IN 1981 Prince Charles married Princess Diana. Hosni Mubarak became Egyptian president. John McEnroe launched his now famous tirade against an umpire, 'You cannot be serious'. And Corsham agreed a twinning arrangement with French commune Jargeau.

The foundations were laid for this arrangement back in 1974 and after lengthy negotiations, several visits, a 35-strong public meeting and the formation of a committee group, after seven long years, the twinning agreement was reached.

Thirty-five years ago this month, a dozen people from Corsham welcomed their French counterparts, paying for their own expenses, as was the rules.

Small presents were prepared and exchanged, including paintings, coats of arms and food and drink, upon their arrival on June 29, 1981.

After two days of touring the town, the visit came to an end with the traditional game of skittles, followed by a meal at the Methuen Arms Hotel.

Here both sides established a programme that would lead to a visit of the Corsham delegation in Jargeau and thus it was agreed that the official start of the twinning would take place from October 23-25.

After hashing out the details, the English contingent were given an almost royal welcome when they arrived at their destination in north-central France.

Both mayors read and signed the winning oath which went like this: "To maintain permanent ties between the town councils of both Jargeau and Corsham. To facilitate in every field exchanges between the inhabitants in order to develop a better mutual understanding in the living feeling of European brotherhood."

Nearly four decades on, these permanent ties are as strong as ever, with the number of base members varying from 30 to 120 over the years.

A yearly exchange between the secondary schools takes place and concerns some 50 pupils each time, who are taught French and English language lessons respectively.

"It has been a wonderful thing to be involved with. Without this I would not have had as good a feel for the French culture and appreciated it as much," said Roger Fido, who was Corsham Town Council chairman at the time and is now the twinning association's chairman.

"The arrangement is going from strength to strength. Now we have monthly events, such as quizzes, bowls, dinners etc, to raise the money to fund the visits and we have a lovely time.

"I have very much enjoyed my time, making some life-long friends and broadening our horizons. I would recommend it to anyone."