5.0 out of 5 starsA world of possibilities and camaraderie
4 December 2017
I was recently researching a map about the literary scene in Walton-on-Thames and amongst authors/screenwriters/poets like William Thackeray and Dirk Bogarde I found the work of Matteo Sedazzari. It was a delight to find that his book 'A Crafty Cigarette' was not only full of the colour and ambience of the Mod era but also was a humorous and evocative read. Although I had never cruised the streets of Walton on a scooter, nor worn the smart attire of a Mod his book transported back to a time that felt alive, a world of possibilities and camaraderie. Sedazzari was the only living writer we included in the map (commissioned by Elmbridge Council) Walton-on-Thames Literary Walking Map (Elmbridge Map Series) and he deserves his place amongst some of the great authors who have graced the streets of Walton-on-Thames.
3.0 out of 5 starsa good naive scribe as would have been in these times ...
3 October 2016
I was seduced by the reviews and also the foreword being scripted by John Cooper Clarke and being a Mod at the time this was recorded I expected possibly more about the actual scene the author found himself in...a good naive scribe as would have been in these times from a schoolboy though.
A nicely balanced tale focused on the somewhat niche movement which was the modrevival of the late '70's. I could fully identify with the writer as I was a very similar age and certainly more mod than punk.
I really loved this book and was eagerly awaiting it as I had been a fan of Matteo Sedazzari (MS) and his writing for some time for Zani, an online magazine covering my very favourite things in life - music, culture and football. A Crafty Cigarette tells the tale of a youngster's rites of passage journey from child to knowing (and naughty) youth, against the backdrop of the late 70s Modrevival which rose from Punk and New Wave. Two things immediately got hold of me - First...This was a journey I had taken at the same time as MS, albeit I was a few years older and had spent my feckless youth searching out Ben Sherman Shirts and Tonic Suits, riding a Vespa Scooter, building up a collection of Motown and Stax Records and spending anytime I could at gigs by The Jam and Secret Affair. Secondly it's set where I have lived for 20 years, Walton on Thames, and bought up my three children, and (cough) now love my young Grandson, little Modboy of the future..(How did that happen?)...I could obviously relate to it massively on these factors alone....
But, written at a fast and frantic piece, full of warm, sometimes laugh out loud vignettes, and also dark observations (Heard of The Walton Hop?? The stalking predatory arena for Jonathan King and his fellow paedos), anyone can enjoy this and I felt it very reminiscent of the Danny Baker autobiogs...warm, human and full of joy and discovery.Indeed I feel a TV adaption (albeit slightly shorter than Cradle to the Grave) would be a very fine thing.
Looking back, this was a very key time in British history. Thatcher was just getting her claws into British society, and no picnic for the caring and compassionate humanity that lived through it I can tell you. The moment The Jam went straight into number one with Going Underground and the video beamed out at us kids into our living rooms, was one momentous life changing occasion. That moment is beautifully captured in the narrative. Transported me back in time. Beautiful.
Indeed the passion for The Jam that runs through this book is one of its strengths.. When you saw the hundreds flocking to the recent About the Young Idea Exhibition at Somerset, you realise how important they were and are. They shaped good people with positive life ideas and a conscience. I know I can say that for myself and MS comes across strongly in this vein too.
Not so beautiful is my memory of 'The Pub Man' as described to a tee by MS. Some Dennis Waterman looking type in a brown leather jacket who would take you on just because you had a suit, jam shoes and a pretty girl on your arm. Many a time I returned home with my features splattered across my face having been attacked by said pub man. Always satisfied though if my lady was ok and my suit hadn't got torn.'We don't care cos we know we're right'.......
The mayhem in the denouement at Rydens School (where my kids all went and where i visualised myself at parents evening as all hell breaks loose in the book) is riproaringly funny.
If you're an embracer of mod culture and /or a Jam fan this is a dead cert...but if not still give it a punt. It's great.
Brilliant read, a must for anyone who grew up in the 70's and 80's and remembers the Mod, Punk, Ska and Disco/Soul revival that so influenced our music and fashion sense at that time. I knew the Author and grew up in Walton-on-Thames at the time the story was set in, which makes it even more relavent for me, but I think anyone who was a teenager in the 70's/80's will be able to relate to this, anyone who wasnt would probably enjoy experiencing what it was like. Would love the author to publish a sequel!
Highly recommended. A brilliant recollection of a unique period of time in music and teenage culture which I personally lived through. The author superbly captures experiences and memories of a teenager of the modrevival generation and is a book any mod or music lover would enjoy reading. Absolutely loved it.
Finished this the other day. It's another easy read and a great trip down memory lane, for anyone of the Modrevival era. It is narrated like a breathless and excitable (early) teenager. Whilst this is set in '78/79' (and ergo about 3 or 4 years before I hit my teens) there is much to be recognised with the clothes and the situations and scrapes that Matteo and his acolytes get up to both in and out of school. (A lot of fear and loathing in Secondary Modern). It's West London/Surrey setting is also very familiar to me and so I enjoyed the many parts that resonated with me personally. I would think that the work is semi-fiction and suspect that many parts actually did happen. The more fictional ending owes a debt to Lindsay Anderson's If (classic late 60's film starring Malcolm McDowell). All in all worth a read and as far as I'm aware the first Mod-revival fiction in the Mod cannon. Hat's off to Matteo and Paul J Hallam whose Old Dog Publishing venture hopes to bring out more youth-cult fiction in the not to distant future. Recommended!
If you were involved in the 'ModRevival' of the late 70's / early 80's it will bring back some memories and make you laugh a bit, but the book is badly written. The grammar is shocking, some sentences don't make sense, and it has a (partly) ridiculous ending.