welcome to the Skinhead Nation Hated by many, understood by few, the skinhead cult is a very different animal to that portrayed in newspaper headlines. Skinhead Nation takes you on a journey through the back streets of Britain, America and Europe to hear the skinheads' own story.

skinheads rule okay!
No Mean City

Part One
The Big Apple Bites back

Part Two
Among The Mugs

Part Three
Bring Back The Skins

Part Four
No Mean City

Part Five
Here Comes Johnny Reggae

Part Six
Violence In Our Minds

Part Seven
Ghost Town

Part Eight
Neither Red Or Racist

Part Nine
One Law For Them

Part Ten
Tougher Than Tough

Part Eleven
No One Likes Us

Part Twelve
Us And Them

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The book version of Skinhead Nation is not currently available, but you can buy other skinhead and youth cult books online and by post from www.stpublishing.com
The importance of fanzines for street culture can never be overstated. The vast majority never last more than a few poorly photocopied issues, but each and every one plays its part in spreading the gospel far and wide. Whether they have only a few readers or a few thousand, it doesn’t really matter, just as long as they let people know about gigs, record releases, new bands and so on.

For my money, the skinhead fanzine that deserves to go down in history as the dog’s bollocks is Hard As Nails. It wasn’t the biggest selling skinzine of all time and it wasn’t the most professionally produced one there has ever been either. It wasn’t even always particularly brilliant - as I’m sure Paul and Ian, the two Canvey Island skinheads who produced it, would be the first to tell you. In fact, today, there are thousands of skinheads who have never even heard of it, but without this little A5 size fanzine, the skinhead cult would not be what it is today.

When it first appeared towards the end of 1983, the skinhead cult was in a sorry state if the truth be told. 2 Tone was long gone and the glory days of Oi! had more or less passed too. A lot of the top skinheads from the last few years had either hung up their boots or turned casual to pursue a career in football violence. Standards had hit an all-time low for what is the proudest of all youth cults, and there was a real danger that the cult would drown in a sea of glue sniffing bald punks who could hardly get any further away from the true traditions and values of the skinhead cult.

That wasn’t to say that all skinheads had given up caring about style and music. Pockets of resistance existed in towns and cities like Cardiff, Dublin, Newcastle, Plymouth and Glasgow. What Hard As Nails did was provide a base camp for these and other skins, and basically offered an alternative vision of what the cult was truly about.

After the demise of Hard Of Nails, Glasgow seemed to become the focus for the sussed skinhead way of life, largely thanks to the efforts of the Glasgow Spy Kids skinhead crew. Not only were three fanzines based in Glasgow at the time - McGinn’s Bovver Boot, Big Ewan’s Spy Kids and my own Zoot! - but there were regular reggae and soul dances, and the city had a real buzz about it if you were a skinhead, a rudy, mod, scooterist or of similar persuasion.

“The Spy Kids came about through drinking,” explains McGinn, one of the leading lights on the Glasgow scene for many years, not least because of his patter. A natural story teller if ever there was one. “It was a thing going about at the time - the Hard As Nails fanzine, the sussed skin - and that sort of appealed to us. So we got our own mob together, decided on a name and a focus, and we trooped off to get the tattoo. It was just like-minded people. It was about reggae, being smart, and away from the glue and the boneheads. Sometimes we thought we were fighting for the real side of skinhead, but most of the time we’d fight because we’d be full of drink and it seemed like a good idea!”

Ten years after the Spy Kids started, only Big Iain is still a skinhead and he remembers the crew’s roots in much the same way. “In 1985, there were still quite a lot of skinheads in Glasgow, a lot of boneheads, but a few of us broke away and formed our own crew based on the smarter version of skinhead. We made up our own name which was basically another name for skinheads before they were actually called skinheads. We drank up the East End in a bar called the One Up, which before then was basically a mod club. We got on all right with the mods and held dances with them. We organised ‘69 style dances with smart dress only, same as the mod dances. We attracted quite a few skinheads from around the town and ended up with quite a decent mob into the same things - dressing in suits, Ben Sherman shirts, smart shoes instead of boots at night, and listening to reggae and soul music all night.”

The Spy Kids somehow managed to bring together smartly dressed skinheads from all over the city and beyond. They crossed the sectarian divide, football teams, everything, in a bid to present a united front of skinhead style. And there was no doubting that these boys had style, with tonic suits, sta-press, button-down shirts, highly polished boots and so on being the order of the day. What’s more, most of it was picked up for next to nothing at Paddy’s Market, The Barras market and various charity shops around the city. Working class style at working class prices.

