It’s going to be fun to stay in the WMCA. The West Midlands Combined Authority that is. It would be called Greater Birmingham if those from the Black Country could see beyond their mounds of faggots, scratchings and closed heavy industry. Sorry to piss on their chips (we know they’d rather have mushy peas) but we’re going to call it Greater Birmingham anyway.
But a bigger problem is where it covers. At the moment it’s just a portmanteau of councils who are taken in by Tory devolution rhetoric, but there is a real Greater Birmingham and we can find it. Language and culture are more effective indicators of statehood than anything as gauche as economics, or the whims of business leaders.
Defining the boundary of Greater Birmingham is too important to leave to our ‘betters’, who are useless (and will farm it out to Capita, who will fuck it up). The People’s’ Republic can only be defined by the people. But who are those people? Where do we draw the lines?
Paradise Circus can settle this easier, quicker and cheaper than Capita with a few simple questions about chip shop dialect. Half a million only, and we’ll chuck in a free website.
Our methodology is that Birmingham’s influence, our Greater Birmingham orbit, extends to our shared cultural and culinary heritage: to wit.
“Where do you get potato in batter if you ask for scallops at the chippy?”
So we asked. And amongst other things* we got this:
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Birmingham doesn’t have any of those picturesque wind turbines, but we bet a certain class back in Tolkien’s day would have been collecting to buy and close down Sarehole’s water mill and move it to Hall Green. You see, the people of Cambridge Road, B13, are revolting.
The Council have told them that, as with the rest of the city, they need new street lights. Not so bad you’d think, it’s nice to get anything new in these days of cuts. The good burghers of Cambridge Road do not agree. Aghast at what the modern lamp looks like, they’ve cried out “not in my backyard” and taken out a crowdfunding appeal to buy themselves some prettier street lighting, more in keeping with their road’s vintage aesthetic.
In truth it’s not a terrible idea: the council offer a baseline service, the service users talk to the council about how much it would cost to do something they’d prefer, and then if they raise the cash they get what they want. It might set a precedent though for “nice” neighbourhoods to go private and enhance more things. We’ve heard of at least seven groups around the city who are keeping a close eye on things, and getting ready to go to Kickstarter with their own demands.
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I know people who live in other cities take this sort of shit for granted, but Nu-New Street is a very nice railway station (with the Brum-obligatory shop on top).
It needs a clock – call me old-fashioned, but no great romance ever started with the words, “I’ll meet you outside Five Guys. Yeah, the one opposite Pret”, and there are no chairs anywhere. Perhaps they’ll come, but probably not. I think it’s designed so that you spend your waiting time in the retail paradise on the upper deck. Oh, and it also needs free/some Wifi (there was no way I was getting fooled into joining the unsecured network. Not after last time), but the fact that it has space and natural light is quite something, and once you get down on the platforms you can see across to other platforms, and that blew my Brummie mind.
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For ages New Street has been an embarrassment to Birmingham, just not giving the sort of welcome that a bustling european city of culture should. Yep, ever since they started putting a new shopping centre on top, where the car park was, it’s been a nightmare. But soon, very soon, at the end of Super September, the second city will finally get the train station it deserves: one that’s overcrowded but has a John Lewis on the top.
To celebrate his arrival here, John Lewis himself has made a movie about his kind of town. It’s a town where everybody is a young professional or something much more upscale and aspirational, like a guy who runs a sandwich shop. It’s a town where everybody wants to sleep in 100% Egyptian cotton.
To thank Mr Lewis we’d like to make him a film too but just like the Evening Mail, all of our people work way outside of the city core — at an industrial estate on the Holford Drive of the imagination — and so we can’t get to New Street to capture the shots we need.
Can you help? This is the script for our film. If you are travelling through New Street today please try to capture a few five second videos of what you see, and we will edit them together tonight (hold your phone in landscape, please).
A film for John Lewis
Fade up titles, using cool “indie movie” style hand-writing font, all caps”
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Like me you’d probably be quite shocked to learn of our Lord Lieutenant, so to have heard about him at the very same time as you hear he has been fired from his post will leave you quite beside yourself.
Yes, sorry to tell you that Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands is a thing and further more I must to tell you that the current Lord, Paul Sabapathy, just got shit canned for the sort of thing that the boss’s husband does twice a day before breakfast: he did a bad racism about Pakistanis.
