QUESTION: What’s the difference between a Scooter Rally and a Mod Weekender? Answer: At a Mod Weekender no one looks you up and down and asks “What the bloody hell have you come for, a wedding?”
You might be able to tell that this was my first, full-blown Scooter Rally and, while I was expecting a certain amount of casual (it’s largely a camping venue and temperatures soared to the high twenties) I wasn’t expecting a sea of three-quarter length camouflage and band t-shirts. Boy those scooterists are a sensible bunch! And, boy was I naïve. They are sensible, it seems until it comes to throwing themselves around town on their scooters in shorts and t-shirts! I’m also a newly qualified scooter girl (if that isn’t obvious) who is still reeling from hanging on to a 600cc machine around the streets of Banbury for my motorcycle license and, as such I’m reluctant to let go of the armour plating. I did try a lighter look for my four-mile mini-ride to Sturdy’s Castle in June and nearly wet myself when I was overtaken by a bus. Not that armour would have stopped that from happening, I’m not entirely sure how absorbent armour is but it was a lesson in being under-dressed and feeling vulnerable on a classic bike that can barely make it over 50mph …at least I think that’s the speed I was going. The scooter does have a speedometer and the dial hand climbs solidly (and, presumably accurately) to about 40mph after which it flails back and forth maniacally like a windscreen wiper on acid. I realise it’s a fairly unlikely scenario but, if I am ever pulled over for speeding and am asked “do you know what speed you were doing madam?” the only honest response will be “Honestly officer? I was rather hoping you could tell me!”
Apparently you can spot a Mod scooterist a mile off… coordinated but not particularly protected (Sturdy’s Castle, June 2014)
The reasons why I’m currently throwing myself around the country roads of Oxfordshire on a classic scooter (1959 Lambretta Li 150 Series 2) will be fodder for another post (it’s got something to do with love and being a crap passenger!). For now, back to Weston Super Mare…
OK, so we’ve determined that George and I are Mods-with-Scooters as opposed to scooterists. Well, George is a scooter loving Mod and I am a Mod-with-scooter and so we attended Weston Super Mare by car. I’m not Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes OBE on two wheels. I am not intrepid. I do not crave excitement and exploration. I do not relish a 200 mile round-trip on a motor vehicle that one sits on the outside of and I do not understand the concept of packing light. I am a Mod, I need at least two outfit options per day and the same for each night; that’s 8 outfits minimum plus accessories to see me through Friday evening to Sunday morning and you ain’t getting that on a scooter! For those of you who are now shaking your head in sympathy for my long-suffering husband please know that his case is larger than mine; his options greater, his shoes bigger, which is why the scooters are reserved for local(ish) events and Sunday afternoon jollies. These two Mid Life Mods travel in comfort and style outside of the ‘Shire.
Oh, and did I mention we checked into a hotel? I haven’t camped since the handful of times I accompanied my mum to Greenham Common; tent-free and shrink-wrapped in plastic overnight whilst being heckled by the armed forced and uniformed police officers. There is also the little matter of Glastonbury festival as a painfully self-conscious pubescent 13 year-old; the drawback of being raised by hippies. I spent the long, humid weekend surrounded by naked hippies (not my parents I hasten to add), lentil casseroles and the woeful metallic screeching of harmonicas being played badly around campfires throughout the night, invading my nightmares, with only a sheet of nylon and a zip to protect me. I refused to use the conveniences provided as only a sulky hormonal teenager can. When I say ‘conveniences’ I mean troughs brimming with the steaming lentil regurgitant of thirty thousand hippie bottoms. It was the CND Glasto of ’83 and thankfully I was saved by the music: The Beat, UB40, Curtis Mayfield, Dennis Brown, Aswad, Fun Boy Three. That was my coming of Mod age having already worn out my Complete Madness LP the year before (80s crossover if you want to be pedantic but, it was Mod to me). So, camping? The stuff of my nightmares. No thank you very much.
