We build our identity in different ways on different days, according to the situation and the politics of the time. So it is that we might be white, brown or black but at times of crisis or joy we can become nations under one flag.
Kevin McCloud is many things. To some he is a southern imperialist, like a one man John Lewis, coming to Birmingham to tell us what we’re supposed to want. At other times he is other things. Thinking woman’s crumpet. Architectural commentator. A member of the London metropolitan media elite. The guy whose name fits wonderfully into the theme tune to Blankety Blank. Coat wearer of the year 1999-2005 (finally losing out to José Mourinho).
Today we say he is a Brummie. And a fucking good one.
For is it not the true mark of a Brummie TO BE NOT TOO FUCKING EASILY IMPRESSED WITH THINGS?
It’s how we make things better.
When Joseph Priestley saw flat pop, did he write copious social media posts about how wonderful it was? No. He passed gas through it to invent the fizzy pop we all love.
When Alfred Bird had some custard did he just let it be, snap it to his Instagram account and queue up for the custard escalators to nowhere? No. He worked out a way to make it without eggs, put it in a tin, and then eventually move production elsewhere to make room for some easily broken-into office space.
Did Tony Iommi just let none heavy metal music be? Did he retweet Birmingham Post PR fluff articles about Dumpy’s Rusty Nuts, sit back and struggle to pick his nose? The history of the world, and the existence of Slipknot, says he didn’t.
Well when Kevin McCloud saw Grand Central, he didn’t go “ooooh Prosecco on tap”, then waltz off to Facebook check in at Foyles. No. What Kevin did was speak out.
Brummies dare to go beyond the orthodoxy, and when they do they shine. Kevin McCloud has gone massively off script by telling anyone who will listen that the old library was pretty good (but should’ve had a moat), and that new New Street is a bit crap, actually. He’s the only one with any sort of media platform who’s saying it, and while the local media want to give him a slap for it we say: cheers Kev, you lovely Brummie bastard.
All that matters to Kevin McCloud is that we could have ended up with something we could be proud of: instead Birmingham was gaslighted into pretending.
It wouldn’t have mattered to Kevin if the costs had spiralled out of control. If Sir Albert had had to give up one or both of his jobs to project manage the build himself to save on the budget, Kevin would have just given him a doting smile, and a little chuckle. Look, you’re midway through this hugely complex build and your council is pregnant with twins: historic back pay and failing children’s services. Kevin would just laugh, fix the camera with his gaze and say “they have their vision, they have the motivation, and just maybe they’ll pull it off”.
And so we give you Kevin McCloud, a man who is sometimes a Brummie and for 2015 he is the best one. For going off script, for poking it all with a stick, and for saying “actually it’s shit, bab” we salute him.
Kevin McCloud: Brummie of the Year 2015
Jon Bounds and Jon Hickman