THE BRIGHTON 64 RIOTS
DAVE MIDDLETON'S TRUE LIFE ACCOUNT PART 2.
When writer David Dry approached us with a story about his old pal Dave Middleton who had documented his life as an early mod we were keen to hear more, Dave had basically written 1000's upon 1000's of words on scrap pieces of paper and diaries full of adventures he had with his mates during those hedonistic days of the 60's mod phenomenon before handing them over to David to decipher into something the reader would appreciate. Dave unfortunately passed away recently leaving David the dutiful task of finding people happy to share Dave's accounts and in we stepped happy to take on the baton. Below is a small excerpt of Dave's words edited by Mr Dry for our own enjoyment (David has edited it into a story format). We have had to split the story into two as there is so much of it and we hope you enjoy this SECOND part. We can't thank David enough for allowing us to share his friends social history so kick back with a cup of tea and let Dave and David take you back to.....
THE BRIGHTON BANK HOLIDAY RIOTS - PT 2
In one side street they came across fifteen odd motor bikes lined up at the kerb. These were to prove too good a target to miss and the Mods were off again, running past the motor bikes and giving them a hefty boot as they went by. Then one of Mods had an evil thought. He stopped running and gave the end motor bike in the row a hefty push. Over went the end bike, followed one by one by the whole row parked up in front of it. They toppled over like a row of very noisy dominoes with much clanging of metal, smashing of head lamps and gouging of paint. The Mods laughed seeing what just one of their number had achieved and then one of them shouts, “Take that, yer fucking Rockers!” This was now turning into great game of revenge, as all the bikes were now laying on their sides in a long, tangled heap on the greasy, black tarmac, with fuel now running out of petrol tanks, on to the road, in an attractive blue and green tinted stream that flowed slowly down towards the gutter into the nearest drain.
One of the Mods who was well ’out of it’ on pills wanted to set the lot on fire. With his spaced out eyes, he was looking vainly up and down the road for some paper set fire to. His scrambled brain had need of that paper to use as some sort of incendiary fuse - he had every intention of setting light to the vanquished motor bikes. He had deftly produced a cigarette lighter and he was now wandering around with this lighter in his hand, until one of his mates saw what he was up to and started to have a right go at him, “You stupid bastard! You are going to kill us all if you use that lighter? There will be such a fucking big bang when this petrol goes up that it will kill everyone, including you, those in the shops and the people in the flats over the shops!” Then, as luck would have it and for no discernible reason, the gang took off again at the run and, as they did, the Mod with the lighter had it snatched from his grasp by his mate, who then pushed him up the street to follow the rear guard of the retreating mob of Mods, away both from the petrol and the possibility of setting the bikes alight – and, not to forget starting the ‘Great Fire of Brighton’.
Sometime later, they found themselves in one of the maze of back streets past the West Pier, here the Mods stopped once again to get their breath back. One of the Mods standing with Dave was looking at his reflection in a shop window. He had his fingers in his mouth pulling his lips about to see where blood was coming from. It turned out that part of one of his front teeth was missing, so he turned to Dave to ask, “Does me broken tooth notice all that much, mate?” Dave being brutally honest with him, said, “Yeah, it looks a right ‘fuck up’ mate and yer have blood coming from yer mouth.” At that the Mod spat blood on the pavement splashing on Dave’s shoes. Dave more concerned about his personal ‘battle damage’, so asked ‘broken tooth’, “How's me head look, mate?” with that the Mod replied, truthfully, “Well your head will go down in a week or two but I can’t get shot of this lump out of me tooth can I?”
In this gang of fugitive Mods, there were also some Mod girls, so one of the more concerned Mod lads at the front said, “Look, why don't you girls just walk over the road to the front? You will be all right. You can wave back to us if it’s all clear.” but the girls would have ‘none of it’ and opted to stay with the boys.
Dave walked down towards the sea front towards the vicinity of the Palace Pier with the belief that it looked like it was all over, but there were still some highly visible Old Bill down there and, from where he was standing, you couldn’t make out the end of the pier as there was a building blocking his view. The Mods at the front started to walk back towards the pier, but at some point, they were going to have to cross the road to have a better idea at what was going on.
