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DAMIAN LE BAS – on a journey through gypsy Britain.


Arts Centre, Devizes Road SN1 4BJ
Tel 01793 535534 

12.30pm ~ 2nd May ~ £8 (£7)

What do we really know of the life of gypsies and travellers? By what values do they live and work? Which are their most treasured traditions? Do we understand them? Any other questions?
In a bid to know more about his Gypsy heritage, the history of Britain’s Romanies, and the rhythms of their lives today, award-winning writer Damian Le Bas, set out on a journey to discover the atchin tans, or stopping places– the old encampment sites known only to Travellers.
Through winter frosts and summer dawns, from horse fairs to Gypsy churches, neon-lit lay-bys to fern-covered banks, Damian lived on the road, somewhere between the romanticised Gypsies of old, and their much-maligned descendants of today. Let’s hear what he has to say.

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STEVE RAYSON – on coming of age, as a young socialist, in 1980s Swindon, in conversation with Heidi Alexander. 

Bert’s Books, 54 Godwin Court, Swindon SN1 4BB

PLEASE NOTE: This is a change of venue from the hardcopy programme details. 
Tel 01793 535534 

7pm ~ 2nd May ~ £6 (£5)

What could it have been like living in Swindon as a teenager convinced that working-class people had everything to gain from socialism? And what would the teenager feel if most Swindonians did not agree with him. Furthermore, how would a teenage fan feel when the town’s football team did not win? Life in late-twentieth century Swindon had its ups and downs.
Erstwhile entrepreneur and resident of Swindon, Steve Rayson, is the author of Badgeland, an insightful, warm, and often hilarious story about coming of age, politics, class, and social mobility in 1970s and ‘80s Swindon. It is a memoir that will resonate with politically-minded people of all parties.

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ANNA BEER – on women writers who should be known.


Arts Centre, Devizes Road SN1 4BJ
Tel 01793 535534 

6.30pm ~ 2nd May ~ £8 (£7)

In order to dare to write, in times past, women needed to be courageous. And if they did write, they were often thought to be mad, undisciplined, or dangerous. Women writers have always had to find ways to overcome or challenge these beliefs. Some were cautious and discreet, some didn’t give a damn, but all lived complex, eventful, and often controversial lives.
Cultural historian, biographer, and Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College, University of Oxford, Anna Beer is the author of Eve Bites Back, an alternative history of English Literature.

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Photograph: Hugh Weldon

RACHEL PARRIS – on what you get if you ask strangers for advice. 


Arts Centre, Devizes Road SN1 4BJ
Tel 01793 535534

8pm ~ 2nd May ~ £9 (£8)

Over the course of a year, award-winning comedian Rachel Parris asked members of her live audiences for worthwhile advice on how to live life. 
Some bits she got were predictable, like ‘be kind’, while others were unexpected, like 'never pass up the opportunity for a wee'. Others were even funnier, weirder, and more wonderful.  
In her latest brilliant book, Advice from Strangers, Rachel recounts the advice she collected, which is at times, serious, hilarious, and even heart-breaking.
The result is a funny, wise, and uplifting manifesto that explores the challenges of everyday modern life.

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Photograph:  Karla Gowlett

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