Charlie Hill’s I Don’t Want to Go to the Taj Mahal is a book about work, identity, sex, politics, drugs, homelessness and dissolution, but we feel it’s mostly about Birmingham at the end of the twentieth century. Enjoy this exclusive excerpt, and then go get more.
Working in a Victorian factory in Digbeth that made pelmets and curtain accessories, I bet every day with poor Irishmen in Bartletts bookies. During my first shift, I noticed a strong smell of almonds so I asked the gaffer, a bull of a man with mildewed suit cuffs and dried egg yolk on his tie, what it was. He pointed to two enormous open vats in the middle of the floor and said “those are cyanide baths”, and I heard them hissing.