THE National Trust got itself into hot water by eliminating the word Easter from its annual egg hunts.

According to the trust, it’s done so because it wants everybody to be able to join in.

Quite how naming an event for one religious festival closes it to people of other faiths and none is beyond me.

Strangely, I’ve never met so much as a single non-Christian who objects to the word Easter, or is unaverse to a bit of chocolate egg if some comes their way. Thanks to the National Trust, however, plenty of people will now wrongly associate non-Christians with intolerance of Christian traditions. Oh, and while I hate to be that bloke who points out that Easter was originally a pagan festival named after a pagan goddess, I will.

Follow this and we can move forward

PLEASE indulge me while I set out a modest cut-out-and-keep guide for the folks at Forward Swindon.

You know the outfit I mean? They’re the council’s development arm and last week they unveiled ambitious plans to turn the old GWR Carriage Works into a shiny new business hub.

The project is only the first stage in the planned regeneration of the entire town centre.

Some people hearing the news were optimistic, while others said they’d believe it when they saw something a bit more substantial than promises.

Anyway, to people from Forward Swindon who may be reading this, and who want to convert the sceptics into true believers, I suggest the following: 1.) Come up with some proper drawings as soon as possible. Include some existing parts of the town so we can relate the thing we’re asked to imagine to the things we already know. Don’t just put out some interior views that could as easily be a dental clinic in Wigan or a medium security prison in Aberdeen as a suite of offices or whatever in Swindon.

Also, giving us proper exterior views will make you more anxious to build the buildings before the design falls out of architectural fashion and we’re all back to square one.

2.) Avoid including images of happy families skipping joyfully through and around the building. It doesn’t help. In fact, it does the opposite because it reminds us of all the other images of happy families we’ve seen skipping through drawings of any number of alternative Swindon futures which were never built. Some of them appeared so long ago that they wore tie-dyed kaftans and Ban The Bomb bandanas. If you must indulge, at least draw the people properly and make them look all futuristic instead of blatantly cutting and pasting what are blatantly generic images of models.

3.) Fire anybody who says you should promise a monorail. We’ve been down that route before with other proposed Swindon developments, and it all ended badly. Build one if you are able, but make it a surprise, a bit like when your partner thinks you’ve forgotten their birthday but you haven’t really. 4.) Before doing anything else, make sure the contractors you plan to have working on the project are up to scratch. Give their CVs a thorough going over and look for gaps they can’t properly account for. Maybe they really were nursing their pet goldfish through its final illness – or maybe they were in the clink because they made a broom cupboard door open on to a lift shaft.

5.) Promise nothing you wouldn’t stake a leg or a kidney on being able to deliver. Your own leg or kidney, that is. 6.) Come up with a schedule. A proper one with dates and everything. It doesn’t have to be a hugely fast-paced one, although as we’ve already been waiting for years it would be good for your image if you could get a bit of a wiggle on. Make sure your schedule is clear without any get-out clauses. We can spot get-out clauses in schedules a mile off. It’s a skill we acquired years ago.

Imagine, for example, that your schedule says: “The foundations will be dug in September and completed by October.” If we see that, we’ll all know exactly what you mean and we’ll all be happy.

Now imagine your schedule says: “The foundations will be dug in September and completed by October unless we have a bit of weather or something like that.” If we see that, we’ll think to ourselves: “Why don’t they tear up the schedule, replace it with the words, ‘How long is a piece of string?’ and have done with it?’”

7.) Stick to the schedule.

8.) Do not deviate from the schedule.

9.) I mean that.

10.) Should you have to deviate from the schedule, readily admit the fact. Do not confine the truth to secret meetings and then let it slip out like a sly attack of wind. Just because we can’t see or hear something, that doesn’t mean we can’t smell it.

If members of the public voice unhappiness at your deviating from the schedule, apologise rather than accusing them of being horrible people who want the whole project to fail.

Follow these pointers and the people of this borough will want to toast you in champagne.

Don’t follow them and they’ll want to toast you in a big toaster.

This will give them some food for thought

IS it just me, or have there been more court cases lately involving restaurants and takeaways with dodgy food hygiene standards?

Every time one pops up, we’re treated to photographs of mouldy meat, buckets of unidentifiable horrors or kitchen floors with more insect life than an entomologist’s specimen cabinet.

Perhaps it’s time to have another look at how we deal with offenders, who damage not only our digestive systems but the reputation of the entire industry.

Some people believe we should simply double the existing maximum fines, but that strikes me as completely lacking in creativity.

It would be better to quadruple the fines but give offenders a chance to avoid paying anything.

We should have our food hygiene officers save and freeze every mucky object they find in these places, thaw ‘em out a portion at a time over a period of weeks or months and give the offenders the option of eating the lot in lieu of payment.

“But the burger is trying to run away!”

“Well, you’ll just have to catch it then, won’t you? And no trying to hide the mandibles under the tablecloth.”