Transcript of a High Street Sound Walk in Reading

This is a transcript of ‘A Reading of London Street’, a High Street Sound Walk in Reading by Aundre Goddard and Richard Bentley.

Aundre Goddard: Hi my name is Aundre Goddard and welcome to A Reading of London Street. You should be by the black history mural. I will be your host and guide throughout this journey. Please listen out for moments where I instruct you to move as this will keep you safe when crossing the road and enhance your experience on the walk. Enjoy.

This is London St. I, as well as many other people from Reading have travelled through here at some point during their lives. This place, this space on the face of it looks like any normal street, but if walls could speak . . . if walls could?

We would see that what lies behind these walls is a history that celebrates over 800 years British identity. Guided by me, and brought to life by the narratives of those from present and old. Take this walk in their shoes and I will transport you to a place, where we can fully embrace, what it means to be.

[crackling sounds]

Terence Edwards: So when I was young, I might have just been like oh, there's Central. There's pictures of historic black people on the wall. But now when you look at it and you understand your history more, I've learned more as I've got older. And these people on the wall were trying to do things to make it easier for us. Do you know what I mean? So sometimes that legacy, when I look at that, I think to myself why can't me or a couple of my friends be on a wall like that in 50 years to come to be like actually, these guys tried do something good in Reading.

[music]

Tutu Melaku: You'd be surprised the first time even I saw our King Haile Selassie, he is there, already in the mural. So you know like you come from especially the Oracle and there, like in the centre of the heart of Reading to see, you know, a lot of, I have to say this, black faces. Because like, I think like eye-catching. So, I think that's a nice feeling. You know, people, especially like me, to see faces, people I recognise.

[road noises / distant sirens]

Katie Maloney: Everybody thinks of Reading Prison as Oscar Wilde. So Central Club. To us is our Oscar Wilde. That's what it means. You can't get any deeper.

Aundre Goddard: Please walk along the mural and around the corner until you get back to the entrance of this building.

[road noises / music fades in and out]

Hi, I’m back. My uncle used to bring me here when was a boy. Central Club was a hub for Reading’s afro Caribbean community. During my teenage years I used to attend events filled with music, food and dancing. This building used to stage the sickest nights! I remember the DJs.

[music]

Terence Edwards: I was originally in a group, or sound if you want to call it, called Shades of Black. We sort of joined with the firm, so we was looking for like a location to practice. So we used to go and practise like twice a week. So we'd practise, mixing and talking on the mic and when you're going to bring it in. And just, it's completely different to what it is now. The guys there were really, really helpful. And they said, look, you could go upstairs and use the upstairs room. And we were like what, Central's got an upstairs room? And a lot of people didn't know this but there was an upstairs room in Central. So we used to actually have a little lock up there and keep all our decks and stuff in there, all our records.

[crowd chatter]

Katie Maloney: When we used to go there, it was an enjoyable thing. Really. You'd leave home and you'd dress up to the nine, really put your best on, what you can afford and you go out and enjoy yourself and when you come back, you'd feel good. You'd meet up strangers and you'd be talking to them like you've known them for years. You'll be hugging someone and you don't even know who the arse they be...

[laughter]

Aundre Goddard: Please turn around and take notice of the building with the grand pillars, the Great Expectations Pub, it’s across the road. There are traffic lights to your left. Please use them to cross the road. Stop the recording, and when you reach the step of the Great Expectations press play, and I will meet you there.

[sounds of a Victorian street, sounds of banging, carriages and tower bells / fiddle music]

Boy: ‘Ello, he said you’ll be here. He told me to tell you to hang about until he catches up. Golly, your shoes are looking rather worn. Take a few steps forward and I will put some life into them. Place your foot on the step for me please – thank you.

There’s a lot of customers here because of some Institution. They like to discuss the arts they practice, and share knowledge.

[indistinct voices in the background]

Who’s that you ask? That person you can hear right now is Mr Dickens . . . you know Charles.

He is reading from A Christmas Carol tonight. I can’t read so I like to listen. Shhh, the door’s unlocked, lets watch.

[tower bell chimes / scratching of quill on parchment inside]

Stagehand: Are you ready?

Charles Dickens: Indeed I am.

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population... if they would rather die.” Okay I’m ready.

[pouring of water, occasional coughs heard in the background]

“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population”

[The crowd gasps / return to outdoors street]

Boy: He’s coming, act natural. Ello Mr Dickens Sir.

