Dom Joly: Uncle Walt's role as Swindon's evil twin

Share
Related Topics

I'm going to have to tread very carefully here – last time I wrote about Swindon I faced a wall of abuse and ended up on a live radio show having to face my critics.

Swindon is only 20 minutes from my house. Cheltenham and Oxford are both 30 minutes away. Let's just say that I spend a lot of time in Cheltenham and Oxford. I am currently far more loathed by the good people of Weston-super-Mare than Swindon. They apparently burned an effigy of me after I'd written something uncomplimentary about their beautiful town – the Venice of the Bristol Channel. This should redress the balance.

I was flicking through the papers this week when I read that Swindon was to be twinned with Walt Disney World in America. It was the first time that Walt Disney World had twinned with somewhere in the "real world". They certainly have things in common. There is nowhere in the world that I have been more unhappy in than Disney World – it's an over-priced, saccharine–filled, cheesy dream factory that left me depressed. If your daughters yearn to be princesses and your sons fetishise over-sized fluffy animals (I'm trying to wean mine away from the family business) then it's definitely the place for you. If not, then stay the hell away. If you really must go then do what a friend of mine did. He took some acid before entering the furry gates. He had a bad trip that ended up with him assaulting Goofy after mistakenly thinking that the creature was attacking him. He ended up in a weird Disney jail accessible through a door in a fake tree. He also claims that Mickey Mouse was the jailer, but I think that part of the story was artistic licence.

I do wonder how Swindon was sold to the Disney Corporation. They surely can't have actually visited the place. Before I went on this radio show – representatives of the town drove me round to show me the "highlights". There was the Oasis Leisure Centre where "Oasis, the band are supposed to have got their name from". Then there was the "Magic Roundabout" – the Spaghetti Junction of roundabouts clearly designed by somebody on very strong hallucinogenics. Roundabouts are a big part of Swindon; there are countless numbers of them. These would be confusing to their US "twins" as Americans don't have roundabouts. Possibly, when they heard about The Magic Roundabout, they assumed it was some sort of amusement park.

Swindon's other, more conventional, twin towns – Salzgitter in Germany, Ocotal in Nicaragua and Torun in Poland – will probably feel seriously miffed as I can't remember this sort of fuss over their twinning. Perhaps they should attempt to twin up with Butlins or Legoland in revenge.

Way before Disney agreed to this "twinning" idea, they built a real town near the park in Florida that they called Celebration. The idea was to create an idealised American town. They wanted perfect lawns, white picket fences, smiling families ... all very Truman Show. By agreeing to live in the town you had to abide by a lot of very "white bread" regulations that gave the place a very surreal edge. Oh, how I'd love to see the citizens of Celebration spend a weekend in Swindon. I'd love to see them drive round and round the town trying desperately to find their way about before wandering gingerly around the pedestrian kill-zones at chucking-out time on a Friday night.

I'm writing this on the train from London and we have just pulled into Swindon. Got to go and hide in the loo until we pull out. There's already an angry mob on the platform – they've got pitchforks and burning crosses .... Goofy seems to be in charge.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Critics of Fiona Woolf say she should step down amid accusations of an establishment cover-up  

Fiona Woolf resignation: As soon as she became the story, she had to leave

James Ashton
 

Letters: Electorate should be given choice on drugs policy

Independent Voices
Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities