7th June 2018
Secret Swindon – the book
There’s a great deal of excitement here in AA Editorial Services HQ. The reason for this? Secret Swindon – the book!
I’m soon to be a published author for the first time. ‘Secret Swindon’, via Amberley Publishing, is due for release in the middle of July 2018.
But the story of how I got to this point has its roots 25 years ago this year, for 2018 is the silver anniversary of my move to Swindon.
A new life in Swindon
Now, before I moved to Swindon I’d visited the place several times and found it to be a perfectly pleasant place. So, when the opportunity arrived to move here I arrived with no negative perceptions. In fact, the converse was true. When I moved here from my part of the world on the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border I left behind an area devastated by the wholesale pit closures of the 1980s. My family were at the heart of the pit closures – indeed my daughter’s first word was ‘picket’.
By the time I came to Swindon in the early 1990s I left behind nothing. And I mean – NOTHING. Oh – a pretty enough part of the country for sure. The village where I was born, and raised and still lived in before I moved to the metropolops of Swindon featured in the Domesday book. It was attractive and in the middle of a rural area. Albeit the atmosphere was akin to a very thick gravy – what with the pit muck and the quarry dust. The mine’s location was to the side of the village so had no obvious sense of being a pit village. But the rural location came with a price.
A visit to a C&A required two buses and a tortuous trip across two counties. We had no good transport connections, no work, no prospects, no nowt. Well – slag heaps, emphysema and mass unemployment. We had that.
So! I came to Swindon. Within days I found work. Actual proper, full-time work. This one thing was little short of a miracle. You can’t know how magical that one thing was. Let alone the rest.
I bought a house in Grange Park – a fifteen-minute walk from Shaw Ridge leisure park. Here we (my then 12-year-old daughter and I) found:
- A swimming pool
- An ice rink
- A bowling alley
- A cinema and oh joy of joys to a pre-teen daughter:
- A Pizza Hut
I felt I’d pitched up in the land of milk and honey. And y’know what? I still think that. I still think Swindon is the land of milk and honey. The English southwest equivalent of the Klondike for opportunity.
So that listeners is my arrival in Swindon. I settle into full-time employment and building a life. I’m content with where I’m living, I like it well enough, it becomes home.
But the real love affair with Swindon doesn’t begin then. Oh no. To get to the igniting of that flickering fire of fondness into a truly, madly, deeply red hot love we have to go all Dr Who (the David Tennant incarnation) and do some wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff and fast forward about 16 years to when I’m in my early 50s. When compulsory early retirement comes my way. AAAAAARGGGHHHH!!!!
Fast forward another year and I begin a joint English Honours degree at the University of the West of England.
Fast forward two more years. I’m now approaching the end of my second year at university and selecting modules for my final year. A travel writing module called “Moving Words’ piques my interest.
I have a conversation with the module leader Professor Robin Jarvis:
‘Me: Robin, I’m interested in taking the Moving Words module but, at risk of sounding a bit daft, I don’t do any travelling.
Robin: Angela, the last thing I want landing on my desk is yet another account of a gap year in Thailand. Tell me what you see when you walk to your Tesco Express.
Me: PING – classic lightbulb moment. Why? Because what I see on my walk to my Tesco Express is a piece of public art. Not that I knew that term then. Nor did I know that it formed part of a ‘thing’ called the West Swindon Sculpture Trail. I knew of one or two other sculptures but not the entire collection. So I decided that, over that summer, I’d start blogging about Swindon with a view to amassing material that might – just might – make useful source material for portfolio pieces for this module.’
And that listeners is how Born again Swindonian became to be …well … born. And, as I progressed with what largely started as a means to an end, and as I learnt more and more about Swindon and all it has to offer – that’s when I truly fell in love with the place.
I often liken Swindon to a stripper. Take the time to get to know her, make the effort to cultivate a relationship with her, and she will draw back those layers. In slow and sensuous style, she will reveal herself and she’ll get under your skin. She’s got under mine.
It’s now around five years and 600 posts since I started blogging as Born again Swindonian. I’m still at it because there’s so much to tell.
Late last year (2017) someone left a message on my blog. That someone was a commissioning editor for a Gloucestershire based publishing house called Amberley. They have a series of local history books called Secret XXXXXX. Would I be interested in writing Secret Swindon?
Which brings us bang up to date and me about to be a published author and flogging a book. Wow!
Secret Swindon is due for publication in mid-July 2018.
Where can you get it?
After the launch at the end of July it will be available in the library shop in Swindon’s central library. You’ll also be able to buy it on Amberley’s website and perhaps in local bookshops.
If you can’t wait till then you can pre-order it right now – right here.