The Mod with half a tooth was now leading. He turned around to tell them, “Cross here, it looks clear down there now.” With this he bent over to spit out more blood from the wound in his mouth. Most of the Mods quietly obeyed him and turned to walk over the road to the front, working their way through the slow moving traffic as the gang crossed over to the promenade. All eyes were now focussed to their left towards the Palace Pier, with one of the Mods standing up on the railings to get a better view. “It looks like it's over.” reported one of the Mods calling down from his high vantage point, “There’s three ambulances parked up by the pier with the back doors open. Well, they look like they are opened up?” He did not have a perfect view, as he was having to look over the heads of people that seemed to be just be milling about aimlessly. No one was running now and he could make out two policeman standing in the road, waving their arms about like mad, moving the traffic on to pass slowly around the police vehicles and the ambulances.
One of the mounted coppers that had come galloping down the front was now making his way slowly along the road. His horse looked uninjured, moving his head up and down like it was a game. The policemen was trying to steady the horse saying, “Whoa, Salome boy.” and pulling at the reins. The copper was not looking too happy and the horse and his rider were drawing close and about to pass the gang of Mods stood waiting on the pavement. They were working out their next move and whether to walk back to the pier or not.
Then one of the Mod girls stepped forward and shouted above the noise “Is your horse all right mister?” With that the Old Bill, sitting high in his saddle, looked down over to the pavement and at the girl, “Yes he’s had his afternoon run. He’s all right now.” with that the Old Bill leant forward, patting the side of his horse’s head and began whispering something into its ear. The rider then looked down again and gave the Mod girl a nice little smile, quite a change, as he had a long face before the girl had spoken sympathetically to him and his horse. To be honest, the rest of the Mods were also glad the horse was all right, as there had been masses of stones being thrown down on to the beach. That was well out of order, as the stones were randomly hitting anyone or anything – even horses. That girl’s kind words had relieved some of the palpable tension between the law and the recently lawless
Looking back towards the pier no one seemed to be running about any more and it looked quiet now. Not like it was just an hour before. The little gang of Mods, no longer feeling threatened, walked down the steps to the beach and back along the beach path towards the Palace Pier.
Dave was now en route to the Palace Pier in the company of these stranger Mods. In the direction in which they were travelling he could plainly see, standing on the beach path, were a group of about ten ‘Old Bill’. They were just waiting there, eyeing the advancing Mods up and down as they passed by.
It was now looking good, the Mods were thinking that it was all clear, until they approached the pier, when three of the Old Bill dived into the gang, pulling out an unhappy, mouthy Mod from the middle of their little group, “Whatcha pulling me for? I ain’t done ‘eff all!’” he protested, as he was being unceremoniously carted away with his arm pulled painfully up his back and in the direction of one of the concrete slopes on his way to be locked in a waiting ‘meat wagon’. Dave, walking along with his new found comrades in arms, was curious, “What’s he got a ‘pull’ for?” “Oh he’s done some shop windows, as we was running. The Old Bill must have seen him?” Dave smiled knowingly, “It’s a dead giveaway, that fucking bulls-eye thing on the back of his parka.” with this comment, his new mate added, “That's why they picked him out, and we have been telling him that for weeks. The Old Bill can see that silly thing on the back of your parka miles off.”
As the gang approached the pier, they could see hundreds of sightseers standing by the railings looking out over to the beach from the promenade. It was packed and it seemed funny, as all that could be seen on the beach were crowds of Mods, but nothing was going on. It could be that the people up on the promenade were hoping that it was ‘going off’ again - part two of the fighting. You could also see the news cameras pointing down towards the Mods. Some of the Mods and for the sake of these cameras were putting two fingers up, or giving the wanker sign, with a few friendly, shouted, “Fuck off’s!” to go with it, just for good measure.
Shortly after this, all Dave’s mates met up once again back on the beach. They all wanted share stories of their recent adventures and to know how they had all fared during the fighting. They started asking one another how they had got on? The general consensus was, “Fucking hell, did it go off!” and then telling little stories about what they had been up to for the last hour or more.