There was a rival mob in the city called the Combat Skins, and they had close relatives in neighbouring towns like Paisley, Greenock and Falkirk. That’s not to say that all skinheads from those towns were racist (Big Ewan was himself from Paisley), but their main mobs were as far as anyone in Glasgow knew. The Combats, led by a long-time skinhead called Spearsey, were white power skins who favoured the bald punk look to that of the traditional skinhead, but they went into decline anyway as The Spy Kids grew in status, and by the end of the Eighties they had more or less disappeared from sight.

The reasons for The Spy Kids totally rejecting the white power scene were many, and are worth noting because it illustrates why where you are brought up influences your beliefs. Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, has a long socialist tradition and there has never been a great deal of support for the right wing, except when aligned to the Protestant faith and the Ulster cause. What’s more, the immigrant population in Scotland - mainly Pakistani, Chinese, Polish and Italian - is very small and so causes less resentment than it may do in areas of a higher concentration of immigrants. In fact, it is estimated that over seven million Scots live abroad, while just over five million live at home, so, like the Irish, we should be the last ones to talk about sending foreigners home. The West coast of Scotland has its own angle on bigotry anyway based on the rivalry between Catholics and Protestants. Me, I’ve never understood it and have no time for it, but a surprising number of people take it very seriously indeed. The Spy Kids had no time for it either, beyond the usual football-related jibes (for those not in the know, Celtic is very much a Catholic team, while Rangers is staunchly Protestant. Partick Thistle, the city’s other big club, revels in the fact that “we’re nothing but a football team, so fuck your Pope and fuck your Queen!”).

In the Sixties, Glasgow boasted more hard mods than any other city in Britain. In early 1969, just as hard mod finally gave way to the skinhead cult in the city, the singer Frankie Vaughan went to Easterhouse and announced a gang amnesty after years of increasingly serious disputes between Glasgow gangs. When mod returned in the late Seventies, it was the hard mod image that was evoked, just as it was in East London with the Glory Boys. United by both style and music, the Glasgow mods were a prominent feature of city street life right into the Eighties. In 1982, The Exploited and Infa Riot played at a Gathering Of The Clans gig at the Apollo, but before and afterwards, punks had to run the gauntlet of a marauding army of mods who didn’t take kindly to the studs and leather invasion.

Those who had been mods in the late Seventies and early Eighties were already arch-rivals of the Combat Skins. The mods would spend many a Saturday roaming around the city centre looking for bikers and skinheads to bash, and in the early Eighties that included smartly dressed skins too. It was a case of shoot first, and ask questions later really. That said, the likes of Quinny who later became a Spy Kid had a better idea of what the original skinhead cult was all about than most of the skins in the town at the time. “For me coming from the mod thing, I knew that the roots of skinheads lay with reggae. I was about 18 when I saw characters like McGinn about the town and thought they looked quite sharp looking. And being a mod, I wanted to look sharp.”

The funny thing was, the very characters Quinny was seeing around the town had initially become involved in the skinhead cult without having a clue about its origins. “Before becoming a skinhead, I always liked a bit of punk rock, but I never had a mohican or any of that silly nonsense,” McGinn recalls. “I became a skinhead when I was round about 12, 13. The look of it attracted me. There was mods and skinheads, and mod seemed a bit expensive dress-wise, so that’s why I became a skin. Big boots, cropped hair, a working class look. Young, aggressive, and I thought, that’s for me. The first time I had a crop, I felt tremendous. A bovver boy. I thought, fucking great, look at the state of me! Head shaved, big boots and that. The hard man thing, especially in Glasgow, where it’s a sort of cliché. All the guys at school that liked heavy metal were the rich kids, the horrible spotty loner types. They always seemed to get picked on and beaten up - which is basically acceptable . . . ”

McGinn had first seen skinheads at a Sham 69 matinee concert in the city, and was hooked by the look. The music he liked stayed firmly in the street punk world, and 2 Tone never really got a look in until its glory days had passed. The same went for others like Big Iain who loved Oi! and street punk, and who didn’t actually believe 2 Tone had anything to do with being a skinhead.

