Category: 101 Things Brum Gave The World

101 Things Brum Gave The World.

No, not Hollywood up by the Maypole. The real one of blockbusters and stars rather than Blockbuster, Poundland and burnt-out cars. Because without a certain city not very far away you’d not be watching George Clooney gurn with his chest out, nor would you be able to grin through gritted teeth at the antics of those Fourty Year Old Hangover chaps with the comedy. We’d have missed the stars and the studio system, had to put up with only On The Buses between Ealing and Love…Actually. Or watched things with subtitles, confused as to exactly what all of the smoking men were mumbling about. Because, movies are made of film, and film is made of celluloid. Which was a revolutionary new type of thing called a thermoplastic , first created as Parkesine in 1862 by Alexander Parkes in, yes you’ve guessed it, Birmingham.

Football has had a long and evolutionary history taking in local rivalries, struggle with authority, class warfare and co-optation, and paganism; but enough of St Andrews. Everything we know about football today originated on the other side of the city: from fixture congestion, to dead rubbers, from runaway leaders to mid-table obscurity, cynicism and playing for the draw. All because the Villa’s lushly bearded William McGregor was fed up with cup ties and friendlies and knocked football-admin heads together from around the country and instigated the Football League. So we not only have him to thank for the spread of the sport across the week and the country, but also for professionalism. For without regular games there was no way to build crowds and make money. So Birmingham created and at once ruined the modern game. It created John Terry. And in reality created Port Vale verses …

101 Things Brum Gave The World. No 3. The Football League Read More »

Schoolchildren in the 1950s and ‘60s spent as much time learning how to Duck and Cover in the event of a nuclear missile attack as they ever did about algebra and home economics. They grew up in a perpetual and very real fear that the Cold War would one day escalate into a mind-boggling violence that would be played out on a global scale. Their own kids fared no better, exposed as they were to a seemingly out-of-control 1980s arms race that was, such was the fascination of the time, to be apparently conducted in outer-fucking-space. These fears were constantly backed up with footage and accounts of the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan by Allied Forces at the end of World War II, on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, along with powerful (childrens!) fiction such as Raymond Briggs’ “When The Wind Blows”, and the still-terrifying-but …

101 Things Brum Gave The World. No 2. Nuclear War Read More »

Ever climbed Murray mount, “come on Tim”, or knocked a sponge ball against a wall while grunting? Then you have Birmingham to thank for the gift of the only sport that doubles the price of a certain fruit for two weeks every year. Yes, Cliff Richards’s favourite game was invented not in the white trousered environs of the Wimbledon croquet club, but up a back street in Edgbaston not a high lob from the old Firebird pub. The rules of modern lawn tennis were drawn up by Harry Gem and his friend Augurio Perera who developed a game that combined elements of rackets and the Basque ball game pelota. The rest is, for the English at least, a posh and annually disappointing story. Ace.