Ten things to celebrate about Swindon. No 2: Arts and Culture – The poetry bus 2012

I have often heard it said that there is no culture in Swindon. Of the arts sort that is rather than the bacteria type. I daresay there’s a lot of the latter around but I know for certain that there’s plenty of the former. It might be well hidden, one might have to root it out – but it is there nevertheless. For starters Swindon has hosted, for many years now, a first-class literature festival: http://www.swindonfestivalofliterature.co.uk

front of a vintage bus.

The vintage bus from Swindon poetry festival 2012

Moreover, it is a little known fact that Swindon is the world capital of poetry – oh yes indeed! https://www.facebook.com/SwindonFestivalofPoetry  Last year I went on a journey on the festival’s Vintage Poetry bus – an actual embodiment of a magical mystery tour. I’ve never done drugs, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that an acid trip is similar to my experience on that bus. It was, quite simply, the most stupendously, superbly surreal experience of my entire life! Collecting its passengers at the bus station, the tour had two guides: Barry Dicks (aka Michael Scott) and Mabel Watson (aka Hilda Sheehan) who

'Mabel Watson' standing by vintage bus.

Mabel Watson welcomes travellers to the Vintage Poetry bus.

between them provided hysterical commentary, banter and badinage interspersed with poetry readings. The journey took us around corners of Swindon that we might rarely see and highlighted some surprises – the view of the Marlborough downs from Penhill for one of many. We stopped for refreshments and a comfort break at Lower Shaw Farm,  http://www.lowershawfarm.co.uk, in West Swindon before returning to the bus station where, somewhat dazed (well I was anyway!), our journey ended. A truly fabulous and fun experience.