Dave had come to a positive conclusion about the Rockers, but kept it to himself, “You had to give it to the Rockers?” He also thought that the Rockers, in their turn might have realised how wrong they had been, ‘We can do all of them little Mod kids, but the Mods had had a go back.’ It had gone mad for a few minutes and Dave would be the first to admit that he had not done a much after being hit by that stone on his head. He had ‘bottled it’ really, but one point you had to remember, the clothes he had on cost more than a week’s wages and he was not dressed for a fight. He just put on a ‘front’ with the lads, but what the fuck was the point of it all in the first place? However, if your mates were in the shit you had to jump in – you had no real choice.
Dave walked over the pebbles, keeping his eyes open looking missing members of his crew. Then he saw a prone figure looking up at him with him, squinting with his hand over his eyes to keep the sun out of them. It was Horse, “Davie boy, how goes it with you? Where yer been?” Dave walked over to his mate, slumped down beside him and admitted, “I am fucking well knackered. Are you all right, Horse?” Horse had a bit of a black eye. He took one look at Dave’s forehead and ‘took the piss’ out of his big lump of a bruise.
“Yeah, I’m fucking great now, just sitting here having a rest. You had to give it to them Rockers, they had some front coming down here at us like that” Dave had to agree, “Yeah, it was a funny five minutes, but when someone shouted ‘Run’, we all went off like madmen. Where did you go to Horse?”
THE OLD GIRLS
Horse lay back on the stones to relate his adventurous few hours, “Well, I had a ‘pop’ at some Rockers down here, but when we all started running, the Rockers chased us, so I went under the pier alongside some other Mods, then up the steps after some more. Getting to the top of the steps, some big fucking copper jumped in front of me and got hold of me, so I done no more than and fucking ’lumped’ him one. With a bit of a struggle, I pulled away from him, then back to running after the Rockers. There were only about ten of them and they run up to that high level bit over there.” At this point Horse turned to indicate the part of the prom he was referring to, “Anyway, there were lots of Mods in front of me and I when gets up the top, there were about seventy Mods giving Rockers a right hard time using deck chairs and stuff. This is where, I thinks to me bleeding self, ‘Fuck this for a game of soldiers!’ and thought it best to lay low for a bit - I had had a go at a copper, after all. I walks over to the café on top of the aquarium, just to keep out of the way, as the fighting was all settling down. I goes in the cafe then gets meself a coffee, thinking, ‘I will stay inside where I am away from the punch ups,’ so I stayed inside there for a few minutes, but I had to see what was occurring, so I goes outside and sits at a table. It still seemed to be all ‘going on’ and so I am just sitting there.” Horse stops his story at this point to collect his thoughts, takes a deep breath and soldiers on, “Anyway, sat with me at the outside table are three old girls. Well, we get talking over their big mugs of tea – tea that they was putting big glugs of brandy in. They was right funny. The three of them was pissed as farts. It was like me sitting down with three old Nan’s - they were all well away.”
Dave laughed at the thought of Horse sitting quietly with a group of elderly drunken ladies while a battle was raging all around them, as Horse continued telling his story, “Well, then they give me some brandy in me coffee. That was well nice and we were chatting away, just as the Old Bill walk past, looking about as they went by. I ‘clocked’ the one that I had a go at was with them, so I put me head down like I was innocently having a tea and coffee with me own Nan. The coppers pissed off after a quick look around, which was a bit of relief. Anyway, one of the old girls comes out with, “My Albert was killed for a cup of tea.” That made the three of them burst out laughing. As I am so fucking nosey, I ask her now her Albert got killed?” It was a long story…
“Well,” she started her tale, “It was in the war. Albert got home from work in the morning and, just he as he walks in the door, the air raid siren goes off. Anyway, I gets his dinner out of the oven, where I was just warming it up”, the old girl, sat back, took a breath while she adjusts a shoulder strap under her cardigan, and returns to her war story, “Now, me, Albert and the kids, we get in the Anderson shelter in the garden down at the back of the house with his dinner. Well, the Jerry planes are coming over thick and fast with tons of bombs coming down and this time they seemed to be right overhead. My Albert, he was always an impatient old git, says, ‘”I ain’t had a cup of tea for the whole ten hours shift work down at the Surrey Docks.’ I says to him, ‘Whatcha want me to do? Put me tin helmet on and go make yer one? I will just look up at the planes and say to the Jerries. ‘Hold on a minute, my old man wants a cup of tea.’
