13th March 2009 at 00:00

The Cirencester effect

Whenever strange lights in the sky are spotted, it is impossible not to want to ponder one of the eternal mysteries. No, not: "Is there life out in space?", but: "What would super-intelligent aliens capable of travelling light years across the galaxies be doing in Swindon?"

Such were the concerns of Wiltshire folk as they beheld "dancing lights" in the night sky, wondering whether ET was there to visit the Oasis Leisure Centre or Studley Grange Craft Village.

One witness, Shaun Measday, said: "As we walked towards the lights, they moved more and more further away. Then as we headed back the lights followed us a bit."

Chris Williams of Swindon UFO watch - wait, this happens often enough for Swindon to have its own Fox Mulder? - confessed to his local paper that it was most probably a laser or light show.

In what seems highly unlikely to be a coincidence, Cirencester College not far away was blazing lights into the sky to highlight its open day that same evening.

So at last there are some signs of intelligent life out there.

He's no doughnut

Colleges have played their part in the history of rock `n' roll, whether it is Keith Richards starting out at Sidcup Art College or Grammy award winner Duffy studying at Coleg Meirion Dwyfor in Wales.

So it is good to know that South Birmingham College is keeping the flame alive by inviting the Spandex catsuit-clad ex-frontman of The Darkness, Justin Hawkins, to teach about the music business.

He will talk about record deals, contracts and income - some of the least glamorous elements - said Nils Edstrom, the live sound tutor.

It is admittedly hard to find a rock star with sound financial advice, but Mr Hawkins managed to spend Pounds 150,000 in three years on cocaine, which may or may not recommend him to the students. He certainly knows about the less glamorous sides of the industry, having once suffered broken ribs after falling off a giant inflatable doughnut while being towed by a speedboat.

You can't teach class like that.

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