Atop the bell tower [This is another example of careless and hasty writing! It's not a bell tower: it's a clock cupola. (corrected 16/10/09)] on the Old Town Hall in the centre of Buckingham stands a great gilded swan, with its outstretched wings aiding its function as a weather vane. The swan is the heraldic symbol of the county, normally depicted on pub signs adorned with a golden crown around its neck. Attached to the crown is a chain, a symbol of feudal servitude. But in Buckingham there is no chain: Burgluft Macht Frei (city sky makes [you] free).
The name of the town's literary society is naturally therefore the Swan & Pen, reminiscent of the Wig & Pen Club whose premises in the Strand are reputed to be the only building to have survived the Great Fire of London. No lawyer or journalist myself, my interest in that club is that it was the second organisation to take out a contract in 1969 with my newly-formed washroom hygiene company, Waterloo Services. But that's another story …
The first meeting of the new season of the Swan & Pen was held yesterday evening with our Chairman, a one-time IBM and Cable & Wireless wage slave, addressing us on The internet, e-books, blogs, tweets and twitters, and what it might mean for writing in the future. He spent most of the time talking interestingly enough about the physical nature of the Internet and its adjuncts, but for my money nothing like enough concerning the much more interesting question posed in the second half of the title.
However he did after the interval go through the Ten Steps to Setting up Your Own Publishing Company, the which he has just done within a month and for the expenditure of less than a thousand quid. He didn't know how to do so when he started but, such is the extent of information now available online, he was able to google his way through nine of the ten steps and to take the remaining one by calling in on the art shop a stone's throw from the Old Town Hall.
I'm just about to e-mail Richard to ask him if he would be good enough to share these steps with all of you, my expectant and multitudinous readers.