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A playlist of local artists featured in When Reading Really Rocked

When Reading Really Rocked is a hugely well informed and entertaining account of live music in Reading between 1966 and 1976, from the emergence of psychedelia to the dawn of punk. Author Mike Warth has put together a fantastic playlist of some of the local bands and artists that feature in the book, which will be a trip down memory lane for many, or a great introduction to some of the music from the local area that you might not previously have heard.

You can find the playlist on YouTube, and the commentary below from Mike provides some background information about the artists and tracks. I hope you enjoy listening!

ALMA COGAN. Although born in London Alma Cogan moved to Reading with her family where her father set up a tailor’s shop in Kings Road. She was educated at St Joseph’s Convent and prompted by her mother began her singing career with a performance at The Palace Theatre in Cheapside (demolished in 1961). Her first record was released in 1952 and was the first of many. ‘Dreamboat‘ featured here was released in 1955 and became her only record to reach number 1 in the charts. Sadly she died of ovarian cancer in 1966 aged only 34.

THE GANGBUSTERS were fronted by Cal Vincent who in the week delivered bread and rolls and at the weekend delivered rock and roll. ‘The Memory Of Your Face‘ was their only record release. They were actually from Wallingford but played the Reading clubs and halls on a regular basis.

THE MOQUETTES. Formed in 1962 The Moquettes had become Reading’s top band by 1964 when they were snapped up by famed producer Mickie Most. ‘Right String But Wrong Yo-Yo‘ their sole record soon appeared and received plenty of tv and radio airplay but sadly sales were not enough to crack the charts and following a tour of Germany the band split up.

MARIANNE FAITHFULL moved to Milman Road, Reading in 1952 with her mother after her parents’ divorce and like Alma Cogan before her she attended St Joseph’s Convent School. Having made the acquaintance of The Rolling Stones she recorded ‘As Tears Go By‘ a Mick Jagger-Keith Richards song. It propelled her to number 9 in the charts and many records followed. Her mother apparently ran a cafe in Reading’s Harris Arcade adjacent to and incorporating part of what is now the wonderful Sound Machine record store.

PLATFORM SIX. This band was formed out of The Jellys, themselves a popular attraction in the town’s clubs and halls who had been formed by members of the REME staff band from nearby Arborfield. Dodgy management sadly led to the demise of Platform Six but not before they recorded the fine ‘Money Will Not Mean A Thing‘ and also another backing singer Billie Davis. Some members of the band then moved on to join The Amboy Dukes.

ARTHUR BROWN. A student at Reading University where he studied Philosophy and Law, Arthur Brown realised his passion was actually in music and could be heard singing in a number of the town’s pubs and halls with various bands, among them Dave Morgan’s Jazzband and The Dominoes. With the latter he recorded ‘You Don’t Know‘ for the 1965 Reading University Rag. It appeared on flexidisc and is now a sought after collector’s item. By 1967 he had formed his own band The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown and in 1968 took the charts by storm with the brilliant ‘Fire’. He has been recording ever since.

MIKE COOPER AND DEREK HALL were mainstays of Reading’s folk clubs in the mid sixties especially that in the Shades Coffee Bar, Gun Street. In 1965 they produced the 4-track EP suitably titled Out Of The Shades from which the song ‘Livin’ With The Blues‘ is taken. Released in a tiny number it was the first record either had played on. Mike was a champion of the live music scene in the town and continued his career with a string of interesting and varied albums.

THE AMBOY DUKES. Formed in 1965 The Amboy Dukes were Reading’s finest appearing all over the town and before long all over the country after they were picked up by the prestigious Rik Gunnell Agency. A record deal with Polydor was secured and this delightfully titled single was the third of their six releases. Sadly, neither ‘High Life In Whitley Wood‘ a great piece of fun ska music, and a popular part of their live repertoire, nor any of their other releases cracked the charts and in 1970 this fine band called it a day.