I’m guessing the scooterists, boy scouts and festival goers among you may need a moment to calm down and give your necks a rest from the head shaking of disappointment and despair at this, rather pathetic excuse for a scooterist. So, grab yourself a beer or herbal tea, maybe hum some gentle muzak and enjoy the Scooter porn below, provided as a blatant bribe to keep you entertained…
Saturday afternoon at Weston Rugby Club & Custom Show
I had no real preconceived ideas of what to expect from a Scooter rally, style notwithstanding and although it has been mentioned elsewhere in the social mediasphere that Weston Super Mare Scooter Rally is too spread out and on a larger scale than some, this was a selling point for me. I don’t want my weekend’s entertainment restricted to a field and a club house. I’m a town mouse, I like to get dressed up; I want the freedom of movement and choice. I loved walking along the promenade and seeing the blue and white wristbands of fellow Rallyists (Rallyers?) on the beach and in the bars and restaurants that sit on the curve of Knightstone Road and Royal Parade. It was a treat to sit in the sun, with a large glass of Pinot Grigio and watch the scooters; classic and new, Lambrettas and Vespas ride past en route to and from the Rugby club or, just riding around town. I must admit here to pining a little for our scooters; to be one of the gang. But that is the sacrifice when comfort, style and a little luxury win out over tent living and long journeys on slow vehicles. I loved hanging out in the Rugby club on Saturday afternoon chatting to people, bit of shopping around the stalls and, of course checking out the scooters in the custom show.
Weston Rugby Club and Royal Parade
The Winter Gardens were a pretty spectacular venue for Friday and Saturday night’s entertainment with soul DJ’s taking up residence in the stunning ballroom where you could throw down talc and dance your heart out on the sprung dance-floor surrounded by commanding columns and arches that mirror the window design. The ballroom’s very style put me in mind of old fashioned tea dances and swing bands and 1940s military men spinning local girls around the dance-floor. I yearned for seamed stockings and victory rolls. On the other side of the building a second hall housed two nights of Indie, Mod, SKA and Soul bands and DJ’s. There were afternoon sounds at Carnaby’s, Tavern in the Town, The Boro sports and social club and The Brit Bar and the Soleroom DJs kept the floor filled throughout the night back at the Rugby club with the best of Northern, R&B, Motown and SKA. And, all for £10 (£20 if camping) for the entire weekend. Unbelievable! The irony of our Saturday night was that, now dressed up to the nines in four inch heels (I’m well used to dancing into the wee smalls in stilt heels but, not usually for two nights in a row and certainly not after spending an entire day walking around town) we were beaten back by my throbbing feet and the incredible heat and made it early doors back in the hotel before 1am. I’ll be better prepared next time with a greater selection of footwear options (and bigger suitcase).
Don’t shoot me for the portrait video but here’s a little bit of Northern Soul in the Ballroom at the Winter Gardens…
Weston itself is typical of a lot of British coastal towns with tourist tat and bad shopping within the immediate vicinity of the beach but it is beautifully clean and tidy with a magnificent promenade, clean sandy beach and a good selection of bars and restaurants along the front. The Sovereign shopping centre was disappointing and the shops and boutiques on the streets behind Royal Parade are largely closed on Sunday. However, I did have a successful rummage in the charity shops on Saturday morning. If you find yourself in Weston Super Mare with a spare half an hour then check out the upstairs of Weston Hospicecare charity shop where I spied a rail of stunning evening dresses and picked up a brand spanking new (original tags still attached) designer sample dress for £12 (see picture below).
The Dress (charity find of the month!)
Weston Super Mare
Weston Super Mare Scooter Rally 2014 was pretty fantastic and extremely well organised. The highlight, as always are the wonderful people we met: The Scooterists, the Soulers, the Mods and the Rude Boys and Girls; the traders, the riders and the campers. Even the man mountain on the door of the Winter Gardens that cracked the wedding comment did so with a giant, welcoming smile and I was disappointed not to raise a similar comment when I made more of an effort the following evening (I’m not one to temper my style to suit). Until recent years my ‘Modness’ was a first love, the soundtrack to my youth, the world I jumped into to escape reality. Meeting my husband and discovering a shared soundtrack and passion for style over fashion has crash landed us into our Mod Life Transition (we don’t use the word crisis in our house) and it has been a delight to be greeted at the door by fellow enthusiasts who have been as enthusiastic about welcoming us as we are about being here.
Who’s birthday was it while we were at Weston?…
This week I learned the following:-
- As a Mod-with-Scooter not all scooter rally’s will appeal to me (or are maybe more suited for a day trip )
- I will always be overdressed, and I’m OK with that.
- I need more flat shoes
Thank you to everyone that organised Weston and to everyone that attended and made it such an enjoyable event; it’s definitely in the calendar for next year. Next stop Isle of Wight (with scooters in the back of a van) with a stop off in Brighton on Bank Holiday Monday. Will we see you there?
And finally… a visit to the Lambretta Museum before heading home