The summer LA hosted the Olympics –
the year the UK miner’s strike began,
and comrades became enemies, and things sure
fell irredeemably apart – we went
on a four day tour of mostly ancient Greece:
Corinth Canal; the amphitheatre
at Epidaurus; Nafplio’s converted
mosque; the Lion Gate at Mycenae;
Olympia’s temples; Delphi’s omphalos.
Swallows had made their mud nests in the eaves
of the three concrete hotels we stayed at,
the birds’ tender flights twittering omens
for travellers who were, in some ways,
an air-conditioned charabanc of fools:
a sour couple, escapees from the Games;
a young bull fighter from Mexico
with his aging parents; three frat boys
from Berkeley; a well dressed Swiss family
of four; a Nam Vet paranoid about
the Cosa Nostra; a demanding
Italian family of five; a nice
young couple from Denver keen on Benny Hill;
and us three quiet Brits the Americans thought
were French and the Europeans Yanks.
As we ascended towards Delphi,
with Mount Parnassus beyond, we drove
along Kolpos Iteas, Bayonet Bay.
Below, anchored in its deep, sheltered waters,
were a dozen oil tankers – gifts which some Greeks
would come bearing again in due course but,
meanwhile, lay becalmed in OPEC’s doldrums.