101 Things Birmingham Gave The World. No. 38: Health and Safety

Day 246: Bell

Used as a catch all excuse for not letting people get on with things—in the same way as “data protection” means people won’t tell you things and political correctness means you simply aren’t allowed to be a racist, cisexist, ableist, islamophobe—like you could in the good old days, Health and Safety culture is one of the biggest influences on our lives. It’s terrible that we’re not at liberty to hurt ourselves and others and are given advice on how not to, damn that Health and Safety it’s political correctness gone mad.

And you know who’s to blame? Birmingham, that’s who, er where.

John Richard Dedicoat, an apprentice to the famous James Watt, became a bicycle manufacturer and as well as inventing a spring-loaded step for mounting bikes—that charmingly catapulted riders over the handlebars if they misjudged it—he became the father of the nanny state with the invention of the bicycle bell. In one step he transferred the responsibility of pedestrian safety to the put-upon cyclist rather than the garrulous, attention-deprived, inconsiderate stroller. Damn Dedicoat and his pandering—safety should be the responsibility of the individual.

Although some people think it would be frankly a lot safer if all the cyclists stayed at home.

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski

How Brummie are you? Quiz

There are physical limits on the city, but what are the limits to being counted as her son or daughter?

Londoners negotiate their rights to belong through the soundscape of their districts: born within Bow Bell’s peel and you’re a bona fide cockney, anywhere else you’re just mockney. Northerners can define themselves by pies and places named after cakes. If you weren’t at the Sex Pistols gig at the Free Trade Hall then you’re not from Manchester, which is okay as pretty much everyone was there. These are complex rules and systems, and we distrust them. Of course we do for we are BRUMMIES. And what defines us? It’s not space, time, or seminal music experiences. It’s wanting to be here or from here.

As Mayoral Candidate Emeritus Siôn Simon said


It is the best kind of club: something that is worth being part of, which anyone who wants to can join, just by wishing it.

If you feel you belong here, you’re a Brummie. If you’re proud of this place, with all its kinks and wrinkles, you’re a Brummie. If you want to be a Brummie, you are. It’s a simple as that.


You can be a Brummie if you want to be. You can be born and shot in Pakistan and be the quintessential Brummie. You can be from Kiddy and pass it off. You can be what you want to be. Just don’t tell anyone, that’s not what we do.

We were going to make a quiz, but then we realised you’re all too modest to tell anyone.



We’ve tested you and your result is:

You can be a Brummie if you want to be.

Tweet your result ** Share on Facebook.

Go on, floor us: work on the Official Paradise Circus History of Snobs

Snobs is to close. Well, to move venue. Let’s not fool ourselves that Snobs is something that can move, it’s not the people, it’s not the atmosphere, it’s not the DJs, it’s not the carpet. It’s the place. Unless it’s dismantled mirror by mirror, mould spore by mould spore and moved to the Black Country Museum the new Snobs will not be the old Snobs. New young fresh people will have a good time but we will draw a line or be disappointed with history.

Before we consign the place to history’s wheelie bins let’s pause a moment and consider. We can build a complete and official history, a history of one night in Snobs.


  • If you go to the same place enough times, do the same things, and drink enough eventually every night blurs into one.
  • Every night at Snobs was a great night. Except for the bad ones, especially the bad ones.
  • Given that all the nights blur into one, everything that made Snobs great happened on one night, one ur-clubbing experience where all of your stories play out from 11-3am and then you get a Top Nosh.
  • It is possible and probable that everyone to whom you are connected now, even if you’ve only known them for a few years, has been in Snobs together at some point in the past 20 years.
  • There is no record of anything that ever happened in Snobs so you can make your own story.

So we want you to help, tell us your memories and we’re going to build a complete history of Snobs that happened on one night, that night when we were all there, stuck to the floor together.

(or link here)

Go on…

Continue reading “Go on, floor us: work on the Official Paradise Circus History of Snobs”

After the boys of summer

Howard Wilkinson reports on the mystery of the summer of 1983. The summer we’ll never hear about because Anna couldn’t step up to the plate.

We are always open to receiving work from new contributors, so we were very excited when Anna Weston wrote to us:

I am just emailing you with regards to an opportunity, and I was wondering whether you would accept a very high quality guest article on your website?

We sure would, Anna!

This would be written specifically for your website, and will therefore be very in line with your site.

Well that sounds OK, but tautological. We can work with you on style if you like, Anna.

You may even request a specific topic if you would like

Er, no we’d prefer you to come to us with something. We want you to actually have some interest in what we do.

that relates to my client within the travel industry.

Well this sounds odd, but we do have an idea for you Anna.

Hi Anna,

Great to hear from you, we’re all well thanks.

As you’ll know from your research, the website is an ongoing love letter to a battered city – we write, film, photograph, draw, make and record things about Birmingham. So it’s sort of heritage, culture, psychogeography, identity and the brummie race memory. With a few jokes.

We’d love something that talks about Brummies abroad, it would be really great to put together an article about brummies going to the seaside (whether in the UK or abroad). Perhaps something about popular package holidays from the 1980s or about brummies going to Butlins or Pontins? It needs to be a story set in the 80s really. The 70s at a push – that’s what our readers really love to hear about.

