Wow Brum! 48 Hours in the Jihadi Capital of Britain

For many years England’s second city has been seen as a cultural backwater, but following significant inward investment it has over the last decade been quietly changing for the better. It is the youngest city in Europe, it boasts a burgeoning foodie scene, a world class shopping experience, and was recently hailed by BBC Radio 4 as ‘The Jihadi Capital of Britain’. We sent Florrie Canaffordan-Internship for a weekend in ‘Brum’ to see what the city has to offer, bab.


I must admit I had my reservations about this assignment, but we journalists must always go where the story is! A little research ahead of my trip quickly convinced me however that Brum is – whisper it! – literally so super hot right now. Here is the story of my weekend in the second city, as told through the regurgitated clickbait listicle format. Enjoy, and don’t forget to click on the ads!

Getting There

Birmingham is a little over 100 miles north of London and is also easily accessible from most other major UK cities. Initially I had planned to jump in the MG and take the M40 through the family seat in Oxfordshire, but groovy new local by-laws instigated by Brum’s City elders have recently banned women from driving. So I hopped on the Chiltern Trains service for a very reasonable £20 return (plus another £20 for my chaperone, of course!)

Where To Stay

Brum has a range of hotels to suit any taste and budget, but if you’re willing to spend some time and effort on the encrypted Dark Web ahead of your visit, you can find some amazing best-kept-secrets at real bargain prices. We opted for a boutique Terrorist Cell located on the Hagley Road, just a mile from the city centre.

Canal Trip

A little-known fact is that Brum boasts more canals than Venice! Regular boat trips will provide you with tours around this engineering marvel of the Industrial Revolution. Friendly guides provide running commentaries about a different kind of revolution, pointing out buildings that line the route which are occupied by Imperialist aggressors such as Price WaterHouse Coopers and Deutsche Bank. The guides are incredibly knowledgeable and are able to point out significant security weaknesses in each building, which made for an informative and fun way to spend the afternoon.

Drinking

In need of refreshment following the boat trip, we headed for The Victoria on John Bright Street. This is a charming city centre hostelry that serves the local theatre crowd from the Alexandra, just across the street. The current production there is a newly-adapted version of Rent, in which homosexuals are publically flogged before going to hell. Tickets are hard to come by, but you may rub bloody shoulders with the cast in between performances. The interior of the pub itself has recently been renovated to it’s original Victorian splendour and has for the last 6 months refused to serve alcohol. Try the artisan peanuts!

Eating

The Ultimate Burka Bar just off Broad Street serves fantastic home-cooked food in a thrilling atmosphere, as the restaurant runs daily Open Mic nights for Hate Preachers. The staff all get in on the act, too, and dress in hilarious traditional English attire. Our waiter’s costume was that of a disgruntled EDL protester, complete with seven empty cans of Stella Artois trailing in his wake. It was all just so authentic and gave a real taste of Britain’s lost identity! We opted for the house special, which came served on a genuine, reclaimed Afghani IED.

Shopping

Wickes in up-and-coming Stirchley is located 3 miles from the city centre along the Pershore Road, easily accessible via public transport. This place is a treasure trove and a real hidden gem. With help from the friendly staff I was able to purchase most of the components for a nail bomb at a very reasonable price (Londoners will be shocked at how far their money goes here!) Sadly Wickes did not stock the fertiliser Google said I needed, but thankfully the charming Wyevale Garden Centre just up the road in Bournville were able to help me out. Pro-Tip: Pay in cash, do NOT use your debit card.

Sight-Seeing

After picking up the fertiliser we took the opportunity for a spot of sight-seeing around leafy Bournville itself. The area is dominated by the Cadbury chocolate factory, and all the homes and gardens here are a monument to the faded and defeated power of 19th Century infidel crusaders. Utterly charming!

…and with that my weekend in Brum came to an end all too quickly. I was amazed at the vibrancy of this landlocked city Caliphate and will certainly be recommending it to my friends. All that is left to say is: Manchester, you have a lot of catching up to do, bab!