“So anyway, Albert ‘as had his dinner and he’s laying on the top bunk when he says, ‘Sod it, I am going to get a cup of tea – bombs, or no bombs!’ He can’t wait for the ‘all clear’, so out he goes leaving me an’ the kids still sitting with their gas masks and tin helmets at the ready. Ten minutes later there was an almighty bang, the ground shook I can tell yer. There was ringing in me ears six days later. Black dust seemed to come from everywhere. It was all over the place. Even the door of the shelter that were an old sack comes flying in on us. We sit for a time until the ‘all clear’ goes off and we give it a minute or two, then out we crawl, well me kitchen was round the front of me house, so I walks round with me looking for me kitchen, but it ain't there no more - nor is my fucking Albert.’
With that the three old girls killed themselves laughing at her poor old Albert not being found. Then the old girl carried on her war story, ‘Anyway, the wardrobe and me chest of draws are now on the ground floor from the first floor with most of the clothes and even me underwear are all over the place, so anyone could look at it, so I picks up what I can in the way of clothes and I then pins a little note up on the only door standing, that were the back door. Tells the warden where I am, in case Albert is about, then off I goes with the kids out to Canvey Island in Essex - to my sister’s place. We had a wait at Liverpool street station for over three hours then as we were on the train, I look over at the docks, as the train went passed - them docks was well on bleeding fire. The late morning sky seem to be just red all along the river until it were well past Canning town. It were some bashing the Germans had given the docks that night, I can tell you. Anyway, I stays on Canvey and two or three days go past without a word. When I comes back up to London, to the Old Kent Road, looking for my Albert. I gets to my road and looks at my old house to see if I could find anything more, but my Albert was still missing, so I ask a nosey old prat in our street and she ain’t seen him. I then were looking at my house - it was just the back wall of it standing. I have a look, but I can’t find much as I was digging about in the bricks. But guess what I finds?’ She now looks at Horse as if he should know the answer, but Horse is confused and says, “Your Albert‘s not dead?”
‘No, says the old girl. I only found me bleeding old copper kettle and it still had water in it!’ This set all three of the old girls off laughing again. I had to laugh with them even if it wasn’t that funny. ” says Horse.
“Then one of the other two old girls explains the joke, ‘At Christmas she puts the kettle on the table for his Christmas dinner, on account that’s all that was left of her Albert.’” At this point in the tale, Horse looks at Dave and says, “They was funny the three of them. I could not stop laughing at them.”
Dave now as confused as Horse was, “What did happen to her Albert then?” Horse explained, “Albert was blown to bits. The warden said to the old girl it was one of them bombs with a timer on it. Not a thing was found of her old Albert, as bits of him was all over the Old Kent Road from the Bricklayers Arms to the Surrey canal bridge. “Oh, now I understand? Sounds like the three old girls and you had some fun?”
Little groups of Mods were now meeting up on the beach, talking about what had gone on with the Rockers and where they had been during the fight. A few had just sat it out on the beach, almost as if it was not happening and ignoring the whole thing.
Middy and Cocker came crunching over the pebbles towards them with two girls in tow. Without any prompting, Middy went ‘right into one’ excitedly going over his clash with the Rockers, “We was ‘on’ two Rockers, but they were big geezers, about 25 years old.” Cocker, not wanting to be left out, added, “Look at me top, it cost me three pound ten. Look, it’s fucked!” he displayed the damage to his prized new garment to both Horse and Dave, before continuing, “The truth is more like, the pair of big Rocker was ‘on’ us, rather than us being ‘on’ them.” At this brutally truthful comment, the gang felt obliged to laugh.
Cocker and Middy’s clash with the Rockers was further explained by Middy, “When we all run, we see these two girls standing in a shop doorway, so we stopped to see if they were all right. They were just terrified but because we were with them, the Old Bill just let us walk out through their line. We then found Lyons Corner House and stayed there until it was all over.
Horse was pleased that his mates were safe and sound and seeing the funny side of their escapade. He turned to Dave, so the other two couldn’t hear what was being said, “See the pair of them can’t go wrong. Cocker’s only known her for a minute and her knickers are off already!” Dave smiled agreeing with Horse, “We never get any luck like that.” Horse, warming to the subject, suggested, “Doughnut, have you two seen him anywhere, he’s gone on the ‘Missing in Action’ list?” “The last time I see him, he was over there by the deck chair man.” Dave replied “He won't go far. Maybe he’s up on the pier again playing about with the Laughing Policeman? He’ll turn up later with a story of the ‘Battle of Brighton’, I’ll bet. Unless, that is, he’s been ‘pulled in’ by the Old Bill.”
