We know that this time of year is always quiet.  The lull between finals and national tournaments, or possibly even the following season, is a sportswriter's worst enemy.

But for Reading fans the silence is eerie.  The will it/won’t it nature of a protracted takeover seemingly at the business end of negotiations has the town on edge.

But at least this break in play allows us to throw our gaze over the rest of the town.

I went for a walk around the town centre on Monday for no other reason than sometimes it’s good to wander.  Often when one heads into town, the nature of needing to do things and having to perform tasks takes on more of a reconnaissance mission.  Get in, get out, get what you need, moan about the price of car parking and head home wondering if it was all worth it.

Armed with a copy of Joan Dils’ excellent ‘Reading, A History’ (purchased from Waterstones on Broad Street) I spent a few hours mooching around the town answering the questions that I’ve been too lazy to ask before.  Or maybe it’s possible that I’ve just reached a certain age and have a level of curiosity about things that I have previously taken for granted.

Reading has been here for 1,000 years.  But why here?  In 1121,  King Henry I founded the abbey that is still enjoyed as an attraction to this today.  Again, why here?  The merging of the River Thames and Kennet, as it turns out.  And once you know that, you can start to piece the rise of Reading together, bit by bit.  

So that’s why the train station is there, and the biscuit factory.  And so on…

I very much enjoy walking around the town in this way, but it has a melancholy about it that, with my personality traits, can turn from frustration to anger, much the same as when I played football.

The Sun Inn on Castle Street, dating back to the 13th Century, is a building of such historical importance that it should be subsidised rather than ever being allowed to close down for even one day.  The same with the George on King Street which dates back to 1423.  These buildings are hugely significant to the town and yet they are all too easily ignored.  The George was in need of a lick of paint when I first arrived in Reading in 2003.

Thankfully, there are beautiful buildings that have been saved or incorporated into new structures quite sympathetically in some places, with new apartments transforming parts of the riverside into new communities that take on the names of yesteryear, Palmers for example.

Reading Gaol is another architectural landmark, the sale of which has been as protracted as the football club.  And in a sale that draws striking parallels with the football club, the gaol has been hived off to a Chinese entity with seemingly nobody having any idea what their plans for the site actually are.  It’s astonishing.

There are eyesores of course, like any town.  The Blade for example, recently put up for sale, is about as sympathetic to the aesthetic of town planning as the British Library is to London.  For a long time, The Blade was a towering poke in the eye to the indifference of fighting back.  Supposed ‘statement buildings’ deserve statement architecture.  The awful panelled ‘Blade’ that sits on top is a crude attempt to draw the eye away from the architectural apathy, devoid of any inspiration or relevance that descends for 14 floors to the ground.

Looking up is a good way of uncovering the reality of a town.  It’s interesting how many windows above street level offer no signs of life.  Floor after floor of potential social housing, sat idle as property developers wait to be enticed with tax breaks.  I’d never noticed any of this before.  Who owns all of this, why is it empty, who is it all for?

I love Reading.  But like all towns we have our issues to fix.

With the football club under the threat of liquidation, thousands of people quite rightly took to the streets to make themselves heard.  It would be great if we could summon the same passion to fight for the other things that are just as important in our town.  Our buildings, our architecture, our heritage, our people for God’s sake.

The future creeps up on us without our ever really noticing.  Before we know it, the beautiful building that we ignored for so long has become a supermarket, the gaol is falling apart as its owners try to force through planning for luxury apartments by letting it rot, and, oh look, there used to be a football club over there.

One day, the only place to learn about any of this will be as you wander around the town with its history tucked under one arm.

On Monday, as I walked in the sunshine along the Kennet I was moved to consider how we’ve fought tooth and nail together to save our football club.  I reckon the rest of the town is worth fighting for too.