Eugene continued, 'then down Weston, I got done for obstructing the pavement just outside the pier, they told me to move on, I said no I was waiting for someone, they pulled me in, took I to the police station, put my arms up behind me back and head butted me against the wall, made us miss the last train home - got a £10 fine.'

Eugene continued, making an observation on the much reported disorder on the streets of Britain today: 'When you look in the papers now and you read about the problems and violence and that, bloody hell, if you wanted to get into violence [then] you didn't have to look very hard, there was always someone willing to accommodate you.' Lloyd added: 'We used to walk through Broadmead and you could see people terrified, they would get out of the way. We didn't have mobile phones - if you wanted it, it just happened.'

Neither of them could recall that momentous day when the first skinhead appeared on the streets of Bristol, 'the clothing just evolved' stated Eugene, and he too could recall many mods in previous years wearing boots in some form or another but they did offer up some names of guys who seemed to have all the skinhead accoutrements at an early stage - Des Lewis, Keith Langdon, Alan 'Beaky' Hope and the legendary Pasco brothers were certainly amongst the first cropheads viewed on the streets of Bristol, Eugene himself became a full-on skinhead with boots and an attitude to go with them, Lloyd never owned a pair - he had a cheap pair of Sta-prest, managed to get a Ben Sherman, never wore the braces, 'kept the hair short otherwise it would have been an affro', they both remembered buying their clothes in Austins, Mr Zeus 'used to be a moddy shop called Carnaby One' said Eugene, Stuckeys and Millets. Eugene recalled buying his boots, if not from works catalogues where you could pay five bob (25p) a week or army surplus stores, in KBK on Cheltenham Road where lads would queue for their eight eyelet 1460 DMs in later years.

Like many young males from that era, the boys would have at least one quality, hand-made suit adorning their wardrobe, usually purchased from John Colliers 'the window to watch', Burtons or Jacksons, occasionally from bespoke tailors such as David Ferrari on the Gloucester Road - material, the length of the vent, stitching, the amount of buttons on the sleeve, width of lapels were all exact and precise in their detail, mostly they got it right, ensuring admiring glances from both males and females as they paraded their latest threads - occasionally they got it wrong, very wrong - as did one lad known as 'Dosser' who turned up one evening in the 'Never' in a bright orange suit. Saturday night couldn't come round quick enough for them to show off their finery and strut their stuff on the dance floor of the Top Rank, or if the latest sounds from Jamaica or Detroit didn't give them their instant hit of gratification, their almost weekly punch ups with the visiting hordes from the Welsh valleys surely would.

Although the Never boys' obvious nemesis were local greasers and their ilk it was not unknown for them to have a row with fellow boot boys from across the country - whether they were the visiting Celts from across the Bristol Channel on a Saturday night or, more often than not, 'mouthy Cockneys' who would cross their paths when they visited coastal resorts on bank holidays. Eugene recalled trips to Weston and Bournemouth, 'but Torquay was the main one - you would go round the 'Never' and no one would be around, they would all have gone away - it was more territorial when we went to Torquay, fighting with Londoners in the Yacht if they were bouncing over, but the 'Never' were the biggest mob.'

Racism rarely reared its ugly head in those days - in fact there was a great deal of racial harmony on the streets between the skinhead and West Indian community, perhaps surprisingly when you think Enoch Powell was trying his hardest to stir up trouble between the two ethnic groups. Lloyd never had any trouble with black and white issues - 'there might be comments but that would be it'. He even recalled one incident when 'a young black girl got slapped by a greaser - she used to go in the Never so we went around the Top Rank and got the black guys (who used to gather around their own bar at the back) and we all went around Old Market to sort them out.' Eugene added: 'The West Indians were working class people like us - all the music was Motown or reggae - there was more harmony then between white and black kids, I can remember me, Carl (another black member of the Never boys) and one or two others would go to the Bamboo club* - went for the reggae, you'd be taking your life in your hands if you tried that a few years later. We just went for the music.'

*The famous, and notorious, West Indian club in St Pauls - owned by Tony Bullimore who went on to became a well-known, if somewhat accident-prone, round the world lone sailor.

