The Luckiest Man in the World by Mim Scala BiBi by Mim Scala Diary of a teddy boy by Mim Scala


REVIEWS for Diary of a Teddy Boy by Mim Scala

A Memoir of the Long Sixties - by Mim Scala

Introduction

The intoxicating buzz of the sixties: Fashion, theatre, film, and above all the great pop music, pulsing through the Soho clubs.
Chelsea coffee bars, Carnaby Street boutiques and decadent Country house-weekends. In his Diary of a Teddy Boy : A Memoir of the Long Sixties, Mim Scala leads us on a hedonistic and richly humorous adventure down the years. From ice cream salesman to Gambler, agent, record producer and Hippie traveller, he goes where ever the action is. He rides the rollercoaster of flickering fame and fortune with the rock stars, gangsters artists and icons. He witnesses the death of the era of Swinging London and journeys into it’s afterlife on the hippie trail of Sri Lanka and Morocco.

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Diary of a Teddy Boy by Mim Scala
" During the 1960s, Scala led the sort of high-flying life that most of us could only dream of, and now he has written it all down. Diary of a Teddy Boy: A memoir of the long Sixties is his personal and highly entertaining account of the decade that changed the world;"
Anna Carey The Sunday Tribune 16/4/2000

Diary of a Teddy Boy by Mim Scala
"A veritable who’s who of the swinging Sixties scene (and underworld). Scala was more than a bit Player. He had his finger on the pulse of London in its helter-skelter hey day."
Doctor J. Leinster Express 12/4/2000

Diary of a Teddy Boy by Mim Scala
"ENTER the world of sensational swinging sixties. The drugs, the desire, the decadence. Deadly. Think of the fashion, the fun, the fear. Deadly. Think of the music, the mystery, the mayhem. Deadly.
Stage Left 12/4/2000

Diary of a Teddy Boy by Mim Scala
" ..... comes as a refreshing and timely antidote to the deluge of miserable childhood biographies that have dominated Irish literary fiction since Frank McCourt introduced us to Angela."
The Sunday Business Post 16th April 2000

Diary of a Teddy boy. Hip before the hippies. Mim Scala. Review Publishing, #9.99 by Jack McLean
The Herald


Subtitled ''a memoir of the long sixties'', the period covered is from the mid-fifties to the end of the seventies and I recognised it all. I also recognised the author, whom I remember meeting in various smart pubs and clubs in Chelsea's King's Road when that was where we swung when Chelsea was swinging. As I remember Mim he was a wide-boy on the make, involved in the film and record industry, who dressed like a hippie but who was very good company. For most of this autobiography he still is. His account of the early years of rock'n'roll and coffee bars will strike, what else, chords with those of us who were around when the greyness of post-war Britain got all shook up and burst into colour. This is not hyperbole either. I can remember it: suddenly, instead of grim gaberdine raincoats and short back'n'sides, there were bop hairstyles and drape jackets. The early fifties had an air of 10 Rillington Place, for heaven's sake. As John Lennon once said: ''Nothing meant anything until Elvis.'' Scala captures the strange narcissism of the period. All goes well right through the early days of the Beat boom, characterised by the young popsters dressing in expensive but outrageous suits and sharp shirts and ties. Where the period goes off the rails, and indeed this memoir as well, starts about the time when the hippies came in and the love generation discovered how to take themselves seriously, which is far more than they had a right to do. But after 1969 in this account both the book and Mim Scala become very tiresome indeed. I'd forgotten how much contempt I had for hippies but this brought it all back. The origins of political correctness and social-workerism lie with the sad stupidity and rank ignorance of the hippie generation. The second half of this book contains all the usual nonsense, mysticism, eastern religions, lots of drugs, travelling in north Africa, Jack Kerouac, The Whole Earth Catalogue; rubbish, all of it. It's difficult to see how the author achieves his effects really. Right up till he encounters the salivating drivel of the late sixties with all that love going about he writes crisply and with authority. It's Mile End Road cockiness, sashaying through the spivvery of Soho and the markets, the gambling club scene of the late fifties and early sixties before betting was legalised. But later his tone changes to one of druggy, bloviating bombast. Like any decent reviewer I tried to put myself in the reader's shoes. I couldn't. I've reviewed this in my own. In the first half they were elegant winklepickers. The second half? Tackety boots. But don't let the second half of the book put you off: the first half is too good to miss.

