Diary of a Teddy Boy

By: Mim Scala

Publication Date: April 2000

(6 customer reviews)


Diary of a Teddy Boy by Mim Scala

‘Captures that hinge moment when everything changed from grey to colour.’Marianne Faithfull

London, 1950s. Mr Tobias, the Fulham tailor, makes young Emilio Scala a fingertip drape and he fills it, a Teddy boy extraordinaire. By day he still serves cornets and wafers on the North End Road at Scala’s Ice Cream Parlour, but at night he’s in Chelsea getting bloodstains on the suit, tearing out cinema seats while ‘Rock Around the Clock’ plays on. His two worlds collide when Diana Dors and Dandy Kim visit for a Knickerbocker Glory.

Soon he’s out in 1960s Soho taking Purple Hearts with the cool set: Michael Caine, Chris Stamp, Patti Boyd, Richard Harris, Sabrina Tennant. Now a King’s Road gambler and junior playboy, he sees Paris and Tangiers, runs into an old Hemingway – and Burroughs – right on time. For Mim it’s a baby step to becoming an agent. In a whirlwind of fame, only some of it temporary, he hires Dennis Hopper, devils with Ronan O’Rahilly, gambles with Lucian Freud, evades the Kray twins, turns down Hair in New York on Salvador Dali’s say-so, and listens reverently to Cat Stevens, Jimi Hendrix and Marianne Faithfull. In 1968 he persuades Jean-Luc Godard to film The Rolling Stones and witnesses the May riots on the streets of Paris, as Nicholas Roeg’s Performance is scripted and enacted next door to his London flat.

Sharp suits turn to caftans in the 1970s. When his friend Brian Jones dies it marks the end of an era, but Mim himself is reincarnated. He had promised Jones they would discover the most beautiful music on the planet, and he sets off for Morocco to find it alone. With his miracle vehicle Shadowfax, he becomes part of a different world. A psychedelic nomad now, he sojourns in Sri Lanka, and watches and listens to desert life in north Africa, its sunsets, windstorms and one unforgettable eclipse.

He returns to London with the ceremonial recordings of the Berber Ganoua, a world music before ‘world music’, and becomes head of marketing at Island Records. He discovers the post-punk band Warsaw Pakt, organizes Marianne Faithfull’s comeback appearance on Saturday Night Live in New York, and adjusts to the 1980s.

In the right place and the right time, Mim touched the lives of the twentieth century’s most famous pop stars, and their glory touched him. Diary of a Teddy Boy is a vision of the styles, moods and drugs that defined three decades. The brilliant picaresque memoir of a working-class hero, it is a personal story of what fame can bring, and what it takes away.

‘What a great style and what a vibrant story.’ Customer review


MIM SCALA lives in Co. Carlow, where he runs The Still Moving Picture Company and develops computer software. He is currently writing a screenplay about his grandfather, the first winner of the Irish National Sweepstakes in 1933. Read more here.

Also available as an ebook

6 reviews for Diary of a Teddy Boy

  1. Lilliput Press

    “I loved it, couldn’t put it down. It is required reading for Children of the 60s, especially for former hippies and Chelsea groovers. It is beautifully written.” JOHN CIGARINI

  2. Lilliput Press

    “After reading the book, I wrote to Mim (who I hadn’t encountered in 12 years) and told him that it was “magnificent … an unqualified pleasure”. Now, I may have been biased reading about and enjoying what was part of my own history, but I certainly would not have approved if I didn’t feel that he had been truthful and accurate in his recollections and assessments. He has managed to plumb the heart of the matter. I am the “Michael Ross” (mentioned in chapter 11) who lived in the bed-sit room next to Mim’s on the top floor of 11, Tite Street, his first permanent home away from home. I knew a great many of the characters Mim writes of, and I was involved in some of his daily enterprises. We ate at the Cozy Café, drank beers at the Markham Arms, shot pool and chased the girls in the heart of London’s Kings Road where the 1960s began. I mentioned to him that my pleasure came not just from the personal nostalgia. His writing is extremely good. I found the entire book compelling, not least for his daring exploits – and the diary reads like an adventure – deep into unknown Morocco where he later in the story was accepted as a soul brother by virtually the entire native populace. Yet without Mim’s love and compassion for people in general, and in particular the characters that attract his attention, this diary would have failed to convey the necessary warmth that makes his recollections of these vital nuggets of history so powerful. If he was a Teddy Boy, he shed his strides very early on. He is not judging us. This was the period when the word “Love”, often over-played, also meant acceptance, and was to be transformed into a principle commodity of the era. In one sense it could be said that without the alchemy created in A Teddy Boys Diary, from a flotsam of entrepreneurs, layabouts, debutantes, pounces, aristocrats, actors, artists, and crooks, the 1960s would still be a figment of the imagination, a pressman’s hype for the many who were not present at its source and subsequent Kings Road launch and lift-off into its psychedelic orbit. Mim was there and thankfully as an observer has given the world what must be among the richest and most comprehensive accounts of the period written so far.”
    Mike Ross, London