Charles Dickens: Hello young man. You and your friend trying to sneak a peek were you?

Boy: Well...

Charles Dickens: I hope you enjoyed what you heard. You know? You remind me of someone I wrote about. Farewell.

Boy: Ta’ta

Boy’s mum: Oi, C’mon. Your tea’s ready.

Boy: I’ve got to go now. Bye. Thanks for your custom.

[carriage / laughing / fiddle]

Aundre Goddard: Alright, sorry I took so long. Follow me towards the window at Global Café.

London Street’s heartbeat moves with a global rhythm. Skipping stones across many ponds, come let’s see what is going on.

[road noises]

This building is a palette of cultures with a wide variety of entertainment Drum & Bass, Jazz, hip-hop World Music, Flamenco guitar you name it. I remember those poetry nights; they were really special.

[music / sounds of a small crowd / chatter]

Becci Louise: There were quite a lot of super eccentric poets there. There was a guy called Ian, who performed a lot and he was he was a lot of fun, had his glasses perched on the end of his nose and quite often had like just really, really funny poetry and delivered with this real sense of kind of tongue in cheek seriousness, which is really good fun. The great thing about it was it was just a massive mix of age ranges of people who were Reading residents and then people who were there at university just kind of cutting their teeth on the scene, which was really, really cool. I just, I just remember really enjoying I just remember we're all kind of cramped in that back space and sat around, huddled around tables and there was a lot of beer. And yeah, just this really, really cool space that's just a real celebration of like human life and creativity.

[music]

The artistic scene and the artistic people in Reading is lovely... in whatever concept, context, I mean, there are people that who are that, you know, being an artist is so important to them is it's their identity. It's in their blood. And then you have other people who, you know, perhaps were doctors or teachers or accountants or students studying something completely unrelated. But, you know, at night they were poets. And that was also really cool this sense of like it doesn't matter how much of your time you dedicate to this thing. When we all come together in that space, we are all artists and that's pretty cool.

[sound of pouring water / kitchen noises]

Oh, do you know what I remember... Tutu's Kitchen, Tutu's Ethiopian kitchen, her food is amazing. It's so good. She used to, she used to cook in the kitchen at RISC. So... I went there and had the first Ethiopian food I've ever had in my life... and it was delicious. And then whenever it was open I went back because it was so good.

[indistinct voice on radio / kitchen noises]

Tutu Melaku: I remember my launch day. We have 144 people turn up. These people, I never see them in my life. I don't know who they are, but they have this community spirit about them. They come to support me. So we, the queue was crazy to like the bus stop, because the bus has nowhere to stop because people queuing to get in. So I think that's community spirit. You know, carry me all the way like 12 years. I mean, you go there. Nobody care, you know, where you come from. So people they remember that like of a community sense and even for me, you know, to be a part of that. You know, sometimes you see people you don't think you want to speak to them, but when you talk to them, they are, you know, like smart and have history to tell you. So I think all that, you know, represent, you know, what's London Street about, you know, a place everybody can hang around and nobody care where you, where you from.

Aundre Goddard: Take a few steps towards the right of the building by the passageway, you know, the one with the metal gate. There’s someone there. Let’s head into the alley.

Victorian woman: Move it you boot licker.

[water is chucked from window / flowing water / crow calls]

Aundre Goddard: Oi watch it! Sorry about that. Up there used to be Sims Court. They were apartment blocks in the early eighteen hundreds. We are at the side of RISC now. Notice the half-timber used in these walls. Imagine the hands that made this building, it’s still standing here today.

Take a moment and guide your hand across the grain of wood and see how it feels.

[soft booming sounds]

Let’s exit the alley and turn left. In a moment. Stop the recording, exit the alley, turn left and walk up London Street. Once you have crossed South Street, restart the recording. and continue the next leg of your journey. I'll see you there.

[sounds of a Victorian street, sounds of banging, carriages and tower bells / fiddle music]

Daughter: Hello! Excuse me! Can you direct me to Dr Addington’s Surgery? I was told it is round here somewhere.

Aundre Goddard: Dr Addington, the one who treated King George.

Daughter: Yes, that’s the one, my father has gone mad and I fear he may… he may…

Aundre Goddard: Don’t worry about it, sure it’s right around the corner.

Scene 4

[noise of queue outside a modern-day club]

Night Clubber 1: Hey! What are you two doing standing and staring at that black door?

Night Clubber Person 2: What you saying, you two coming or what?

