Unfortunately, a last minute crisis (don't ask) intervened and I had to take a pass on the evening. I have mixed feelings about this, if truth be told, but that's sort of appropriate since I've had mixed (although mostly positive) feelings about Quadrophenia since the day it came out in 1973. For what it's worth, however, I will say that I would have liked to see the show. I mean fifty percent of The Who is still better than a lot of other bands I could mention. Oh well, maybe next time.
I should also add that if you've never read the little sort-of short story that Pete penned for the original LP, than your life is the poorer for it.
Brighton is a fantastic place. The sea is so gorgeous you want to jump into it and sink. When I was there last time there were about two thousand mods driving up and down the promenade on scooters. My scooter's seen the last of Brighton bloody promenade now, I know that. I felt really anonymous then, sort of like I was in an army. But everyone was a mod. Wherever you looked there were mods. Some of them were so well dressed it was sickening. Levi's had only come into fashion about a month before and some people had jeans on that looked like they'd been born wearing them. There was this bloke there that seemed to be the ace face. He was dancing one night in the Aquarium ballroom and everyone was copying him. He kept doing different dances, but everyone would copy it and the whole place would be dancing a dance that he'd only just made up. That's power for you, he was really heavy too, though. When the mods collected in Brighton, the Rockers would turn up too. There were never as many of them, but this geezer once took two of them at once and beat them. That didn't usually happen I can tell you.
I was in a crowd of kids once chasing three Rockers down Brighton Pier. As it seemed they were going to get caught anyway they stopped and turned to meet their fate. All hundred of these kids I was with stopped dead. I was the first to stop, but the rest ran, so I had to follow. There's nothing uglier than a Rocker. This ace face geezer wouldn't have run. He smashed the glass doors of this hotel too. He was terrific. He had a sawn-off shotgun under his jacket and he'd be kicking at plate-glass and he still looked like he was Fred Astaire reborn. Quite funny, I met him earlier today. He ended up working at the same hotel. But he wasn't the manager.
I never ever felt like I blasphemed. You know, in an old fashioned sense. But I was in a pretty blasphemous mood when I left for Brighton. Brighton cheered me up. But then it let me down. Me folks had let me down, Rock had let me down, women had let me down, work wasn't worth the effort, school isn't even worth mentioning. But I never ever thought I'd feel let down by being a mod. I pinched this boat, first time I'd ever been on a boat at sea. I had another few leapers to keep from coming down and I felt a bit bravado. So I headed for this Rock out off the coast. It was sticking up very jagged, but very peaceful. I didn't know then what I was up to, but I know now.
Schizophrenia! What a laugh. It must be alright to be plain ordinary mad. About halfway over I took a swallow of this Gibneys gin I'd bought. Booze never did help me much though. On the boat it did me right in, specially on top of the pills and the come-down. Anyway, the sound of the engine turned into this drone, then the drone turned into a sound like pianos or something. Like heavenly choirs or orchestras tuning up. It was really an incredible sound. Like the sort of noise you'd expect to hear in heaven, if there is such a place. I pinched myself and I wasn't really drunk anymore. I was floating. I felt really happy. I must have looked bloody stupid as it happens. I was waving me Gibneys around in the air and singing in tune with the engine. The sound got better and better. I was nearly delirious when I got to the Rock. I switched off the engine and jumped onto it. When the engine stopped, so did the music. And when that beautiful music stopped, I remembered the come-down I had, I felt sick from the booze, the sea was splashing all over the place and there was thunder in the distance. I remembered why I had come to this bastard Rock.
So that's why I'm here, the bleeding boat drifted off and I'm stuck here in the pissing rain with my life flashing before me. Only it isn't flashing, it's crawling. Slowly. Now it's just the bare bones of what I am.
A tough guy, a helpless dancer.
A romantic, is it me for a moment?
A bloody lunatic, I'll even carry your bags.
A beggar, a hypocrite, love reign over me.
Schizophrenic? I'm Bleeding Quadrophenic.
[No one in this story is meant to represent anyone either living or dead, particularly not the Mum and Dad. Our Mums and Dads are all very nice and live in bungalows which we bought for them in the Outer Hebrides.]
Seriously -- if I live to be 200, I'll still never write anything as evocative and poetic as that.