They did not have to wait long to find out Doughnut’s whereabouts, as an hour later, Horse looks across the beach and says, “Here comes Doughnut.” All the gang’s heads turn to look over to where Horse had indicated, and to spy the missing Doughnut, as he came tramping in their direction over the pebbles. He looked content and was sporting a big smile on his face as well as a bird on his arm. Without any introductions, the two new comers sat down on the stones with the others. Doughnut puts his arm around the girl’s shoulders, but still says nothing to his mates.
Horse, understandably curious, but slightly annoyed at his mate’s silence, poses a question, “Doughnut is this yer new girlfriend, then?” The girl with Doughnut blushes a little and starts to explain, “Richard saved me, as my Steve got ‘pulled in’ by the Old Bill, just as we were running away from the front. I run up one of the side streets and into five Rocker girls and that lot were going to get me, as I was on me own. I run back around a corner and runs into Richard's arms. Richard went ‘right into one’. He was telling the Rocker girls to ‘fuck off’ and threatened to ‘do’ the lot of them, and he saved me.”
Doughnut’s mates thought ‘the knight in shining armour’ was not quite Doughnut, but him standing up to some Rocker girls was really funny and started laughing
Doughnut’s new girl said, “Yes, then me and Richard went into an Italian delicatessen and he got me a coffee and a sandwich.” Horse was intrigued, “Oh he treated you all right then? Our mate Doughnut is all right, ain’t he?” The girl answered, “Yeah, he did, but he had ordered a Danish Blue cheese sandwich. Richard took one look at the sandwich and said, ‘I ain't bleeding having that!’ so he took it back up the counter and told the lady it was mouldy and it had blue bits in it. The lady told him that's why it’s called Danish Blue, so he walked back, sat down and he ate it in the end.”
At this point, the lads were in fits of laughter, with Doughnut adding a note of seriousness, “That’s the first time I have had a Danish Blue sandwich in me life. My Mum never buys anything thing like that, not even at Christmas and I didn’t know there was always blue bits in some cheese, but it was nice to eat.”
It had to be said that Doughnut and his new found lady friend did make a handsome couple. Well, they did until about an hour later when her boyfriend, Steve, turned up unexpectedly to explain his absence to them all, “All the Old Bill done was to take us two miles up the road, open the back door of the meat wagon, telling us all to jump out and fuck off.”
At that Doughnut’s new girlfriend left with no fond farewells with ‘her Steve’, giving Doughnut the right ‘hump’ for the rest of the day. Doughnot’s mates, unable to resist it, rubbed salt his wound, “Fucking hell, Doughnut you save her life big time, then you buy the prat a sandwich and coffee, then she just fucks off back with her boyfriend. Bet her boyfriend has never saved her from getting a beating from Rockers in his life?”
As Steve and Doughnut’s ex bird trudged up the beach, the old boy turns up that looks after the deck chairs on the beach. He was walking round the beach picking up both the deck chairs and all the broken bits left after the fighting. The old boy did not look any too happy. He had a right long face and he was mumbling away to himself under his breath. He took the good deck chairs back, stacking them in a neat pile. The bits of deck chairs that were smashed up he took away to another more haphazard pile to be used, perhaps, for fire wood.
Most of the Mods sat watching, and feeling a bit sorry for the old boy. Then Horse gets a good idea, “Here Doughnut, yer wanna make a hero of yerself?” Doughnut, not fully understanding, replied, “Doing what Horse?” “Here, go over and give the old boy a hand to pick up all the bits of deck chair, don’t say anything to him, just help him out.” With that Doughnut was up, and as suggested, he started helping the deck chair man clear up the beach. Later Doughnut crunched past Horse on his way down the beach to pick up a deck chair that had been left nearer to the sea, as he passed Doughnut informed them, “The old boy has got the right fucking ’hump’ about all this.” One of the gang agreed, “Fucking hell, Doughnut, he’s entitled to have the ‘hump’ with what's gone on with his deck chairs.”
