You simply must: NOT fight on or near the premises

A series of things you must do when visiting Birmingham. No. 11: Mere Green M.U.G.A.

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Book lack in anger

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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Green eggs and Birming-ham

Yeah I’ve been here a while. And now I’ve got kids: brummie kids. And so I guess that makes me a brummie dad.

I was so proud the first time my eldest counted to FOIVE. Just the other day I took the kids to Sutton Park and they wanted a game of HOIDE and seek.

But it’s not all fun being a brummie dad. The other night I was reading the boys a bedtime story. It was an old favourite by Dr Seuss, but it came out all wrong:

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8 things to do whilst you wait for your 1 hour Amazon delivery

What a time to be alive. We are the second city to get one hour Amazon deliveries. But what can you do while you wait for your package? Here are a few ideas

Wait for the Library of Birmingham to open on a Sunday, whilst imagining what it looks like inside

Wait for a drink to be served at The Botanist — where the dream of the 1890s is alive

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What happens one hour after drinking a Brew XI?

Brew xi Infographic

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The best of abusive subtweets from the West Midlands emergency services

Back in the days when Chris Evans was an exciting broadcasting newcomer, The Big Breakfast used to buffer ad breaks with a sort of competition that wasn’t. “Don’t call us, it’s just for fun,” they would shout — not only saving money, but keeping them out of any scandals involving giving the prizes to Ant and Dec or fiddling with David Kid Jenson or something.

That was ace, but what they didn’t do was set up a non-emergency phone call centre — and then make social media lols out of the people who called them. That’s what WM Police do, however. For a call centre, they seem to be rather pissed off at having to answer the phone. Personally, we think the non-emergency local number for your police might be a good first point of contact if you thought you spotted a dangerous animal, a potentially dangerous traffic incident or essentially to report a crime: but then we’re not a public service having fun at the expense of vulnerable people.

So here are the best fictional subtweets sent out by the WMP Force:

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8 Brummie games that changed the UK home computer scene

The Commodore Amiga is 30 years old today but while journalists line up to rain plaudits down on this iconic machine the most important part of the story of the Amiga — and all the other classic ‘80s and ‘90s home computer systems — has been lost. We’re talking of course of the role of Birmingham in some of the most important computer games, ever. Read through any top 10 list of computer games during the 8 and 16 bit eras and you’ll find Brum’s fingerprints all over it. Are we talking about hot development houses, based out of tastefully restored Digbeth workshops? No. Are we talking about corporate giants, with satellite offices in a prestigious business park in Bickenhill? No. And anyway, being that near to the airport means they’re in Solihull.

No. We’re talking about the shit tonne of licensing and admin running out of Perry Barr. Yep, Perry Barr is where all your electric dreams were builded.

US Gold were based in Holford Industrial Estate in Perry Barr, former home to the Kynoch Works, and they were responsible for bringing games from American developers such as Capcom into your UK bedroom. These were the unsung heroes who checked all the orders, who filed the paperwork, and possibly moved inventory around, we don’t know. Their work put the power in your hands — the power to save princesses, drive cars, or fight your way to the top. Here’s our rundown on the best computer game admin done by Birmingham temps:

Out Run

Out Run, Amiga version. Tyres from BTMR, Tyres R Us, Brookvale Trading Estate

Out Run, Amiga version. Tyres from Tyres R Us, Brookvale Trading Estate

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The Ruin Under Water — our perfect Birmingham Pub

The latest Birmingham PLC press release — painstakingly recreated as news by the local paper — makes many proud boasts about the planned redevelopment of the Christopher Wray lighting factory. It includes the usual lauding of new shiny buildings and a shameless brag about how much the land has gone up in value since the owner bought up the previously undesirable site for cheap and banked it until HS2 was a dead cert.

But the thing that stood out for us was the claim that they’re going to make Brum’s first “ruin pub” — they’ve been ruining pubs all around town for years now, so how can this be a first?

There are actual ruins like the Fox & Grapes, just a few hundred yards from Christopher Wray, which is surely only one more stray match away from joining Island House in becoming a car park for new builds of Snow Hill. And then there are the more prosaically ruined pubs, like The Dog on Hagley Road which had its rabbit warren of snugs hollowed out to make a generic cavern to house an Ember Inn — the sort of pub ruin that is happening somewhere near you right now, no doubt.

And then there are the trendy pubs, of course, they’re the real ruins. But what should a real pub be like? We asked Andre De Orwell to describe his perfect watering hole..