The last words of the evening came from Eugene when I queried him about regrets and how he had managed to leave it all behind: 'there was a lot of violent behaviour back then, regrets about it? Yes, but it was part of my life, I enjoyed it. Things could have gone seriously wrong. People got locked up but you weren't aware of it, unless you were a close friend, not many people would know, you would say "haven't seen so and so for a while". An easy decision was to not go down town again, you got a girlfriend, your circumstances changed...'
post #133 of 25667
Chapter 4 - Warriors in boots

My old workmate, Phil Peacock was becoming even more lucid, whether through living thousands of miles away in the States or just due to the fact he was a natural-born storyteller, perhaps he saw it as cathartic, either way Phil's frank and honest recollections echoed Eugene's thoughts: 'Yes it feels good to get it out of the system. I sure as hell know that it was a tough time to be living in England in those days...I did some pretty rotten things and can only hope that I'm forgiven in some way or another. There was never any real maliciousness to it all.' Phil however did have his own very strong opinions about what was happening politically in Britain in the late 60s and how it impacted on and influenced young white working class kids like him, which may partially explain why to many skinheads the relationship with black kids was working but why some saw the need to delve into 'selective racism', which ultimately manifested itself as 'paki bashing'. 'Personally I blame Harold Wilson and the Labour Party for folding under pressure from the international community to help those immigrants in Uganda and Bangladesh...for opening up the flood gates to all of the immigrants who had ever been under British rule at one time or another - or had family that were to come on in. It was this I believe spurred on the skinhead movement. All of these frustrated kids with no prospect of getting anything other than a blue collar job and then that was being taken away from them by immigrants who were getting a free ride with assistance, housing, medical you name it. These kids saw their parents become second class citizens in their own country. These were the parents that suffered through the trials and tribulations of World War II and now they were being f**ked once more by their own government and country! f**k THAT! We'll make it so f**king tough on these bastards that they'll go home from whence they came. And while were at it we'll also f**k with the greasers - a dirty bloody bunch of bastards. We were working class people. We didn't care if you were white or black, if you worked for a living you were one of us.'

Phil was obviously on a roll, he then sent me a candid and honest email which gives a great snapshot of the day and confirms that the violence was not restricted to the city centre - suburban cafes and youth clubs in particular were also the scene of some horrendous violence:

"˜In 1967 I started hanging out down town with a few of my friends from school. Nick, Paul, Andy and brothers Rich and Steve. We started going into town on a Saturday to hang out and do the shops and the record stores. There was one record store located on Union Street that was so easy to rip off it was pitiful. We would go in and listen to some of the latest records in these booths, after finding something we liked it was only a matter of slipping it inside your Levi jacket or Crombie coat and out the door you went. We also would hit the Coke and Clobber and my favourite, Beau Brummel on the Centre - always had the best selection of Ben Shermans. Then it would be off to the chemist shop on Broad Street I think and lift a bottle or two of Brut. Now we're set for a night out on the town. The Horse and Groom, The Hatchet, Horse and Jockey, The Pineapple, Three Tuns, Bunch of Grapes, the Mail Coach and the Crown were some of the pubs where you could drink underage without too much of a problem down town. Of course most of the market pubs were good too. We would also go to the Ice Rink in the afternoon for a few hours of picking up the birds and some speed skating. This is where I had most of my run ins with the Never boys. It's 1969 and a few friends of mine who lived in Fishponds wanted me to come to one of their clubs one Friday night. I was 16 then, I had a Lambretta LI150 with a lot of upgrades taken from here and there. Anyway the purpose was for me to rough it up with this kid from the Concorde (a cafe on the Fishponds Road) who had been beating up some of the local kids at this club. I took Andy along with me and here we are waiting for the local thug - George someone - to show up and in he walks, he whacks Andy (we used to call him Bert - why I have no f**king idea to this day). Andy's mouth is bleeding like a stuck pig. George then focuses on me. I get a couple of haymakers in and break his nose. Meanwhile Andy gets his senses together and pulls a badminton net off the wall and wraps it around this guy's neck and begins to choke the bastard. Long story short George blacks out and is ceremoniously stomped by all the local kids. Then the fun begins in earnest. A friend of mine who invited me to the club, Richard, and some others from school Bob and Steve come running in saying that there is a whole bunch of Hells Angels coming down the road from Staple Hill and the Concorde. Andy and myself with a few of the other locals pour out of the happened to be a Church club! Anyway we meet these guys coming into the parking lot and Andy kicks one off of his bike which leads to others either running into the downed bike or the rider and others while trying to avoid the mess running into each other. I took my belt off and whacked a few in the head/face It was a firemen's belt with a freaking huge brass belt buckle. I remember it being soaked in blood. After a few minutes it was apparent that we were vastly outnumbered especially since many of the local kids had run back into the club and locked the door. Andy and I took the better part of valour and took off running, we climbed a fence at the back of the church and took off across a field and hid in the back gardens of some of the homes behind the church. Must have hid there for what seemed like hours before coming out and heading home. I was later told that George wanted to have my head on a pike for breaking his nose.'

