Long Hot Summer

Another mod book. I seem to be reading a lot of those lately. This one is about a part-time mod just as he is drifting away from the scene and turning into a trendy. Why he wants to be a trendy isn’t clear to me because he is only 16 years old so he should really have a few more mod years in him. But I never did understand mods anyway, so maybe it’s just me that thinks this is a bit weird. I know mods have this thing about clothes, but swapping parkas and the like for lurid-coloured tracksuits and trainers seems a bit of a stretch.

I tried to write a mod character into Punk Faction, I think I had plans for a spinoff title at some point (he was Brian’s brother in case anyone is interested). After the second draft I airbrushed him out because he ended up a little bit like a stereotype version of what outsiders would expect a mod character to do. There’s a lot of that in the punk and skinhead characters in this book. What there is of them, anyway, which isn’t much considering this book is set in the early 80s. The punks are all glue sniffers, and the skinheads are all mindless thugs. Which is fair enough, this being a mod / trendy book. But a little bit of variety wouldn’t have hurt.

The book is told in lots of short vignettes set over a 6 week period (the school summer holidays). There’s a lot to like, but it’s not without its problems. For one thing there’s masses and masses of typos, but if you can read past those it’s an enjoyable enough read. Most of them aren’t too glaring, and the wrongly used words do at least sound the same in your head (“there” instead of “their” or “they’re”, “past” instead of “passed” and vice versa, and just about every plural word has an apostrophe in it). Once you get used to this it starts to flow a lot quicker, and your mind substitutes what it is supposed to say automatically.

Some parts were spot on – the scene in the youth club where all the various youth factions congregate in their own corner, never mingling with anyone else, and then taking turns to dance when the DJ played one of their records. Others seemed a bit far fetched – three 16 year old mods taking on and beating a gang of 20 year old skinheads. There’s also a short story tagged on at the end, in the form of a sort of epilogue, set several years later when the main mod / trendy character is a long-haired acid house tripper going to raves. Again, maybe it’s just me being ignorant of mod culture, but do what guv?

Worth a read if you like that sort of thing, especially if you were a mod or a trendy. Seems to be his only book, but hopefully he’ll write another one.

 

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About Marcus Blakeston

Ex-shouting poet, ex-fanzine writer, ex-angry young man (now growing old disgracefully). Living in sunny Yorkshire with his wife, children and motorcycle, Marcus still has a healthy distrust of all forms of authority.
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