Rillington Motorbike Club

It was the era of Mods versus Rockers.

Scooters, Ben Sherman, and Parka coats,

Motorbikes, Levi’s, and slicked-back hair.

Pumped up teens, who thought they were hard,

Fighting in lumps on the promenade,

During sunny sixties bank holidays.

 

Rillington, my village, was solidly greaser,

Not a single scooter was ever seen.

We had a Motorbike Club of our very own,

Where lads picked tarmac out of their jeans.

 

Whilst, notionally, a Bike Club member,

A few obstructions stood in my way,

“There’s nothing there between you and the road,”

Said dad, with the air of a man who knew,

A chap with a definitive point of view.

“He fell off his Triumph every weekend,”

Was what my Uncle Harry had to say.

Motorbike ownership, then, was a forlorn task.

Was a leather jacket, though, too much to ask?

 

My friends at school all called themselves Mods.

Affiliation was more complex than I thought.

New idols challenged my local gods.

I was caught in the crossfire of no-man’s land,

When mods and rockers’ battles were fought.

 

And that is the story of my life.

My allegiances would come and go,

Playing both ends towards the middle

When I was faced with trouble or strife,

A man who likes to hedge his bets, undecided,

About people or places to loath or like.

One of Life’s Motorbike Club members,

Who never bought a leather jacket

Or, more crucially, a motorbike!

 

It wouldn’t take much of  a detective to see

A lack of authenticity,

Or a want of commitment to the cause,

When my friends say, “Let’s go!”

I will press ‘Pause.’

 

◄ Reunion

An Elegy from a Malton Graveyard ►

Comments

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John Botterill

Tue 15th Nov 2022 07:03

Funny story! I think, now I have read your response, that fear of crashing was behind my reluctance to commit. Thanks for your lovely comments 😀

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Stephen Gospage

Mon 14th Nov 2022 21:32

I once crashed by dad's Honda 90 into the front gate, having started from INSIDE the garden (oh dear). Never rode a bike in anger, or anything else, after that. Lovely words and construction as usual, John.

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John Botterill

Mon 14th Nov 2022 16:19

Thanks for the likes Nigel, John, Frederick and Greg. I agree that the choice between being either a mod or a rocker is fairly esoteric and that the violence between them was idiotic, as most violence is. However, it got me thinking about how difficult is to definitively make a choice and stick to it. Thanks for all your observations which I very much value, raypool, Reggie's Ghost, MC and Greg. 👍😀

Reggie's Ghost

Sun 13th Nov 2022 23:09

A sad end to the poem reflecting that every movement includes a large element not wholly committed to the cause but drawn to it for their own reasons.

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raypool

Sun 13th Nov 2022 22:44

An honest self appraisal John. Nostalgia often paints a false picture, but not so here! I was a rider in the 60s but as a commuter into London. A sad end when my Triumph was test ridden being on sale and the guy rode off on it with no payout.

I always thought scooters were less stable than bikes, but elf and safety was not really much of an issue then, pre Kevlar.

Ray

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M.C. Newberry

Sun 13th Nov 2022 22:21

My only familiarity with motorbikes was a job friendship early
in my career with a fellow East End PC who owned a fine
Vincent Black Shadow - all black and gold paint and lovingly
maintained shiny parts. It was no surprise when he joined
Traffic Patrol with whom he spent the rest of his service. He
put his love of big bikes to good use in retirement with various
travels in the USA,.Europe and Australia, still using the same
illustrious steed and drawing substantial interest and
admiration..
However, I do recall the Mods and Rockers for less than
fond reasons involving the inconvenience they caused via
cancelled "rest days" and disruption to the peace of mind and the
property of a long-suffering public at large, especially during bank holidays.

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Greg Freeman

Sun 13th Nov 2022 22:13

I was just a little bit too young to choose one or the other, John. But I remember the headlines and the fights on the seafront, and the Mirror splashing on it one Easter. I reckon the Mods had the edge as far as music was concerned. Interesting conclusion you draw at the end of the poem.

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