THE SALLYANGIE. Brother and sister Mike and Sally Oldfield formed The Sallyangie in 1967 and secured a recording contract with the assistance of John Renbourn who played in Reading on numerous occasions. Their 1968 album ‘Children Of The Sun’ was followed by the single ‘Two Ships‘ featured here, in ’69. Sally was the elder by some six years and with her parents moved to Reading where Mike was born in 1953. Sally had been a scholar at St Josephs Convent (or Holy Joe’ s as it was affectionately known) where she struck up a friendship with Marianne Faithfull. Mike attended St Edward’s Primary School and Presentation College which was just over the road from their home in Monk’s Way (off Southcote Lane). They also lived at some point in Western Elms Avenue. Sally’s musical career took a backseat for a while after this LP but Mike pursued his with the extraordinary Tubular Bells appearing in 1973.

OEDIPUS COMPLEX. This Reading band could be found honing their skills around the town in 1968 and put out a couple of records on the Philips label in a pop/rock style. Unfortunately a hoped for album did not materialize and they disappeared. Included here is ‘Empty Highway‘ which was actually the B side of their second release.

MIKE COOPER. Your Lovely Ways‘ appeared in 1970 at a time when his record label Dawn were releasing ‘maxi-singles’, basically 4-track EPs played at the same speed as an LP rather than the usual 45rpm. It didn’t catch on but allowed Mike to stretch out with two good songs followed by a couple of jazzy arrangements displaying more than a hint of the avant-garde.

HERON. Take Me Back Home‘ was included on their second album Twice As Nice And Half The Price as well as being released as a single. This local band had strong association with Reading Technical College where they played countless times as well as other venues across the town. Their gentle folk/rock sound is a delight with both albums having been recorded outside in the country rather than a pukka studio, the first at a cottage the band lived and rehearsed in at Appleford, the second in Devon. Lead singer Gerald T. Moore had previously been a member of Reading band The Memphis Gents and would soon be fronting his own band G.T. Moore and The Reggae Guitars. He’s still at it to this day.

THE BOATMEN. Local folk singers Eric Blackburn and John Grace teamed up with a few others to produce an album’s worth of traditional songs relating to inland waterways entitled Straight From The Tunnel’s Mouth. ‘Waterways Lament‘ is from that album released in 1975. Eric could be found regularly around the town’s pubs at this time singing in The Tudor Tavern, Ye Boar’s Head and The Three Tuns amongst others. In fact he formed his own folk club in the latter called The Brick ‘n’ Fret.

TUDOR LODGE. Here’s another outfit with connections to The Tudor Tavern although they were perhaps more often seen (heard) in The White Horse, Caversham Road, spiritual home to Reading’s folk scene for a good few years in the 70’s. They released a delightful album of acoustic folk songs on the renowned Vertigo label which has become a major collectable and ‘The Lady’s Changing Home‘ is from that album. Founder member John Stannard continued playing with various blues and folk bands he put together until recently but sadly died earlier this year.

SHILLINGFORD MILL. Two Bulmershe College students Steve Hall and Chas Seward were the creators of this little known outfit. They released ‘Frightened‘ and one other single as Shillingford Mill and then changed name to Richmond (they had their own studio on Richmond Hill). ‘Frightened’ is a fine song which they re-recorded and included on their sole album. They even went as far as using it for the album’s title. Falling into the folk/pop category and being perfectly listenable it remains a total obscurity.

MIKE COOPER’S MACHINE GUN COMPANY. Not one to sit still and become typecast in any one genre Mike Cooper put together a band of local musicians and released two albums of tracks with a touch of blues, folk, jazz and country. ‘Song For Abigail‘ kicks off the second album simply entitled The Machine Gun Company with Mike Cooper. On both of these can be found Les Calvert (bass)  who played in The Memphis Gents in the mid sixties.

GRAPHITE. Reading University was where this band were formed around 1969 and they continued gigging until 1973. If you headed off to see a known band at the Uni between those years there was a strong possibility Graphite would have been the support band. They managed just one single at the time but recent retrospective releases give a better idea of their laid back progressive rock sound – as exemplified by this track ‘Starflight Over The Skies‘.

G.T.MOORE AND THE REGGAE GUITARS. Following spells in the r’n’b styled Reading band The Memphis Gents and the nationally admired folk/rock outfit Heron, G.T.Moore veered off in a different direction yet again forming a white reggae band. Such a line-up was virtually unique in the UK but their ability to play with such authenticity brought them considerable respect both from the music press and music fans. Two albums resulted with ‘I’m Still Waiting‘ appearing on their eponymous first as well as on a 45. After they split in ’77 G.T.Moore pursued a successful solo career with a number of albums to his name.

