Reading Hydrant

First there’s this: I’m in a town called Reading in the Royal County of Berkshire in England. It’s possible we may live in Reading for a little while. We still haven’t figured that out. But we’re considering it. And when I say “we” I of course mean C and me. And not the royal we. Though perhaps living in a Royal County gives me license to use the Royal We. I suppose I will need to look into this. While I’m making metric conversions of my weight. And remembering that the automatic gear shift is on my left side.

Anyway, Reading seems like a good place to live because it is close to C’s work. And… well… it’s close to C’s work. That’s pretty much the primary impetus. Not that it’s not a perfectly fine English town to inhabit for a period of time on it’s own merit. And look: as a writer with reading inclinations, how could I not want to live in a town called fucking Reading, especially one situated within the goddamned Royal County of Berkshire? In fact, I would love to one day do a reading in Reading. If I were to start a reading series in Reading, I would call it “Reading in Reading.” Or maybe: “Dave’s Reading in Reading” which is great because the name can be read both in the possessive (as in, it’s my reading series) and as a contraction (as in, “Dave is” reading in Reading) which is about as much self-tribute as I could hope for in the name of my own reading series (roughly double, in fact).

There is nothing all that clever about this. I realize that. I realize all I did was find two words and draw the most obvious association and place them together. But still: How could this have not happened already? Maybe it has. But if it hasn’t, it most certainly will, and therefore why should I not take ownership of it?

Second, I walked all about the town centre of Reading this afternoon. While at times I may have “meandered” I’d be hesitant to attribute that particular verb to my action. I can never pull off a proper meander. I’ve tried. But it always looks so forced on me. It’s embarrassing, really. My gait doesn’t lend itself to “meandering.” Too much purpose, innit.  It doesn’t “stroll” either, my gait. Nor does it ramble. I’m quite certain if I have ever strolled anywhere it was totally by accident and likely the result of bad gas. And the only rambling I do, and I do it frequently, pertains to my speech.

So, I walked, then. I walked with something akin to intent. With something approaching purpose. I stopped occasionally to make notes in a small, light-brown pocket notebook. I took photos. I may have looked like I was scoping the place out.  I may have presented myself in a suspicious manner. I may have given off a vibe of malevolence. At the very least, a passerby might say I was of questionable intent.

But look, here’s the point: in my couple of hours of walking about those crowded streets, I did not see one dog. I am not kidding. No dogs. In a crowded town centre.  This worries me, as I was thinking it might be nice to rent a place near this very town centre. A place thriving with people, but still small enough that you could call it a “town” and mean it. But then I’m wondering, would I become the Lone Man Who Walks the Dogs in Reading Town. Would this cause people to look at me with the deep scorn and furious derision?  Would I become a target for what, as far as I know, is a dog-hating population, with a dog-hating philosophy written right into the town’s dog-hating constitution. And would this help or hinder any efforts I made to start a reading series called “Dave’s Reading in Reading?” (You know, given the fact that no publicity is bad publicity. It does seem like it could go either way.)

Third, as with the entire UK, there are no hydrants here in Reading. Only hydrant signs standing in for physical hydrants, which are just boring pipes hidden in the ground. It’s possible there is no greater tragedy than this. But I did find this hydrant sign up on a lamp-post today. Which was something, for sure. Because normally they are on the walls of buildings. Seeing a hydrant sign on a lamp-post is about as much hydrant excitement as I can hope for during my stay in the UK, whether it be in Reading or any other English town through which I might walk with the appearance of questionable intent.