 

Source: The Herald (Glasgow) Sat 24-Feb-2001 www.theherald.co.uk
© SMG Newspapers, 2001. Reproduced with permission.

The heady ferment of Sixties culture: the sharp-suited world of cockney hustlers, the intoxicating buzz of Swinging London in its heyday - fashion, theatre, film and above all the great pop music, pulsing through Soho clubs, Chelsea coffee bars, Carnaby Street boutiques and decadent country-house weekends. In his Diary of a Teddy Boy: A Memoir of the Long Sixties, Mim Scala the Pied Piper leads us on a kaleidoscopic dance down the years, from ice-cream salesman in the East End of London, to gambler, agent, record-producer and hippie traveller.
Wherever the action was, Mim Scala was there. Riding high on a roller-coaster of flickering fame and fortune, Mim entertains Diana Dors, hosts gaming parties with Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, evades the wrath of the Kray Twins, bumps into Bill Burroughs in Morocco, hires Dennis Hopper, cajoles Jean-Luc Godard into filming the Rolling Stones, turns down the musical Hair on the say-so of Salvador Dali, signs Cat Stevens to Island Records, and minds Marianne Faithfull through her stunning Broken English comeback.
When his friend Brian Jones dies in July 1969, Mim also senses the death of an era. He reinvents himself as a psychedelic nomad in Sri Lanka, explores North Africa in his miracle vehicle Shadowfax, and in Tangiers records the G'naoua sect of dervish musicians. At each twist and turn of this journey of survival and redemption. Mim is forever 'looking to be amazed', constantly finding companions equally moved by his passion for 'creative hedonism'. Richly anecdotal, humorous and quintessentially of its time and ours - Diary of a Teddy Boy: A Memoir of the Long Sixties conveys like few other memoirs what it was like to experience, and to propel, the most pivotal decade of the twentieth century.
Mim Scala lives in County Carlow, Ireland

 

The Val Hennessy Review (Critics Choice),Daily Mail, Fri. 23 Feb. 2001
Authors comment Please note :
The word Bint that I use to describe young females in the 1950’s was as street credible as the word Ladette is in the year 2000, Val apparently didn’t know this. (After 1955 the word does not appear in Teddy Boy)
Val also refers to the thud, thud, thud, of dropped names, Naturally I have always known that certain critics might be tempted to single out this aspect of the book , So I took a view that rather than refer to the wonderful people and characters that Have shared my adventures as "this bloke" or "that person" I should to be fair to the reader use real names, and then only when I was fortunate enough to be in a one on one situation with the celeb in question.
Val is quite right I have described my gate crashing exploits in my youth, and my eager eye for a deal in my working life, and indeed making the most of my friendships with influential people, Journalist’s of course do not do this in the course of furthering their careers.
Apart from these comments, I must thank Val for an excellent summary of my of "Diary of a Teddy Boy"
in her review. Mim Scala
"His book is an in-yer-face celebration of all that was excessive, anarchic, Socially disruptive, and wildly exciting about the fabled youthquake that began in the 1950’s"
Val Hennessy Critics choice Books on Friday The Daily
Mail 23 Feb. 2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEWS

‘There are shades of Hunter S. Thompson in Scala’s helter skelter journey.... and hints of Kerouac in it’s wide-eyed abandon.... Scala is utterly irreverent in his treatment of the pillars of 1960’s London - Wealth, sex, drugs, and rock and roll’ Sunday Business Post (Ireland)

 

Diary of a Teddy Boy by Mim Scala
"It is an unashamed celebration of all that was excessive, socially undesirable and wildly exciting about the decade:"
Jennifer O’Connell The Sunday Business Post 17/4/2000


Authors comment Please note :
The word Bint that I use to describe young females in the 1950’s was as street credible as the word Ladette is in the year 2000, Val apparently didn’t know this. (After 1955 the word does not appear in Teddy Boy)
Val also refers to the thud, thud, thud, of dropped names, Naturally I have always known that certain critics might be tempted to single out this aspect of the book , So I took a view that rather than refer to the wonderful people and characters that Have shared my adventures as "this bloke" or "that person" I should to be fair to the reader use real names, and then only when I was fortunate enough to be in a one on one situation with the celeb in question.
Val is quite right I have described my gate crashing exploits in my youth, and my eager eye for a deal in my working life, and indeed making the most of my friendships with influential people, Journalist’s of course do not do this in the course of furthering their careers.
Apart from these comments, I must thank Val for an excellent summary of my of "Diary of a Teddy Boy"
in her review. Mim Scala
"His book is an in-yer-face celebration of all that was excessive, anarchic, Socially disruptive, and wildly exciting about the fabled youthquake that began in the 1950’s"
Val Hennessy Critics choice Books on Friday The Daily Mail 23 Feb. 2001

