Global Cafe, 35-39 London St, Reading, RG1 4PS.
Ah, the Global Cafe. A place where men, women, POC, non-binary, trans, genderqueer, queer, disabled, working class people and other people with marginalised or unmarginalised identities can get together in a safe space and discuss the issues of the day. Provided those issues are limited to fair trade, organic food, the dreadful patriarchy that’s all around us, stopping wars or rainbow jumpers made out of lentils.
That’s right, folks – it’s a hugely unfair and sneering review of the popular RISC (Reading International Solidarity Centre) venue, where we make absolutely no effort to truly understand the cause, preferring instead to just make cheap jokes about hippies. Far out, man!
Location: Where the human spirit knows no bounds and love and light stream through crops of golden barley. Also – London Street, next to Great Expectations.
Drink Selection: Only Budvar on draught, but there’s a nice selection of bottle beers. Ales and white beers and the like.
Decor: Imagine your old drama teacher lived on a barge. There you go.
Beer Garden/Smoking Area: Most people smoke their doobies out front, but there is a secret back garden. Here’s a picture we took secretly during our last visit:
Toilets: A faint whack of damp hits you as you descend the stairs, but no more so than your average
canal boat old building. The shabby chic thing continues as arty murals lead to sticker-laden toilet walls. You could imagine you were in a Berlin rock club in the late ’70s. Or the bogs of the Purple Turtle two years ago.
Food: The Global Cafe specialises in Ethiopian food. Tutu’s Ethiopian Table serves up food from the East African country which, chance are, you’re not going to like. Unless you like the taste of cat food and Scotch pancakes soaked in vinegar. With food that already looks like it’s been eaten a couple of times, Thursday night is Buffet night. With all the Ethiopian food you can eat. Which really won’t be very much.
Sports? God, no. Though the Paralympics might get an airing.
Price: It’s an independent and the beers are interesting and slightly exotic, so not cheap. But not crazy. Unfortunately you can’t talk the bar staff into accepting magic beans or wishes as currency. We tried it. They accepted £4.10, though.
Atmosphere: Maybe we smoked one too many incense sticks while we were in there, but there is an enjoyably relaxed and friendly atmosphere. It’s almost like a sixth form common room. But with more balding middle aged men with ponytails who smell of damp and less vicious 17 year-old Snapchatting themselves inhaling nitrous oxide and kicking your head in to a dubstep soundtrack.
Visible Savory Snack Selection: An array of dried gluten-free fruits and seeds are available. As well as politically correct crisps and non-judgemental nuts.
Pub Games: Due to pool clearly being a metaphor for imperialism and the white man’s dominance and oppression of the world (the white cue ball bashing around coloured balls to gain points and putting the black ball down), there’s no table. Also, darts are clearly phallic, so there’s none of that silliness, either.
Punterwatch: You’ve probably already got the idea by now, haven’t you? You know what people who live in Brighton are like? It’s pretty much that.
Clearly not for us, the Global Cafe might not be our cup of organic herbal ginseng and aloe vera green tea, but it has its audience. If you’re a sneering and vile capitalist pigdog like us, you might want to give it a swerve. But if you own beaded necklaces, keep an untidy house, think Sting is a credible recording artist and describe yourself as ‘y’know, kinda, spiritual’… Then, well, you’re probably already a fan, aren’t you?
Peace and love, everyone. Peace and love.