Big Daddy

It’s Father’s Day (or Fathers’ Day? I can never remember where the apostrophe goes) in a few weeks time, which means that the petrol station forecourts are dusting down the point of sale unit for that staple gift: the dadsploitation album.

What’s a dadsploitation album?

It’s a NOW album but from THEN, a compilation that makes no real sense except for the fact that it is MUSIC TO DRIVE TO. Because we all know that dads love cars and dads love driving but most of all dads love driving in cars listening to classic rock. And who can blame them? After all, few things are as exhilarating as blasting Thunder Road at full volume whilst stuck on the M6 somewhere near Stoke.

In a way Birmingham invented the dadsploitation album, by way of inventing the petrol station as a place for forgetful children to panic buy gifts and milk and sometimes petrol.

All of which is a clumsy way of saying it’s time for you to buy your old man a copy of 101 Things Gave The World — from Amazon or from B-Town stockists Library of Birmingham, Symphony Hall and the Coffin Works (they won an award last night, you should go visit them).

Most people liked it but just in case your dad gets upset by the inaccuracies (we call them “jokes”) or finds chapter 23 awful we’ll throw in a free dadspolitation album packed with 101 of his favourite Brummie driving tracks.

Rock on Daddy.

Image of Big Daddy allegedly CC Paul Townsend but I don’t think that will stand up in court


Posted in 101 Things Brum Gave The World

ROFLs cartoon club

You’ve got to laugh, or else you’ll cry. If you’ve seen the Internet then you’ll know that the UK’s political landscape now looks like Maggie.


The cartoon character, as well as the right-wing icon of hate.

More amusingly Birmingham looks like this.


Like Papa Smurf’s head, upside down. If you squint. A lot.

We’re betting the locals will be similar, perhaps with a touch of jaundice.

If you like your jokes live, come see our show at MAC, 21st May.

Posted in clickbait

In Perry Barr you have two votes for Labour (possibly more)

Wes Mundell, our political editor, continues his #hyperlocal coverage of the 2015 General Election with this dispatch from Perry Barr…

Round the grounds 2015

No. 2 — the election view in Perry Barr



PC predicts: Labour hold. And a close watch on the post.

Not turkeys voting for Christmas, but a possibility of stuffing.

If you like your jokes live, come see our show at MAC, 21st May.

Posted in misc

Into the Blue

THUMBNAIL_IMAGEWith cover by 101 Things Birmingham Gave the World artist Mark Murphy, Peter Bourne’s new novel is an ambitious and very real book. We’re happy to share an excerpt.

Set against defining 1980s events like the Falklands War and the Hillsborough disaster and the ever-changing landscape of Birmingham, Into the Blue is the story of a family tree decayed by betrayal, revenge and suspicion. More info here, or buy on Amazon right now.


Carl’s a man of few words. And even fewer on the telephone. The Talking Clock has a wider range of conversation. Carter has never been able to digest his father-in-law’s slow, ponderous and thick Small Heath accent without diverting his brain elsewhere. If Carl was an animal, he’d be a city pigeon. If he was an image, he’d be a monotone visual of a 1980s roundabout. If he was a sport, he’d be crown green bowls. Carl informs Carter with loveless precision that his mother will call him back and let him know if Wednesday night’s suitable. Carl does his pools run on a Wednesday followed by two pints of piss in The Green Horn in Redditch. The one night of the week Carl leaves the comfort of suburban bliss, aside from the twice-monthly trip to the Chinese with Pat. An occasion where Carl doesn’t need the menu. He’s found what he likes and sticks to it. Carl’s a tedious creature of habit.

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Posted in art

Sutton UKIPs: “shortage of poles in North Brum”

Wes Mundell, our political editor, kicks off our #hyperlocal coverage of the 2015 General Election with this dispatch from Sutton Coldfield…

Round the grounds 2015

No. 1 — the election view in Sutton Coldfield

UKIP sign board

Laminated signs: election edition

There’s also a shortage of proles in Sutton, and the few they have know their fucking place.

PC predicts: Tory hold.

If you like your jokes live, come see our show at MAC, 21st May.

Posted in Politics, Round the Grounds 2015

No sad songs, an interview with Stephen Duffy

The excuse for talking to Stephen Duffy is the release of the first Lilac Time album in ten years, but that really is just an excuse: we could listen to him forever. Paradise Circus is more named after the Lilac Time album  of that name than even the traffic island. That said, No Sad Songs is a wonderful collection that you should head out and pick up right now.


“Yes, we have always been guilty of self mythologising,” Stephen Duffy tells me, so allow me to build my own. I’m talking to him not sitting on the grass near Nick Drake’s grave, nor in a dappled Digbeth pub where our words would be lit with dusty spikes of light though the stained glass, but over the phone. He’s at home in Cornwall, I’m in an almost quiet enough corner of a conference centre in London that will from now be forever Birmingham.

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Posted in art, folk heroes, future nostalgia

101 Things Brum Gave The World. No. 73: Running a marathon

Batman at the London Marathon

In 2015 running is a spectacle and it’s a big business. The Great North Run and the London Marathon are sporting mega-events: televised and commodified, they’re about much more than running. They’re about cities, landmarks, tourism, charity, personal achievements, narratives and mythology. Ultimately they are about ways of constructing those things for us and about controlling the meaning of them.

