Some word of explanation needs to be given for the series of articles ‘And they went of the rails …?’. Rock’n’roll of itself is – and should always – be inclusive, but that said Teds can be prickly as to what counts as rock’n’roll music and to what counts as rock’n’roll hairstyle and sartorial practice. This defensive attitude to rock’n’roll was born in a period running from the early 1960s through to the present-day after their beloved 1950s-style rock’n’roll and its followers had been subjected to a thousand, nay a million, disregards and depreciations by a British music and fashion industrial complex sold on the idea of never-ending novelty in these fields. By making a stand against this prevailing consensus the teddy-boy movement became increasingly peopled by determined cultural rebels who were not going to go along with any old novel mainstream fad. The revivalist Teds who emerged from the 1960s doldrums (who still included some 1950s ‘Originals’) were schooled in an adverse environment and developed a thick-skin and a defensive attitude concerning what was important to them so that it has been fairly typical of Teds to be very critical of everything they don’t like which sounds like the opposite of a marijuana-induced ‘peace and love’ mantra associated with Hippies which proclaimed an uncritical openess to everything that wasn’t imperialism, profit and unthinking traditionalism (fair play to them for those first two and good luck to them on that last one!).
Let’s be clear, people being people, means that this defensive attitude to ‘their things’ can descend into exclusivity, clickieness and even prejudice among some teds, which is all the more pity, but Teds are quite accommodating and friendly as long as their tastes are not overtly disrespected. This may or may not be your cup of tea as an individual, but before you might rush to proclaim too harsh a judgment, try and understand the ‘cold’ the Teds from which came out in the late 1960s which has instilled this prickly sense of self-worth amongst Teds ever since. And it is quite alright to criticise a music, a sartorial fashion, a hairstyle or expressed views as much as you want as long as it does not extend to knocking down people’s persons or physical appearance, etc. (Sharp-witted readers may have noted the mismatch between the need to respect Ted styles and the Teds not needing to respect others’ styles – the reason that that mismatch is acceptable – to some degree – is that Teds are nearly always in a minority amongst the general population and they can’t persuade people to adopt better musical and sartorial styles by avoiding being critical … !).
Having established and explained why Teds tend to be a prickly and critical bunch, we can now justify the series of articles ‘And they went of the rails …?’ as giving a picture of what trends Teds have observed and disapproved of in the rock’n’roll movement over the years, especially since the closing years of the 1970s. The picture portrayed in these articles is broadly consensual as to the feelings of Teds of the bedraped variety on those they judge fell on the wayside, based as it is on years of trawling internet forums and commentaries, but also coloured by personal experience. Hopefully there’ll never be a need to define what a Ted is; it is a broad consensus with some differences of emphasis able to adapt to change; the only three requisites for being a Ted is a liking of rock’n’roll, a quiff of sorts (if you can manage it), and a drape jacket, everything else is an accessory. Keep on rockin’!
POSTED May 2021.