A Gentleman's Guide to Youth Tribes



Following in the steps of Mr Eliot, the Modernist is very careful to sport a fine coiffure, often parted, and is fastidious in his choice of tailoring. Thanks to their survival in these isles - a fact due in large part to their fearless martial prowess and mastery of invalid carriages, a great number of British tailors have avoided destitution by catering for the Modernists' tastes. The longevity of this tribe is matched by that of their King, a skip-dwelling scarecrow dubbed Mr Paul Wellington, who to this day continues to preach the virtues of the 'feather cut' and the elaborate silk scarf from an industrial refuse receptacle in Woking.


Anathema to the Modernist, and beloved of motorcycles, the Rocker eschewed both clothes and soap in pursuit of a "style" unremarked since the time of Cuchullain. Favouring a style of music perfected in Birmingham, in Oswald Osbourne did this infernal cult find its St Paul. Demented following a lifeling diet of LSD and amphetamine-laced cup-a-soup, Mr Osbourne spawned the notion of 'horror music' while watching a Vincent Price film. The interests of the Rocker are long hair, hydrophobia and motorcycles, with an occasional foray into the collection of questionable militaria.


Hip-hop music is composed of hebephrenic gibberish ranted in a dialect inspired by the thoughts of the Bishop of Peterborough's son, Mr Timothy Westwood, who has risen to infamy as one of the leading hip-hoppers of Public School Radio. To this day he caromes around these isles in his "Hop-Wagon", a kind of gas-man's pantechnicon decorated as a Kenyan taxi, to bring his warped doctrine to the ears of young men inexplicably drawn to the wearing of Mayoral chains of office and oversized children's clothes. Thankfully, Hip-Hoppers have taken to exterminating themselves with machine guns. They are known to smoke pipes, drink vintage champagne and, it must be granted, wear a species of white leather slipper, though they have the manners of the mandrill and half the vocabulary.



With their origins in a Leeds convent of the 1980s, the Gothicks are defined by their studied indifference to pleasure and to life in general, a stance which is accentuated by their neo-dandified appearance and immersion in the literature of the Decadents. The true Gothick eschews all but the graveyards of the established Church, and consults frequently with the actual as well as the possible dead, the latter congregating wherever clove cigarettes and cider are to be found in abundance.


It must be granted that punks were originally a well-intentioned bunch, seeking through anarchic pranks and the wearing of angora sweaters to pervert the corrupt edifice of British Society into something far more interesting. As any Chap would surely agree, when asked "Do they owe us a living?" it was punk group Crass who replied "Of course they bally well do!" Such ambitiously courageous demands for the impossible have been the hallmarks of all our ideological heroes, from Dadaism to the Situationist International, and it is regrettable that Punk itself went from inspiriational polemic to Americanised shopping centre soundtrack within a generation.



Part hippie, part punk and all feral, the Crusty, or New Age Traveller, is a bus shelter-dwelling nomad in perpetual exile from Winchester College, though not his inheritance. Sporting the locks of the Rasta-man he is, beneath a carapace of carefully applied ordure, white in colour, and refuses to tie the laces of his combat boots in symbolic non-conformity with the society that pays for his ornamental Giro cheque. Frequently lost in a cider-induced fugue, he has blundered into the path of road builders and civil engineers, managing to entangle his bootlaces and wild hair in machinery in the process. Affecting a lower-class Estuary English, the crusty announces a Luddite mentality with little thought to the mechanical processes that provides him with marijuana and booze.