Crafty Cigarette is the powerful story of a teenager coming of age in the 70s, as seen through his eyes, who, on the on the cusp of adulthood discovers a band that is new to him, The Jam, which leads him into becoming a Mod. A mischievous youth prone to naughtiness, he is attracted to the Mod ethos like a moth to a flame, which in turn gives him a voice, confidence and a fresh new outlook towards life, his family, his school, friends, girls and the world in general. Growing up in Sunbury-on-Thames where he finds life rather dull and hard to make friends, he moves across the river with his family to Walton-on-Thames in 1979, the year of the Mod revival, where to his delight, he finds many other Mods his age and older, and slowly but surely he starts to become accepted and furthermore, soon becomes a leading light within the young Mods of his peer group. Their tender years and their appearance, combined with a distinct lack of funds and parental control conspire to prevent them from attending Mod related events like gigs and clubs in London, thus our eponymous hero, along with his new band of brothers, Vinnie, Rick and Tom, have many adventures out in the suburbs, ranging from fighting the local pub men and standing up to a local skinhead bully to nicking Bruce Foxton’s bass. Our hero's adventures are not strictly within the confines of Mod, he finds himself bonding with the rebellious kids at his school, causing chaos at any given opportunity with the teachers. Crafty Cigarette goes beyond just being a tale of a young Mod's passage into adulthood; it also focuses on the pitfalls of success or, rather, the lack of it, highlighting the failure of his father's circus career, who once worked with the famous Italian clown Charlie Cairoli, only to be sacked by Cairoli whilst he was on the verge of making it, thereby making him the Pete Best of the Clown world. The ramifications of this blow to his proud father's ego just adds to the confused and crazy skewed outlook of our young hero.
Crafty Cigarette is a distillation of the metamorphosis of youth, embodied with a rebirth of the key character upon hearing the opening chord of The Jam’s song ‘All Mod Cons’ and then growing up at a frantic pace, in keeping with Weller’s shouted '1,2,3 4' intro . Written in the first person, the story rocks along at a fast clip, on a par with a supercharged Jam single... a compelling narrative with the key character struggling to find his identity against the backdrop of late 70s chaos. Without being nostalgic or sentimental,
A Crafty Cigarette is a candid snapshot of English suburban life in the late 70s and early 80s, the book is raw, honest, dark and witty, with the values and culture of Mod being paramount throughout, though not always presented as the ‘be all and end all’. A Crafty Cigarette is a powerful story and arguably, not since The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’, has there been such an in-depth study into the confused and multi-faceted lifestyle of striving to be a Mod… but thls time, set in the very thick of the ’79 Mod revival.
John Cooper Clarke Foreword for Crafty Cigarette
Anybody who is anybody has worn the three button uniform and that’s official. Mod is a train of thought and its destination is the personal refinement and ultimate sophistication of the individual citizen by way of his own aesthetic judgement. The production values of Mod persist even into old age (unless some kind of severe mental breakdown intervenes) because their agility is non restrictive.
The Neapolitan or Continental suit for example, was popularised in America and given to the World in movies, why, because it is class, classless and looks good on all shapes. Matteo Sedazzari got the Modinest bug from the sharp silhouettes of his heroes, Rick Buckler, Bruce Foxton and Paul Weller AKA The Jam and who could deny their monochrome allure. It’s almost impossible to write the way you speak (name one) but Signor Sedazzari has that gift, and in his chuckle heavy account of his teenage escapades, obsessions, senseless capers of one kind or another, and his good humoured keeping of the faith in the face of disappointment, has film treatment written all over it. I even get a name check but rest assured no gratuitous ego massage took place in this transaction. From time to time he is apologetic and accuses himself of boring you with the details, but this is our world today where the details are in the field and dressed by such a discerning eye, magical. I couldn’t put it down because I couldn’t put it down. John Cooper Clarke August 2015