 

Written by John Whelan for:
Leinster Leader
Leinster Express
Offaly Express
April 1st 2000

Stepping out of your and onto the pages of Diary of a Teddy Boy is like getting out of a Morris Minor (no offence Will) and getting into the passenger seat of a Ferrari, Mim Scala is in the driving seat, and man What a trip!
Of Italian immigrant stock, Scala's extraordinary story first recounts how on March 28 his grandfather, Emilo a hardworking but poor artists model want to watch the 95th Grand National at Aintree with a stub of a ticket in his pocket for the second Irish Hospitals Sweepstakes. Bob Lylle coaxed the tired but game Grakle past the wining-post and he collected first price for £354,724 12s 4d.
The book itself then races ahead through post-war Britain, the ferment of the fifties, the sensation of the sex and drugs fuelled sixties and right up to the mid-eighties, when the machine took over from the minstrels.
It's a riveting account of a romp through the craziness which was the sixties recounted in the style of the raconteur rather than the writer.
Mim Scala who left school illiterate, is never pedestrian in his style as he leaves his passenger breathless and wide-eyed at the end of this incredible journey.
Scala may not have had a lead part in the sixties script but he plays more than a cameo role as he trucks on his wit and wisdom to rub shoulders with the rich and famous. He dives right in to the heady and hedonistic mix of music, theatre and film to live the lifestyle of the playboy before coming up for air and respite as a guru bohemian traveller. This fork in the road takes him in another direction (for a while) to mingle with the tribes of Africa, the sun seekers in the as yet unblemished beach resorts of southern Spain and pot-smoking duels with heavy duty hippies in the jungles of Morocco. It was magic, manic and madness.
In cockney parlance this book is the Mae West. A veritable who's who of the swinging Sixties scene (and underworld). Scala was more than a bit player. He had his finger on the throbbing pulse of London in its helter-skelter heyday. Always at the heart of the action he takes his reader for a ride in this weird and wonderful world of race tracks and revelry, of crime and passion, pleasure, defiance and decadence on the sixties carousel. It all makes for an intoxicating mix of rock, rebels, roll-ups and rouge and comes with a stage left money-back recommendation.
As Jerry Lee Lewis said to Chuck Berry 'Follow that'!

Get ready teddy go, go, go...
by Pete Clark The Evening Standard, London 9th February

