philip barrington photo
by Massimo Soranzio

Do you remember the time,
well before Covid-19,
and before 9/11—
what’s with those figures: 1, 9…
What makes them so ominous?—
Can you still remember when
we could climb the steps to the
Albert Memorial? The Prince
still black, golden times for us,
and we would sit on those steps
and play a board game, I mean,
a real one, with a proper
board, and plastic counters, too,
and we’d pose like the authors
of the game, in the picture
on the back of its fine sleeve,
which looked just like an LP?
One of the things we would do:
play the game right in the place
it was named after, adding
an extra dimension to
our sequence of moves on the
Victorian flowerbed-like
board. And we’d get lost in the game,
because it was just like that:
what other cares could we have,
two naïve 19-year-olds
whose 1 and 9 meant nothing
and whose dreams and hopes were still
in bloom, like the flowerbeds
of old Kensington Gardens.

PHOTO: The Albert Memorial, Kensington Gardens, London, England by Philip Barrington, used by permission.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I used to spend all my summer, spring and winter holidays in London when I was younger, in the summer often with friends. In the early ’80s, my friend Marino and I used to play board games all the time, and one summer we were all taken by this new game, Kensington, which we bought in London (each one of us still treasures his copy) and decided to play on the steps of The Albert Memorial, one of the most iconic Victorian monuments in town. The Albert Memorial underwent massive restoration in recent years, so today you will see the statue covered in gold leaf, and they restored the original gates around the steps, too, so we would not be able to take a picture there today like we did then.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Albert Memorial was commissioned by Queen Victoria (1819-1901) in memory of her beloved husband and the father of her nine children, Prince Albert, who died at age 42 in 1861. The monument took over 10 years to complete, at a cost of £120,000 (the equivalent of about £15,000,000 in 2020). (Source: Wikipedia.)

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: With my best pal Marino on the steps of The Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, London, in 1982. I’m the one on the right, with the blue sweater.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Massimo Soranzio is a teacher and translator living on the northern Adriatic coast of Italy. His poems have appeared online and in print in a few anthologies, including Silver Birch Press’s Nancy Drew Anthology. He blogs at, where he wrote mostly about his lockdown for NaPoWriMo, in the month of April 2020.