As an afterthought Phil mentioned another scooter gang that was not connected with the Never but who were known to enjoy a ruck as much as the boys from Fairfax Street "˜they were out of Bedminster and were led by a kid name of Bridges. Anyway, they were always up for a scrap and were involved in some big fights in Queen Square and on the Centre. They ran by themselves but would help out the Never boys. Phil then confirmed what both Eugene and Lloyd had mentioned regarding football allegiances on the streets of Bristol back then: "˜I was never a soccer fan though would root for the Rovers as my Dad was a City fan, just to piss him off.' Perhaps in a way of curbing his aggression Phil took up rugby and for many years played for Bristol Harlequins before emigrating to the States in 1975 where he worked at one stage for the US coast guard. He's revisited Bristol a few times over the years and isn't sure he likes what he sees: "˜Bristol has changed so much. Not always for the better I'm sure.' I could add that it's a lot quieter since the Sea Mills warrior left.

Phil's recollection of aggro at youth clubs was not in isolation - I had heard and read of other incidents at clubs in and around Bristol. One club on Briscoes Avenue in Hartcliffe was frequented by amongst others a fearsome duo of greaser brothers - the story goes that the Never boys made a trip to the youth club with the sole intention of attacking the greasers and cutting off their prized frills from the sleeves of their leather jackets, the urban myth circulated for years that indeed they had been successful in capturing the battle trophies, however, on further investigation I found out that although the lads did attack the club they were repelled by a volley of chairs from inside the club, which dented the pride of the Never boys as much as it did their car panels. There were other such tales that I had heard rumours of, including attempts by some of the lads to tie wires across roads in order to decapitate passing greasers, but not surprisingly, this story was not collaborated by any of the interviewees. One brawl at another youth club though definitely took place - on a Saturday evening in April 1970 a dance at the Catholic Church Hall in Keynsham was the scene of a pitched battle between two separate gangs, up to 100 skinheads fought in the street outside the hall throwing punches, kicking each other and using weapons that ranged from sticks with nails in to the all too common knives and sharpened combs, but more worryingly, according to the Evening Post "˜a rifle had been spotted'. The local Canon (Reidy) went on to say that "˜there would not be a recurrence next weekend - we will have a Saturday night whist drive - it will be a very sedate affair'.

The Never cafe itself, not surprisingly, was not immune from the violence. On Friday 13 March 1970, a greaser from Marshfield was stabbed and kicked as he left the cafe with his mates (you've got to question what they were doing in there in the first place). He stated in the subsequent court case that he left the cafe "˜after receiving hostile looks' - up to 30 youths then rushed out and attacked the greaser gang, one of the Never lads was sent to Borstal while others were fined up to £100. Another stabbing occurred in nearby Dursley in June of the same year when a skinhead gang from Southmead, not associated with the Never cafe, invaded the small Gloucestershire town with the sole intention of attacking greasers. A 21-year-old skinhead was jailed for four years for the attack on a "˜local, long-haired passer by', in court the assailant made the following astonishing, frank admission: "˜I stuck the knife in, it went into his ribs somewhere ... I twisted it while it was in him ... and the blade snapped off'.

