My Scootering Days - Mat from Gloucestershire


Photo: Stroud Midnight Hour, Weston 1983

Every week we'll be asking one of you to share your Scootering memories. The good, the bad and the f**king freezing. From sleeping under caravans at Great Yarmouth to the Beach at Brighton and everything Inbetween. These memories wouldn't be so special without all the drunken nights, the breakdowns and the truly shitty British weather. 

Today we spoke to Mat Tuck, 55 from Gloucestershire

First Scooter? 

Cut-down Super 150 which my dad actually cut a foot out of the middle and welded it back together as I was only 11. My first bike on the road was a Vespa 100 in September 1981.

Photo: Me in 1975

How Much did it cost?

I think about £300 but by the time I'd stopped polluting it with mirrors and spraying it white with cans about £450
Photo: Me and my Vespa 100

How would you define yourself and why? 

Like many, I went on my first scooter run a Mod and came back a scooterist. Parkas, desert shoes and stay-press just don't do well in the rain. It's like living in a wet sponge. From Great Yarmouth 1983 onwards it was leather jackets, waterproof trousers and, after a misjudged dalliance with boxer boots, Dr Martens.

What first got you into the scene?

My love of scooters, my obsession with the Jam (saw them twice) and Quadrophenia in that order.

Do you remember your first rally? 

Weymouth 1983. There were about 30 of us in the Stroud Midnight Hour that made the trip. 29 would get fuel and one would sit on a wall and have a smoke and eat a chocolate bar. Then 200 yards down the road that one would need petrol. It was hell. In the 90's I cycled the same distance in half the time. When we finally arrived, no one wanted to serve us alcohol, it rained from start to finish and I only avoided a massive kicking from a group of locals because their ring leader dropped his wallet just as he was about to separate my nose from my face. I didn't actually know I could run that fast. Obviously I was completely sold and couldn't wait until the next rally.

Photo: Weymouth 1983 with my Paul Weller Haircut and Misjudged Parka

Best Memory to do with the scootering scene?

There are many but most involve people I am proud to still call my friends today. There was the time that myself and Mr Fish found a chap in his two-tone brown tent in Dunbar who had taken too much acid and was rolling around screaming "no more mustard" because he thought he was in a bun. Or the time when Mr Fish introduced me to a chap called Kaiser and his friends (who would later turn into the Stone Roses) just as someone was half-inching the pubs till and we were asked ever so politely to "create a diversion". Or when Sir Ted rediscovered the power of prayer when the local police dug through his tobacco looking for drugs, or when he ran himself over with his own Vespa while trying to push start it with a parka on. It could even have been when Mr Fish sold Herman Hunt to some skinheads for £1 or watching Edwin Starr at IOW 1984 singing "never give it up" and actually believing that I wouldn't, or that Edwin cared if I did or not. But I digress, mostly it was the thrill of just getting there on a post-war Italian shopping bike held together with sticky tape and bungee cords. No maps. No mobile phones, no AA membership.

Worst memory of Scootering?

Isle of Wight 1986. The scooter club had pretty much dissolved and split into other clubs by then which meant in 1986 there were only 2 of us from the Midnight Hour going on most runs. Me and Mr Fish. By IOW 1986 I was on my own. When the riot kicked off, which to my eyes looked like a standoff between groups that were in hire cars and police, with scooterists in the middle, it was just hell and the antithesis of everything I wanted from the scene. The cuckoos had taken over. I got the first available ferry off the island, rode home, parked up and didn't get back on the bike again for 22 years until the smell of the two-stroke lured me back.

Things you miss the most?

Being able to ride more than 100 miles without turning into putty.

Things you don’t miss?

Testosterone.

One thing you couldn’t go to a rally without?

It sounds obvious, but in the 1980s, my scooter. I couldn't consider a van or a car. I'd have pushed the damn thing there rather than accept a lift. If I hadn't ridden every freezing, bone-shattering, ass numbing mile then I'd have felt I didn't deserve to wear the badge.

Favourite Rally?

