tim-plowman
Summer in London, 1980
by Massimo Soranzio

My first long London summer,
so cold and showery at first—
sounds were strange: H’s were dropped,
T’s vanished, and A’s were I’s—
and I’d have tea.

I’d sip my hot tea with milk—
initially mistaken for coffee—
with pink wafers, ginger nuts,
and Garibaldis, of course,
all new to me.

I saw the Empire strike back
at the Odeon that year,
by Marble Arch—still open,
not even converted yet,
with its big screen—

and Jesus Christ, in his last
Superstar season at the
Palace Theatre—followed
by a visit to Foyles, a
book-buying spree.

I felt London was all mine,
in my teens, hopping on and
off an open bus at red
traffic lights, absorbing all
there was to see.

Everything was exciting,
even Fiat mural ads
for little One-Two-Sevens,
or learning how to call home
with fifty p.

Though of all the things I saw
and did, one I would treasure
above all, that Saturday
in July, forever fixed in
my memory:

twenty days to seventeen,
standing at Centre Court, I
knew that my one-pound banknote
was giving me cheap access
to history.

NOTE ON THE PICTURE: I am still trying to recover most of my old London photographs, buried as they are in some hidden drawer or old cardboard box. But I have found this picture by Tim Plowman online showing Fiat’s macaronic-Italian ad for the 127 model, which you would see anywhere in London in the summer of 1980.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The summer of 1980 was my first long holiday on my own, and in London! It was a memorable summer for a number of reasons, one in particular: 20 days before my seventeenth birthday I got up at dawn and—I can’t remember how—I reached Wimbledon and started queuing. I had been studying my steps for a week, so as I got to the turnstiles I bought my access to the courts for £1 and rushed to Centre Court, finding a good standing place, where I would wait till three p.m. for THE match to begin. Today you would have to spend the whole night in the queue, and I don’t think any form of free access to Centre Court is possible anymore, especially on the last day (which is no longer a Saturday, by the way, but a Sunday). Seeing Bjorn Borg win his fifth (and last) Wimbledon against an equally wonderful John McEnroe was definitely the experience of a lifetime.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Massimo Soranzio writes on the northern Adriatic coast of Italy, about 20 miles from Trieste. He teaches English as a foreign language and English literature in a high school, and has been a journalist, a translator, and a freelance lecturer on Modernist literature and literary translation. He took part in the Found Poetry Review‘s National Poetry Month challenges Oulipost (2014) and PoMoSco (2015), and in a virtual tour around the world with an international group of poets on the Found Poetry Frontiers project between 2015 and 2016. His work appeared in two anthologies in 2016, including Silver Birch Press’s Nancy Drew Anthology.