There is a new book out – and because it is by Tony Hillier, the Swindon Community Poet, you had better take notice.

It’s a short anthology of some of Tony’s recent poems, but before getting started on the verses, first he has some enlightening things to say in plain English.

Now you might be asking yourself what a community poet is, but Tony sets the reader straight by explaining: ‘In 2000, nobody prevented me from launching myself as the Swindon Community Poet.’

In other words: there was no such thing. Tony just invented it, and then appointed himself to the post.

Which raises a few points worth thinking about.

For a start, although there is no official Swindon Community Poet, maybe there should be.

Surely we are now a big enough town with a proud enough heritage to promote home-grown arts, and surely stumping up a few bob for an official bard – and other cultural ambassadors too, while we are at it – has to be a good investment.

If nothing else, it would repair some of the battering that Swindon’s image gets from time to time in the national media.

And if it’s good enough for the UK to have an official Poet Laureate, then why not local ones?

The Poet Laureate is appointed by the Queen, no less, and although you may not know that the current incumbent is Simon Armitage, maybe you should – because we are paying him an annual salary of £5,750 of taxpayers’ money.

Tony does the Swindon version for free, and anybody who knows him personally will tell you he does it from the heart, and his poems are always either positive about the town, or advocating positive change for it.

In the wise words of Swindon Festival of Literature guru, Matt Holland: “Some poets write like they don’t get out much, to where the action is. But not Tony. He is out there, on the street, at the barricades, with the people.”

All this is reflected in the new book to mark his 70th birthday, called Swindon Diamonds, which includes a poem of the same name that I’ve loved ever since I saw Tony’s premiere performance of it in 2016.

With its recurring line of ‘Scratch surface, find diamonds’, it pays tribute to Swindon’s many jewels and hidden gems, but especially the so-called ‘ordinary’ local folk whom he calls ‘diamond geezers’.

But he is too modest to say that when he talks about Swindon’s ‘diamond geezers’, he is, of course, one himself.

If you want a copy of the book, it will cost you £5, which will go to the local mental health therapy charity, TWIGS (just Google ‘Tony Hillier Swindon Diamonds’).

A fiver seems a small price to pay to get on board with the moral of the story, which is: if something needs doing, don’t wait for somebody else to give you the job.

Because you don’t need anybody’s permission to put yourself and your talents out there, and become another Swindon diamond.