My perfect Reading weekend: Sh*t Things in Reading

Claire Slobodian
STiR Image

Sh*t Things in Reading is an online community with a bit of a cult following for the somewhat darker and dafter side of our great town. A Facebook page, pub review website and occasional podcast all conspire to update Reading folk with all the latest news, only seen through the greasy binoculars of a miserable bloke who spends far too much time online.

Follow Mr. Sh*t Things as he takes you on his perfect Reading weekend, involving dingy old man pubs, Reading City FC, the jukebox at Up The Junction and an Oxford Road diner that wouldn’t look out of place on Footballer’s Wives.


Food & drink

The Turk's Head Reading
The Turks – that could even be STiR sat out front.

Having reviewed more than fifty pubs for my dreadfully-named Sh*t & Not Sh*t Pubs in Reading pub review blog, I should really be able to lay out the very best Reading pub crawl possible. But me and my pals have very ‘specific’ tastes. We approach boozers in much the same way that your grandad might – if it doesn’t look like it could be used as a filming location for The Sweeney, it’s no good.

My ideal weekend in town would feature plenty of responsible binge drinking in any one or six of the following drinkholes: The Sun, The Allied, The Bugle, The Turks, The Alehouse, The Nag’s, The Clifton, Reading Railway Club or the exclusive Caversham Working Men’s Club, of which I am – dear reader – a member (don’t be jelly).

In case anyone’s starting to think that I’m either a total geezer or a pathetic working-class hero wannabe type, The Greyfriar, The Fox & Hounds and The Eldon Arms would all be considered as well. Because a) I’m not a total oik, 2) They’re top pubs and iii) I have a girlfriend and I’m not cruel enough to make her spend her weekends exclusively in dingy old man pubs.

If I’m out late and feeling fruity I’d opt for the top shelf ouzo and jukebox of the legendary East Reading dive bar Up the Junction or, for some unknown reason, the genuinely terrible Smokin’ Billy Bob’s Rib Shack of Love or whatever it’s called this week. Y’know, that weird restaurant/bar/club thing at St. Mary’s Butts. It’s bloody awful, but I’m drawn to the place. Like a drunk moth to a flame in the shape of a poorly-run late night bar.

Oh, yeah. Food. As a vegetarian currently on a diet, you shouldn’t really listen to what I have to say about food. I mostly just eat Snack-a-Jacks and celery. Let’s say I’m treating myself, though. There’s a weird 50’s-style diner at the top of the Occy Road called Benny’s Gourmet that serves Halal stuff and a veggie burger that I’m fairly sure is 150% beef because it’s just so damned delicious. It’s weird in there; it’s all pink and Footballer’s Wives-y. It looks like Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, if it were painted by Katie Price. Which is obviously a plus.

Things to do

Reading City FC
Reading City FC v Chipping Sodbury. Photo: Peter Toft

Saturday afternoons were made for football. I’m pretty sure it says that somewhere in The Bible. Near the front, I think. I wasn’t born around here, so I’ve no real fondness for Reading FC at all. Despite having watched them dozens of times (that’s how dull a club they are). I prefer the hipster alternative: non-league football.

As of the 2018/19 season, there’s a new club for the town to get behind, Reading City FC. You’ve gotta love ‘em, if for no other reason than they had the temerity to come up with that name. They play in the Hellenic Premier Division, which is part of the ninth tier of English football. Home games take place at Scours Lane in Tilehurst (the number 17 bus will get you there). They’ve got a clubhouse there with a bar and grub and everything. It makes for a decent Saturday afternoon.

Rising Sun Arts Centre
Rising Sun Arts Centre

Maybe I’d catch some live music somewhere in between the football, pubs and Smokin’ Bill’s Love Shack. The Rising Sun Arts Centre usually have some good locals acts on, especially if Club Velocity are running the evening. The Pink Diamond Revue and Cody Noon are particularly worth going to see.

Heritage & culture

I’m not really much of a culture vulture. In fact, I’m barely even a culture pigeon. Unless going to watch a film where Denzel Washington pistol whips bad people on my own for two hours down at Vue counts as culture. If so, I’m a veritable Andrew Graham-Dixon. Albeit an Andrew Graham-Dixon that smuggles a multipack of salt and vinegar Snack-a-Jacks into the cinema.

If you want to keep up to date with the slightly less glamorous side of Reading, you can visit the STiR Facebook page.

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