Paul Weller comes striding down Regent Street in blazing sunshine, every inch the Modfather in dark flared jeans, navy V-neck and a platinum grey, feathercut hairdo that only a rock star could carry off. Tanned and slim, Weller moves with purposeful speed, so that by the time people have realised who he is, he is already gone. It might be a metaphor for his musical career, the ever-changing moods that have carried him through the mod punk of The Jam, playful agit-pop of The Style Council and photo-Britrock of his solo career. Heads turn in his wake, smiles appearing on faces. Britain loves Weller. Stylish, angry, passionate, self-questioning and devoted to some vague yet honourable notion of authenticity in music and life, he has been a constant presence in our pop landscape for over thirty years.
"I'm going to be 52 this year, I've done half a century, which is pretty fundamental really," says Weller, settling down in a café to a pot of tea. "I know I look different but I don't feel any different. It's a cliché but only cos its true: music does keep people young. I'm not a teenager, I see my place in the scheme of things, but as much as we don't want to appear stupid and look like the oldest swinger in town, I don't think you should be trapped by your age. You have to act how you feel."