Aundre Goddard: Oh, you’re talking to us.

Night Clubber Person 3: Come and join us in the queue. It’s Fatboy Slim remember.

Night Clubber Person 2: I’ve got a bottle of voddy stashed away mate. You know you want some.

Night Clubber Person 1: Put that away you’ll get us caught, numpty. Look the line is moving. Take a few steps forward then.

Night Clubber Person 2: Alright Alright . . . Calm down.

Aundre Goddard: We better move along the queue. It’s only two doors up

Night Clubber Person 3: I swear, if they don’t let us in because of you we’re done . . . done! I’ve been looking forward to this night for ages and I won’t have you take it away from me.

Night Clubber Person 2: Okayyy . . . jeez.

Night Clubber Person 1: We’re moving. Get your ID’s ready.

Night Clubber Person 3: Arghhh, you’re having a laugh aren’t you?

Night Clubber Person 1: Really? C’mon mate – you had it a minute a go.

Night Clubber Person 3: I will leave you behind. Here’s my ID.

Night Clubber Person 2: Listen, I’ve got it somewhere I know it. See, I told you. Look are you sure you’re not coming in? you might regret it!

Bouncer: Cheers, cheers.

Aundre Goddard: Maybe next time.

Night Clubber Person 2: Okay fine suit yourself.

[night club music]

Aundre Goddard: Let’s continue to walk up London Street until you get to the bus stop.

Terence Edwards: Matrix was my favourite location of all because Matrix at that time was one of the biggest clubs in England in a sense of, it had people from all over England coming to party there. Whoever was poppin' and the in-thing, it brought, they had Pay As You Go, they had More Fire Crew, They have Shola Ama, they had Kayla Rock, they had Heartless, they had So Solid Crew... Everybody was there. Do you know what I mean? And we even done some under eighteen events at Matrix as well which I still got the flyers up to now. It had like DJs like Mikee B from Dreem Teem who was like a massive garage DJ at the time. MC Viper. And these guys are legends in the garage scene. Do you know what I mean? So... I've still go them flyers up. I'll never part with my flyers.

[DJ set playing / cheering / car noises]

Back then, I was just little Terence, so I remember, even, and as crazy as it sounds, if you were there at the time, you'd understand this, that even just walking into the nightclub and holding your record box, because it wasn't laptops back then or CDs, it was a record box. We had these silver case record box. I can even get you a picture and show you them. But as a DJ, when you used to walk into a club, the DJ was somebody, or so back then, you could park right in the middle of the road. There was cars going from the top of London Street all the way to the bottom, especially when there was big events on at Central Club or at Matrix. And I just remember, like both sides of the road were jammed with cars. In the middle and you'd try to find a parking space and couldn't find it there. And you'd go to the back and if you parked at the back, then you could hear the bass of the club rumbling at the back doors and stuff. And you'd get closer. People are outside... like, it was a complete different atmosphere. Do you know I mean? So yeah, good times. That's why I'm smiling now even just talking about it.

[laughter / bus doors opening and closing]

Young Aundre: Hi Dre.

Aundre Goddard: Aundre? Aundre? What are you doing here? Wait, what am I doing here?

Young Aundre: Just waiting to catch the bus. Do you want one?

Aundre Goddard: No thank you. Sorry but where’s mum?

Please take a minute and wait by the bus stop. When I was a child my family and I would use this bus stop frequently. If you look across the road you will see an alleyway with a black gate . . . that’s the After Dark club, my dad used to work on the door there and every so often when I was a young boy waiting for the bus he would give us lollipops. They would definitely soften the blow when missing the bus.

[Bus doors closing]

Young Aundre: You sure you don’t want one?

[muffled Victorian street: carriages and tower bells, sound then becomes clear]

Thomas Huntley: Oh, excuse me, sorry. Hurry. Grab the biscuit powder, Currant Tunbridge and macaroons.

Thomas Huntley’s employee: Yes, yes, yes boss.

Thomas Huntley: Hello, I’m Thomas Huntley we’ve just opened and my shop is close by. Would you like to try some cakes or biscuits before you head off on your travels?

Aundre Goddard: Hi Mr Huntley, yeah sure thing, let me just . . . where did the younger version of me go?

[bells]

Thomas Huntley: Are you alright?

Aundre Goddard: Yeah… I’m alright thanks.

Thomas Huntley: Our Savoy biscuits will make you feel better.

Aundre Goddard: I wouldn’t pass up on a biscuit or two. Where are we going?

