Bank Holiday Monday
It’s 55 years since the historic meeting of mods and rockers on Clacton beach. Where were you on Bank Holiday Monday 1964? It was August 31st – I was in Chelmsford. ‘Have I the right?’ by the Honeycombs was number 1 in the charts. ‘Doo-wah diddy diddy’ by Manfred Mann was number 2. I had just heard ‘Under the Boardwalk’ by the Drifters.
On Monday 31 August 1964, according to my 1964 diary, most of the mods I knew spent the day in Chelmsford. Why go to Clacton, when you’ve got Chelmsford?
Again according to my diary, I had a ‘fabulous day’. I went to the Orpheus cellar coffee bar in New London Road, where all the mods hung out, listened to the Ronettes on the juke box, had a discussion about a mouth organ, noticed someone wearing a very nice navy blue suede with a leather collar and then went home for my tea. In the evening my best mate Christine and I went to see Chelmsford City football team play, in their ground on the far side of the rec. My diary is strangely silent about who we were playing and what the score was – I was much more impressed with the fact that after the game we got a lift home in the mini of Pete B. A mini!
A few weeks ago I went into the BBC Essex Radio studios to talk about my memories of those early mod days, with Laura Doyle. She’s put together a BBC Essex Special, Leathers and Lambrettas, which will be on BBC Essex at 12 noon on Monday 26 August, presented by Marty Wilde, to mark the 55th anniversary of the historic clashes between mods and rockers. The programme asks the question, ‘Was it all about throwing deckchairs at each other on the beach?’ The short answer is of course, no. It was about clothes, and music and transport and just hanging out with your mates. We talked about the music I was listening to, and I described that feeling, sitting in the Orpheus, coffee in a glass cup in front of me, my suede on the seat beside me, chatting to Christine, when the first drum beats of Be My Baby rolled round the room. Heaven.