It seems that, whilst he likes them individually (and probably has a lot of good Pakistani friends), he finds them as a group to be a bit rude. You see he popped into the Pakistani Consulate in B-Town on official Queen business for Liz, and they were just generally a bit shitty. And it must be hard for a man with a weird vestigial feudal responsibility to know how to voice a grievance in the modern day, now that we’ve outlawed duelling pistols, so he sent some emails all about the place and, well they, got out and it turns out you can’t say things like “Pakistanis are lovely people individually but there is a lot of work to do to teach them basic common courtesy and civility”. Who knew?
Sabapathy hasn’t just let the Queen down with this, he’s let the region down. And he’s given a bad name to all our unelected officials like the High Sheriff of the Midlands and Andy Street (who doesn’t need this shit when he has a shop to open).
We’ve heard that to make amends Sabapathy is going to make a guest appearance in the new series of Citizen Khan, where he’ll get his head stuck in a wheelie bin while trying to hide from the Imam.
Birmingham without a Lord Lieutenant: what it means to you — an interactive guide
I knew this anniversary was coming—I’ve been busy and forgot it was today—the memories are very real. Someone posted a link and these memories that have never left me came to the fore.
I was there—aged 14—half way through Brookside on a Monday night – will never ever forget it. I remember seeing a fire engine going up the road to put out the fires only for it to come back the other way minutes later with its windscreen shattered with stones – I remember people trying to sell us stolen goods – I remember fleeing my house – I remember a police van burning on its side in the petrol station on the corner of our road and the two lovely brothers from our local post office who died – I remember our high street looking like a bomb had hit it – I remember not going to school the next day and then being told off with the teacher not quite realising what we had been through – I remember when Douglas Hurd came and it all kicked off again and a car pulled up outside our house and when they opened the boot there was a milk crate of petrol bombs so we fled the house again as the threat of the petrol station being blown up was getting real and I remember a newspaper photographer being beaten up and all his equipment stolen. I remember being terrified.
Even the shyest Tory has been moved to action over the refugee crisis this week leaving only David Cameron—who seemingly still has one eye on the dwindling UKIP surge—badly out of step with a country gripped by Corbyn-mania and finally finding its heart.
As the country awakened to the truth (of the scale of the crisis and the indifference of UK PLC’s chief executive), its people have moved into action and a grass roots aid movement has emerged. The Guardian gave a flavour of this movement today in this “round the grounds” piece which details some of the things people have been doing… But they’ve missed Birmingham out altogether. Here’s a summary of some of the things that are definitely happening and a few that are almost possibly happening too:
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Like our emergency services, we get a lot of phone calls that we don’t really want to deal with. We’re nice about it though. But one nuisance call we got the other day really tickled us, “have you got a list of the top amusing calls that you’ve had in the past year, that will make a highly shareable piece of content for the ‘press’ while getting your message about not calling you a mention?”. “That,” we said, “we have.” And then we slammed the fucking phone down, because we were busy.
“Is there anywhere we could get an artisan burger for brunch? None of the hyperlocal news outlets seem to have any information on this.”
“Is that the library? Do you have Great Expectations?” Well, we used to…
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A series of things you must do when visiting Birmingham. No. 11: Mere Green M.U.G.A.
Posted in you simply must
Tagged with: muga
You can’t run an economy like a household budget, and you can’t run a library just by having a big stack of books that people can borrow, nothing is that simple. But it doesn’t take a genius — luckily for Birmingham given that opportunities to read books and learn are dropping like leaves from a battered old public library book — to work out the connection between the idiotic economic policies of Tory led government both nationally and locally and the fact that Birmingham now has a landmark library that can’t afford to buy even the latest Jilly Cooper to lend out.
Birmingham Council in language that invites derision insists that the lack of money that’s led local libraries to beg for donations of books, is merely a “pause in the book fund”. With £105 million of cuts passed through council this March it’s the first a noticeable sign of things to come: what is most galling is how much more interested people seem to be in this cut than Adult Social Care cuts that have the potential to kill people. And that the only response is a desire to give books, a response that struggles to make the connection between financial mismanagement and unneeded austerity and the book lack anger.
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Posted in comment
Tagged with: books