Thomas Huntley: It’s just up here towards the end of London Street. Stop when you get to the blue plaque.

[Muffled street sounds return]

Aundre Goddard: Walk with me until you get to the plaque that says Huntley House

Wow, this looks amazing.

Thomas Huntley: Thank you. We sell a variety of baked goods here but our specialty is biscuits. We have Captain’s biscuits, rusks, biscuit powder, Savoy biscuits which is the one you’re holding now. What are you waiting for? Tuck in.

[whirring of machinery / piano]

Aundre Goddard: Thomas’s brother Joseph used to make tins for the biscuits directly across the street. They later merged with to with George Palmer after Thomas’s death to become Huntley & Palmers biscuit factory. During the Great War they produced shell casing and food rations for the British army. My grandma used to work for this company when she arrived from Barbados. This is the case for many people in Reading. They all hold a part of heritage with Huntley and Palmer’s biscuits.

Pause the recording and use the traffic lights at the top of the road. Head back down London Street towards an alleyway with a black gate on your left. Once there, you should see a black door with the initials AD painted in yellow. When you have arrived, press play to continue.

[club music and crowd]

This is the After Dark Club, so many amazing bands have played here: Radiohead, Supergrass, the Manic Street Preachers. My dad used to work on the door here during the 70s, 80s and 90s. Let’s see what he’s saying.

[sounds muffles / car noises]

Lionel Nurse: Declan... he used to put on the bands. Right? They had the rock bands and so... when he put the bands on, we used to have a rocking night in the After Dark. A really, really rocking night in the After Dark.

[indistinct conversations]

Into the aisle, the pathway to get into the After Dark, you couldn't move, you couldn't sneeze in, from London Street to the entrance door to the After Dark. It was ram packed. Before it was called the After Dark, it was called the Alexander School of Dance. And the people that bought that from the the Alexander School of Dance was a group called the Crawdaddy. And it changed from the Crawdaddy to the Paradise Club, changed from the Paradise Club to the After Dark Club. And it was not just West Indian people in the After Dark night club. It was not just Western Indian people in the Paradise Club or the Caribbean Club. There was all types of races in there: English, Asians, Blacks and Whites, we were all in it. And we were all enjoying ourselves.

[club music / song ends / applause]

Aundre Goddard: It's been quite a trek. Let's head back down to where we started. Whilst we hear from some of the local people about what they would want future generations to know about London Street.

[music]

Terence Edwards: So for me, I probably would be saying to the grandkids d'you know what, this is where your granddad used to come and party on this road. And they'd be like what? Here? Like, there's chicken shops here now granddad. Do you know what I mean? Or there's apartments here where I'd be like, no, we used to party. At the beginning of the street, we had the Central Club and we used to go there. We used to party and you could get food and play table tennis in the daytime. It was a community. You go a bit further up you had the Matrix and we used to rave there, and that was the garage era, and the champagne era and stuff like that. Then you had After Dark. And I remember going in there on a Sunday with my granddad and playing dominoes, and then they would have venues and stuff like that as well. So my grandkids would be like, no way, granddad... no way.

Katie Maloney: I'd let them know the fun that I had growing up. If they want to know about Central Club, I would say, well, your nan used to go to there. So Central does have a lot of memories for a lot of us. Both christenings, weddings, we've had it all at Central Club.

[kitchen noises]

Tutu Melaku: I think I would say to them, that's Mummy's journey start, and because of this place, and look at you where you are, because also that helps me to bring them where they are at the moment. Because of that, because I have a job, I have a purpose. So I will definitely, I will say that to them.

[music]

Becci Louise: Yeah, I know that it's not Reading centre, but it kind of feels like the centre for me. But just walking up and down that area, just just meandering up that road and like breathing in the mix of smells and sights and and talking to the people and the total eclectic mix there. I just thought, this is this is amazing. This is home. This is where all the cool people are. I think it just, it's lovely when you get that huge celebration of of culture.

Lionel Nurse: I'm part of Reading. I don't care where I go. I'm part of Reading. I did not only grow up in Reading, I grew up in England. And this is where I residence and this is why I came back to when finish my term in the armed forces. I don't want to live anywhere else. But into Reading.

[distant road noises / drone]

Aundre Goddard: This is London Street. This place, this space on the face of it looks like any normal street but what’s stored in these stones is quite unique. I’m going to call it day. I’ll catch you soon.

[fades out to end]


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