“Now all I listen to is Sixties and early Seventies Jamaican reggae and American soul. The first bands that really got me into skinhead were The Cockney Rejects and The Angelic Upstarts, The 4 Skins, The Business, and that. Then I started to listen to what original skinhead music was - reggae and soul. You start getting into it because you feel you should be getting into it, and then once you have an ear for it, it sounds amazing.”

Nowadays anyone wanting to become a skinhead has it really easy - the music, the clothes and how many times to shake your dick after having a piss have all been documented in books and fanzines for all to see. But back then, you had loads of kids running about who didn’t have a clue what skinhead was about. The late Seventies really were naive times in so many ways. McGinn again. “You hung about your own area with your mates. The only reason to come up the town was for gigs. When you were 13, 14, you did the same things - played football, messed about, loitered about at night - but you just did it with skinhead clothes on. What attracted you was the look before the music or history. Everybody thought it was just the violence thing - and that was part of the attraction as such - but when you looked back and saw a lot of things we knew nothing about, like skinhead coming from the black thing, the rude boys, that was a complete shock.”

As the Eighties started to tick by, most of the kids into skinhead for the fashion traded in their boots for the next big thing. As with all cults, the die-hards stayed with it though, but had to start looking a bit further afield for like-minded individuals. You would meet skins in the street or at gigs, and find out where other skinheads were drinking, and slowly, but surely a new scene evolved. By the mid-Eighties, the surviving skinheads in and around Glasgow who would become Spy Kids had discovered more about the origins of the cult, mainly through the likes of a skinhead called Keg whose older brothers had been skinheads for much of the Seventies, and through Nick Knight’s Skinhead book and Hard As Nails. In fact Nick Knight’s Skinhead book was bought not so much for the photos (and certainly not for the sociological bullshit that bordered on the apologetic), but for Jim Ferguson’s Fashion Notebook chapter.

“More skinheads began to follow the styles in that book,” says Big Iain, “and that leads you back to where the styles came from and where the actual skinhead scene came from. By ‘84-’85, Hard As Nails fanzine started coming out and it was totally based on the style of the original skinheads. When people started reading that they saw where the cult really came from - out of the mod scene - and how it was based on a smart, clean, hard look.”

By looking back at the cult’s roots, a whole range of largely forgotten sounds was just waiting to be discovered too, and more and more of the local skinheads began to devote their energies to skinhead reggae, soul and Jamaican ska. This love of black music was never going to allow much room for white power, and this together with the different styles of dress created a split that became a chasm between the two types of skinheads in the city. You were either with the Combats or with the Spy Kids - drinking with both was out of the question.

Glasgow was also home to a large scooter scene at the time, and this was dominated by the Globetrotter S.C. It was truly amazing that such an array of outcasts and general misfits ever found each other in a city the size of Glasgow, but the common bond for the Globies was of course a love of scooters. If they had been born in California in a different decade there’s no doubt that the Globetrotters would have been a biker gang to list alongside the legendary Hell’s Angels, Satan’s Slaves and Coffin Cheaters. As things turned out, they chose to ride Vespas and Lammys rather than Triumphs and Harleys, but they could have been riding push bikes and they would have still been one per centers.

Trouble was never far away, and they regularly got the jail at the weekend. The media always goes overboard about skinhead violence, but the real nutters in the Globetrotters weren’t the few who also happened to be skins. Rambo’s party trick was to sit up on a ledge so that he could piss on those unfortunate enough to be sitting around the tables immediately below him. Some poor bastard would be sipping his beer, listening to the music, and would suddenly feel this warm liquid trickling down the back of his neck. And he’d turn around to find Rambo relieving himself. Funniest thing of all, people did nothing about it because it just wasn’t clever to mix it with the likes of Rambo.

The 1987 Scottish Scooter Custom Show, which was held at a sports centre in Livingston, was a typical day out for the Globetrotters. There was only around a dozen of them, crammed into the back of a hired transit van with a dodgy mile gauge that was to claim that it had been around the world three times in the space of 12 hours. Anyway, the Clyde Panthers SC from Greenock had taken a coachload through, and a large number of them were white power skinheads who formed the hardcore following for Greenock White Noise band, New Dawn.

