Nothing in Swindon generates more nostalgia than this paper, and nothing made me more nostalgic than the gallery of photos that were published last week, taken just before the Adver’s old Old Town office was vacated.

I obviously have lots of extremely fond memories from working there, but my abiding memory will always be a foggy one.

The kind of fog I am talking about is the cigarette smoke that hung in the air when I first started working there, back in 1987. It is 13 years since it was mercifully banned in public places, and it now seems incredible that the curse of smoking was so ingrained in everyday life, back then, that people actually did it in offices.

Younger readers will find it difficult to understand why something so dangerous and obnoxious was tolerated for so long, and to them I say: consider yourselves lucky. I worked on the Features Desk, where four of the eight staff smoked heavily, and because we were in an alcove, a poisonous pea-souper hung permanently above our heads. All day, every day. And it was a fire risk.

One day, one of the smokers caught his bin on fire, and there were flames coming out of it before he realised. Worse still: he managed to do it at precisely 10am on a Friday, which was the time of the week when the fire alarm was always tested, so when it went off, we didn’t know whether to run for our lives or not.

Every few months there would also be a fire drill, when all the staff would troop off to the designated assembly point in - wait for it - the paper store. I couldn’t think of another place in the whole of Swindon I would rather not be, in the event of a fire, than in a building full of gigantic rolls of newsprint. It didn’t bother the smokers. They naturally saw fire drills as another chance to light up.

Some years before the national ban, the management saw the writing on the wall and made the offices smoke-free. Apart from one.

A room was put aside where smokers could slope off, several times a day, while we carried on working. Sometimes they were needed at their desks, so were called on the tannoy, but the message didn’t always get through. Or maybe they couldn’t find their way out through the smoke.

It was a glass box in despatch, up a few steps, and I confess I had nightmares about being asked to fetch somebody from that awful place. I don’t profess to know whether there is a Hell, but if there is, I am sure it is a version of that smoking room.

Not that the deadly fog was the scariest thing about the old Adver offices. Even scarier were the stories of the resident ghost. I never saw it myself, but others did - and they do say there is no smoke without fire. But that, as they say, is another story.