THE DAVE MORGAN JAZZ BAND. Whilst Reading was something of a hot bed for trad jazz through the 60’s and 70s with the nation’s top musicians regularly appearing at The Upper Deck, the town had its own legend in the genre with Dave Morgan and his band. Trombonist Dave Morgan was inspired as a 16 year old having seen the great Chris Barber and put together his own outfit which played virtually every venue in the town for many years way beyond the period covered in When Reading Really Rocked. In the 70’s the band produced an album entitled Jazz Merchants which offers a real taste of the band’s sound.

AFT (AUTOMATIC FINE TUNING). Edgy progressive rock is on offer on this seasoned Reading band’s sole LP from 1976. ‘Queen Of The Night‘ which closes the album is more of a straightforward rock sound with vocals, largely absent elsewhere on the album. Some members had previously played in another local outfit, Glyder and were often to be seen at the (in)famous Target pub in town.

CLAYSON AND THE ARGONAUTS. Former Bulmershe College student Alan Clayson put together this wonderfully named band in 1976 and caught the eye of the music press resulting in plenty of publicity. A record deal with Virgin followed with ‘The Taster‘ their debut single. Alan has in more recent years become a respected rock biographer whilst continuing to gig with the band up to this day.

THE SHAMBLES. Patrick Wass and Brian Jefferson landed in Reading in 1970 after their time at Exeter University. They soon could be found playing the local folk circuit including being resident at The Red Cow, Southampton Street amongst others. This version of the traditional ‘John Barleycorn‘ appeared on a privately pressed EP released in small numbers and gives a clear indication of the duo’s talents. Patrick is still writing and performing to this day.

Buy the book

 

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Caribbean Stories poetry competition winners: a guest post from Jocelyn Chandler-Hawkins

As Black History Month draws to a close, the lived Caribbean migrant experience has given those from outside of the diaspora an insight into the impacts of coming to the ‘Mother Country’ on the Windrush migrants and their descendants.

To commemorate Windrush Day in June, Through A Different Lens (TADL) ran a poetry competition for participants to share their reflections and experiences. The activity received 20 entries with a first prize winner and 2 runner up prizes awarded by a panel of expert judges. The competition along with 2 film making events and a screening night to be held on the 21st November 2020 were supported by Resource Productions with funding from the Windrush Fund from the Ministry of Housing, communities and local Government.

It’s been a really rewarding experience to support this type of creativity from the Caribbean community. The poems evoked the lives of those who came to UK and the impacts on their children. As a person of Barbadian heritage I want to support further creative works and I look forward to planning future activity and events.

To read the poems and to find out about the November film and poetry evening visit the Through A Different Lens website here.

~

Jocelyn Chandler-Hawkins

Through a Different Lens showcases and supports films and other creative works from the Caribbean & African diaspora.

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Martin Richards writes about Alfred Waterhouse in Reading and beyond

A famed Victorian architect’s time in Reading and beyond

A guest post from Martin Richards

What is the connection between the great Victorian architect, Alfred Waterhouse and Paddington Bear, who arrived at the London railway station from deepest Peru? Well Michael Bond the bear’s creator was brought up in Reading and his witnessing the evacuees arriving at Reading General station at the beginning of WW2 was an inspiration behind the Paddington Bear books. In his late thirties Alfred Waterhouse who hailed from Liverpool and Manchester built a house, Foxhill (1867-8), for himself and his family on the Whiteknights Park estate on the edge of Reading, while running his practice in central London. Concurrently Waterhouse was designing London’s Natural History Museum, which just happens to be Paddington Bear’s favourite building as witnessed in his first film outing.

In a career of nearly fifty years Waterhouse became a foremost exponent of Victorian Gothic architecture and was involved in designing, adapting or restoring around six hundred and fifty buildings, including town halls, university colleges, museums, private homes and ecclesiastical buildings. In Manchester for instance he designed the Assize Courts, a much praised early work that established his reputation for large and well-planned projects. Much damaged, it was pulled down after WW2 but his imposing Strangeways prison close by and his towering gothic masterpiece, Manchester Town Hall are still extant.

