When I first came to this town, long ago when I was young, bright of eye and sound of wind and limb, when i thought i was just passing through, before the trap closed, the cultural resources consisted of a bingo hall, a handful of pubs and a public toilet (for those so inclined). Now we have a shiny new multiplex cinema and the gleaming edifice that is The Cornerstone. The latter stands as a metal clad cultural fortress in the heart of darkness. Within its glass and steel walls are to be found everything from concerts and drama to a gallery space, wine bar and knitting club. It has even become a venue on the "testing new material" circuit for big name stand up comedians. Every evening it throws out a pool of warm light inside which huddle a couple of Italian restaurants and the glitterati of Didcot. It is manned by a committed volunteer staff of hardened culture-niks, missionaries of enlightenment in a strange land. Once when I was too ill to attend a play that I had tickets for they rang me up to ask me where I was....I had visions of the entire audience and cast impatiently awaiting my arrival. I explained my predicament and was grudgingly excused. I was relieved they didn't ask for an "excused drama" note from my mother. Despite such backsliding as mine I believe they are winning, it will be a brighter tomorrow, the arts will flourish where once stood railway men's cottages with outside toilets.
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