“Jihadi Capital of Britain?

On 24th March 2017 at 07:34am the BBC Radio 4, Today Programme broadcast the following

See also:

What time and when are the CHURNies local journalism awards?

It sometimes feels like it’s always awards season in Birmingham — in fact it’s been said we have the second longest awards season in Europe — because if there is a drum to be banged or a trumpet to be blown you can can guarantee that there will be a Brummie standing nearby, claiming that they own it and ready to have a go. And behind that Brummie, press ticket in hat, is a reporter from the Post and Mail. But Quis scribet ipsos scriptores? Who is looking at the real skills of the footsoldiers of our local media?

Those pounding the streets of Tweetdeck and the editorial inbox, we salute you.

Today we launch the Championing Urban Brum’s Real Notetakers awards — inelegantly varied as the CHURNies — celebrating local journalism excellence, from SEO to good Tweeting practise, from erm SEO to desk-based news gathering, with a side order of fries served in a old shoe in order to review the latest craft beer street food hangout. Who will come to our literal opening of an envelope? Who but the Evening Mail will live blog it?

We are now accepting nominations in the following categories:

Continue reading “What time and when are the CHURNies local journalism awards?”

We’re the biggest outside London, inside London it’s too dark to read

A letter we sent to the Birmingham Post the other day, do they still have ‘letters to the editor’ in papers these days?

Dear Sir,

I think we all agree that there are times when Birmingham should blow it’s own trumpet, excepting of course those times when we need our hands free to bang our own drum, but articles such as Birmingham ‘most entrepreneurial city outside London(16 Jan) do us no good at all.

The article – based on data from Startup Britain – informs us that our city has more new businesses were registered last year “than any other city outside the capital.” Great news, for the second city: but it would only really be newsworthy if we weren’t — as we have by a long way the largest population of any UK city ‘outside London (over a quarter of a million more people more by any calculation).

Birmingham (population approx one million people) had 17,473 new businesses, Manchester (population approx 430,000 – less than half a Brum) registered 9,416. It doesn’t take an entrepreneurial maths wizard to see that England’s third city is doing a little better than its second by this arbitrary measure.

Startup Britain’s own data, (which is freely available to all) suggests that Birmingham was in fact the 16th highest area in Great Britain for new businesses registered per 1000 people.

Continue reading “We’re the biggest outside London, inside London it’s too dark to read”

The same essay about Albert Bore every day

Duran Duran get pilloried for claiming, on their 1995 covers LP Thank You, that ambulances won’t come to their houses because they are black. But they’re right, try to dial 911 from South Birmingham of the late ‘70s: it’s unlikely that any of the emergency services will turn up.

It’s also true that if you phone the Capita-run call centre for some bin bags or to pay your council tax it’s likely you won’t get anything useful. They’re not discriminatory, just a bit crap – hamstrung by both council bureaucracy and  inertia driven by the commercial profit motive.

And while Sir Albert Bore didn’t sign the Capita contract (that was a Tory/Lib Dem joint production back in 2006), he is judged for presiding over the aimless ‘looking for it’ that followed. In an era that started to demand big personalities and decisive action, it was all too easy to assume that Sir Albert’s reticence to ‘find’ the contract was nominative determinism.

“He’s called ‘Bore’, he must be dull.”

“Solihull’s council leader is way more exciting, even if the place is cold and he’s sliding downhill.”

Continue reading “The same essay about Albert Bore every day”

The same photo of Albert Bore every day calendar 2017

We’ve already signed off for the holidays but we know that some of you are still in the office today — after all, there’s no work to do and the boss will let you go home at 12 in any case so it’s basically a free day off and only a mug would take it as holiday.

Well anyway, as you’re the sort of person who is in the office on the last day before Christmas we figured you’re also the sort of person who has left shopping a bit late — after all, you’re getting out of work at lunchtime so you can just grab stuff on the way home: what’s all the fuss about, right?

If you are still shopping, and if you’re at the office with nothing to do, why not print off a few copies of our FREE 2017 calendar?

