A little over a year ago, as I was starting to get switched on to the Skeptics In The Pub phenomenon, I looked around in vain for any skeptical groups in Berkshire. I thought about starting a local group myself but I was afraid I would not find many like minds, since none of my friends or work colleagues appeared to share my enthusiasm.
When I first met John Stumbles in September I saw I wrong to have been so pessimistic. Through his hard work with the Reading Skeptics Facebook* group, his website, leafleting and networking, John had several dozen people signed up to his mailing list, while the skeptics' meet-ups he organises at the RISC Global Cafe attracts 10-15 people every month. I realised then there was clearly sufficient demand in Reading to replicate the brilliant Skeptics In The Pub experience that I had enjoyed in Winchester and Oxford.
And last month I think we did just that. Fifty people at Copa applauded Matt Parker as the first guest speaker at Reading Skeptics In The Pub. Anyone who has seen Matt perform live or heard him on The Infinite Monkey Cage will know he is extremely funny and informative with it.
I have not yet publicly thanked everyone who helped make the event the most excellent evening of rationalism, comedy and beer that Reading has seen. Heartfelt thanks go to John for MC'ing; to Ciaran McHale, John Holden and Dave Hughes for the audiovisuals; to everybody who helped to promote it, most especially David McKnight; to Dan for arranging the inaugural Reading SitCH; to Alex and the team at Copa for being so hospitable and just fantastically cool; and of course to Matt Parker for being awesome.
While everybody had a great time and were keen to come again (at least, nobody admitted to not wanting to come again), the most encouraging thing for me was that only five or six of us had ever been to another Skeptics In The Pub event elsewhere. That means we brought SITP to 40+ new people and got them wanting more. That can't be bad.
I've got a strong suspicion the next event (March 24th) will be even better, when we welcome the brilliant Jourdemayne, blogger, skeptic and student of the macabre. I strongly advise you not to miss that.
* Sorry, I can't bring myself to hyperlink to Facebook. If you have to use that accursed thing you can search for it yourself.