Firstly, this is not a scooter book. I think there is one mention of a Lambretta in it, so don’t buy it expecting a insight into scooter riding in the sixties. But, if you’re into the sixties, and the whole mod scene, this book is a must read. It’s the story… or several interlinked stories really… of some ordinary, working class girls growing up in Chelmsford, Essex, and how they make sense of the world.
The whole “mod thing” is not laboured… but is there as a constant backdrop, and it’s clearly how these girls define themselves. Being a mod is the most natural thing in the world. And it’s something that ‘society’ just doesn’t get. At one point, one of the key characters, Linda explains what it means to a confused German… “We’re working class. So people don’t think much about it, I mean except to say “They’re fighting again”. But the clothes are good.” The girls, for once, are the lead characters in these stories, and the male characters very much fall into supporting roles. A Sense of Occasion is a slim volume, but one I thoroughly enjoyed, because it’s beautifully written and because of it’s authenticity. The dialogue is believable and ‘real’, and really gets you into the head of the girls… and you really start to empathise with their lives. If you have an interest in the sixties and the mod scene, read it. You can grab it on Amazon, here.
Follow author Elizabeth Woodcraft (that’s her on the cover at a school fashion show in 1964) on Twitter here… and her blog is also a great read. A follow up collection of Chelmsford stories “Beyond the Beehive” is coming shortly.