Later on that summer some of the Never boys made another one of their excursions out of town, this time to Bournemouth on the south coast, which over the years has often witnessed outbreaks of trouble between Bristol, Birmingham and London lads, not to mention the local residents. Lloyd Sutherland had recalled that often the locals would weigh up the situation to see whose mob was the most impressive - and then join forces with them against the others, it's not clear where the greasers were from who the Bristol boys battled with that day but what is clear is that it was a pretty vicious altercation. A group of 50 skinheads all from the Bristol area attacked a smaller number of greasers - "˜fists and boots were used and missiles such as bricks and bottles and at least one knife was used to inflict a very serious wound', so intense was the attack that one scared greaser escaped by jumping off the pier into the sea and when the greasers tried to make their exit in a van the skinheads attacked and tried to overturn it. In the ensuing court case three Bristolians were imprisoned, one for three years while another four were sent to Borstal, the judge Mr Justice Wills commented "˜I don't pretend to know what skinheads are or why you become skinheads, but I have been told by the police what people like you do.' One of the Never lads who was imprisoned for this incident, "˜Tony' recalled that when he was banged up word got around that Jimi Hendrix, who had been performing at the nearby Isle of Wight Rock festival, sent out a message from the stage to the jailed skinheads and greasers asking for peace between the two warring groups. It appears that yet again the calls for calm, whether from outraged provincial newspapers or bona fide guitar legends, was falling on deaf ears.

The events of the previous few months once again made the front page of the Evening Post: "˜It's all out war on the hooligans' the paper declared, but you get the impression the authorities and the police in particular were fighting a losing battle, a joint statement by councillors and police pledged an "˜all out fight against hooligans and violence in Bristol caused by a rash of disturbances' but it was all hyperbolic rhetoric, and just when they thought it couldn't get any worse, the new football season kicked off...

On 1 August, 250 youths of "˜the skinhead type' from the Midlands descended upon Eastville for a pre-season "˜friendly' between Rovers and Birmingham City, it was a ferocious battle, one which I could only watch with both fear and wonderment from the sidelines. The Brummies comprehensively took the Rovers' Tote End and it wasn't until half time when reinforcements arrived from around the city that Rovers' fans managed to claim some of their terraces back. The main recipients of the Midlanders violence was the small gathering of Rovers' greasers - one in particular got a severe beating at the back of the Tote End, I can recall seeing him prostrate on the ground, barely moving, it was a sickening and disturbing sight - but like a rubber necker at the scene of a car crash I found it difficult to look away. One of the Brummies appeared in court on the Monday and was giving a derisory fine after stating "˜Two Rovers' kids who were Hells Angels started following us. We got in first, I kicked this kid once, it was either him or us, we thought they were going to work us over, I was wearing working boots. I tripped over him, someone put the boot in but it wasn't me.' Putting the boot in was becoming a way of life for many, it was a way of life I was soon to take up myself.

If that Saturday's events weren't bad enough for Rovers' fans, the following Monday's friendly game at Newport County proved just as eventful, in a crowd of under 2,000, over 200 youths from both sides battled it out on the terraces, one Rovers' fan ended up in hospital with serious head injuries after a group of Newport youths charged through the crowd waving metal chains. Two weeks later the new season kicked off with once again the Evening Post reporting that authorities were determined to stamp out the trouble, "˜Soccer bovver squad in action' they declared, more in hope than anything else, but the opening weeks of the new season brought more violence than ever before with serious crowd disturbances across the country, from Plymouth to Aberdeen the boot boys were stamping their authority and throwing down the gauntlet to the police and the use of weapons in particular was causing alarm, none more so than at Highbury where among the many who were arrested for fighting was a youth from Swindon who was fined for being in possession of a tin opener at the Arsenal v Manchester United game - I can only assume it was not an electric one.

