THE media was accused of hampering communication with extraterrestrials this week in 1980.

As if this were not strange enough, the accusers had a valid point.

“If you call UFO investigators ‘flying saucer chasers,’ you’re liable to send them into orbit,” began an Adver story.

It appeared beneath a picture of a flying saucer.

We added: “Members of SCUFORI - the Swindon Centre for UFO Research and Investigation - believe it’s the fear of being thought a nutter that prevents many people from reporting sightings.

“Nationally only about one person in ten who sees an unidentified flying object reports it - but the Swindon experts reckon their average is fewer, with only three or four sightings reported to them a year.

“And they lay the blame at the door of newspapers, television and exploitation ‘flying saucer’ books hat have scared people off.”

One of the club’s committee members, Martin Shipp, had been researching the phenomenon and collating cases for several years.

He told us: “I think there are many more sightings made in Swindon than actually get to us.

“People are frightened to come forward. We were investigating a sighting by a woman in Ashton Keyes who saw a large star-shaped object in the sky.

“At first she was very helpful, but then her neighbours got to her and ridiculed the sighting. After that she wasn’t too eager to give us any more information.”

Another member of the group, Terry Amey, said: “One of our biggest problems is that when we say that a sighting is a UFO we mean it’s not been identified.

“But the public see it as a positive identification of a space ship.”

In the safer realm of identifiable flying objects, we ran an image of fields near Shaw taken from an aircraft passing a couple of thousands of feet overhead.

The original negative and print do not seem to have survived, but the picture in the original newspaper from 39 years ago is clear enough to show the boundaries of ancient fields.

The picture illustrated an article about the work of Wiltshire County Council’s archaeological team, whose tasks included gathering relics and recording landscapes ahead of development.

In the case of Shaw, time was of the essence. The land is now occupied by housing and the Shaw Ridge centre.

We said: “Etched into about six square miles of landscape west of Swindon, near Shaw, is 2,000 years of farming history. The record goes back possibly to Roman times and certainly to medieval times.

“Medieval landscape features will be reasonably easy to identify because villages, hamlets, isolated farms, field patterns and trackways are well-preserved on the clayland as there has been little intensive modern agriculture.”

One archaeologist, we reported, was investigating a hedge when she found a Roman kiln dating from about the year 150.

The week also saw us run an interview with a man regarded today as a major children’s author and poet. Readers who attended junior schools in Penhill and Park North in the 1970s may remember him as a much-loved teacher.

Wes McGee was born in Greenock, became a teacher after National Service and moved to Swindon. He stayed long enough to become a Town fan and has said in interviews he still is.

Back in 1980, he was making a name for himself with what he called pocket money poetry - pamphlets of verse at bargain prices.

He said: “I’m trying to break new ground in publishing poems for children.

“The idea is to get away from the expensive book form and put poetry in the 10p and 15p price range. I think I’ve managed to get poetry into the hands of many children who would otherwise not have been introduced to it.

“Illustrations give my poems almost the same attraction as comics - I hope.”

Another important Adver interviewee was Marie McCluskey, who had founded Swindon Dance months earlier.

By the time of her retirement in 2016, Marie was an MBE and the organisation has grown to become one of the most respected of its kind in the country, having introduced countless people to the joy of dance and nurtured many a future professional.

Strong support in the early days came from visionary Thamesdown arts officer Terry Court.

This week 39 years ago, with the story barely begun, Marie said: “Your body is like a car. If you don’t start it up it will rust and the battery will go flat.

“Yet if you’ve developed the habit of standing and moving properly, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to dance at almost any age.”

Almost exactly 36 years later, she would tell the Adver much the same thing: “I believe that anybody can dance and move - creativity is trained out of you, not into you.

“It was just about offering ordinary people opportunities to become extraordinary dancers and nurturing their talent.”