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Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Hardly huffing and puffing, we loved stuffing…

Festival friends and Director Matt Holland busy stuffing envelopes

It’s Festival programme launch eve and excitement mounts.

This year, we are getting ready for the twentieth Swindon Festival of Literature, which will run from 6th to 18th May.

As a festival organiser, I receive many email and telephone offers from keen companies claiming to be able to improve our design, printing, marketing, and mail outs. For the most part, I resist them because the service we already get from local designers, printers, and marketing folk is just fine, in fact, excellent.

For example, our mail out system may be old-fashioned but it’s very hands on and we love it.

This is what happened this year. An invitation went out to Festival friends and helpers to let them know that there would be an envelope-stuffing evening, with good company, a drop to drink, and home-made pizza, in the cosy old calf-shed at Lower Shaw Farm.

On the appointed day, I lit the woodstove, and Spanish wwoofer Louis helped me carry over boxes of programmes, lists of labels, and mail bags to spread out on the tables. Meanwhile, down in the kitchen, Australian proof-reader Kelly and Swindon all-rounder Jessica were busy rolling out the dough for their pizza specials.

One by one, friends and helpers arrived, had a drink, sat down, and got stuffing. Programmes were flying into envelopes!

Before it was half time in the League One match between Yeovil and Swindon, which was on the radio, half the envelopes were stuffed with the beautiful new 40-page full colour Festival programme. (If you’d like one, ring or email and we’ll happily send. Tel 01793 771080. Email

By the time Swindon had won 2-0, all envelopes were stuffed, stamped, and boxed up ready for delivery to the post office. Also, the trays of pizza were almost empty and international friendships had been made. Louis was calling Swindon Michael ‘El Poeta’ and Kelly and Kauser were laughing out loud about links they’d found.

It’s evenings like this that enable me to resist the slicker twenty-first century mail out operations on offer.

When you see the programme, in booklet or on website, I hope you will not be able to resist coming to the twentieth Swindon Festival of Literature. It’s full of good things.

Looking forward to May.


Matt Holland