More is the pity, but they do not make them like Mim Scala any more. He was a true creature of the Sixties, hugely skilled in the arts of creative ducking and diving, making things happen for others and having the time of his life in the process. Mim knew everyone in that immensely volatile world, and they all knew him.
He brokered deals in music, film and theatre, having honed his skills as organiser of illegal gambling sessions. Raised amid the costermongers of the North End Road market, he brought something of that rough-and-ready charm to his dealings with a wider world.
Mim has now committed his colourful memories to print in the pages of Diary of a Teddy Boy. Charmingly, the book first took shape as a diary for his 10-year-old son. At the age of 60, Mim felt the boy should know what his dad had done as a youngster. Appropriately, Diary of a Teddy Boy is utterly life-affirming and free of the bitterness and spite that so often informs such accounts.
Mim was ready for the Sixties from an early age. Leaning with practised ease against the bar of a restaurant, sipping occasionally at a vodka and tonic, he recalls his early struggles to achieve the sense of style that he instinctively knew would be of the greatest importance for his future. "I remember living in the North End Road, and suddenly the peacocks started to arrive in the shape of the teddy boys. They looked different and they looked beautiful. But they did hang out in some corny places, like the record department of British Home Stores. You went into BHS, the counters full of all this dreary stuff, and there in the middle would be this bunch of teds rocking away to Fats Domino. As a kid on the outside of that, it looked like a fairy tale."
The problem for Mim was that he was working in the family ice-cream shop: the hours were long and the discipline postwar strict. "Of course, I had to join this gang and, of course, I had to keep it a secret from my parents. I ordered my suit from the tailor Mr Tobias, and I bought the shoes, which I hid under the bed. The problem was that I couldn't put the whole outfit together until my hair was long enough. So I was letting my hair grow, being constantly told to get it cut, and pretending all the while it was not growing by smearing it down with Brylcreem. Then the day came when I finally achieved the DA, got a bit of a flick going on up top. It all came together and I looked in the mirror and I was the business."
Mim did not last long as a teddy boy, disliking the violent aspects of the culture. He was also aware that the teddy-boy lifestyle was not the only option for a kid with the urge to be different. In the bits of London that mattered, principally Chelsea and Soho, the conventions of a grimly polite society were undergoing a tectonic shift. "Suddenly, in the late Fifties, the clear-cut social structure began to break down. Aristocrats started to develop strange cock-ney accents, while cockneys were trying out a bit of elocution. Suddenly, it was OK for a debutante to have a cock-ney boyfriend, or for a toff to be a bit wayward and have a bird from Fulham. Just in time for the Sixties, the barriers had fallen away. In the Sixties, you were finally allowed to fly."
Mim flapped his wings to great effect. He worked as a theatrical agent, but his real love was the business of constant socialising. The worlds of music and film collided in a detonation of maximum mayhem. Michael Caine, Terence Stamp and Richard Harris crossed party swords with Keith Moon, Jimi Hendrix and Brian Jones. Purple hearts and black bombers fuelled the frenzy. The settings were provided by Tramp, the Establishment, Mr Chow, the Playboy Club and any number of fine country estates. "The Chelsea of the Sixties was a very small world and everybody seemed to be successful," recalls Mim. "It was a vortex of very creative people drawn from all over the country, then all over the world, all of whom had a strong desire to make it. The whole scene was fuelled by the music, and wherever the music was played, everybody went, so we were all family."
As we all know now, the beautiful creature that was the Sixties had a dark underbelly. "Of course there was a downside," says Mim. "There were a lot of people who tried to enter this world and got rejected for one reason or another. You were at the mercy of this world, because the people coming in had no money and no job, almost by definition, and therefore had to prove themselves through strength of personality and imagination. Some people tried so hard that they burned out - there were awful casualties in the chase for that dragon. There were shock waves in paradise."
By his own admission, Mim indulged himself as thoroughly as anyone in the rush towards 24-hour hedonism. "I was lucky to survive that period," he confesses, "but the bottom line for me was that I was never looking for oblivion, I had no interest in that whatsoever. I just wanted to be amazed. What was important to me was spotting talented kids, making a phone call that mattered, getting the hustle going. I would ring somebody and say, 'I've this young guy called Cat Stevens in my office and the songs are just pouring out of him, he's magic!' I like to think I made a few phone calls that caused things to happen."
As a parting shot, I ask Mim about that cliché about the Sixties - if you remembered it, you couldn't possibly have been there. Mim snorts in derision. "That's an absolute load of bollocks! That cliché really gets up my nose. The fact is that if you were there, you remember every f***ing detail." Diary of a Teddy Boy By Mim Scala published by Headline Review £9.99
extracts from the critics choice review
by VAL HENNESSY, Daily Mail, femail.co.uk - 23rd February 2001

PUNCH April 11th. 2001
Reviewed by Peter Kavanagh
Diary of a Teddy Boy By Mim Scala
THE ONLY problem I have with this book is why Mim Scala has titled it Diary of a Teddy Boy. He and I first came across each other in 1959 at the
White City Greyhound Stadium. One of the lads he certainly was, a Teddy boy he was not. Dressed in a City suit and trilby hat he blended in well with other gambling movers and shakers who hung out in the tracks restaurant.
The sub title to this book , A Memoir of the long Sixties is OK because Mim was around for the whole decade, usually on the fringes of the different social groups that made up the period: First it was the Chelsea set, a group of
trustaferian toffs who spent their days in the Markham Arms, now the kings Road Branch of The Abby National, followed by the Debutantes and the debs delights, of which Mim was one.
Then came the Ronnie and Reggie mob who moved in with the coming of the gaming act in 1961 that legalised casinos, followed in 1963 by the rock explosion. This was the right time for Mim to become a rock manager and agent, and for a time he had one of the biggest agencies, Scala Brown, which was backed by banking heir Sir William Pigot-Brown.
Every year he disappeared for a few months leaving people to wonder where he had gone. We now know, for the best bit of the book is about his travels in Spain, Morocco and Sri Lanka. Later he ran an agency for record producers and for a time "looked after" Marianne Faithfull in the USA. In the Eighties he packed it all in and retired to Ireland.
There have been a lot of books about the Sixties but very few have captured the excitement and uniqueness of the period. The best two, so far, are Mim’s book and Stoned by the Rolling Stones first manager Andrew Loog Oldham.
You had to be there to appreciate the best decade of the 20th. century, and, of course, if you were there you are not meant to remember it. Luckily, these two do.
By Peter Kavanagh

Written by Andrew Lycett for The Independant, London 8th February 2001
An Irish paper missed the point when it compared Mim Scala's book about the "long Sixties" with Kerouac and Hunter S Thompson. Diary of a Teddy Boy, first published in Dublin last year, is a gentler, more entertaining read. It captures the excitement of a period, from the Suez crisis of 1956 to the Yom Kippur war of 1973, when social barriers broke down and confident youngsters such as Scala, whose family owned an ice-cream parlour, could prosper in the entertainment and music industries, cavort with fun-loving aristocrats, take masses of drugs, drop out, and still emerge, tolerably compos mentis.
"The Sixties had a rarefied atmosphere," Scala says. "So much was happening then and I was often there. But I was always a fringe player; I was never blinded by the dense fog of fame. Some people had to be there, but I was there because I wanted to be there." Scala ran a gambling den frequented by the artist Francis Bacon. He was agent to hell-raising actor Richard Harris. He sent his friend Patti Boyd along to audition for Dick Lester's film A Hard Days Night and she ended up dating Beatle George Harrison, one of the stars. Brian Jones and Jimi Hendrix used to jam in his Hyde Park flat. He arranged Cat Steven's first record deal.
Scala's memoir works, when most tales of rock'n'roll excess are buried under a weight of their own self-importance, because he told it for a reason. In 1990, having decamped to Co Carlow to fish after 30 over-the-top years, he became a father for the first time, at the age of 50. "At that age, you become paranoid that you'll kick the bucket before your child knows your name," he said at his temporary base - the west London house of his friend Michael Pearson, once a high-living film producer and skipper of the yacht The Hedonist, now Viscount Cowdray, landowner.
Beset by intimations of mortality, Scala wrote his book to tell his son Freddy, now 11, about his former life-style. "I was looking for amazement, not like modern kids trying to get blotted out."
That sense of relating a personal story to his son gives Scala's book its voice. He eschews self-aggrandisement, grudges, or details of bad acid trips. Instead, he observes heady social change with amused detachment.
Of course there are rock'n'roll stories, and lots of them. Take the night in late 1967 when he picked up a beautiful blonde at the hip club, the Revolution. His friends Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix and Keith Moon were jamming (as they often did back at his flat). She was wearing nothing but a mink coat and smelt "irresistibly of expensive perfume and animal fur". Scala asked her to join him for the weekend at Aston Upthorpe, the 1,800 acre estate of his business partner Sir William Pigott-Brown, where cottages were let out to rock stars, including members of Traffic.
There "everybody got laid, stoned and drunk in the highest possible fashion". The girl was keen, but intimated problems. She was staying at Claridges with Huntington Hartford, one of the world's richest men. Scala picked up her luggage in his old Willis jeep, followed by Jones, Hendrix and assorted girls in the Rolling Stone's chauffeur-driven Bentley.
All very decadent, but Scala refuses to moralise. In his book, the English speaking world was experiencing such beneficial transformation that even the few casualties (such as Jones, who would hole up in his flat, eking out his final days on pork pies and drugs) were excusable. "The whole moral structure was changing. Before, everything was hypocritical. Once it began to get loose, it became more sensible."
But wasn't Sixties culture, with its vapid spirituality, equally hypocritical? "There are always people who are having a good time, and people who are not and resent it," he replies, refusing to be drawn.
In the flesh, Scala is not easy to place. The photographs in the book show him evolving from smart London mod to caftaned hippie. But these uniforms appear as disguises. Today, he wears an oversize white shirt with a Utah Fiddlers logo, he has a clipped, greying beard, and he occasionally dons tortoise-shell glasses that give him a studious look. Sixty years old and short, he could be a Spanish hidalgo or, perhaps, a worldly Jesuit priest.
Roman Catholicism was, it appears, an important influence. As a convent schoolboy, his painting of the Crucifixion won a competition and was sent to the Hungarian Cardinal Mindszenty, who was charged with treason by the communists in 1948. Even now, Scala talks about the importance of the moral sense drilled into him and how this kept him to the straight and narrow.

 

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