101 Things Birmingham Gave The World. No. 27: Not Admitting Your Mistakes


Inventor of fizzy pop Joseph Priestley made other contributions to our society too. On April 15, 1770—not ten years before he would move to Brum—he recorded his discovery of Indian gum’s ability to erase lead pencil marks. He wrote, “I have seen a substance excellently adapted to the purpose of wiping from paper the mark of black lead pencil.” And did so in ink, which pissed him off when he discovered he’d made a cock-up.

Priestley called them ‘rubbers’, and they made their way into the pencil cases of schoolkids: amusing classmates of people called Jon for years to come. It also gave PR people, politicians, capitalists, and other liars a sense that it was okay simply to pretend that you’d done nothing wrong. We love that.

Viva Joey P, and viva his home town (1780-91) of Birmingham.

Author: Jon Bounds

14th Most Influential Person in the West Midlands 2008, subsequently not placed. His new book about visiting every seaside pier in England and Wales — Pier Review — has been described as “On the Road meets On the Buses”, it's out now. Jon wrote and directed the first ever piece of drama to be performed on Twitter and founded the famous blog Birmingham: It's Not Shit.