Thursday, May 05, 2005


ages ago, i sent in a little piece about a misadventure (or 'holiday') in Swindon to the Idler website for their Crap Holidays section.

Today I got an email telling me that the piece was going to be included in the Crap Holidays book, due to be published in the autumn, and that some launch tickets and a free copy of the book would be mine! Which is excellent...

This was the piece (all true, sadly)..

It’s probably my own fault.. as a man with stock phrases, using ‘like a wet
weekend in Swindon’ as the last word in pejoratives for any dreary event was
probably asking for trouble. But then the year before, my girlfriend had taken
us to Rome for my birthday, so you could understand why I got excited when just
before the next birthday she’d told me to leave the weekend clear and pack a
bag. She didn’t explicitly mention a passport, but I packed it

I guess she didn’t really know what she was letting us in
for. After all, she was from Birmingham so not only did somewhere in Wiltshire
sound impossibly glamorous, but even Swindon probably seemed like some West
Country Xanadu…

My friends did try and talk her out of it, but she
just thought it was all part of the joke.

We lasted less than 24
hours. From the dingy hotel with its hysterical guide to the highpoints and
history of Swindon (including the wonderful claim that Oasis had taken their
name from the town’s leisure centre) to an afternoon at some particularly down
at heel and rancid retail park on the other side of town, it was just a
protracted trudge through a grimy 70s theme park. We still held out hopes
for the evening’s entertainment, although when the least vile bar we could find
was some kind of confused Che-style kitsch style job we should have known it was
a non-starter. I can’t remember where we ate – I suspect that’s not because it
was unmemorable but because it was so unspeakably bad I’ve battled long and hard
to keep it deeply, deeply buried in the boxroom of my mind – but I do remember
the chilling moment when we realised that the best the evening offered was a
Specials covers band at the pub near our hotel……

…. Which was sold
out. We stuck it out in the upstairs bar, just able to make out the sound of
‘Too Much Too Young’ being murdered through the floorboards until we gave up and
headed back to the hotel. We would have made our own entertainment, but 10 hours
in Swindon could dampen Mick Hucknell’s libido.
We left by 9am, virtually
running to the station. I’ve never been so pleased to see West

Marvellous, except I hope my ex doesn't take offence either at me ripping the piss out of the weekend quite so harshly (it was a good idea of hers, and much appreciated, she couldn't have known quite how dreadful the place is) and also the rather disparaging comment about Brummies.


posted by dubversion at 10:56 am

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