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101 Things Brum Gave The World. No. 76: The hollow promises, lies, and shattered dreams of fame and stardom


Yesterday I was happy to play

For a penny or two a song

Till a fellah in a black sedan

Took a shine to my one-man-band

He said, “We got plans for you, you’d never dream”

You’re a Star, Carl Wayne’s theme song for Birmingham-based television talent show New Faces, tells the story of art constrained by commerce, of authentic culture packaged by a star system. The narrator finds success of a sort, measured in his new possessions and receives acclaim from all around but his song is a confidence trick. The only positive emotion he has is in the first line, and is already linked to the past: “Yesterday I was happy to play”.

Musically too this is dour stuff, its leaden rhythm is hidden by a sing-along hook in the chorus. This is a cathartic song. Such melancholia makes You’re a Star a strange anthem for a show like New Faces that fetishises stardom, a show whose very MacGuffin is the pursuit of fame. Yet this is perhaps the greatest trick of stardom, that it hides its shame in plain sight. Indeed New Faces‘ great rival, Opportunity Knocks, achieved much the same feat of doublethink with Kiki Dee’s Star, which camouflages the lines “They can build you up / And they can break you down / With just the right words” behind the jauntiness in an almost Smithsian way.

Now you’ll be forgiven for thinking I’m about to claim that Birmingham invented Saturday night television (it played a hand in that, of course). Possibly you suspect I’m going to say that New Faces, filmed firstly at the ATV Centre off Broad Street and then latterly at the Birmingham Hippodrome, was the first television talent show and therefore the precursor of the blockbuster global formats X-Factor, Pop Idol and, er, Fame Academy. Sadly not: Opportunity Knocks predates New Faces by many years.

Perhaps you think I will make the case for Birmingham inventing the light entertainment public vote, which is so ubiquitous in the modern talent show era? To be honest we bodged that one. The theatre audience at New Faces could vote live via push buttons wired to Marti Caine’s ‘Spaghetti Junction’ scoreboard but the rest of us at home had to write in on a postcard to place our vote. Uncle Bob and his Opportunity Knocks lot responded to the postcard innovation with a telephone vote meaning that the London show could give results on the night while here in Birmingham we had to wait a week for the postal votes to be collated. In any case, these are all petty side issues compared to the real issue at hand: how Birmingham invented the whole sham that is fame itself.

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Go West (Midlands)


Re: It’s fun to stay

Hi Andy,

How’s the shop going? I’ve just stepped in to do some consultancy on the new Combinded Authority and thought we could maybe use your budget for some promo. The councils don’t have any as you know.

How about we fire up our Midlands Engine with something like this. Excuse the note form, our target personas should be

Construction workers on those new mixed unitsPoliceman who patrol EDL marches and the Tory conference

The cowboy rounds up the horses running free on Black Country estates

The ‘Red Indian’ could be the Batli triangle, or the indigenous whites in Kingstanding.
..and then there’s the song
Business: There’s no need to feel scared.

I said, Business, we’re equipped and prepared.

I said, Business, ’cause you’re in a new town

There’s no need to be unhappy.
Business, there’s a place you can go.

I said, Business, we’ll accept all your dough.

You can stay there, and I’m sure you will find

Many ways to have a good time.
Come and invest in the W.M.C.A.

Come and invest in the W.M.C.A.
They have everything for you staff to enjoy,

You can hang out with all the Bores …
Come and invest in the W.M.C.A.

Come and invest in the W.M.C.A.
Your Tax bill will be clean, you can have a good meal (no plates),

You can do whatever you feel…
Business, are you listening to me?

I said, Business, what do you want to be?

I said, Business, you can make real your dreams.

But you got to know this one thing!
No man does it all by himself.

I said, Business, put your pride on the shelf,

And just go there, to the W.M.C.A.

I’m sure they can help you today.
Come and invest in the W.M.C.A.

Come and invest in the W.M.C.A.
They have everything for you men to enjoy,

You can hang out with all the boys…
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal,

You can do whatever you feel …
Business, I was once in your shoes.

I said, Business, buy a box down the Blues.

I felt no man cared if I were alive.

I felt that London was so jive …

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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.

  • Lots of fat white men in suits are in a marquee. They are all wearing sashes with the names of local councils on them. Outside the tent is a sign hammered into the ground with ‘West Midlands Combinded Authority’ on it. ‘Greater Birmingham’ has been crossed out. 

    George Osborne is urinating on the buffet. 

    The caption: ‘Better inside the tent.’

    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.