The Globies went expecting aggro - the van was tooled up better than the local ironmonger’s - and things kicked off as soon as Madness’ The Prince was played at the evening disco. Exception was taken to a handful of boneheads sieg heiling, Popeye ran over and smacked one in the mouth, and the dancefloor suddenly became a war zone. The bouncers, big bodybuilding bastards who trained at the sports centre, started throwing people out, and although outnumbered inside the centre, things were now far more even for the Globetrotters outside. The end result was the boneheads getting a good hiding outside, and the five or so Globies left inside needing a police escort out of the building amid threats that they were going to get their throats’ cut by the baldies who hadn’t been thrown out, but had seen their mates carted off in ambulances.

Like The Spy Kids, The Globetrotters came from all over Glasgow, unusual for a city that is traditionally very gang orientated along the lines of territory. More surprisingly still, they had three Pakistanis - Rikki, Joe and Big Baz - in the club, and so it was difficult to be racist on the Glasgow scooter scene without crossing The Globetrotters.

Rikki went on to open a scooter shop called Zoot Scootz, and when Nazis and the like came in for scooter parts, they would always take any racist badges off their flight jackets so as not to offend him. Rikki actually had a scooter called The Black Gestapo, a name taken from a New York black street gang who had appeared in a cheap video he’d seen. The scooter was a chopper and came complete with a petrol tank with the name Black Gestapo and a swastika painted on it. Quite often he’d arrive at the rallies with his helmet on (painted in the Globetrotters’ red, white and blue colours) and people would just assume he was a Nazi - until of course he took his lid off.

Anyway, The Glasgow Herald newspaper did a big feature on racism in Glasgow at the time, and it included a photo of Rikki’s scooter as proof of the racist menace at large in an area with a high Asian population. The cutting was pinned to his shop wall and he was quite proud of it.

“I used to go to the scooter rallies with all the other boys and you always used to see Nazis. You’d get trouble all the time, but if you could handle yourself, you’d be okay. Our club, the Glasgow Globetrotters, always used to stick together. We had three Asians, the rest were white, skinheads and that, but we were like a family. It’s only if you are on your own that they’d start on you. A couple of times, you’d get guys calling you names, and you’d say, ‘Come on then, you and me, a square go’, and they couldn’t believe it. They’d think, what’s this Asian guy doing, wanting to fight me?”

Rikki came from Bradford and lives there now where he runs a kebab shop. He got involved in the skinhead scene down there in the late Seventies and early Eighties, thanks to his love of 2 Tone and scooters. “My family didn’t like it at all. I got kicked out of the house a few times because they wanted me to change, but all my mates were into ska and I just followed them. It was really hard for them to understand because no other Asians were into it, but they accepted it in the end. You get people who say all skinheads are Nazis, but that’s not the case. It’s hard for someone walking down the street. They see a skinhead and think he’s a Nazi, but a lot of my friends are skinheads and you get to know there are two types of skinheads. Any time I needed a hand from them, they’d help me out.”

The Spy Kids and Globetrotters had much in common and spent most weekends together in and around the One Up Bar on Kent Street, a pub-cum-cafe that has now sadly closed. It was the place to be at the weekend for mods, skins and scooterists, and was rarely used by anyone else. When there was no soul or reggae dances to go to everyone would end up at one of the alternative music clubs in the town.

“We used to go to different clubs like Vamps, and one night four or five guys sieg heiled me as I walked past them,” says Rikki. “My mates were with me, but at the time I was walking about on my own. I figured out who they were, how many and what have you. Then I gave my mates a shout, and the next time they ‘sieged’ they didn’t get the ‘heil’ out. Another time, we were at a gig and this skinhead kept looking at me, really giving me some vibes. So anyway, a fight starts off, and we’re all thrown out. I saw this skinhead outside, went up to him, and all of a sudden his face changed. He had all these tattoos on his face - Made in Britain, Made In Scotland, what have you - but before I’d even hit him he started crying. I just beat him up and that was it really. They’re just like any other guy. Get them by themselves and they’re nothing.”

The One Up Bar played host to regular reggae and soul dances and they attracted skinheads from other parts of Scotland, as well as from south of the border. Paul from Hard As Nails came up, as did skinheads from Leeds, Newcastle, Cardiff, Plymouth and elsewhere. Only once did a muggy crew show up, and to this day nobody knows exactly where they came from. The only clue was that most of them sported Bristol Rovers National Front t-shirts, but whether they actually came from Bristol or not, nobody bothered to find out. Things didn’t start too well for them when one of their number presented the DJ with a Skrewdriver single and asked him to play it. The DJ took it, looked at it, snapped it in half, and handed it back before getting back to playing some northern soul. They ended up getting kicked up and down outside the pub as the dance came to an end, and despite regular threats from various other mobs, nobody else looking for trouble ever showed their faces at the One Up.