I'm not trying to make light of events that happened nearly four decades ago or even romanticise the skinhead movement, many of them were bad lads who enjoyed nothing better than a ruck and whose only rationale for kicking the living shit out of someone they didn't like them was just that, they didn't like them. But like me and my mates who I hung around with a few years after the Never boys were causing mayhem, these lads thought, rightly or wrongly, that a lot of their escapades were just "˜high spirits' that often would get out of hand, inevitably leading to violence and at times serious injury and incarceration. This violence is not something that can be denied, it was a violent time and something that should be remembered by today's tubthumpers who regularly berate modern youth on how "˜it was safer to walk the streets 40 years ago' - the plain truth is it wasn't, the papers from those days are full of reports of stabbings, robberies and vicious assaults - there were even reports of "˜a gang of knife wielding coloured youths' - "˜The shadow gang' as the local press dubbed them, who were based in Stokes Croft and who would jump out from shop doorways and demand money with menaces from passing pedestrians - the word "˜mugging' had not entered the language of the day. This little island of ours has long been a violent place, today's much maligned youth are no better or no worse than their parents, grandparents and in some cases great grandparents. "˜Victorian values' is a figment of Tory politicians' imagination, where do they think the original "˜hooligans' came from? If you want a real eye-opener read Hooligan - a history of respectable fears by Geoffrey Pearson for an amazing insight into the history of the British hooligan. What must be remembered however is that becoming a skinhead is not about making a fashion statement, if you were prepared to wear the boot then you were prepared to use - and receive it - as General George "˜old blood and guts' Patton once said "˜A soldier in shoes is only a soldier, but in boots he becomes a warrior.'

The Bar Celona reunion brought a lot of the old "˜warriors' out from the comfort of their armchairs and their slippers, I was a tad disappointed that few, if any, wore any of their old clothing from back in the day, although judging by the waistlines on show even if they did still own any it was unlikely it would still fit - at least Angelo Pasco made an effort - his brogues looked as polished and pristine as the day he must have first bought them. Of course at the time, although you were aware that you were part of a "˜scene', you didn't really appreciate just how significant it all was, your threads were just that, threads that would be updated and replaced as quickly as the "˜scene' itself was updated.

One of the lads who turned up that night and who was an original Never boy was Chris, still looking as fit and trim as he was nearly forty years previously, in fact he had more hair now than he did then and a moustache to rival those of his old enemies, the greasers. After several phone calls I arranged to meet him in the centre of Bristol, "˜where do you fancy meeting?' I asked, "˜how about the Way Inn?' replied Chris, "˜sorry mate, been shut about 30 years' I replied, fortunately when we did meet, in the aforementioned Horse and Groom, Chris's memory had been restored and we spent an enjoyable evening reliving those distant days, only this time he didn't have to keep on eye on the door for the law who regularly visited the hostelry searching for underage drinkers. Chris, like Lloyd who also joined us for the evening, was born in 1950 and started frequenting the Never at the age of 16, at the time he lived in Knowle West and recalled buying his first boots at an army surplus store in Bedminster, like Eugene, he remembered being skint most of the time so couldn't afford a scooter, "˜couldn't even afford to buy any records' he recalled, he bought along one of the younger members of the "˜crew', Pat "˜Paddy' Walsh, who along with his brother Martin, were up there with the Pascos, the Stones (Andy and Paul) and the legendary Martin and Mike Thorne as "˜top boys' on the town circuit.

Chris and Paddy both remembered the fracas at The Star pub where allegedly "˜that axe' was used, but again the memory became selective, they both admitted to being involved in the clashes in and around the city centre with the greasers, recalling how a mob of them would go to the greasers' cafe but how they would only send 4 or 5 to gather outside to goad the greasers into coming out, where they would then face the full force of the gathered Never boys. Again the devilment inside them was the main cause of the mayhem, Paddy recalled his brother Martin "˜taking a pair of scissors out with him, not as a weapon but to go around the Locarno cutting the ties in half of other lads', you can only guess at the reaction from the "˜victims' - the consequences likewise can only be imagined.

Fights in the dancehalls were a common occurrence, I read of one in the Locarno in the Evening Post from late 1969 that resulted in one poor lad receiving 200 stitches in a face wound after being attacked with a glass, the boots may have been outlawed on the dancefloors but the result of a "˜glassing' were just as, if not more so, serious. The fighting in the Locarno or the Top Rank, whether over a girl, a spilt drink or more often than not, just a look ("˜You dogging I up?' would often be the precursor to a smack in the mouth) led to police being stationed in the clubs themselves - the Bali Hai became a battleground, the pint mug became a weapon of mass destruction and the acrid smell of Brut filled your nostrils - all to a blistering backing track featuring Jamaica's finest: Desmond Dekker, Jimmy Cliff and The Maytals sung of freedom, wonderful worlds and pomp and pride while blood flowed and stained the polished maple sprung dance floor.

