And Goodbye Reading

Tonight is (written on Friday) my last night in Reading, and yes I am feeling rather sad about it.

Those born in Reading don’t seem to appreciate what the town offers to them and I guess if you are comparing the history of Windsor, the tranquil beauty of villages such as Sonning, or the international excitement of London, then maybe Reading is a little underwhelming.

But if you’ve been brought up somewhere rough, like I have, then Reading is a place of beauty.  And I am leaving it reluctantly.

My home town is Hull and I do have a lot of affection for it, but I had to escape it.  There was no future for me there.  I might have ended up working in a fucking pea factory.  Without a degree then factory work would have been a likely outcome.  Or dole, living on a rough council estate.

And quite a lot of Hull is rough.  It really was a rough and often violent place for me to grow in.  I hated life as a teenager, and not just the usual angst – there was day to day fear from what I would experience at school, topped with occasional beatings on the street, on a bus, whatever.  It was a fucking shithole in the 90’s, devoid of hope and pretty much the only thing that kept me mentally wanting to live was that there must be something better out there when I grew up.  And nightclubs to go dance in with the hope that house music gave me – but that is a another story.

So anyway, I wanted to study meteorology at university, and the only two places were Reading and Edinburgh.

I didn’t get a good enough physics A-level to get accepted by either – but Reading offered for me to do Maths Studies based on my Maths A-level grade.  I didn’t want to do maths but I wanted to leave Hull.

And I was amazed when I arrived in Reading.  It was so middle class, the people I met were just from another planet – rich people for a start.  I’d never met anyone rich before.  Some of them wouldn’t talk to me at first because I was too common.  By the end, I had their respect for being one of the few people that would say what they believed in.

I met black people.  I had never met a black person in Hull and I was racist.  Not particularly through choice but because that was the culture I had been brought up in.  And I was suddenly presented with people from all other the world that were cool, funny, intelligent and interesting.  A real challenge to my prejudiced thinking and one I am so glad I had.

I met gay people too.  Being any kind of minority in Hull back in the 90’s was an absolute no-no so to meet people that were openly gay was again confusing, initially to my disgust but again I soon realised that they were just human beings.

Moving to Reading changed me in many ways – and not just my accent.  I had to physically retrain myself how to talk because people really couldn’t understand me.  I was shocked about how people couldn’t understand a Hull accent.

Reading allowed me to slowly develop into who I really am.  From a short-haired drunken lout to a long-haired drunken lout.

The other thing Reading had was jobs.  And a hell of a lot of them back in the late 90’s when I moved here.  It was almost impossible not to have a job, which served me well when I voluntarily got thrown out of university.

Sadly the Reading nightlife has never really met my desires.  I’ve always been a huge fan of underground house music, and when we had the Matrix, that was superb.  And 2006-08 when Mango was in it’s prime, was probably the most special time in my life – in many ways.

It came just as I was thinking of leaving Reading and all of a sudden I met these amazing people.  Seriously fabulous group of friends, most of whom I am still close friends with today and will be forever.  That time of my life was so much fun – so so special to my heart.

And then my data tethering allowance was gone…ahhh the pain of moving.

So four days later I have moved house (and sobered up), I am going to miss Reading.

It never fully satisfied me, there have always been gaps in my life here that Reading couldn’t solve or provide, at least a fair amount of the time.

But I do truly love Reading.  It is a relatively exciting town, at least for the size of it, and it is only going to grow in stature and importance to the country as time goes on.

I am going to miss Sweeney Todds, I will miss the excellent rail connections, the shiny offices, the near-empty Blade.  I’ll miss the Green Park windmill, the excellent parks such as Caversham Court gardens.  I’ll miss the Oakford but then again it ain’t what it used to be.  And I’ll miss the rivers.

I won’t miss any of the bars in the town centre.  What a joke they are.  Or the busy traffic and noise when trying to sleep.  Fucking motorcyclists revving up to 100mph at 11pm just because they have passed a speed camera.  Or all the damn pavement cyclists everywhere.

