I HAVE LIVED in Marlborough since 2002, but the first time I felt part of the place was at my citizenship ceremony in the town hall in 2005. I had been a British taxpayer for 18 years by that point, and in the style of my colonial countrymen, decided it was time to have a say in how they were spent. (And, by the way, I loved the place and the people.)

The rain lashed against the windows, outside which pigeons huddled together in abject misery, as only pigeons can. Inside, a scratchy CD played God Save the Queen. After taking my oath, along with three silent Fijians and a garrulous Alaskan, it was done. I finally had the right to call myself a British citizen.

However, it would be another five years before I took the step which really integrated me into the town. As I worked from home, with no children at school, I found it difficult to meet people. I was too old for the youth club, too young for the Jubilee Centre. I had lived near Oxford for the previous 15 years, and missed my old friends there. Surrounded by people, I was lonely.