That is unless you count the Aberdeen Soccer Casuals. Jay Allen’s Bloody Casuals book (Famedram) about his times with the ASC prior to him and the other top boys being arrested and imprisoned for football hooliganism tells a story about how they ran the mods and skinheads down a side street as they fought Celtic fans along the London Road on their way to Parkhead, home of Celtic. Jay talks about the mods and skinheads running, a few scooters getting kicked over and then he gets back to the battle proper along the London Road.

As you’ll know all good stories have at least two sides. I wasn’t there that afternoon, but I’m reliably informed that later that same day, on the junction of Argyle Street and Union Street, around 100 Glasgow mods stumbled upon some of the Aberdeen casuals as they were heading home and gave a few of them a good hiding. In fact Big Stevie, who later became a Spy Kid, chased one of the casuals across the road and both ran straight into the path of an oncoming car. Ouch.

A few years later, Celtic played Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final and while walking down Union Street, three or four Glasgow skins crossed the path of around 100 Aberdeen casuals who were marching towards Central Station, chanting, “Nobody kicks the fuck out of you, like an Aberdeen soccer crew!” Fortunately enough, skinheads were of no interest to them that day and the skins made it to the nearest pub (as you do) in one piece.

Another favourite activity of The Spy Kids was buying cheap wine and beer, and drinking it at the bandstand down by the River Clyde. Weather permitting of course. When money was tight and the summer nights long, this was a popular option as off-licence prices are far cheaper than bar prices, especially when you’re drinking Buckfast and El-D, and not pints of Tennents. That said, a lot of the beer pulled at the One Up was never actually paid for anyway, no doubt a major influence on the owner eventually closing the place down. A succession of pubs followed, the best probably being downstairs at the Ingram since the skinheads had it to themselves, but that’s now been turned into a wine bar.

Politics as such never played any real part in the Spy Kids’ life. A couple of the boys were interested in politics, but beyond bashing Nazis, it’s fair to say that most of them were more interested in style, music, sex and getting pissed. In fact, white power skinheads were more a target because they were “muggy bonehead bastards” and because of the scruffy way a lot of them dressed rather than because of their politics. One of the Spy Kids, Big Ewan, had actually been a Nazi skinhead before seeing the light, and he had ‘Skrewdriver’ tattooed on his arm. Obviously that didn’t go with being a Spy Kid and so he got ‘Are Bastards’ inked underneath.

Ewan was a decent bloke and this story isn’t told to make him look stupid or anything. It’s just to show that people do change, people do make mistakes, and that life is far more complicated than some try to make out.

“Politics shouldn’t have anything to do with the cult and it really hasn’t,” explains Big Iain. “The media tries to keep it alive that skinheads are a right wing group that cause trouble, but just about every skinhead I know has nothing to do with politics. There are still some groups who call themselves skinheads, but to me a baldy napper and a black pilot jacket does not make you a skinhead. Everyone has got their own politics. Mine are what I’d call working class politics and I vote Labour, but I’m not extreme in any way. I take people as I find them. It’s the media that has built politics up to be a skinhead thing.”

McGinn was perhaps the most staunchly anti-fascist Spy Kid for political reasons, and the fact that he was very much a prominent figure in the crew and responsible for Bovver Boot, arranging dances and the like, meant others naturally supported him. That, after all, is what mates are for. But even McGinn reckons that politics should never have had a place in the cult, and despite the Spy Kids’ reputation for being an anti-Nazi crew, politics was never an issue or even talked about. A few of them were traditional Labour voters, like Big Iain, but that’s as far as it went. Any fights against the Nazis had as much to do with defending the true traditions of the skinhead cult as it did politics. In fact, if Nazis had latched on to goths in a big way instead of skinheads, most of the Spy Kids wouldn’t have given them a second thought.

It’s also interesting to note that no Spy Kid felt the need to actively support SHARP - Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice - when it was imported to these shores from the USA. As far as they were concerned, there was only one true breed of skinhead anyway. The old breed. And you didn’t need any labels or tags beyond that of skinhead.

When The Redskins came to town, everyone trooped along, as much to noise up the largely student audience as to hear what was a superb band. Nobody was particularly interested in the SWP preachers who got up on stage between bands to talk about the forthcoming revolution, but The Redskins as a band were inspirational, just as Dexy’s Midnight Runners, The Specials, The Jam and others had been before them. Not necessarily in a party political sense, not for the Spy Kids anyway, but in a get up off your backsides and get out there and do something for yourself sense.