We hope you like it, but if you need more gift ideas here’s our handy last minute shopping guide.

Download the calendar, it’s set for A6 pages so you can print 4 a sheet and use the guillotine (careful now), or scale up to A4 for a monster size photo of  Albert Bore… every day!

Get The same photo of Albert Bore every day calendar 2017 now!

Birmingham’s Mannequin Challenge—Forward whilst standing still

Villa’s defence have been doing the mannequin challenge since last season, way before the current craze started. And Birmingham is always ready to jump on such a bandwagon for promotional purposes, but what would a Birmingham mannequin challenge look like? Luckily we’ve got a leaked email from internet marketing guru Andre de Jong…

To: John.Clancy@birmingham.gov.uk

From: Andre.De.Jong@zaphiks.in

Re: Forward while standing still!

29th November 2016 11:03

Hey John Clancy!

How’s everything going? Not too worried that the new metro mayor will usurp all your powers? Good job on hiring Paul Dale btw, all the better to neuter any scrutiny. Anyway, Andre here, we met at the social media cafe thing, where the students are students and the PR people are nervous.

We’ve been brainstorming a thought shower for you on the new internets sensation. And the best bit is you don’t have to do anything at all. Literally Birmingham just has to stand still. Like under the Tory/Lib Dem coalition, am I right, JC?

So, how about we do a mannequin challenge with all of Brum’s great stars? We just set up a Brumagem Hogarthian tableau and film it. Then, profit!

I figure we do this at an artisanal street food market. If we can’t do it tomorrow then there’s another one the next day. And now the MDMA stall’s closed there’s not too much movement anyway.

So first we see the bar staff at the fighting Cocks—they have a craft beer pop-up and are moving speedily to serve you.

The pie stand has run out, and Steve Bruce is standing nearby looking embarrassed. Some Villa supporters are cheering him but there is a long queue made up of Blues fans, Remi Garde and Tim Sherwood who all look sad. The pie shop is run by Andy Street who is disappointed that he knowingly oversold.

Talking of the football, ex-Villa star Gareth Southgate is full of anticipation as a man from the FA looks like he might be about to give him a job sometime soon.

Lenny Henry is half way through delivering one of the many duties that BCU’s chancellor actually has. Maybe he’s sorting out the bins or something. Talking of bins, Marco Pierre White’s team from the restaurant at the top of the Cube are doing ‘everything they can’ to clean up and get a better safety certificate.

At a table with a laptop, Jess Phillips is writing a column. She’s done one word: “I”. Her husband is making a sandwich and picking up a good pay cheque.

Keith from the Prince of Wales is there with his laptop too: caught halfway through starting an online petition to stop something that isn’t happening happening.

The UB40s who like Jeremy Corbyn are running a falafel store. The UB40s who don’t like Jeremy Corbyn are telling people how falafel stores are so over.

Now the camera swings around to where the Mosley Labour Party are doing some voter ID, moving as quickly as ever to open the train station, and we keep moving over to the entrance to the market. Andrew Mitchell is caught having a nice joke with a police officer—he’s holding a gate open so the officer can wheel his bike through, and all is forgiven. Another police officer is buying some sourdough bread from Jamelia, but she’s insisting on seeing his ID before giving him the forces discount. You can never be too sure.

And who is next? Here’s Gisela Stewart! She has a bap of something pulled she thought she wanted but she seems a bit taken aback by the price. Careful what you wish for.

And then lastly the camera comes past Albert Bore who is looking in the back of a cupboard for the Capita contract.

Kind Regards

Andre

On Trump(ets)

By popular demand, here is our hot take on the Trump election. Sorry we kept you waiting, it’s a complicated business.

A Trump rally. It's in Birmingham, Al.

Broadly speaking, this isn’t a Birmingham issue. We are not aware of anyone with a Birmingham connection called D. Trump who we can interview about their tangential relationship to the President-Elect. We do not know of anyone from a B post code who is a distant relation to Hilary either. We do not know how Birmingham can make America great again.