When all the chairs and debris were collected, Doughnut returned back to his mates and to update them, “Old George, the deck chair man, is all right now. We got talking and he said the, if I like, I can live for the summer in his store room under the front it's got a toilet and a sink, so then I told him what I do down the Battersea park, so he said “Yeah, if it rains we can go up to the pier doing the same thing.. Anyway, he’s not got the ‘hump’ so much now”. Horse congratulated his mate, “There we are Doughnut and you’ve nearly got yourself a job as well now.” Then turning to the lads, he added, “Here lads, that's all right. Give Doughnut two bob and we’re all right to take a bird into his little room!” Doughnut laughed at the thought of illicit sex on the beach, “Yeah, we’ll have some of that. If I takes the job!”
NIGHT TIME AT BLACK ROCK
On Bank Holiday Monday, in the early morning, Dave and Cocker left the New Barn Club with two girls they had ‘pulled’ that night. The two girls were from Hackney way and the plan was for the four of them to walk down along the front to Black Rock. At this early hour Brighton front was quiet, apart from the odd police car slowing up and ‘clocking’ over as it went slowly past. That was no problem, as these Mods had not been up to anything, apart from dancing away for six hours flat.
Over the bank holiday the Barn club would open its doors in the late afternoon and now the four of them were walking along the promenade just cooling off. Dave was up in front walking with his arm around Hayley’s shoulders. It wasn’t a case of him keeping her warm as it was a balmy summer’s night, to Dave it was just a nice feeling walking with her and being ‘high’. Cocker was following up behind hand in hand with Janet, before the two of them decided to take a slightly different route and disappeared down the stairs to the beach to walk on the pebbles, just to see the sea. Both pairs continued on in their separate ways to finally meet at Black Rock and to a lie down on the grass until the sun came up
The only lighting was from lamp posts placed about fifty feet apart all along the front. These lamps cast their yellowish light over the promenade and the beach beyond, the only part of the sea visible to the walkers were the white tops of the waves breaking on the beach below, but as they walked there seemed to be something magical about the silhouette of the pier and its reflection on the water that was now so still, but sparkled with pin pricks of the pier’s multi coloured lights that glittered like iridescent fire flies.
As he walked Dave luxuriated in the feeling of the sea breeze in his face, it made him feel like he was a million miles away from dirty old London and his work. Dave and Hayley stopped, the two of them taking time out for a romantic kiss in the half light.
When they arrived at Black Rock they laid down together on the sweet smelling grass growing lushly from the chalky cliff top. They stared up into the darkness. Up into the sweeping firmament of stars and planets fixed to the velvet back drop of the universe. The clear night sky seemed to draw them up to soar into the heavens, it was so intensely full of tiny glittering points of light.
Over the weekend they had done so much ‘gear’ that sleep would not come. Dave was still ‘up’, but Hayley, somewhat spoiled the moment by constantly chatting away about her boyfriend who didn’t want her to work in a certain café. The subject was driving Dave mad and, to be honest, her boyfriend didn’t sound like such a bad bloke? He was only trying to be protective towards her and Dave found it quite understandable that this bloke did not want her to go to work in some crap café in a shit part of London. Dave knew where the café was and, even he thought it was a bad place. After a while, and having listened to this story for the second time, Dave snapped, “Look Harley, it’s a right shit café - now he don’t want you to go into that café and the reason why is that he cares for you, but you’re so fucking thick you can’t see it!” Firm but fair advice from Dave. By now Dave could not care less, anyway. He now knew she had a boyfriend and you could see that she loved him. Dave also didn’t care about what she had to say at this point. All he wanted was for her to ‘belt up’, so he could simply lay on the grass with her and, hopefully, get some sleep. The thought crossed his mind that, even if she had said to him, “You can ‘give me’ one here and now on the grass.?” he would have to turn her down, as he had not the slightest interest, having downed too much ‘gear’ over the weekend
The place where they were lying was in pitch darkness and, apart from the head lights of the occasional car passing on the coast road, there was absolutely no light. To further disturb Dave’s peace and quiet, and sometime later, Cocker’s indistinct voice was heard from somewhere out in the darkness, “Dave, where are you?” Dave called back, trying not to sound too exasperated at his mate, “Go and try to go to sleep, Cocker. We’re over here.” Dave couldn’t see Cocker, but knew that Cocker was only about a few hundred paces away. It returned to stillness and tranquillity for a while, when - all of a sudden out of the darkness - came an unfamiliar voice, “Are you Mods?” The voice from the blackness gave Dave quite a shock, it felt like he had jumped ten feet in the air at the sudden sound.
