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…