COLOUR adverts in newspapers are the norm today, but in 1971 they were much rarer and much more expensive.

Newspapers such as the Adver might run two or three at most in a month, usually for huge companies with deep pockets.

Local companies wouldn’t generally consider such an expense unless they were able to club together and share it, which is what happened in mid-November of that year.

Dining Out was the headline of a rather lurid yellow/orange page dominated by a stylised images of wine bottle dated 1967.

To either side were panels urging people to visit dining establishments as far afield as Melksham, Malmesbury, Kingston St Michael and Ramsbury.

Closer to home, Arkell’s took the largest space with as message arranged like a modern poem. The lines were interspersed with silhouettes of glasses, cutlery and what seems to have been a hamburger:

“Wherever you are,/Wherever you go,/There’s an/ARKELL HOUSE/Snack...or/3 Course Meal,/Whichever you choose/at an/ ARKELL HOUSE/Whichever you choose”

Other advertisers included the Blunsdon House Hotel, which had opened a new 20-bedroom wing, and another new hotel, the Post House in Marlborough Road.

Some of the venues advertised, and especially the Post House, were no doubt looking forward to extra business thanks to the completion of the latest stretch of the M4.

The opening of the link between Stanton St Quintin and the A420 meant Swindon people could travel as far as South Wales without leaving the motorway.

We added: “It is hoped that the complete 140-mile link between London and Newport will be open before the end of the year.”

Our highest-profile interviewee that week was Irish-born singer-songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan, who had done much of his growing up in Swindon.

He had yet to reach the height of fame which would make him a musical icon of the young decade, but was well on his way.

Melancholy ballad Nothing Rhymed took him into the UK top 10 in 1970, his first album was released in August of 1971 and three months after our interview Alone Again (Naturally) would top the American charts.

We said: “After nine years on the breadline, shoved from pillar to post, from one recording studio to another, and one vague promise to the next, he’s got his reward - recognition.

“He’s come away from his art school days at The College, from drum-beating days with a local pop group.”

Posing for photographs as he strolled familiar Park North Streets, he told us: “At 24 I’m pretty sensible. I’ve passed the stage of being taken in by success. To me it didn’t click in terms of large houses or a Rolls.

“After years of hard work, when success arrived I didn’t get overexcited - just very contented. I was lucky. It didn’t happen overnight.

“I can cope with gradual recognition without losing my head. Money has no hold.”

The rising star revealed that he paid himself an allowance of only £10 per week from his rapidly-accruing fortune, explaining: “It’s a test. It’s good to know you can make do without all the comforts fame brings.

“The trimmings aren’t necessary and are of little value.”

Gilbert added that as far as he was concerned, Swindon would always be home, as his family was there and he could relax.

This proved to be no idle claim; throughout the years and decades since, he has made regular visits.

An arguably even more prominent celebrity had an appointment with Mayor of Swindon Arthur Palmer at the ABC Cinema in Regent Street.

The venue staged a wrestling bout - the sport was very popular thanks to Saturday afternoon TV coverage - and one of the country’s most famous grapplers and showmen, Jackie Pallo, was at the top of the bill.

The Mayor brought his son, David, to meet Jackie and his son, also called Jackie, before the main bout.

Our reporter - either bravely or having put some distance between himself and the two - described Pallo senior as resembling an accountant and his son a pacifist poet.

He added: “The Mayor said he was a great fan and always watched Pallo on television, and Pallo said he liked Swindon, and yes, he’d love to give the Mayor and his son his autograph.

“The Pallos studied the Mayor’s chain of office, asked if it was real gold, told a few jokes and then, as the time for their bout drew near, dashed off to change into something more comfortable.”

It was an action-packed week for the borough’s first citizen.

The Mayor also took a trip along the M4, although as it was not yet complete he used a helicopter.

He had been visiting 15 Maintenance Unit at RAF Wroughton, which provided a Scout chopper and a pilot.