Dave looked up, his gaze following the sound of the voice, to where he could just make out at an extremely hunched figure vaguely silhouetted by the night sky. Dave’s immediate thought was, “Is it the Old Bill?” but this was quickly dismissed, as this being highly unlikely, although – still having reservations on the subject - he whispered, “What do yer want then, mate?” Dave’s lurking suspicions made him ready to jump up and into action for whatever might occur next. He was vainly looking for Cocker who was out there somewhere hidden by the darkness, it would be useful to be near him if it was going to ‘kick off’, whatever the problem might be?
The dark figure replied, “It’s all right mate, I’m a Mod. You be careful, mate. Look, you’ve got to keep an eye out, as there’s two cars full of Rockers going about looking for Mods and if they find any they are giving them a right going over.”
While the Mod was telling Dave about the Rockers, he suddenly dropped down and lay flat on the grass, so he couldn’t be seen from the road as car head lights came past, before standing up again to continue, “Look back up there, not that far from where I have just come from, there were three Mods with two birds in tents - the fucking Rockers have given them a right fucking kicking.” Dave, still suffering a little from shock and little lost for words, replied, “Thanks mate. We’ll watch out for the Rockers. Ta for warning us. You look after yourself and keep yer head down.” The mysterious Mod said, “All right mate, see yer.” before he walking away still all hunched up into the gloom of night. Dave noticed that he was still ducking down whenever a car come along the road from Brighton.
Dave was now a bit worried and on the lookout for Cocker. He finally stood up and shouted for him, “Cocker, where are yer?” but not a sound came back, so he had to assume that, maybe, Cocker and his girl were either sleeping, or even ‘at It’ Dave lay back alongside Harley who had heard the ‘Mystery Mod’s’ warning story, so she raised an important question, “What are we going to do if the Rockers do turn up?” Dave replied, half joking, “Can you run?” “Yes I can.” she answered, but was sounding quite worried at the prospect. Then, just to reassure her and despite being far from positive on the subject, Dave added, “It’s all right, they’ve been here once, and they’ll not come back. Listen, if they show up, do yourself a favour, and don’t run that way.” With these words of advice, Dave pointed a finger that was invisible in the darkness behind them. Trying to make sense of this instruction from Dave, Hayley sounded even more worried, “Why’s that, then?” Dave smiled at her - a smile lost in the gloom, “It’s quite simple, there’s over a hundred foot drop over the cliff in that direction and, if you do make it, then you start swimming from there on.”
Dave stayed with Harley until the sun started to rise, they had finally fallen to sleep and, in the end, the Rockers did not turn up on a ‘Mod hunt’.
Dave was the first to wake up. He sat up looking about, wishing for ten cups of coffee, when he heard voices approaching from along the cliff top. Turning around, he ‘clocks’ three Mod lads and two girls walking back towards Brighton along the grassy path. The lads were carrying what looked like rolled up tents and other camping gear.
Dave recognised them immediately - the Wilson brothers from Brixton. The two of them were well known locally for being a right pair of pill heads. Dave stiffly pulled himself upright off the grass, but carefully, so as not to disturb Harley, who was still fast asleep. He walked over the grass towards the Mods and greets them with a lowered voice, “All right Kev? Did you lot get a kicking last night?” One of the Wilson boys replied, “Yeah Dave, the Rockers jumped us. One of ‘em looked in the tent where me and me mate were sleeping, then they went right in at us putting the boot in like mad. Look I’ve got a thick lip and a bump on the head.” as he tapped his head to add to the full effect of his injury, “And then, maybe the same Rocker, puts his head in the tent where me brother was sleeping in between the two girls. Well, this dip shit Rocker shouts out, ‘Its three fucking Mod ‘slags’ in there, I ain't having them!’ Following that outburst the brain dead Rocker gives us one more kick and went off back to his car.” Dave looked hard at Cliff, the other brother, and had to smile, “Yeah, I couldn’t believe a Rocker could have been that thick, or what?” Cliff Wilson brother agreed whole heartedly, “Do I look like a bird?” Dave, seeing the funny side of the situation said, “Nice one, Cliff.” And thought he would forever be known to him as, ‘Cliff, the Wilson brother that never got a kicking, because he looked like a bird’. The Wilson’s party departed towards Brighton with a cheery, “See yer down town later, maybe?”