Southport 1983, everything just fell into place.

Worst Rally?

Rhyl 1985. Just hideous. A solo round trip of 400 miles to what seemed like the arse end of the world only to arrive in the middle of a sandstorm which meant blinking for the next two days felt like I was scraping glass across my cornea. Didn't know anyone, stuck in a B&B that thought beige was a statement, and just frozen all weekend because I'd broken the zip on my leather jacket just after I set off.

The last rally you went too?

Exmouth 2019 with Mr Fish, Hobbit and Sir Ted. Three 300cc auto's and me screaming a GP with a rapido 225 in it. In the 80's I would have been the fastest thing on the roads, now I arrive in a different time zone. 

What do you think has changed Nowadays?

We used to make memories, now we just talk about them.

What could help get younger people into scootering?

To give them something that they can call their own in the scene. At the moment to me it just seems like a band of war buddies remembering the D-day landing and so seems more and more like a closed shop. We're effectively timing our own scene out before the environment can. I thought 10 or so years ago the acceptance of streetfighter type bikes might be the younger generations way in but alas that seems to have died out. Perhaps we are just of our time and the excitement we crave just isn't one a 21st Century crowd appreciate.

Anything else you want to add? 

As a nostalgic nod back to those days I organised this as a wedding photo when I got married in 2016. Most of the participants were friends from my scootering days. Including Mr Fish, Sir Ted and the Hobbit. My wife really didn't understand what was going on but, bless her, she played along. Finally, even if the scootering scene isn't the obsession for me it once was, I respect that for some it still is and hats off to them, more power to their respective elbows. For me, like many others I suspect, its a chance to wave the stress of normal life goodbye and to be 19 again, if only for the weekend.

Photo: My Quadrophenia wedding

Okay Lastly, what are your Top 10 Scootering Tracks.

He's Coming Home - Beverley Ann: one of three singles she released in the late 60's before going on to star on Broadway. Never been a hit. Anywhere. Astounding when you think that  "No Limits" by 2 Unlimited was a top 10 song. I weep for the future of the world.
The Night - The Four Seasons:

Al Wilson - The Snake: In 2015 Mr Fish finally realised it wasn't about a snake. In 2016 he realised it was about him.

Behind closed doors - Charlie Rich: Sir Ted sang it all the time. I don't like it.

Going Underground - The Jam: When this came out in March 1980 and went straight to number one it seemed to both represent and vindicate who I was. The look, the attitude, the juvenile isolation, Ironically shared by so many, many more. Alone in the herd. When Kate, my girlfriend at the time, turned up at Minchinhampton Youth Club with this for me in a little Woolworths' bag I thought we'd be together forever. However, The Jam, Kate and even the bag all split on me eventually. It may even have been in that order. This was my generation's, My Generation.

Pretty In Pink - The Psychedelic Furs: I'm 55 now which meant I ushered in punk at the grand age of 12. Anybody who says they were a rebel without a cause and at the first Sex Pistols concert and is under 60 is just plain daft. The single came out in 1980 and its the product of the new wave punk gave birth to, the chance to inject feeling back into music and make it something that carried a proper message, even if it was with three chords ( I know what chords are now as well!). This one's about a girl who thinks she can find love by taking her clothes off; obviously as true now as it was then. When my lead guitarist suggested doing this in my band I nearly kissed him, as my choices had all been used up.

Staring at the Rude Boys - The Ruts: One of the few songs that tells it like it was

Do I Love you? - Frankie Wilson: Had to be in there. THE dance floor filler for the non purists.

Quiet life - Japan: I know it doesn't fit but then we were all square pegs in round holes.

Waterfall - Stone Roses: Finally saw them in Heaton Park in 2012. They didn't remember me.

Mat is the lead singer of band Ex-Kittens, you can check them out on Facebook here - https://www.facebook.com/The-Ex-Kittens-229027103908831/ 

If you want to share your scootering stories, message us on Instagram @vespaboyuk or drop us an email at vespaboyuk@gmail.com with the words My Scootering Days and we'll get back to you.

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