I will miss walking past the big-boobed mannequins near the wine-tasting shop that I have been meaning to take someone on a date to for years but I never have a date to take.  Plus she’d dump me for perving at the mannequins.

That I will miss Reading is clearly very true, as my heart is in the town..

But I’ll be back.  At least once a month.

And one day I may well live there again.  One day…

Goodbye Baydon Drive

So it’s goodbye Baydon Drive on Saturday.

It is without doubt the house I have enjoyed living in most and the nicest house I have lived in.  It may well be the nicest house that I ever live in.

I had to move out of the grotty flat that was consuming far too much of my money.  I didn’t want to go back into a house-share but it was a great decision, helped by living with a champagne socialist.

The house had its imperfections, but there was lots of space to store all my stuff and the neighbours never complained about the noise.  I didn’t utilize the garden for BBQs like I planned to – we had one and invited 2 people.  So much for £80 worth of BBQ.  That’s what you get when your Labour-voting housemate talks you into spending money.

Within a few days of moving in, I broke the washing machine.  I put it on, walked away, wondered what the smell was to find the washing machine starting to smoke.  Things did used to break quite regularly, especially the heating, but luckily we had attentive landlords who always fixed things quicker.

Shame we had to put up with the incompetence of Atlantis, Reading’s worst estate agents.  Every year they would make out the contract to the wrong people, try to charge us late payment fees for not signing an incorrect contract, etc, etc.  Somehow they seem to have forgot to charge us for last year’s rip-off charges for doing nothing.  Well…they charged us but we didn’t pay.

What always makes a house though is the people, and I have made at least one life-long friend.  We don’t agree on anything, we are diametrically opposed in all facets of life but we’ll never lose touch.  The other three housemates, one I won’t keep in touch with – nice guy but no kind of connection, the other two maybe – we’ll see.  I have had generally decent housemates throughout, at least as tolerable as I am.

In a way I’m kind of feeling that I am getting to the point of life where I would not begrudge owning a house rather than the ballache of renting, and dealing with landlords and agencies – especially the extortionate fees – one agency tried to suggest £360 for credit checks, etc.  Fuck right off.  And moving costs a lot of money.

Then again, I highly doubt buying a house is any easier, and besides, they are vastly over-priced compared to their intrinsic worth.  I wouldn’t spend twice as much on a roast dinner because the restaurant hadn’t made enough.

I am going to miss the house and I cannot stand the process of moving.  I am still waiting to find out what will go wrong.

Margaret was also very happy in her window.

Thanks for the good times, Baydon Drive.

Room For Frustration

No this is not about my sex life, I got over that type of frustration roughly after the birth of Jesus Christ, or Jeremy Corbyn, as some people seem to believe.

I found three rooms that I liked.  None of them perfect but I liked them enough.

I spent a few days thinking about them and then put an offer in to the one that made most sense.


Then I asked about the other one I liked.


Then the 3rd favourite.

Not letting it out now.

Brilliant.  So I am back to square one.

I didn’t really enjoy yesterday.  I woke up with a semi-hangover, found out all the rooms I liked had gone and had a really frustrating day’s studying.  I couldn’t really get into anything and felt tired all day.

Last week was really tiring with all of the room-hunting – getting up at 6am, getting home at 8pm, some lunch times involving walks to see rooms.  All I did except work, commute and look for rooms was cook and eat.

So I had a massive backlog of admin, cleaning, ironing, etc yesterday – and now I have to repeat the process this week.  FFS.

On the bright side, I did make myself a rather excellent gravy.

Using the cider that the pork belly and onions were slowishly cooked in (slow for my standards), I added wholegrain mustard (albeit too much) and of course, some Goldenfry granules and it was a taste sensation.

If anything, a little too tasty.

And I am going to have a little adventure in the sunshine this afternoon.  And a third roast dinner in three days.