Sawdust Caesars – Original Mod Voices Tony Beesley [Days Like Tomorrow Books]
With an abundance of books out there on the subject of Mod, it’s nice to read one with a refreshing edge to it. Subtitled ‘Original Mod Voices’ this gives a clue as to what Beesley has produced here, a book about the Mod scene from the 50s to the present, told by those who were (and some who still are) part of it. There’s no media hype about beach battles with Rockers (more often scuffles with other Mods), no rose-tinted spectacles that all Mods rode Vespa GS scooters or TV and SX200 Lambrettas (in fact there’s a brilliant photo of one Maurice Moore on board what looks like a British DKR scooter), but the drugs, the clothes, and what it meant to be a Mod in all corners of the country, saving hard to earn for your clothes, music and more.
From the twisted Wheel in Manchester, Ham Yard in London and The Duke discoteque in Lincoln, we learn what places – from small local venues to legendary clubs – kept young Mods entertained through the years. Aside from trips to the seaside of course.
What I like about this book is not only that Beesley has spent a lot of time and effort collecting the memories of numerous Mods and Modettes from over the years, but he’s edited it so it’s their interesting and varied stories for you to read with little repetition. So well in fact that at times you forget you’re reading a collection of quotes and interviews rather than a full on book, if you know what I mean.
It is also a book that can be put down and picked up again without losing the story, thanks to the individual pieces, although some have to be read with an open mind (40,000 scooter miles in one year visiting seaside resorts in the south east?). On the negative side, sometimes the narrative does get confused with the interview, but you soon become accustomed to the layout of the book.
All of these stories from the various eras are accompanied by black and white photographs supplied by the interviewees, a perfect accompaniment in a publication that thanks to Beesley, is co-written by the people who were there. This is Mod seen first hand through their eyes. In fact even if you’re not a Mod yourself, I reckon this will appeal as an enlightening read about an important part of British youth culture and one that – like it or not – has helped shape the scooter scene as it is today. www.tonybeesleymodworld.co.uk