“We got up to the usual,” says McGinn. “It’s always classed as skinhead - going to football, drinking, fighting - but it’s really just a youth thing. We’d put on dances, try and create something and give it some momentum. It was just a good time, a good carry on with good mates.”

There’s no doubt that as a skinhead in Glasgow in the late Eighties, you really did think you were part of something special, something important. It was all about pride - pride in yourself, pride in the skinhead cult, pride in your way of life. A last stand for traditional working class values as has been made by the original skinheads twenty years beforehand, and a genuine belief that you were taking the cult back to its rightful roots. The Spy Kids’ Spirit Of ‘69 motto seemed to capture the mood perfectly.

Gig-wise, Glasgow was never going to have the pulling power of London. In fact, rather than travel four hundred miles north from the Big Smoke, it’s easier for London bands to play over in Europe, and more profitable too. That left the Spy Kids to make regular pilgrimages south to the International Ska Festivals, and to catch up with the top bands of the day - The Potato 5, The Deltones, The Trojans and Maroon Town. The more lightweight and less authentic ska sound that became increasingly popular as the Eighties gave way to the Nineties never went down as well in Glasgow circles.

The city did have one of the finest revival ska bands of the time though in the shape of Capone & The Bullets. Their phobia about recording studios was the main reason their local fame didn’t translate into national fortune, but nobody in Glasgow was complaining as live they were up there with the best of them. After being invited to play at a dance down at the One Up, they quickly picked up a skinhead following which turned up at virtually every gig they played. They once played a gig just off Charing Cross and afterwards the Speaker’s Corner pub was literally full of 100 plus skinheads.

Perhaps the band’s best night in Glasgow though was when Laurel Aitken paid his first visit to the city in 1987 and Capone & The Bullets played their own set before providing the backing for Laurel at a show at Hollywood Studios down by the Broomielaw. It was one of those gigs where the atmosphere was truly electric - Laurel ended the gig dancing on tables - and it’s a gig that’s still talked about as if it happened yesterday. The following summer, a series of gigs at Rooftops on Sauchiehall Street brought the likes of the Potato 5, The Toasters, The Riffs, The Loafers, and The Hotknives to the city and some more good times were had. There was also another ska band in the city called The Banditos which was started by Big Terry from Maryhill and some young skinheads who appeared about the same time as the underground ska revival was in full swing. Some good times were had at their shows too, but like all good things, it couldn’t last forever.

“Skinhead is basically a teenage thing,” argues McGinn. “That’s when you feel you can really excel at it. But when you’re 25-26, I started feeling a bit self-conscious walking about with big boots and a shaved head. It’s basically a youth thing. The Spy Kids was a focus, but it gradually fell away, and there was hardly anything happening, no bands, nowhere to go, dwindling numbers, and it became kind of boring. You get to a certain age and take on other responsibilities - family and that. You always carry a torch for it though. It was the coolest and smartest thing to be into it. It gave you a sense of identity.”

It took a while for the Spy Kids crew to disperse. People moved away, got married, had kids, joined the Paras, the usual things. But it obviously wasn’t an easy thing to walk away from. Nobody knew what clothes to wear, what their friends would say, what hair style to go for. “It was a sad day when I hung up my boots,” remembers Quinny. “You feel like you’re not pulling your weight and you’re letting the side down.”

The Spy Kids may have gone, but the skinhead faith lives on in Glasgow thanks to Big Iain and a new generation of skinheads largely centred around the Spectrum scooter club. Everyone agrees it’s nowhere near as good as it once was, and the biggest worry is the total lack of new blood entering the scene, but at least Glasgow still boasts a small firm of boots and braces merchants. “It sounds a bit clichéd, but skinhead is a way of life,” says Big Iain. “Now you don’t even think of yourself as a skinhead, it’s just the way you live. When I was 17 I thought I’d be a skinhead until I was about 19, but by the time you’re 19, you’re not even thinking about packing it in. You’re moving on, progressing through the cult. Why should I pack it in? It’d leave a big void in my life. It’s all you know. It’s still brilliant when you go away for the weekend, to a scooter rally or wherever, and there’s 100-150 skinheads dancing away to reggae. It’s still the best feeling in the world.”
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