Poetry in motion on a vintage bus

This Is Wiltshire: Michael Scott, John Simmons, Sophie Boyce, Ashley Bye and Hilda Sheehan with the vintage bus Michael Scott, John Simmons, Sophie Boyce, Ashley Bye and Hilda Sheehan with the vintage bus

A VINTAGE bus tour of Swindon was a sell-out as two flamboyant guides treated passengers to readings and cake on a tour of the town’s literary spots.

The word-powered journey took in the Magic Roundabout and the Oasis but also stopped off at places not usually thought of as rich cultural zones.

The trip, part of Swindon’s first Festival of Poetry, ended up with standing-room only on the vintage bus as it made a whirlwind tour of the borough.

Poets Hilda Sheehan and Michael Scott transformed into eccentric alter egos Mabel Watson and Barry Dicks to cast a unique view on the highlights.

Michael said: “It was fantastic to show people a completely different side to Swindon.

“To get people together and read poetry while touring the town was a real thrill, with unexpected highlights such as getting a view across Swindon from Penhill.

“People were amazed by what they saw and found out during the trip.

“There were a lot of happy punters by the end.”

Michael and Hilda, who publish Domestic Cherry magazine, an annual anthology based on Swindon’s poetry and writing, gave insights at stop-offs which included the Railway Village, Rodbourne, Rodbourne Green and Pinehurst.

Swindon Railway Station, mentioned in a Sherlock Holmes story, was among the highlights.

In Penhill, poet Marilyn Beale read some of her work.

Former XTC and Shriekback musician Barry Andrews, a mystery guest picked up by a kebab van in Cricklade Road, read a piece about his view of Swindon.

The bus also pulled up at Lower Shaw Farm in West Swindon for a spot of tea and a taste of the literary hotspot’s ‘apple day’ celebrations.

Finally the tour made its way across town to the Magic Roundabout, where the driver did a full circuit.

Passenger Angela Atkinson said: “I have just spent the most maniacally marvellous, stupendously surreal, brilliantly bizarre two hours of my entire life in the company of Barry Dicks and Mabel Watson on a gorgeous vintage bus.”

The trip was followed by Mabel’s House Party in Theatre Square.

The festival finishes tomorrow. For more information and to join the mailing list for next year, visit www.swindonfestivalofpoetry.co.uk.

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