Can you give us 3,000 words on “A Brummie Postcard from 1983” – for Monday please (hope that suits your deadline). We might be able to get you some contributors to interview if you need them, some real brummies who really went on a holiday in 1983. They’ll probably have photos and stuff that they can use, we think that’ll work well don’t you?

Really glad we can help you out on this one, it’ll be great to work with you.



We’re buzzing about this now.

Hello Howard,

Thank you for your reply. You’re suggestion sounds interesting, however, it is not something we can provide for you unfortunately. Our articles’ are usually around 400 words, also the theme needs to be more modern. If you’d be interested to have a smaller article about Brummies abroad with some background information, I’m sure that could be doable (though not necessary for Monday as I’m still waiting to receive anchor details from my client).

Kind regards,

Anna Weston

Well, that’s a fucking disappointment.

Hi Anna,

Well, this is a bit disappointing. We’d already lined up a few people for you to talk to with some great memories: Danny has a story about Weston in 1983 that’s, well, it’s hilarious, and also young Midge has a great story about eating a paella in Marbella (can you think of anyone else who’d had one before 1983? We don’t think you can).

Are you sure you can’t work an angle on this? A then and now might be more modern. I think Midge would go to Marbella again but he’d prefer Puerto Banus.

400 words doesn’t sound like it would fill a page, we’d have to ask the web designers but I don’t think it’s big enough for the space. How about 2,500 words? Work with us here.

Howie x

We really like this change of gear. Sending Midge to Marbella would be great, such a colourful piece! And I bet it’ll be great for Anna’s SEO project.

Hello Howard,

Thank you for your reply, but I don’t think this would go well in our campaign unfortunately. I hope you all the best with finding a suitable writer for the story.

Thank you for your time.

Best wishes,

Anna Weston

I am Jack’s sense of disappointment. What does paella taste like? What happened in Weston in 1983? These are the things we yearn to know. These are the questions that will always go unanswered.


Birmingham less shit than Manchester or London: Official

A whopping 65% of people in a recent poll said that Manchester was the shittiest city in the UK, beating London into second place. Birmingham, for once, came nowhere—proving that it’s the greatest city in the World, officially. Yes the city famous for its rain and dull football rivalry edged out the home of black snot and fat bicycling Tories to be first place as Britain’s worst place.

Manchester markets in the rain
Manchester, yesterday (CC: Rachel D)

When asked about Birmingham a whopping 96% of people agreed that it wasn’t shit—4% didn’t answer the question—with 21% getting quite defensive and angry. A person who was not interviewed for the survey, but was asked later to comment on our spun version of the results said:

“Of course Birmingham is better—it’s about time people realised.”

Boris with bikes
Boris Johnson has black snot. (CC BackBoris2012 Campaign Team)

The full results of the Internet poll, conducted by a website to boost its popularity and newsworthiness, are not available.

What do you think? Comment, please.

Your opinion on Birmingham’s place in the World needed

After yet another survey created to create news and prop up a failing business (this time Trinity Mirror itself) ‘slates’ Birmingham, it’s time to have a proper scientific survey that will produce proper results. So we’ve made one, please take it here:

Continue reading “Your opinion on Birmingham’s place in the World needed”

So farewell then Central Library…

 So. Farewell
Central Library

John Madin’s ziggurat
You were a huge
With books in.

But that was not
Your only purpose.

You stood for
Ambition and
Birmingham’s ideals.

But you weren’t
Or “iconic”,
So the philistines
Pulled you



E J Thribb (40 years into a 100 year lifespan)


King Kong, Sex and The Americas

Discovery is subjective.

When Europeans discovered the Americas, they didn’t let indigenous races spoil their narrative: that continent was discovered and it would stay discovered, damn it.

They say that every generation of teenagers thinks it’s invented sex. The moment we become sexually active we reinvent the wheel (you ever tried it? I’d advise you stretch first) and simultaneously project our parents into a sexless hinterland (a bit like Telford, where fittingly Philip Larkin worked), denying them a sexual history despite being embodied evidence of it.

Brummies have an Americas: it’s the King Kong statue, a monument forever being discovered.


Photo by Paul Anderton
Photo by Paul Anderton

Continue reading “King Kong, Sex and The Americas”

101 Things Birmingham Gave The World. No. 24: Vile Products of the Welfare System

Alma Terrace, Highgate

Every tragedy has a beginning, and sadly one of the greatest tragedies of our time begins here, in fair Birmingham. For it was here, in the workshop of the world, that social housing was really born and with it was wrought death and ruin upon the land.

For decades sick-lefitsts have praised their liberal hero Joseph Chamberlain, for giving them the Lebensraum to live feckless lives, and for granting them the license they needed to beat the women they hate within the walls of homes paid for by hard-working Britons like YOU. Joe saw the slums and ramshackle utility production provided for the poor of Birmingham by private enterprise and his communist instincts kicked in. The Stalinist before Stalin’s Artisans’ and Labourers’ Dwellings Improvement Act paved the way for huge slum clearances and building of social housing dole-dwellers mansions on our beautiful countryside. His work was the start of nearly one hundred years of pandering to those who just don’t want to work hard.

Thankfully we are beginning to turn a corner, and once the precariat are rightfully stripped of shelter, murder will once again be the rightful preserve of those who do the right thingmen of good social standing, the educated, and the hard working business owners who make Britain great.

If they want a 3D TV, they’ll have to pay for it out of their allotted fifty three pounds a week.