Every working morning I sleepwalk off the Emerald number 5 bus and take a slow short-cut through the Edwardian-style Harris Arcade. On my way I pass what I can only describe as the most promising and welcoming chairs in Reading, outside the Grumpy Goat shop. Then this sharp thought comes into my blurred mind – instead of going to work I could sit here all morning drinking beer and eating cheese. After all, beer and cheese; what’s not to like? I was kindly given some time to pop-in for a chat to get a taste of what this business is all about and I was given some jolly good info too.
William Morris once said “have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. You can find something that fits that adage at the Age UK shop on Whitley Street or you can donate something you don’t love or need, and please someone else, while supporting a cause that affects us all in some way. Last month, I saw a raspberry beret in the window and the search is now on for a charity shop leopardskin pillbox hat. I popped in to ask friendly assistant manager, Jackie, about how it all works and what life is like behind the counter.
Glen Dinning is the 25 year old enthusiast behind Blue Collar Food, which can be found at the Butter Market on Wednesdays, the summer foodie events at the Forbury and other recent well-received markets in Henley and Guildford. In a town where a wagon-train-like huddle of feisty independent shops and cafés survive and sometimes thrive amongst a Scooby Doo background of chain coffee shops and retail, Glen is a true innovator and entrepreneur, but he’s not a bit like Del Boy or the Wolf of Wall Street. He is a friendly Reading geezer with a blue and white hooped heart who has already achieved great things with a smile on his face and a large portion of savvy and sheer bottle. He agreed to meet me over a pot of tea to give up some of his business secrets and tell of future plans (and perhaps seek investment in my toast business). He had his phone turned off and he paid for the tea.
Reading based naturalist and bicycle kitchen pioneer Adrian Lawson makes an unlikely Professor Higgins, but for the last three years he has been helping refugees learn to speak English at the Reading Refugee Support Group. We met up for a relaxing carafe of loose leaf tea in the smart C.U.P. café at St. Mary’s Butts for a chat about his voluntary work.
Felix Brunner is a builder, an artist, a former school teacher and educationalist, a Peace and Green Party activist, Reading fan and the owner pioneer of Reading’s most marvellous independent arts and music venue, the Rising Sun in Katesgrove. He is also the loudest whistler I ever heard.
Gordon Greenidge – hard hitting West Indies batsman and Alfred Sutton schoolboy is honoured in an incredible performance in the cricket pavilion at Reading School for 3 nights this week. The two actors playing the young and older reminiscing cricketer set this unusual theatre in the round on dramatic fire with their dazzling energy and intimacy.
Whitley raised sporting legend Lawrie Sanchez has had the most amazingly varied life and career, including some great highs. He has appeared on University Challenge, scored a winning goal in a cup final, run a successful Reading bar and nightspot, been the first to be sent off for committing a professional foul, got a university degree, cycled to Amsterdam, walked the Namibian Desert, steered Northern Ireland football to their most successful period (until recent success), raised Wycombe from the doldrums to football league success and a cup semi-final, managed a team in the Greek Premier league and even helped relegate Swindon!
Mick Jagger was not the only musical luminary to grace Milman Road. Musician Rob Rose, who died in 2014, lived on the road from 2012.
When Oscar Wilde visited the Huntley & Palmers biscuit factory in 1892, he simply wrote ‘poet’ as his profession in the visitors’ book. It is this affirmation that I think poets first crave; simply to be called a poet. Nigel Pounds is a poet bubbling with enthusiasm about his new work tentatively titled ‘my response to’. His 2015 fat volume called Spark was a vivid, angry, albeit romantic look at the injustices of love and life. Nigel says his new work is even better.
Emil Schult’s programme at South Street on the evening of Saturday 22 July included a memorable piece of film from Düsseldorf in 1969 which he shot while he was a student at the Kunstakademie. Members of the audience who remember those times were immediately transported back to their own youth.
by John Dearing
Among the inscriptions and memorials in St Mary’s, Castle Street is a memorial to Corporal William Henry Cross of the 58th company of the Imperial Yeomanry, killed at the battle of Bethlehem on 7 July 1900 during the conflict variously called the Second Boer War or South African War.
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.