The London Marathon constructs achievement in a particular way: completing the distance of the run, attaining the sponsorship required if you are taking a charity place, and then performing all of this in a specific place in the service both of an officially sanctioned view of London and of a corporate sponsor. Looked at through my cynical eyes, runners in the London Marathon are extras in the service of this year’s sponsor (currently Virgin Money) and of the Mayor of London because the most significant and persistent symbols we see in the televised coverage of the race are the sponsor’s logo and the landscape of the city: the runners are just a device that drives the story, and that provide a frame for the more important messages of our sponsors.

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Posted in 101 Things Brum Gave The World Tagged with: , , ,

The Paradise Circus B-Town emergency plate

In B-Town the streets are paved with food: that’s why modern-day Dicks are walking from London to seek their fortune. But they don’t really have seem to have heard of plates.

We want food on a plate
We don’t want it served on slate
We don’t want salad on a trowel
No wow to planks, boards or towels

No chips in a tiny model Rotunda
Or faggots and pays served in a guzunder
We don’t want food in a sieve
To that be quite vituperative

We don’t want food made into a mockery
So please be vigilant — always carry crockery.

So we present the official Paradise Circus B-Town emergency commemorative plate:

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Posted in clickbait

Wondering stars

In an old episode of BBC science programme The Infinite Monkey Cage the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson described how as a young boy growing up in New York City he never saw the stars in the night sky; in a city, when you look up you just see more city. When he eventually saw the wonder of the stars it was in the New York planetarium. That was where he found his love of science, and that was how his life’s work in cosmology began.

Tyson is quite the poetic scientist, and I found his story captivating. The city exists, he seems to suggest, only between its highest penthouses and the ground below them — all the sky above is lost.

Of course New York is a very different cityscape to Birmingham, but there’s something in what he tells us about wonder, about knowledge and enquiry, that is relevant to us.

Our skyline thrusts ever upwards, fuelled by the speculative construction of inner city apartments. Meanwhile the social housing of the past is being brought back to the ground. The clear message here is that the vista of the city is a reward for success, in the starkest capitalist terms. This tells us that only winners are now allowed to look down upon the mighty work of Birmingham. Perhaps they are able to see the sky from up there too. Perhaps they can wonder at the wandering stars; for them they are reserved.

What Birmingham lacks in height it makes up for in light. The modern city, even a modestly risen one like ours, still beats back at the night sky with a haze of halogen. Part of the deal with cities is that, though they may rob you of nature’s riches, they give back to you what you need for an enriched life. They do this through civic works, as New York did for Tyson when it gave him the wonder of stars through the planetarium.

In BMAG today they exhibit a model of one of many master plans for what is now Centenary Square. The classical architecture of Baskerville House and the Hall of Memory are mirrored by sympathetically designed buildings. The Hall of Memory’s twin is a planetarium. In that square today you will find the new Library of Birmingham.

A library, like a planetarium, is a place of wonders, a place to enrich our lives and light the sparks of promise in us all. A library can unlock the mysteries of the sky above us, too.

The deal is the city takes the natural world from us but gives it back to us in some way so we too can wander through it and wonder; the building itself isn’t the wondrous thing.

The library at night is lit up like a galaxy of the stars it obliterates from view. Tonight perhaps it’s lit in a regal purple? Look upon it and despair and wonder what’s inside.

Posted in culture Tagged with:

101 Things Brum Gave The World. No. 72: British Satire


As Philip Larkin said about sex, British satire began in the 1960s and it has never looked back. That Was The Week That Was, Beyond The Fringe, Harold Macmillan impressions and that time when the varying heights of John Cleese and the Two Ronnies taught us all about class. Life was changing: young upstarts with just a public school and Oxbridge education behind them were bravely taking on the ruling elites that they were born to join and things would never be the same again.

But where would British satire be without the Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club, the comedy hothouse that produced Douglas Adams, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Stephen Fry and, erm, Tim Brooke-Taylor? Displaying all the quiet entitlement of a cat lounging on clean washing, Footlights alumni have inhabited every matey TV panel show and chortlesome Radio 4 smug-in for four decades. And where would Footlights be without that distinctive name? Possibly just a footnote in history: another boring revue club, like they have at that ‘other’ university. And without Birmingham we would not have footlights.

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Posted in 101 Things Brum Gave The World Tagged with: ,

Paradise Circus Live

A night of satire, about Birmingham.

MAC, Cannon Hill Park
Thurs 21 May 2015

Tickets £5 - On sale now

101 Things Birmingham Gave the World

Birmingham was the crucible of the Industrial Revolution, but it gave the World so much more…

all of this.

Order 101 Things Birmingham Gave the World: the Book now

101 Book cover

"irreverent, informative and laugh-out-loud hilarious"

"one of the funniest books I have read in quite a while"

"the industrial language was uncalled for"

"Good if you finish Viz before the next edition is out"

The PC Satirical Cartoon

Described for you in text as we can't draw.

  • A man in a suit has a tea tray with one cup of tea in a cup and saucer. He’s bringing it to another man in a suit who sits at a desk, the desk has a ‘Leader of Birmingham City Council’ plaque on it.

    The man at the desk is reading a paper. The headline reads, ‘HSBC to move headquarters to Birmingham’.

    Standing man says, “OK so they won’t pay us any business rates, but maybe they’ll tell us how to hide our money from Eric Pickles.”

    Matt nails it again.


    Drawn by 

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Service Birmingham & Capita’s Auto Redacter

It's best for commercial confidentiality.

Code by Nick Moreton

Paradise Circus grew out of the famous, now mothballed, Birmingham: It's Not Shit that chronicled and championed the real Birmingham since 2002.