Dave turned and walked back towards the still slumbering Hayley. Cocker and his companion from last night, Janet, from last night had found Hayley’s prone figure on the grass and greeted Dave as he approached. Dave repeated the Wilson brothers’ story to his mate. He could see that Hayley was still asleep, so without waking, her he put his coat over her, carefully tucking it around her.
Leaving his other companions, Dave strolled towards the cliff edge, Here he sat down on the grass and looked out to the sea far below him. It was nice at this time of the morning, the sun had risen a little more, causing the temperature to rise with it. The cliff top wind, for a change was hardly noticeable with not a cloud in the sky to be seen. He gazed over the front in the distance, looking along the entire length of the promenade, as far as the eye could see, towards the far off power station at Worthing. He also took in the distant twin Brighton piers with their gaily coloured flags flying along their length. Today he noticed that they were hanging listlessly against their poles, as there was not a breath of seaborne wind to stir them.
He filled his lungs with the cool morning air, as he savoured the distinct aroma of the salty sea. In himself, he was not feeling too good, he was now ‘coming down’ from the effects of last night’s ‘gear’, added to the fact he had danced most of the night away with Hayley. He was also quite sad, as today it was going home time and he needed to be feeling fresh for the homeward scooter run, so the top item on his current wish list was a good wash, followed by something to eat and lots of coffee.
As Monday rolled on, the place was getting packed out with day trippers, often with kids in tow - all having a great time. Hayley and her mate were homeward bound - Cocker’s girl was a nurse and had to start her shift at six that afternoon. Dave wasn’t bothered about seeing Hayley again, but – before saying farewell to her - he did advise her to stay with her boyfriend. He had come to the conclusion, however, that she would never really ‘get in on the plot’ with him in a million years.
But what a Bank Holiday it had been? It had been good in many ways with the girls, the clubs, dancing, and the pills, not to forgetting the right ‘kicking off’ with the Rockers. The time had flown by, it seemed so long ago they were making their way excitedly down to Brighton and now, all too quickly, they would have to be on their way home.
To be honest the fights were not ‘all that’, but the newspapers loved it and that sort of thing sold newspaper copy, as everyone knew. All the lads that could gave home a ring, just to say we were all right and to mention that we ain’t been nicked or beaten up as was being portrayed on the television.
There were, for the record, some good photos in the next day’s newspapers, featuring crowds of Mods running about and having a go at the Rockers, especially notable were the ones showing the Mods hitting them with deck chairs, as their prey retreated hastily over the sea wall.
On the A23 on the way back to London, Dave was in deep thought, the way you do when you have miles to travel, about the Mod’s nemesis - the Rockers. In his heart, he didn’t really hate them. Deep down it was just not in him, but they did look funny to him in all their leather get up and you were programmed to say you hated them, as you were a Mod and that was just the way you had to be, but what Dave really failed to understand was, why the fuck do the two groups kick off?
On a similar subject, but harking back to his childhood years, perhaps, the only other lot he hated were the Germans, but he was only told to hate the Germans by the older generation who suffered the war time London ‘Blitz’. This factor added to his own memories of the seemingly unnecessary bomb damage that he grew up with. If he was honest with himself, the truth was, he had never met up with any Germans, so how could he hate them? The only German his teenage self was aware of was some fucking dick head called Heinz that sang ‘Just like Eddy’. This Heinz geezer sang in English, so Dave did not really know if he was German, or not. He thought that Heinz did look German, anyway, but how on Earth was a German meant to look like?
Dave rode on, lost in his thoughts. Time would pass, all this would become history and a subject for future legends, but it took place in Brighton on the Bank Holiday - Dave should know – he was there!
Our thanks to David Dry.
IF YOU MISSED IT PART ONE OF THIS FASCINATING ACCOUNT CAN BE FOUND HERE