An ode to a Paul Weller obsession, The Modfather by David Lines is a very entertaining read.
Have you seen those blokes at Weller gigs – 50+, ill-fitting ‘target’ t-shirts and pints of cheap lager, singing (or should that be slurring) along to every word? They were young once – developing an obsession with The Jam that has lived with them all their lives.
The kind of obsession David Lines had – and doubtless still has.
I was very worried when I first saw this book. Firstly, I thought it was another book of anecdotes from a Weller ‘hanger-on’. Then, when I realised it was non-fiction, I expected (or should that be dreaded) something in the Nick Hornby mould. Thankfully, it’s neither of the above. What we do get is an entertaining view of growing up in the 80s that will be recognisable to many of us.
The book is essentially two stories running alongside each other. The first is a typical family tale of growing up in the north, the second a tale of obsession with The Jam – and in particular Paul Weller. Neither story is strong enough on its own, but together they combine to make a really entertaining read.
The story starts off in the Nottinghamshire area as a gentle introduction to the family, before moving to Leeds, after the family re-locate with the father’s work. Through the author, we re-live all those childhood experiences that touched upon us all – the nervous start to a new school, making new friends, the first female obsession, the first girlfriend, the first cigarette, the emergence of puberty – everything that makes your early days such a joy and indeed, a pain.
And of course, we get the Weller obsession. I’m sure we can all relate to discovering a new favourite band, The Jam or not. Playing the records continually until the grooves wear out, learning all the lyrics, rushing to the shops to buy the new releases first, covering your walls in posters – even dressing like your heroes.
And it’s this Weller obsession that really makes the book such an entertaining read. Demanding clothes from the catalogue to fit ‘the look’, cutting his own hair (disastrously) like Weller’s, ironing his hair (even more disastrously) to get a style, sending off poetry to the man, analysing every record, stealing a new single to get it first – you just know when The Jam split it’ll be the end of the world!
But it isn’t – if anything the book gets better once our hero discovers the Style Council and inevitably, all things French. From an attempted name change (Linés) and smoking Gitanes to cooking some old snails from the back garden in garlic for a Gallic lunch, it’s David’s need to take things a step too far which makes you laugh and cringe in equal measure. The moment when David and his mate Rik watch the ‘Long Hot Summer’ video for the first time is a gem.
It’s not all laughs – like any family, there are disappointment and tragedy to deal with, but the author has enough about him to deal with the serious issues as well as he does the lighter side. No mean feat.
So, a perfect read? Not quite – the ending is a little loose and some of the characters (his brothers for example) don’t feature enough to make an impact. When he has a ‘heart to heart’ with one of the brothers later in the book, you really don’t know which one it is. And what were they thinking with that cover?
But that’s just minor criticism. This is one of the most entertaining things I’ve read in a long time. Plenty of laughs, a really solid storyline and a few too many experiences that are very close to home! If you grew up in the 80s, if you’ve ever been obsessed over your music or if you just want a book that will make you laugh, I highly recommend this one.