I am very excited. I was lying naked in my garden, enjoying the Cotswold sun while doubling up as a scarecrow, when I heard Mariella Frostrup's gravelly voice.
I am very excited. I was lying naked in my garden, enjoying the Cotswold sun while doubling up as a scarecrow, when I heard Mariella Frostrup's gravelly voice. Having had too much cider, I was unable to turn the radio off and was forced to listen to her book show on Radio 4. The subject under discussion was the beautiful town of Swindon, geographically my nearest large town. Apparently, it had started to name streets after local authors who'd featured it in their tomes. I was ecstatic. For those of you not totally au fait with current events in the literary world, my book of lies/autobiography, Look at me! Look at me!, will be in your bookshops in October. Already hailed by my mum and myself as the literary event of the decade, this news from Swindon was the icing on the cake. It has already named streets in honour of Jasper Ford and Mark Haddon. The latter, if the truth be told, was not exactly fulsome in his praise for the place.
It is surely only a matter of days before my telephone tinkles with the dulcet tones of the mayor of Swindon asking me to take my pick of the many spectacular avenues leading off the many and varied roundabouts.
I have to admit that I don't visit Swindon much. Occasionally, when a canary has spat on the line and a train is cancelled, I am forced to pick up a houseguest from Swindon station rather than my local stop, Kemble. For some reason unbeknownst to myself, I tend to visit Cirencester, Oxford and Cheltenham for social and shopping purposes rather than the UK's ugliest town. My knowledge of Swindon is, therefore, limited. I think I would have to choose one of the roads on my route to the train station. There is one with no roundabout and a small tree that has managed to escape the cull. I don't know the road's name, but the mayor will doubtless be aware of it because of the tree. I hope that, by having the road named after me, I will be able secure the tree's safety until it dies a natural death from lead poisoning.
The main problem is, what to call the road? The town has tended to go for names of characters from previous nominees' books. My autobiography, although a work of almost complete fiction, could give them Joly Good Drive or Dom Street. Mind you, globally, almost anything goes. In Miami, when Gloria Estefan's first band, Miami Sound Machine, hit the charts the mayor renamed one of the main boulevards Miami Sound Machine Boulevard. Doesn't exactly trip off the tongue, but does the job I suppose? I wonder whether authorities in their hometown are aware of the popular appeal of The Butthole Surfers? Surely there's a little boulevard in the backwoods just waiting to be renamed? There's a rumour that the mayor of Minneapolis gave the singer Prince his own road. It apparently leads right to his Paisley Park complex, and visitors know that they are on the right track when they turn on to You Sexy Motherfucker Avenue.
You can make some real mistakes when naming roads. I used to have a girlfriend who lived on Telegraph Road in south London. I get lost enough when I venture south of the river without having to suffer the repercussions of thieving Dire Straits fans nicking street signs to decorate the walls of their caravans. The council used to replace the sign regularly but there would always be a new group of fans waiting to have what can only be described as a big girlie fight to determine who was to take home the prize that night.
No, when the call comes, as it surely must, I must act responsibly in the choice I make. God knows, Swindon has enough problems already without me adding to the burden.
I thought that the best way to do it would be to put it to a popular vote. I put up a sign in Swindon town centre the last time I visited the station asking people for suggestions. The only one so far is Twatface Terrace. I can only presume that this was written by an out-of-towner who didn't understand my relationship with the town. I'm sure that locals will soon come up with some good suggestions.Reuse content