  3. Lilliput Press

    “I’m not much of a bookworm. I happened to be in a bookshop browsing-my policy being if the first few paragraphs were boring, so would the book! I picked up Scalas’ book and found that I could not put it down. I must have spent a good 30 minutes going through the first few chapters, before the position I was in made reading uncomfortable and I felt that I had to buy the book so that I could finish it. I was transported to another time-the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, and by the end of the book, I not only felt that I had lived what scala had gone through, but also felt slightly depressed as I needed more. All the stars that scala had the fortune to meet and rub shoulders with (people like Jimi Hendrixs,Brian Jones) became humans and no longer icons, that for me was very poigniant as I could relate to these great people. What fasinated me most about the book and Scalas life was its diversity. His life and adventures covered all aspects of life at the time. From rubbing shoulders with teddy boys to mixing freely with gangsters and gamblers, to becoming a successful agent who handled stars like Richard Harris and Michael Caine (at the begining of their careers ), to models like Twiggy and rock stars like the Stones(with Brian Jones)and Hendrixs. The book was not only exciting but also very funny and several times I found myself laughing out loud. It also reflected a life that I would loved to have had the opportunity to live, especially Scalas later adventures in Morroco where he lived in a specially adapted land rover driving all over the country (and all around Europe) and in Sri Lanka,where he was in the company of people like Arthur.C.Clarke. I really found the book timeless and found myself sharing Scalas excitment as he found himself not only meeting these great people but also having an impact on their lives.The other great thing I found about the book was how down to earth it was and how Scala remained unchanged by all the madness that went on in his life,especially since he lived at the begining of the drug culture and partook actively in the experimentation of what was going around at the time.Since reading the book I’ve been telling everyone to read it,as it really is a prelude to what went on in the 80’s and 90’s,and of course what’s going on now.I think teenagers now, on the most part, have lost direction.A book like this really makes one think and maybe it will help young people to find their way and an understanding of their parents, and maybe on what sort of journey they they were on.”

  4. Lilliput Press

    “Came upon this book accidentally . What a treat I was in for. So many memories of my teenage years in the fifties and faces and places of the sixties that I thought I had forgotten but were all bought back to life for me in this book . A lot of books written about these times seem to be hearsay but I know Mim ‘s accounts are the real deal because I was more or less living a parraled life but from the female side.
    Teddy boys , the swinging sixties ,for anyone who wants to know what those times were really like I highly recommend this book.
    Thanks for the memories Mim.
    As I enjoyed this book so much I have just purchased Mim Scala ‘s LUCKIEST MAN IN THE WORLD . Looks iike an intriguing read !” DAPHNE

  5. Lilliput Press

    “What a great style and what a vibrant story. All the ingredients are there for a great revival of the sixties. Would definitely recommend if you want to resurrect the heroes of the period and the living in the fast lane. Mim Scala gives so many anecdotes involving so many names that you will be living it with him. Unfortunately I have lived in London for the last 20 years only and as such, I am not really able to relate to the stories if the characters are not ultra famous. Having said, I continue and enjoy my reading as a way to catch up with some true London heritage.” FABIEN

  6. Lilliput Press

    PUNCH MAGAZINE REVIEW “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, 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”

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Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 136 × 215 mm
Publication Date

April 2000


Paperback, 240pp