I walk into the pub through the side door and am faced by a busy, but not packed bar room. This pub doesn’t have side rooms called things like ‘The Snug bar’ or ‘The Pool Room’, it is just one big room with a horseshoe shaped bar giving easy access to drinks and stuff wherever you are in the room. This pub is in the city of Hull, in the U.K.

The music being played in the pub is a recent release from one of the bands from the newly formed Two-Tone record label; The Beat. The track is called ‘Mirror in the Bathroom’ and the lyrics are particularly clever. Apparently, this was the first single ever released in the UK to have been fully digitally recorded. The song’s basic melody provided a great energy in the pub.

The people in the pub are a specific tribe, and not my usual hang-out group. These are full-on, fashion and style aware, music aficionados, Mods. The dress code is smart and the gender balance is about a 60% male-40% female split, which is quite different from the motorcycle community gatherings, being a lot more male orientated. Every now and then, the front door of the pub opens and either someone goes out, zipping up their green Parka jacket whilst having a cigarette dangling from their mouth, or someone coming in to the pub, unzipping their Parka and lighting up a cigarette.

As it’s 1980, pub’s are still allowing smoking inside. In fact, it was part of the social norm. The woman behind the bar is from another tribe. She’s got green hair, dressed in a black t-shirt and jeans, is also smoking whilst pulling pints for people, and has heavy black eye make-up. She’s clearly from the Punk tribe and has modelled her look on Souixie Soux from the Banshees. She looks a bit out of place, but nobody cares. I’ve wandered in and trying not to look anything like I’m from the biker tribe. I’ve come to meet a friend here.

In the late 1970s and early 80s, if you rode something with two wheels and an engine, it was either a motorcycle or a scooter. These two forms of transport were icons for the tribes that had them. However, these two tribes really didn’t get along, and continued the Mods’n’Rockers clashes of the 1960s. I’ve left my moto jacket at home and just brought a helmet as it’s actually warm enough to ride in shirt sleeves and I clearly didn’t want to draw attention to being a biker. I loved the music from the Two-Tone factory and went to see Mod bands live with my friend, whom I’ve come to meet at the pub. So, he’s clearly a Mod and I’m clearly a biker. We both grew up riding motorcycles, but he decided to buy a scooter, the shiny suits and the music. I didn’t. This was never an issue for us both. He came to watch biker bands with me as well.

I see my friend at the bar and he’s already bought me a drink. We greet, have a drink and catch up on what’s been going on. I’m meeting him here because he needs a favour from me. Both he and his girlfriend, who’s actually the one with the green hair behind the bar, are going on holiday together for two weeks and he needs me to keep his scooter at my place. As an incentive, he’s said that I can ride it whenever I like, as long as I don’t take it to a biker pub, obviously.

I’m excited by this proposal because he has a Lambretta GP200, painted in a metallic green with some mild engine tuning, and a really loud exhaust. It is actually great fun to ride. It’s not comfortable due to the thinly padded sports seat, but it is an engaging ride. Needless to say, I’m excited about being able to ride it whilst he’s on holiday. We finish our drinks, I wish his girlfriend behind the bar a great holiday, and we walk out of the front door for the scooter handover.

Outside, the sun is shining and there are about 20 heavily customised scooters parked up at the side of the road. There are so many mirrors on them that walking by them in the sunlight can be a blinding affair if the sun connects with your eyes via a scooter mirror. Scooters are arriving and leaving and riders are looking at each other’s machines to see the latest modification or paint job. Exactly like a biker group does outside their pub bizarrely. Different tribes, similar habits.

We get to the metallic green scooter belonging to my friend and he hands me the key. The ignition barrel is so worn that it can be turned with a knife or screwdriver, but it’s not the same as actually putting a key with a Lambretta key ring on it, into the barrel and turning it. Much more satisfying. As I’ve ridden this scooter before, I shake my friends hand, wish him a great holiday, and kick start the Lambretta engine into life. It is really loud.

I obviously don’t share the fact that I’m sometimes riding around on a scooter with my biking buddies, as that wouldn’t end well for me or the scooter. However, I do get in some great rides during the two weeks and also visited the scooter pub a couple of times for a beer, scooter chat and to listen to some great music.

I had never owned a scooter, even though I’d often thought about it, but always settled on a motorcycle, until exactly 30 years later that is. Different country. Different century. Different music. In 2010, whilst living and working in Switzerland, I bought a new, shiny white Vespa. To date, it is one of the most fun bikes I’ve ever ridden. I’d had the scooter for 5 years and ran it along with a BMW 1200 GS, which was a different animal to the Vespa. I decide that it wasn’t worth keeping both, so I sold the Vespa to a friend and to this day, is the only thing I’ve regretted selling. I’m sure there’ll be another scooter for me in the future.

The fabulous white Vespa. Willingly bought and regretfully sold.

As fast as we’ve just gone forward in time, we now head back in time to the mid-1960s. A time when the Mod scene really took off. An Uncle of mine had a scooter, not because he was a Mod, far from it, but it was his daily transport and spookily, it was the first two wheeled object I was ever photographed sitting on. This means that my relationship with the scooter has been a constant thread in my life, as well as the music. It’ll be interesting to see what the scootering future holds for me. Maybe it will be a 21st Century electric scooter. Who knows……..

Sometime in 1965 and my first connection with a scooter

Lyrics to Mirror in the bathroom by The Beat, 1980.

Mirror in the bathroom

Please talk free

The door is locked

Just you and me

Can I take you to a restaurant

That’s got glass tables

You can watch yourself

While you are eating

Mirror in the bathroom

I just can’t stop it

Every Saturday you see me

Window shopping

Find no interest in the

Racks and shelves

Just a thousand reflections

Of my own sweet self, self, self

Mirror in the bathroom

You’re my mirror in the bathroom

You’re my mirror in the bathroom

You’re my mirror in the bathroom

Mirror in the bathroom

Recompense

For all my crimes

Of self defense

Cures you wiser

Make no sense

Drift gently into

Mental illness

Mirror in the bathroom

Please…

Feature photo of the Author on friends Lambretta and taken by friend.
White Vespa photo by the Author.
Author on a ‘scooter for the first time’ photo taken by the Authors Uncle.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.