We do know that Trump’s election is one of several markers of a shift to a less tolerant and less progressive world. The other markers include the rise of the right at home and abroad, the Brexit vote, the movement of Tory policy in the direction of their right and the hardening against the left by those who claim to be on that side of the centre.

We know that amidst that backdrop we are electing a Metro-mayor next year. Listen not just to what candidates are saying, but look at what they represent: the ideologies and records of their parties and partners; they may talk anti-politics or ‘best midlands’, but be sure that this is politics and those businesses or media organisations that help candidates are buying influence for them, not you.

You can’t do anything directly about Trump, but you can make small steps against that system by focussing on the things you can affect.

Birmingham can make America great by starting with making Birmingham great. Actually great: fair, equal, friendly, welcoming, rather than boosteringly tooting on your tremendously, I mean really tremendous, Trumpet bigly. Go do something: buy a homeless person a tea, help someone with their bags at New Street, call out the Mail’s Facebook commenting racists—just be nice.

It’s not the End of the World, for that you have to get the 16 to Handsworth.

Satirical Cartoon: Birmingham Chamber of Commerce react to US election result

It’s the morning, the results of the US election are in. We can tell this as a man in a suit in the background is holding a newspaper that says ‘Trump wins presidency’, despite that being both a shit headline and an impossibility because the papers were all printed before the results were in.

We’re in the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce office. It says so on the sign. There’s a bloke, well fed in a suit and tie. His desk sign tells us he is Paul Faulkner CEO of the Chamber. Let’s just say he’s made this out of a Toblerone packet much like you may have done playing offices as a kid, because, how would you get one of those these days?  He’s on the phone, but holding it off his ear, hand over the mouthpiece.

“It’s BBC WM on the phone, desperately casting around for a local angle on the Trump election. I’ve told her that Midlands business can help make America ‘great’ again. But now they want an example…”

He has a traditional secretary, glasses and a beehive. She’s bringing him in a cup of tea – with saucer – on a tray. She says:

We’re not sure how this ends, so you can pick your favourite response here. It’ll give you about as much power over what happens next as your average voter.

  • “He could get the bricks for his wall at Wickes’s up by the Albion ground?”
  • “It’s a pity they’ll now be able to make their dystopian films at home now”
  • “Do they like award winning pop-up street food?”
  • “I think they are capable of making up their own bullshit.”
  • “You can get white sheets for Klan outfits and tin foil for hats at Latifs.”
  • “I’m sorry, this retro construct of a scene is so far removed from reality as is the idea that a sensible member of the Birmingham establishment would say something so stupid, that I am unable to suspend disbelief for long enough to comment.”

#boingboing — John Lewis comes to WBA

Continuing the hot 2016 meme of unsecure private political comms, here’s another hacked correspondence from digital experience agency Zaphiks to their biggest client

To: Andy.Street@greaterbrumminghamlep.com

From: Andre.De.Jong@zaphiks.in

Re: Christmas Teasers — #boingboing

8th November 2016 14:02

Hi Andy,

How’s the shop going? I hope it is ready for Christmas because my goose is fat.

As you know the advert for your shop is super important for Christmas. So we started today the teaser campaign. It is very cool. The campaign is called “Boing Boing” and we went big on the #boingboing hashtag for it today

I think some people think we made a mistake because we didn’t realise that the football fans of West Bromwich use this hashtag all the time, but actually it’s all part of the plan. The advert isn’t about a dog, that’s just a red Hollandse nieuwe haring. We’re bringing Christmas to the Midlands!

Yes actually the advert is a story about the “football widow” and her husband is at the big game doing boing bounce. How will they connect and talk? They’ll buy some things from the shop! Happy Christmas to everyone!

Here’s a rough cut for you.

Sure it’s a bit 1970s but it’s all very Brexit, and I think your mayor voters will like it a lot. Also the Labour guy likes this team, so it’s good for you mix it up a bit.

Kind Regards

Andre

ps we just need to add the pay off now, what present can he get for her on the way home from the game? Do you sell Baggies hats and orange chips?