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JOHN HIGGS – on Bond, The Beatles . . . and Blake?


Arts Centre, Devizes Road SN1 4BJ

Tel 01793 535534

12.30pm ~ 5th May ~ £8 (£7)

On a windy Friday afternoon on 5th October 1962, two firsts took place. The Beatles’ first record, Love Me Do, and the first Bond film, Dr No, were both released.
Since then, Bond has become the single most successful movie character, and The Beatles the biggest band. And while Bond and The Beatles present us with seemingly opposing values and visions of Britain, many of the same people love both.
In his latest book, Love and Let Die, author John Higgs, a writer who specialises in finding previously unsuspected narratives hidden in corners of our history and culture, looks at the two stories of working-class musical liberation and fictional establishment control, and how both exploded on the global stage.
And what about William Blake? Well, that’s another significant story.

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JAY COURTNEY – on freedom and adventure in later life.


Reading Room, Central Library, Regent Circus SN1 1QG

Tel 01793 535534 

7pm ~ 5th May ~ £6 (£5)

In middle and later life, women can have lots of adventures, freedom, and fun, with energy, excitement, and a renewed sense of self! As Virginia Woolf says in To the Lighthouse, these are the women who have given themselves permission to be ‘free for the strangest adventures.’
After retiring from a distinguished career in education and health, Jay Courtney found life rather beige. 'I realised that I didn't know how to do this part of my life' she says. 'There was no route map to follow, only a looming 'Exit' sign, so I went on a quest to find a colour that suited me.' The result is a book, Juicy Crones, with stories full of wit, wisdom, and joyous adventures.

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CLAIRE FOX – on what offends us and why we take offence.

Presented in association with Swindon Philosophical Society


Arts Centre, Devizes Road SN1 4BJ

Tel 01793 535534 

6.30pm ~ 5th May ~ £8 (£7)

When you hear that now ubiquitous phrase ‘I find that offensive’, do you think you are being told to shut up?  What does it mean to be offensive or offended? Are we now living in a climate that dictates that we all have to walk on eggshells to avoid saying anything offensive, or else? Are we becoming thin-skinned? 
In the new and updated edition of her book ‘I Find That Offensive!’ Claire Fox, broadcaster, columnist, director of the Academy of Ideas, an MEP, and a member of the House of Lords, addresses head on the possible causes of what is fast becoming known as ‘Generation Snowflake’.  

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FLASH FICTION SLAM! – with YOU, a great audience, and Sara-Jane Arbury, Claire Fox, and Matt Holland.

Arts Centre, Devizes Road SN1 4BJ

Tel 01793 535534 

8pm ~ 5th May ~ £8 (£7)

Can you tell a story or convey an idea that can be read or spoken in three minutes or fewer? In less time than it takes to boil an egg, could you plant a new idea or story in a listener’s head or heart?
Note. Flash Fiction is a very short piece of writing. To read or speak it aloud in three minutes or fewer, it would need to be between 300 and 500 words in length, depending on the pace at which you choose to read.
This is what will happen at the first Swindon Flash Fiction Slam. A running order will be established and competitors will have three minutes to present – read out or recite – their flash/y offering.
From then on, it’s a knockout! Keen but kindly judges, chosen from among the keen and kindly audience, and including Claire Fox as judge-supremo, will decide who pleases the parts that others cannot reach, and who does not.
Just as in all good sporting competitions, there will be a first round, a semi-final, and a final! Though there may well be moments of seriousness, nervousness, and puzzlement, a spirit of wonder, wit, and good cheer will prevail!
The winner will be crowned first Swindon Flash Fiction Slam Champion and will receive rapturous applause, a silver trophy, a cash prize, a bottle of bubbly, and words of congratulation from our guest judge supremo Claire Fox.
Cool compere, thinker, and writer in her own right, Sara-Jane Arbury, will maintain good Flash Fiction Slam order, with clear instructions, firm hand, and thoughtful slam smile; and will be ably aided by sensible scorer, terrifying timekeeper, and crowd-pleasing prizes-provider Matt Holland.

HOW TO ENTER. Anyone brave, creative, and thoughtful enough, by their own standards, can apply to enter. Contact 01793 771080 or
NOTE. 1. Closing date for entries is Friday 21st April. 2. Maximum number of entrants will be eight so pre-event sifting may be necessary. 3. AI-generated entries are not welcome.

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