This week I ask you to raise a glass to the memory of Bill Reid, a man who inadvertently changed the course of my life, even though we never met.

Bill was the proprietor of the Brunel Rooms, and his recent passing sparked an outpouring of nostalgia for the long-lived but now closed nightclub, but I have reason to remember the old place more than most.

That’s because it was there that I met my wife on what was effectively a blind date, arranged by a mutual friend, and it led to a romance that is still going strong, after 31 years of marriage.

Who knows how differently life would have turned out if our paths hadn’t crossed there.

So you might think that it would be somewhere that I have the fondest of memories of, but I have to come clean and say I was far from being a fan of the Brunel Rooms.

To understand why, you have to go right back to the 1960s, before the place existed, when the world was full of hope and creativity, and the music of the day reflected the mood.

It truly was a golden age, and arguably the greatest decade in history, but I was late for the party.

I was born in 1961, so the decade was over before I was old enough to appreciate it, and I grew up in the 1970s instead.

It was the mother of all booby prizes.

While the previous generation, including my older siblings, had The Beatles and The Beach Boys, we got The Bay City Rollers.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did.

Pretty soon The Bee Gees were leading us into a high-pitched and terminal decline that produced Saturday Night Fever, and which we can never forgive them for.

We were given the brief hope of deliverance to a promised land at the end of the decade, thanks to the dawn of new wave and Swindon’s own XTC, but it was as if fate was taunting us.

Before we knew it we were expected to believe it was fun to stay at the YMCA.

But it was no fun. All over the country, discos became a haven for the most aimless, artless and heartless music of the century, and its biggest local stronghold was the Brunel Rooms.

Not only was the music there the opposite of what I wanted to hear, but there were plenty of other reasons why I never wanted to go there.

For a start, I’ve always been a scruffy devil who gets no pleasure from dressing up, but you had to be smart to get past the Brunel bouncers.

Even if they let you in, you effectively had to drink lager inside, which I quickly realised (and still maintain) is a poor man’s real ale.

And when I also tell you that I didn’t, never have and never will take any pleasure from dancing, you might ask why I ever set foot in the place.

So I’ll tell you: there was no choice.

History tells us that dance halls were where you invariably found your partner, and while our grandparents danced foxtrots at the Mechanics’ Institute and our parents jived at The Majestic, so we discoed at the Brunel Rooms.

In about 1979, it was virtually the only place in Swindon that lads could go to meet girls, and I met my girl there.

On the one hand I don’t think I will ever forgive the late Bill Reid for putting us through that painful courtship ritual.

And on the other, I could never thank him enough.