The National pub Ralliesfests | OPINION
This time last year I wrote an ‘opinion’ piece about the National Rallies I got quite a bit of hassle for writing it at the time but it was heartfelt, true and I still stand by it today. One year later and we’re heading up to Bridlington for what could possibly be the very last time. The pubs know it, the town knows it and the publicans are very worried. And they’re obviously worried that their annual late autumn bumper weekend is to be no more and are probably wondering why. Sadly it’s them that have killed it, rather than us and the local economy will suffer…
If you’re an outsider looking in you’ll view our weekends with pound signs in your eyes, we book every bed up a year in advance, turn up, spend a few hundred quid each, cause very little hassle and go home again. If you’re a publican, sticking a tribute band on, or wheeling the local DJ out (who once wore a boating blazer in 1985) to play some cheesy ska and soul is an instant winner. Every shop in town will have windows full of comedy mod starter kits, you too can become ‘one of them’ just by buying a pork pie hat, shades and a parka with an odd selection of patches sewn on to it. Surely that’s what we all want isn’t it? Well no, actually not everybody does. We’re not a Butlins style themed weekend where middle-aged people do a Superman-style change at the weekend and become a mod/skinhead/soulie or just plain old scooterist for two days before going back to ‘normal’ and telling our mates what a great weekend we had at the latest ‘Scooterfest’.
Through the thick and thin
This is our life, many of us live and breathe scooters, we’ve grown up with the scene and with our friends from within it. We’ve been there through the troubled times when towns hated us, stuck at it in the mid-1990s when the rallies were dying a death. We were at Bridlington for the very first and very last NSRA rally, along with around 600 other people. We didn’t have or need comedy themed pub nights then, we had our own venue and entertainment just as we do now. We also used the pubs around town, we could socialise with friends without being part of Tracey from Hull’s factory outing, all dressed in a pastiche of what they imagine will allow them to be immersed into the ‘Scooterfest’. No, Tracey, it won’t. Take your ‘kiss me quick’ factory lasses back on the train, go to Butlins instead.
Back in the 1980s scooter rallies had problems, often but not always attributed to ‘hangers on’, people with little or no interest in the actual mode of transport that is at the heart and soul of what we do. We still have hangers on but they bring different problems, they have no intention of ever owning or riding a scooter. Many will never have even sat on one and won’t know an AJS Modena from a Vespa GS. Neither will they care. These weekend scooterfesters are turning us into a sideshow, a circus, we’ve become the modern-day equivalent to a 60-year-old Teddy Boy in the 1980s. Stick as many patches as you can on your parka, wear some fancy dress mod/ska items and you’re suddenly the Ace Face. Brian from Tamworth, no you’re not. You’re the same dull Brian as you are in the week, you just look stupid. At least the so-called comedy mods who cover their modern scooters in all manner of chrome tat actually own a scooter and ride it (even if it is just from the back of the motorhome to the town centre).
Getting back to the crux of all this. As we head to Bridlington this weekend for the last National Scooter (see that word in the title) Rally of 2018 the pubs have started advertising the ‘event’ for next year. They’ve started social media campaigns, had posters printed, told us to remember to book our digs and promised entertainment throughout the town during the weekend.
Killed the golden goose
That’s all well and good but our fate for 2019 will be decided around a table in the Spa on Saturday. Our BSRA National Scooter Rallies are organised by genuine road-going scooterists (the kind you wave at as you pass in your Ford Fiesta with the northern soul stickers Sheila). The true scooterists will go to wherever the official rally is, just as we have done for well over 30 years. You’re welcome to keep Tracey, Brian and Sheila. Keep selling your themed weekends, the novelty will soon wear off when there are fewer and fewer scooters to look at. The greed that follows us around is the thing that’s essentially slitting the throat of your golden goose.
Towns and landlords listen up. We don’t need to be bribed to stay in a pub (or town), if it’s a good place with a decent atmosphere and our friends are in there then we’ll stay. We’re not particularly bothered about your tribute band and will most likely go to the next pub whilst they’re murdering the classics we grew up with. We’ll head off to support the official do at night, with an advance ticket you can watch Bad Manners (yes the real ones not Fuster Clubvessel) for just six pounds, yes £6 (or pay on the door for just £8).
You see dear publican, if you’d have just left us to organise a weekend in your towns, drink in your pubs (if it was a good place to be) and leave if we wanted to go to our own venue then we’d have been there next year. Instead, you all let greed and the false perception of what you thought we wanted cloud your judgement. What we actually want is to ride to scooter rallies, party with our friends and not conform to what the grown-ups think we should be doing.
I’ll be attending the BSRA National Scooter Rally this weekend. I won’t be at this or any future ‘Scooterfests’ and I’ll try to avoid pubs that display posters advertising such events for 2019 as well. Let us have scooter rallies our way, not your way. It’s likely that Bridlington won’t be the only rally sacrificed for 2019 but we’ll have to wait until Saturday to find out what else is being shaken up.
There’s a flyer for Bridlington at the top of the page. It’s the official flyer for the rally, it has all the info for bands, entertainment and the custom show over the weekend. It’s put on by VFM and the Lambretta Club of Great Britain. Please support the genuine scooterists who put these official events on or one day you’ll only have scooterless Scooterfests to look forward to.
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