In the 1850s the Whiteknights Park estate (now the University) was divided into six plots of land that were sold off with a sizeable house built on each. After retirement Waterhouse’s wealthy textile manufacturing father, also Alfred, and Quaker mother bought one of these in 1859 and a few years later leased a part of his land to his son to build Foxhill House, by Whiteknight’s lake. Waterhouse had already built a house Erlegh (sic) Park on the opposite side of the lake for a plantation owner from the West Indies; this was pulled down in the nineteen sixties to make way for Wessex Hall, student accommodation for the University that had recently been re-sited to the park. His third building on the estate, Wilderness House was also demolished in the nineteen fifties.

In the ten years before he moved his family to the delightful west Berkshire village of Yattendon in 1877, Waterhouse left his mark in the Reading area. He built the south end of Reading Town Hall which included the iconic clock tower; the north end – nearer the railway – was started in 1877 but was the work of Thomas Lainston, a cheaper option. His rebuilt and greatly expanded Reading Grammar School (1868-72) was relocated to Craven/Addington/Erleigh Road from its central site: it is one of the oldest schools in the country, starting out in the mid-twelfth century as the school for Reading Abbey but by the nineteenth century had declined and needed reinvigorating. East Thorpe in Redlands Road was built as the marital home for George Palmer and his bride Alice Exall; it was later given by Palmer, the founder of Huntley and Palmer’s biscuits, to University College, Reading (later Reading University) and is now the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL). In 1877 he was asked to build a Temperance Building in Silver Street, a poor area just south of the centre of the town. By the 1980s the Rising Sun Institute, as it was by then known, was in a semi-derelict state and after a semi-squat by campaigning local artists, was reopened as the Rising Sun Arts Centre.

Oh yes, there is another connection with children’s literature. Not a bear but a squirrel and a rabbit. Early on in his life as an architect he built two neighbouring houses by Derwentwater near Keswick in the Lake District. Beatrix Potter when holidaying from London stayed in both of these and was inspired to create Squirrel Nutkin and Peter Rabbit, well-known characters in her children’s books.

A lot more can be read about these matters in Alfred Waterhouse, architect. The life and works of a Victorian Goth, a ninety-page A5 illustrated book that can be bought privately from Martin Richards, £10 incl. p&p.

Email Martin at: newleafdesign@waitrose.com

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Poet of the Week – 21: René Noyau

TWO RIVERS PRESS POET OF THE WEEK—21: RENÉ NOYAU

René Noyau (1911/12-84) was a Mauritian poet of African and European descent. He was also an essayist, playwright, chronicler, short story writer and aphorist. He wrote in French and Mauritian Creole and used a number of pseudonyms and initials: Jean Erenne, Jean-Claude Bouais, Michèle Bouais, Prof, Observateur, R., N., R.N., J.E., as well as his own name. He tended to use Jean Erenne for his poetry.

He influenced literary and social events in his island: for example, in 1934 he introduced surrealism with L’Ange aux Pieds d’Airain (The Angel with Feet of Bronze) and importantly in 1971 relaunched Mauritian Creole in literature with the fable Tention Caïma (Beware Crocs About). He was happy to acknowledge and celebrate his origins at a time when African ancestry and heritage were not prized or even mentioned. He was strongly for an independent Mauritius and in the 1950s made writing about politics and the dispossessed his main priority. He described himself as shy but audacious. In his writings he was prepared to stand against what he felt was unjust: he was a strong polemist.

His output is remarkable in quantity and quality. Apart from trying his hand at various genres he was also a prolific letter writer. His commercially published work was limited to two collections of poetry: L’Ange aux Pieds d’Airain (1934), Le Labyrinthe Illuminé (1939) (The Labyrinth Alight), one book of aphorisms and reflections: Le Poinçon de Cristal (1942) (The Cristal Punch). Those three books were signed Jean Erenne. He also published a book of short stories called Passerelles (1936) (Gateways) signed Jean-Claude Bouais. He edited Frontières (1940) (Frontiers) a collection of writings by various authors including two of his own: La Lettre (The Letter)a short story signed Jean Erenne and an essay Filière (Connections) signed Jean-Claude Bouais. Finally, in 1971 he published Tention Caïma, the fable in Mauritian Creole accompanied by a French version, Il y a Toujours des Caïmans (There will Always be Crocodiles), both signed René Noyau. In 2012/13 Gérard Noyau, his son, introduced and edited four volumes of his works, René Noyau, l’oeuvre, in Mauritius with the help of Culture et Avenir (Culture and the Future)a department attached to the office of the then Prime Minister of Mauritius.

