The old Wembley stadium. Demolished, 2003
A Fruit of the British Empire!
Those two triumphant towers
topped with concrete crowns
wearing glossy vestments in white.
The clangour of turnstiles.
Jaffa oranges at halftime.
The bittersweet tobacco heat and
the acid taste of a Brylcreem drip.
A fable of gunmetal greyhounds and horses.
A speedway to stardom and hallowed heroism.
A symphony. A sermon. A silence in suburbia.
A roar from the ripe old lady.
So I typed ‘the old Wembley’ into Google, watched loads of videos and read lots of old news reports. I ordered a book called Wembley: Stadium of Legends by Pete Tomsett and Chris Brand. I read some poetry on place, including John Betjeman’s Harrow on the Hill (1954), which begins, ‘When melancholy autumn comes to Wembley…’
In more contemporary reading, I read Kate Clanchy’s Poem for a Man with No Sense of Smell and Sam Meekings’ Describing Angels to the Blind. You’ll notice that these two, both published in the Bloodaxe anthology Identity Parade: New British and Irish Poets, have a tie with two of the five human senses – smell and sight. They’re both really evocative, which is why I found them inspiring.
What I then found myself doing was creating a 62-word collage, piecing together facts from history with various words and phrases I’d came across in my research, as well as sentences I’d jotted down in my iPhone’s notes bit. Then I found a theme. Then some of the imagery and structure followed. And eventually everything stitched together like a football.