Sunday, 9 September 2007

Promenade Summer


Every time I watch the Last Night of the Proms, I am transported back to 1976 or so when for three years I worked at the Royal School of Mines and my tiny slip of an office window looked out over the queue for the promenade concerts.

That was a particularly long, hot summer, so here, in homage, is a slice of memory.

(Photo courtesy of the BBC)




Promenade Summer by Jan Jones

That summer
When boys came up to my room to sit on my bed and
Gulp cold orange straight from the box
When coruscating music ran around the vaulted stone gallery
And seeped into my Indian cotton skirt as I sat cross-legged
Or lay full length on the wide empty floor to listen
When the heat in the park hit ninety and my stifling
Third-floor bedsit was visited by lads whose grants had run out
Or whose girls had got better degrees than they had
And who loved me because I was there and it was the thing to do
That summer

That summer
When I would refill my fridge daily with two quarts of orange
And a four-pack of lager
When I’d go to bed at two and wake every morning at six
When I was high on London and patched its tatters
Into a flame and russet headband
When I shed my skin eagerly and quickly and thought I had nothing to learn

I went alone once to listen. Queued alone
Without my girlfriends to tell me which music I would enjoy
Paid twenty pence extra and slipped with guilty pleasure
Into a promenade large with sharing
Immediate with excitement
I rode a boy out of the hall
Made love to him in the park and lost him
Glad really to be alone
That summer

6 comments:

Kate Hardy said...

Lovley poem, Jan - I remember that hot summer and you've really caught the feel of it. Made London of 76 come alive for me. Thanks for sharing.

liz fenwick said...

Wonderful. A time caught.......

Jan Jones said...

Thanks, Kate. Thanks, Liz.

I use poetry quite a lot to encapsulate the feeling of a time or a person or a place.

It works as a kind of instant-recall for me. Glad you both liked it too.

liz fenwick said...

Useful tool I should think plus a pleasure for those reading it :-0

Sally Zigmond said...

Love that poem, Jan. It totally brought that summer back to me. I used to stand in the upstairs gallery of the AH. Much cooler! The drought didn't break until September, in fact, the day before Jon and I were married. But by the time we signed the register, the sun burst out. Honeymoon in Kent, though, was a complete washout! We didn't care...

Jan Jones said...

Thanks, Sally. Magical year.

But your timing!