I first remember Dizzy (aka David Holmes) from the early 1980s when we all used to gather outside the amusements on Bognor seafront. We’d park our scooters in a massive line and sit on the small wall, chatting and watching the world go by. I didn’t dare speak to him for a couple of years as I was just a young moddy girl and he was Number 1 of the Midhurst Detours, the biggest and most notorious of our local scooter clubs. The Detours were an entertaining bunch and I hung around with them throughout the 80s, never imagining that 20 odd years later I would become a member myself!
Dizzy’s early custom scooters included a Jam-themed PX and an Armando’s Vespa, their first ever 225 Special, which he bought from Nick Jolly and subsequently had repainted and retuned.
Dizzy’s life changed when he came off his scooter on the way to Skegness in 1984, when the M11 flooded after a massive rainstorm. He broke his back and was in Odstock hospital in Salisbury for over a year recovering, and has been confined to a wheelchair ever since. This didn’t stop him going to rallies or gigs though, and I can clearly remember his clubmates carrying him in the chair up the stairs at venues like Tiffanys in Great Yarmouth and Grannies in Portsmouth, in the days before decent disabled access was the norm. Whenever I saw him he would always have a box of records which I’d flick through to make the odd purchase, and he became a serious wheeler and dealer with a constantly-updated typewritten list of records for sale. This love of music led to him forming Detour Records, a record label and publishing company for mod and punk bands, which has gone from strength to strength and which Dizzy now runs with his wife Tania in Midhurst.
As if this wasn’t enough to keep them busy, they also run the national Bulldog Rescue with dedicated kennels and staff helping to rehabilitate abandoned dogs and rehome them with suitable new owners. There is an annual rideout to the rescue, which is a massive event in May and now in its 10th year. It was originally the brainchild of Tina Hall from our club and around 300 scooters converge at Dizzy and Tania’s bungalow for a cup of tea, to meet the dogs and then head off to the pub afterwards for music and more refreshments.
You can read about this year’s Bulldog Run with photos of people and a full write-up here. Thousands of pounds have been raised by generous scooterists over the years for this most worthwhile of charities which relies on donations to fund medical treatment, food and other running costs. If you’d like to help then you can make a contribution via this page.
I could go on for hours as Dizzy is one of the most interesting people I know, with some brilliant stories, but for now here is the story of his first rally…
Dizzy – My first rally
Firstly, why are you called Dizzy?
It was from primary school when everyone was given a nickname. I tried to change it to David a few years ago, but nobody would call me it. Apart from my really close friends, hardly anyone knew my real name!
How did you first get into scooters?
I went to see The Undertones with some mates at Guildford Civic Hall in 1980 and when we were in the car park about 50 mods on scooters turned up, because the support band were The Chords. I was mesmerised by them, so I sold my car and bought a scooter straight away! It was a TV225 with a Wildcat conversion and I bought it from a bloke at work who was a mod in the 60s. It was a wreck but me and my Dad did it up together.
After a year with the Lambretta I bought a special limited edition Sportique, and then sold that and bought a PX125 from West Wittering. Back then you could drive on L plates with a car licence so weren’t restricted to 125cc, and you take people on the back too, I think. I did anyway! I don’t actually remember taking my bike test but Tania assures me I did!
What job were you doing at the time?
I was a toolmaker so always had money for rallies. Petrol was only about £1.50 a gallon so it didn’t really cost much to go away.
What was your first scooter rally?
It was the National Scooter Day in September 1981, at Malvern, Worcestershire
What did you ride and who did you go with?
I was on my PX with Paul Etherington on the back. We rode with Si Aslett, who had Shelley on the back, and Colin Fox with Heather Vawdrey on the back.
What are your memories of the rally?
We set off from Midhurst at 6 o’clock on the Friday but four hours later we’d only got as far as Salisbury so we decided to stop for the night. We crashed down at a car showroom but then got moved on from there by the owners. Then we stopped at a Little Chef or Happy Eater and a guy came out and attacked us with a sword! Si then pinned him down, at which point the guy’s brother came out and offered us a coffee! It turned out that his brother ran the place so we stayed for a couple of hours drinking, even after it shut, and then just dossed outside for the night.
We didn’t get to the rally until midday on the Saturday! It was a bit like the Newark showground, a big area with loads of scooters. They had a gymkhana, tug of war, and a barn where they put on the evening discos. I don’t remember any bands, just DJs. We sat round a fire drinking cans of beer. I bought my parka there.
Here are some photos from that rally :
Was the journey home eventful?
It was a lot quicker than the ride up, but we couldn’t believe that when we got near Salisbury we saw the guy from Friday again, and he was chasing us up the road in the van! We could see him on his CB radio, rounding up his mates, so we headed out of the area as quickly as we could.
Were you in a club at the time?
In 1979 my mate David ‘Spanner’ Spandley was the first person in Midhurst to get a scooter, then Silvio Bukbardis. I formed the Midhurst Detours in 1980 and I think we called ourselves after The Who, who were The Detours before they were the High Numbers, but Silvio came up with the name.
We went to Scarborough at Easter in 1982 and it took us over two days to get there! There were about 30 of us and everybody’s Lambrettas kept breaking down. As soon as one got started another broke down and when we finally got there it was snowing!
The club grew throughout the 80s and is still going strong today. The photos below are from the mid 80s and include ‘big’ Bill from Hastings, Rik Kaye, Derek (RIP), Jamie, Rich, Steve, Jon, Lee, Gary, Champs and another Steve on the end.
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What type of music were you into?
I always loved punk more than the mod music. Although I became a mod it only lasted a couple of weeks because I hated looking so smart all the time. I tried to get a tonic suit in Brighton but they didn’t make them in my size, so I just lived in my camouflage gear.
I really liked The Jam as they linked the mod and punk scenes. I loved The Clash and particularly their first album, and Stiff Little Fingers’ first album.
My favourite track was Janie Jones by The Clash.
What was your favourite custom scooter of that era?
I used to love seeing all the AFs but one of my all-time favourite scooters has got to be Robin Godden’s scooter and coffin sidecar, the Undertaker!
I loved the style of Lambrettas, and riding them, but they were always breaking down so I preferred Vespas as you knew they’d get you to a rally and back. I didn’t like chops or cutdowns, mainly full frame scooters.
What do scooters mean to you now?
Scooters shape your life and will always be part of it. A lot of my mates still have scooters and I see them all the time.
Here are some more of Dizzy’s photos, many with people he still sees today.
Here is Diz with just a few Midhurst Detours members in 2012 at the Bulldog Run, now all grown up (sort of!).
Since this interview, Dizzy has been looking through his photo albums and realised that his first rally was actually Brighton, in 1981, a month earlier! But clearly the Malvern rally had more of an impact so we will talk about Brighton another time…
Thanks so much to Dizzy for the interview and for letting me plunder his amazing archive of 80s photos!
More about Detour Records and the Bulldog Rescue :
With Christmas fast approaching, here are some ideas for the scooter lover in your life!
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If you’d like to read more from my First Rally series, here are the other scooterists I’ve featured
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