Old Town Gardens: Spring Has Sprung

Swindon scenes

There are fewer things I understand about this place.

I walk around the town centre in my lunch break and watch families inhale Greggs’ pastries with all the power and swirling grace of a Dyson upright.

I watch drug dealers and drug addicts perform a shuffling, stuttery slow dance. It is unbearably sad.

Occasionally, a full-size Dalek or a court jester playing the harmonica will add a surreal citrus tang to the greasy starchiness of the scene.

The sun shines now. Spring days trumpeted in with swaying daffodils and warm pools of gold.

I decide to escape the concrete centre, the Sarajevo-shell of my former college and use the scrawls of graffiti like a rope to drag me up the hill and into the green pastures of the Old Town Gardens.

I tread fields of flowers and dodge bullets fired by child soldiers, lurking in the undergrowth with yew branch assault rifles and grenades of leaves and dog-dirt.

I sit on a bench and enjoy the angry sounds of skateboards gnawing at stone paths and babies calling for their mothers from the cave-like depths of their buggies.

A child rolls over both of my feet on a scooter before colliding head-on with a Mamas and Papas pram. He picks himself up from off the floor, decides not to cry, and grins at me. An eye patch covers the whole top left corner of his face and he wears brightly coloured spectacles.

A Polish grandfather speaks incessantly to a near new-born baby that he pushes happily down the slope towards the aviary. His voice is melodious but his tone suggests that everything he says is exclusively adult in content.

A group of college kids gather in a cluster by a large tree and turn the sky different colours with great clouds of smoke and choice self-conscious swearwords. They take it in turns to climb the tree in skinny jeans and plimsolls. A girl splutters: “His gooch and bumhole were so dark and grimy, it looked like he was still wearing pants.”

A man with a bushy beard, smoking a pipe, strolls along with a lady.

An elderly couple shares a contented hand-lolling silence.

I decide to leave.

The general in charge of the child army would tell me to do one as I’m too soft-looking.

The college kids would shout: ‘Jog on, grandpa.’

The old couple would tell me they don’t understand the meaning of ennui.

I don’t fit in. I am lonely in springtime; there are few things worse.

About the author

Tom Spooner

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