As a journalist and chronicler, René Noyau contributed to the dailies Le Mauricien, Le Cernéen, Advance, Action, and to the fortnightly Zamana. In all about 350 of his articles and chronicles have been recovered. The magazine, Le Musée Vivant, Paris, published two of his essays L’Europe et l’Afrique se sont retrouvées dans un tableau de Lapicque (1955) (Europe and Africa meet in a painting by Lapicque) and Présence africaine à l’île Maurice (1956) (African Presence in Mauritius), and three poems: Terre en Feu (1955) (Earth on Fire), Les Arbres Volent et les Oiseaux Tombent (1957)  (Trees Fly and Birds fall) and Sega de Liberté (1959) (Sega of Freedom). His Présence Africaine à l’Île Maurice was republished in Sève, a Mauritian publication, in 1958.

Many of his works were published privately, very often for fear of reprisal by the authorities, and circulated among friends in Mauritius and abroad. His long political poem Les Amis du Peuple Veillent (1965 and1968) (The Friends of the People are Watching) is a good example. It saw the riots and the resulting state of emergency as a scheme by the colonial power to quell the voice of the people and surreptitiously annex part of the Mauritian islands before independence, for their oil deposits.

René Noyau and Two Rivers Press: In March 2021, Two Rivers Press will publish Earth on Fire and Other Poemsa selection of René’s poems in bilingual format, the English versions by his son Gérard Noyau with Peter Pegnall. The three poems that follow give a bare indication of the scope of his poetry. The first Fierté (Pride) is illustrative of his love poems. Sadly, for Noyau, love is a ‘microbe’ always ending in separation or other longing. The second, Nature Morte (Still Life), published posthumously, is a moving sketch of a moment in time. The third is the first part of Légendes de Temps et de Lieu (1939) (Legends of Time and Place) which he described as a poem for children.

~

FIERTÉ (1939)

Mes mains avaient appris à t’appeler parmi les foules.
Je t’avais reconnue au signe simple de la joie
et nous sommes restés longtemps à regarder
les hommes qui passaient au son tumultueux des cuivres de l’amour.

Puis tu m’as demandé d’oublier comme on demande à boire …
je t’ai tendu ma grande coupe débordante de silence.
Et depuis, entre nous, il existe un regard
dont la lumière est déchirante comme un cri !

PRIDE

My hands had learnt to call you in a crowd.
I had recognised you from the simple sign of joy
and we stayed a long time looking at
people who passed to the swirling fanfare of love.

Then you asked me to forget like we’d ask for a drink …
I stretched out my great goblet overflowing with silence.
And since then, between us, there exists a look
whose light is as heartrending as a scream!

~

NATURE MORTE

Sa grâce suspendue
la grenade mordue
les arbres décollés
une chevelure éparse
un étui de violoncelle
un bruit de moteur
un vendeur de journaux
toute une simplicité de femme assise
triant du riz

STILL LIFE

Her gracefulness suspended
the pomegranate bitten into
trees blasted off
hair wind-blown
a cello case
an engine sound
a newspaper seller
all the simplicity of a woman sitting
cleaning rice

~

LÉGENDES DE TEMPS ET DE LIEU (1939)

I

Les étoiles ne sont plus des lampes,
Ce sont des visages qui sourient
Parce que le ciel ainsi que mon cœur est clair.
La lune n’est plus l’écuelle du chien,
C’est une chèvre qui s’en va
Très lentement boire à l’étang
Et qui sème sur la prairie son lait pur
Et dans mon cœur sa laine grise.
Et l’arbre n’est plus l’arbre,
C’est un pauvre au bord du chemin,
Un mendiant qui tend les mains
Au bord du chemin de mon cœur.
Et je chante pour lui qui ne peut plus m’entendre
Que par le beau miracle vivant de ses sèves.

