I’ll be leaving this town sometime soon, but I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else in my life, so I’m going to record some of that.
Apart from passing through, and a gig somewhere in Reading in 1965 just as my band was turning professional, I first came here in early 1988. Viv and I met through a dating agency. I lived in Chesham, she lived in Reading, we met up half way (Marlowe to be exact) and rapidly decided that it made sense for us to live together, and the choice of location was obvious. I was commuting to London, it didn’t much matter where from, whereas her work was here, so we mutually agreed with her judgement. But it wasn’t that easy.
The first time I visited Viv at her home in Blenheim Road was easy – she drove us there. The second time was a bit harder, as I had to find my own way. I knew I had to come along the A4 as far as Cemetery Junction and bear left at, as I remember clarifying on the phone, ‘that pub with the funny name’, which was the Jack of Two Sides. (It’s long been closed.) Due to one-way systems, I then had to turn left into Addington Road, left and then left again into Blenheim, and then find a parking space as near to 17 as I could manage. This became easier with practice.
For some months, though, I was bilocating, which was unsustainably complicated. I’d usually catch my usual Met line train from Chalfont and Latimer, driving there from whichever of my homes I happened to have slept in that night. Other times I’d walk to Reading General station and buy a ticket to Paddington then take it from there. This pattern was obviously quite expensive as well as ridiculous. We had to find a house together, and it had to be in Reading.