When I was growing up in Swindon I had the wide eyed excitement of youth that meant that every new year seemed like an achievement.

There was something wondrous in the realisation that every time I wrote the date for the next 12 months, it would have a different number at the end of it than the previous year.

I think this was partially because of the things I watched on TV at the time.

My era as a kid saw things like ‘Thunderbirds’ and ‘Captain Scarlet’. There was ‘Tomorrow’s World’ that extolled the technological breakthroughs that were just around the corner, and tantalisingly distant in the future was the knowledge that I would one day live in the 21st century… something so mythical that it would surely hold all the things that I dreamed of.

There was a feeling that the future was going to be so much more exciting and… well, better, than the past, and every passing year that took us closer to that time was one to be ticked off in anticipation, like opening a door on an advent calendar.

Never mind the past. Don’t consider the present. Let’s hurtle as quickly as we can towards the future.

One day Swindon Town would be fantastic. One day the town of Swindon would be likewise.

And underpinning all of this, epitomising the meaning of progression, was growth. Size it seemed really did matter.

I used to pour over historical references that gave Swindon’s statistics. Fewer than 3,000 people in 1840…45,000 before the First World War, 100,000 by the early sixties. Ten years later it was in the 140,000’s.

Everything was geared for expansion, and with that came untold excitement. One day Swindon would be a city!

Then sometime during the eighties the anticipation seemed to tail off.

I’d seen West Swindon developed and my bike rides into the country to Shaw and Lydiard Millicent meant that I no longer left the confines of the town. To the north, Haydon Wick had stopped being a village and become an estate.

To visit Blunsdon Abbey to watch speedway now didn’t entail driving that brief country lane leading out of town, rather than negotiating the traffic calming measures of another housing conurbation.

The population was now in sight of 200,000, and I wasn’t seeing much evidence of the jet packs and monorails I’d envisaged. In fact every thing was turning into a bit of a damp squib.

I’d realised that while ‘progression’ happened, it didn’t seem to bring the contentment that I expected.

Mobile phones? To be able to talk to anyone, anywhere at any time? Actually, I don’t want to be as contactable as that now I think about it.

Computers in every home? To do what with exactly? Play games?

And I started to do a u-turn on what I wanted for the future. Just how much was being lost as a result of the pursuit of growth?

Nothing epitomised the disillusionment more than the regular knock backs that the town got when applying for city status.

By then I didn’t really mind one way or another. I’d realised I didn’t want to start having to support Swindon City instead of Town, and in truth would resent having to do so.

Many people were trying very hard to win the title, and I expected them to have achieved it by now. But each bid seemed to concentrate more on materialistic image than on the heart. All on the body, and not at all on the soul.

Today I find myself living in a village of (probably) just a few hundred people. It seems all the things I looked forward to when I was small are exactly the things I don’t want today.

Does that make me old? Probably.

Does it make me wiser? Not sure.

Does it make me disillusioned? Definitely.