Et je ne chante pas.
Je trace simplement des routes
Parce que des visages me sourient.
Parce que la chèvre va boire
Et que m’écoute un mendiant.

LEGENDS OF TIME AND PLACE

I

The stars are no longer lights,
They are faces that smile
Because the sky as well as my heart is clear.
The moon is no longer the bowl of the dog,
It’s a goat which moves
Very slowly towards the pond for a drink
And which sows its pure milk on the meadow
And its grey wool in my heart.
And the tree is no longer the tree,
It’s a poor man at the side of the road,
A beggar stretching his hands
At the edge of the road to my heart
And I sing for the one who can no longer hear me
Except through the living miracle of his lifeblood.

And I do not sing.
I only map out the way
Because faces smile at me.
Because the goat goes to drink
And because a beggar listens to me.

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Reading’s Influential Women – an inspiring read!

Reading’s Influential Women features more than 60 individual Women who have a connection with Reading and have made a notable difference in the world. Some are well known international names, others deserve to be. They are pioneers, familiar faces, recognisable voices, unsung heroes, campaigners, world changers, socialists, celebrities, Olympic and sporting champions, writers, artists, and scientists. It’s an inspiring read!

Authors Terry Dixon and Linda Saul write:

‘There are innumerable men and women from Reading who have achieved significant things or contributed to the life of the town and/or the wider world. Some, unfortunately, have gone unrecognised or are forgotten. Also, we know that in the past, the contribution of women was often dismissed, overlooked or attributed to somebody else.

In this book we can’t hope to document all those women connected to Reading who deserve to be mentioned but we can raise the profile of some, especially those whose connection to Reading is relatively unknown. To be included, women need to have been born, bred, educated in the greater Reading area, or to have lived there, or else have made an indelible mark on the town. We have included a couple of ‘unsung heroines’, but we know there are many more.

Many of the women in this book will have had their lives affected by misogyny. Several have played their part in challenging such attitudes. Edith Morley was a Suffragist (although Lady Wantage was antisuffragism), Ethelwyn Trewavas campaigned for married women to be able to keep their jobs. Some, such as Lettice Curtis, just got on and proved how good they were in a field dominated by men. Modern campaigns, such as Me Too, and the under-representation of women in many fields and the top tiers of organisations remind us there is still more progress to be made.

One area which has seen massive improvement in recent years is sport. Elite sportswomen are clearly influential in encouraging wider participation in sport, at all levels, and we have several examples in this book. But who knows how many more there might have been if women’s sport had not been discouraged in the not-too-distant past.

In writing this book some interesting threads emerged, and there are always questions. It is fun to try to find any connections between the individuals – were Jane Austen and Mary Mitford friends? Is it coincidence that one of the first female professional photographers set up a business in the same town where William Fox Talbot had made major advances in photography just a decade earlier?’

The authors’ royalties from the book are to be donated to Berkshire Women’s Aid.

About the Authors:

Terry Dixon was born in Tilehurst, Reading, and held the post of National Publicity and Development Officer on the National Federation of 18 Plus Groups NEC for 6 years. In his day job he was an electronics engineer and project manager. Taking early retirement in 2016, he started ‘Terry’s Reading Walkabouts’ to get fitter, and to introduce visitors and residents to the hidden culture and history of Reading. In 2017 he decided to celebrate Vote 100 by creating a new guided walk called ‘Famous/not-so-famous women of Reading’ which was launched in February 2018 to coincide with the date the Act of Parliament received royal assent. His research for that walk is the basis for this book. His walkabouts have raised over £7500 (including £1000 for Berkshire Women’s Aid) for local charities and he is a member of Reading Civic Society’s committee.

Linda Saul was born and raised on the Isle of Wight but has lived in Reading for about 35 years. After studying at Cambridge, she embarked on a successful career in IT. In her younger, wilder, days she developed a habit of falling out of aircraft before finally learning to fly one. She is now a full-time artist, her work focusing on the built environment. She exhibits regularly in London and is an active member of the Reading Guild of Artists. A perpetual student, she has completed a physics degree with the Open University and is now studying for a Masters in mathematics. In 2019 Linda cocurated an exhibition of art inspired by Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Galvanised by the campaign to save Reading Gaol for the town, she conceived and organised the Reading Gaol Hug with the help of many others, including Terry.