Day trip to Leicester to see the Mods: Shaping a Generation exhibition in the New Walk Museum. Some of you may know that once I lived in Leicester so it’s close to my heart. I wasn’t there in the 60s but I was a student and then taught there in the 70s so I was hoping for many nostalgic highlights.
The exhibition was great. Fab exhibits – suede and leather coats to die for, sparkling Vespas and Lambrettas, wonderful music – Green Onions was playing as we walked in, followed by Harlem Shuffle. Milling around with the other visitors was like being at a Corn Exchange reunion. Everyone talking, remembering their coffee bar and their dance hall, sharing stories.
One item was a silk headscarf (we all wore them) that had been soaked in perfume. The note beside the scarf said that in Leicester in the 60s girls wore Youth Dew – who knew? In Chelmsford it was always Avon.
I spoke to a woman who said she had always worn Youth Dew. We discussed the North South divide. But our experiences were so similar her husband asked me if he’d met me before in the Dungeon (answer no).
To the sound of Harlem Shuffle I stood looking at the scooters next to a man who was almost sighing with nostalgia. He had had a Lambretta 175 he said. He preferred Lambrettas to Vespas because he felt you could personalise the panel, and I talked about the advantage of a Vespa bubble. He had been at Art College and then gone on to Coventry. I did my A levels at a Tec College that was also an Art School. We discussed our life experience.
I saw this quote from an old mod – how alien it was when flower power hit the scene. I felt that too, when I got to Birmingham in 1968 – nowhere near enough ironing with hippies.
Then I noticed this article about mods and rockers.
Who knew we were considered so radical? ‘overdressed mannequins’ indeed! The chance would have been a fine thing. But really I was a mod because I wanted to listen to great music and wear the fashions of the day. And sit on the back of a good scooter. And have fun.
The New Walk museum is a lovely building. The exhibition is very well laid out, everything is clear, and there’s a lot of room to stand and gaze. Read what the Independent had to say about it. A history to be proud of.
On top of the exhibition in New Walk, there was Richard III in the cathedral, and the market in the centre of town (a place I always loved) and a great meal in a very nice restaurant.
Get down there. The exhibition is free and it’s on till 30 June 2019, every day 11am – 4.30pm. It was a very good day and well worth the trip.