When Italy won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1964, I was a 15-year-old boy growing up in the Garw. My friends and I used to gather in the café for a steamed pie and an espresso served from a huge chrome and brass Cimbali Grand Luce. The café was the only place in Pontycymer with a jukebox, one play for a tanner (6d), and three for a bob (12d). We pooled our money to get the maximum play out of our selections which included the likes of Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and the Animals.
One evening when all our pies were steamed and the coffee freshly made, our selection was due. Imagine our horror when Non Ho L’eta came on. Had someone blundered in putting in the numbers? We argued amongst ourselves and waited with baited breath for our own selection.
No! Not yet another repeat of Gigliola Cinquetti’s song! All eyes turned on café owner Jack Assiratti, who was beaming proudly from behind his espresso machine.
‘Sort it out, Jack’ we pleaded, but to no avail. ‘Nothing I can do until the bloke comes to empty the cash out next week’ he replied.
All requests for refunds were dismissed, so we trooped away leaving Jack smiling as he listened over and over again to his victorious countrywoman.