Chris recalled another weapon being used with devastating effect one Christmas when the BBC's Radio One club visited the Top Rank for a live broadcast - as it turns out the only one in history that was ever cancelled live on air due to the disorder. "˜We heard that the Radio One club was in the Top Rank that night so one of the boys paid to get in then let the rest of us in by opening the side door. The bouncers (who truly lived up to their name in those days) knew we had done this so they were looking for us. Once we got in we mingled with the crowd. We saw a handbell on stage so we nicked it and would ring it to annoy the bouncers, because they could not see who had it. Later we went upstairs where I bumped into one bouncer who I had frequent encounters with. I had the bell and he asked me for it so I said "are you sure you want it?" He said yes so I gave it to him right on the head'. In a way the bouncer got off lightly, the weapon could have been a lot worse, on a trip to London a group of the Never lads visited the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth where one of the boys tried to purloin a World War II machine gun from a display - thankfully he didn't succeed.

It was inevitable that Barney's trusty fruit and veg wagon would come up again, Paddy remembered how his brother Martin would "˜hold on to bars on the back as Barney drove around the Pithay, then lift his legs off as he carreered around the corners - thought he was Superman!' It seemed many of the lads thought at some stage they were super heroes, from moonwalking around the Top Rank in homage to Neil Armstrong, to their choice of stylised, sometimes even uniform clothing, the language, the swagger, but mostly the attitude set them apart from the rest of the proletariat. At the time Chris was a kitchen porter, Pat was still at school, Lloyd like Eugene was an apprentice engineer - but unlike their predecessors the aspirational and elitist mods who proclaimed "˜mods didn't do sweat', the skinheads "˜did do sweat' and were fiercely proud of their working class roots, even their "˜Britishness' - despite coming from backgrounds as diverse as Ireland, Jamaica and as with the Pasco brothers, Italy.

True mods with their narcissistic splendour strove to leave their working class backgrounds behind them - it could be argued they were the first yuppies - they looked to French art house films, Italian Soho coffee bars and American jazz musicians for their inspiration, skinheads looked to the military, American astronauts and Jamaican rude boys for theirs. Mod was a way of life, skinheads on their own admission were more one dimensional and lived for the weekends and the immediate satisfaction that went with it, they set their sights slightly lower - Paulo Hewitt the mod historian and author of such books as The soul stylists - 40 years of modernism and My favourite shirt. A history of Ben Sherman style when asked to write an essay in school about "˜what you most want out of life' chose to write a two page essay on the attributes of a blue window-pane check trim-fit Brutus Gold shirt - his classmates no doubt wrote of train drivers, nurses and the heroes of the late 60s/early 70s, astronauts.

Personally at the age of 13, I longed to emulate the young skinhead who worked on the paper sack wagon that came down our street, I thought Mervyn from Lawrence Weston had the best job in the world, standing atop of the caged lorry, stomping down the sacks that were chucked up to him by his colleagues, stripped to the waist with his braces hanging down, his oversized bovver boots doing the business with extreme efficiency - if Richard Allen's Joe Hawkins had lived in Bristol and not the East End of London he would have been called Mervyn and instead of being a coalman he would have worked on the paper sack lorry, Mervyn was my hero. Apart from setting my sights on those paper sacks I also longed for a pair of monkey boots, as did Pat Walsh, who recalled travelling to Camden in North London with his mum to get his as they couldn't be found on the streets of Bristol.

Now go buy the book!
post #134 of 25667
Brutus shirts now avail at Jump the Gun

Brutus was one of the original shirtmakers (along with Ben Sherman) that was popular in the traditional skinhead era. I dont know much about these new reissues, and who bought the name/company rights, but they look alright and worth a try. Not too expensive either.
post #135 of 25667
Can anyone tell me what brand of jeans are being worn in this picture?

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