A New Book about Whitley

Views from the Hill – The Story of Whitley by Dennis Wood

The Whitley Pump met local historian Dennis Wood and his wife Pearl to talk about his book Views from the Hill, the Story of Whitley at the Whitley Community Café on Northumberland Avenue.

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Apollo, After Dark and the Central Club: “when the music hits you, you can feel no pain”

Matthew Farrall (left) and David Archibald (right), making a sign for ‘Africa’

I was on a lunchtime walk from work with colleagues recently and among them was Jamaican-born Rastafarian, David Archibald. David’s knowledge of the Afro-Caribbean history of three Katesgrove buildings had us all enthralled. He gave us some real insight into the cultural and socio-political side of life growing up in Reading in the 70s and 80s. With vivid joy, he talked of the great times he had at the Apollo Youth Club, the Caribbean Club and the Central Club; David explained most of his life at the time revolved around social gatherings with music at the heart of everything.

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Hamlet at the Progress Theatre – ‘unmanly grief’

Hamlet (Megan Turnell). Photo (c) Aidan Moran courtesy of the Progress Theatre

This is the play where Shakespeare put language into orbit, elevating words far above their station and onto a higher shelf of consciousness and depth. Any amateur production of Hamlet is ambitious; the lead actor has 1400 lines if played in full, and you need to be thespian mob-handed to cover so many other roles and speaking parts. Even the minor roles seem to have more layers than the earth’s crust. But the Progress is a theatre with ambition, courage and  enthusiastic actors who seem to pull off most theatrical challenges with brio and aplomb. Even so, I would hate to “go on alone” for such a challenge (West end actor-speak for sober) and for the audience, a large G&T would seem mandatory.

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The Life and death of Reading’s King, in the Oracle on the Kennet

Courtesy of the “Reading-on-Thames Festival“, which is sadly a misstatement when clearly Reading’s whole history is based on the River Kennet, came free culture in the form Reading Between the Lines Theatre Company’s play The Life and Death of Reading’s King. For the lucky 700 ticket holders on the night of 15 September this was a history making moment.

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Reading Guild of Artists show 2017

What a nice experience to pop over the road from my job at the Royal Berkshire Hospital to the fourth Summer Show of the Reading Guild of Artists (RGA) in the UoR London Road campus. The exhibition features a rich variety of paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture and mixed media work from over 50 RGA members, as well as showcasing the final year work of BA Ed Art students from the University of Reading.

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Never trust a liquid with a skin

For the past four years or so, Edible Reading has been the fearless Keyser Söze of Reading’s food scene; the anonymous blogger and local food chronicler of our times. I not only managed to track ER down to the great Katesgrove boozer The Turks (Head) for an 80s-Smash-Hits-style interview, but I also managed to eat an incredible, table creaking five course Georgian meal from former in-residence food sensation Caucasian Spice Box just before they left the pub for pastures new.

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Betrayal at the Progress Theatre

By Gillie Tunley and Brenda Sandilands.

The Progress Theatre’s latest production is Harold Pinter’s 1978 classic, Betrayal, which is famously based on Pinter’s real-life affair with BBC television presenter Joan Bakewell. In this play, he uses clever reverse chronology to explore the complex theme of betrayal.

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The Shady Side of Town book review

On a fresh Mayday morning, I went along to the first part of an organised walk at that eleven acre wedge of melancholy calm and beauty known as Reading Old Cemetery.  An eager crowd of around a hundred souls had gathered to learn more of Reading’s trees and celebrate the publishing of a remarkable book on the subject.

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Reading Cultural Awards 2017

Nominations for this year’s Reading Cultural Awards include many events reviewed by the Whitley Pump, as well as several venues in Katesgrove, Redlands or Whitley. Winners will be announced on 29 June at a ceremony at the Olympia Ballroom on London Street, Katesgrove.

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