Revealed! Brum’s commonwealth games mascot

We’ve obtained a leaked internal email showing early designs and concepts for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games mascot. No bull. 

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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:

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When will we find the Capita Contract in Birmingham?

Capita plc, commonly known as Capita, is an international business process outsourcing and professional services company headquartered in London. If you want to know what that means it means that they’re a bit like Sodexo but with more computers and less cake, a bit like G4S but with more questionnaires and less security guards and a bit like OCP in Robocop but with slightly more ambition and less quality control.

Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the largest and most populous British city outside London, with a population in 2014 of 1,101,360. Birmingham City Council is the biggest local authority in Europe — not for once the second — and has a duty to provide services to the citizens of Birmingham. Traditionally cities used to employ people but nobody made any money out of it so now they sell off activities to service companies who can bid for them.

Birmingham City Council has a contract with Capita a ‘joint enterprise’ called Service Birmingham to deliver “service improvement and IT”, so phone calls, and library websites for one million pounds, computer things like websites and mouse mats and dot matrix printers and new websites and PCs and Lotus Notes and web portals and phone upgrades and the dongles and those USB sticks that used to be very expensive but you can get cheap now. We think.

The burden of employment is one that has not sat well with Birmingham City Council in these years of neoliberalism: and perhaps it’s best that it doesn’t handle the contracts seeing as the equal pay bill is still crippling the finances. But if something is worth doing, you can bet that capitalism has a way of doing it much worse while charging more than it would have cost to do it yourself.

Due to commercial confidentiality, when the Capita contract was released by the council it was heavily redacted. To tell you the truth we’d forgotten that had happened and we often do gags about it being ‘lost’ and people seem to dig them.

When’s the new series of BBC One sitcom set in Birmingham Citizen Khan on TV and is it Islamophobic? Everything you need to know

Soon there will be a new series of the BBC One sitcom set in Sparkhill, Birmingham, Citizen Khan that stars comedian Adil Ray on television, on the BBC One channel and iPlayer.

Wikipedia says that Citizen Khan “is a family-based British sitcom produced by the BBC and created by Adil Ray now in its fourth series. It is set in Sparkhill, East Birmingham, described by its lead character, a Pakistani Muslim Mr Khan (Adil Ray), as “the capital of British Pakistan.” Citizen Khan follows the trials and tribulations of Mr Khan, a loud-mouthed, patriarchal, self-appointed, cricket-loving community leader, and his long suffering wife (played by Shobu Kapoor) and daughters Shazia (Maya Sondhi 2012–2014, Krupa Pattani 2015–) and Alia (Bhavna Limbachia).[1] In Series One, Kris Marshall starred as Dave, the manager of Mr Khan’s local mosque.[1] The first name of Mrs Khan is Razia Khan. Mr. Khan’s first name is never revealed.”

Citizen Khan from the TV
Citizen Khan from the TV

The BBC have said:

Labour’s Rupa Huq criticised Citizen Khan’s depiction of a “quite backward” family of Muslims.
The show was accused of stereotyping Muslims when it started in 2012 and its creator, Adil Ray, has told the Radio Times he had received death threats.

On 20 January 2016, it was confirmed the show will return for a fifth series in October 2016 on the telly but these things change, so ¯_(ツ)_/¯. We’re not sure if it is Islamophobic.

Which No. 1 to Acock’s Green does that chap who stinks of piss catch, so I can avoid him?

If you’ve ever commuted to Acock’s Green in Birmingham, England, in the morning on the Number One (No. 1) bus, operated by Travel West Midlands, then it’s possible that you’ve at times caught a whiff of piss.

Unlike farts, it isn’t ‘he who smelt it dealt it’ it’s a man who gets on the number one NXBus bus who smells a bit of urine.

The bus stops at such places as: Five Ways, CALTHORPE RD, Highfield Rd, CALTHORPE RD, Carpenter Rd, CHURCH RD, Chamberlain Hall, CHURCH RD, Edgbaston Old Church, CHURCH RD, Priory Hospital, PRIORY RD, Bristol Rd, PRIORY RD, Warwickshire Cricket Ground, EDGBASTON RD, Midlands Arts Centre, EDGBASTON RD, Cannon Hill Park, EDGBASTON RD,Park Hill, SALISBURY RD, Amesbury Rd, SALISBURY RD, Moseley Village, SAINT MARYS ROW,Church Rd, WAKE GREEN RD,Wake Green Road, WAKE GREEN RD, Mayfield Court, WAKE GREEN RD, Billesley Lane, WAKE GREEN RD, Mackenzie Rd, WAKE GREEN RD, Wake Green Rd, COLLEGE RD, Moseley Sec School, COLLEGE RD, St Christophers Church, SPRINGFIELD RD,Springfield Rd, STRATFORD RD, The College Arms, SHAFTMOOR LANE, Tetley Rd, SHAFTMOOR LANE, Russell Rd, SHAFTMOOR LANE, Allcroft Rd, SHAFTMOOR LANE,Railway Bridge, SHAFTMOOR LANE,Spring Rd, SHAFTMOOR LANE, LIDL, OLTON BOULEVARD EAST, LIDL, FOX HOLLIES RD, Bus Depot, WESTLEY RD,Acocks Green Village, WESTLEY RD, Acocks Green Village, SHIRLEY RD, Olton Boulevard East, SHIRLEY RD,Greenwood Avenue, SHIRLEY RD,Shirley Medical Centre, SHIRLEY RD,Norland Rd, POOL FARM RD, Fanshawe Rd, POOL FARM RD, nwmtpwam, Tibland Rd, POLLARD RD,Fox Hollies Park, GOSPEL LANE, Severne Grove, SEVERNE RD, Nailstone Crescent, SEVERNE RD,Nailstone Crescent, SEVERNE RD, Tavistock Rd, BROOM HALL CRES, and Gospel Farm Rd, GOSPEL LANE – and you’d like to get on a different timed bus to avoid him.

This is an old picture of a bus.

CC By: Clive A Brown
CC By: Clive A Brown

Of course, there’s not much you can do if that’s the time you’ve got to get to work. The buses are about every twenty minutes or something on this route from Town.

It’s probably about the 8:30am from town, which gets in to Moseley about 8:45/8:50 am, but like, we’re not his mother. Or we’d give him a wash.

When do they put near dated cheese in the Whoops fridge at the Asda?

Asda Stores Limited is an American-owned, British-founded supermarket retailer, headquartered in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Asda run a number of stores in Birmingham.

The company started in Leeds but was bought by American giant Walmart in 1999. It is one of the “Big Four” supermarkets in the UK with Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons and indeed it is one of the “Big Four” in Birmingham.

And one of its stores is very big — the Asda at Minworth which was branded as “Asda Wal*mart” for a bit but now isn’t. It used to be a Carrefour, and they make very big supermarkets indeed called “hypermarchés”.

An Asda, not the Asda
An Asda. It might be the Asda. They all look the same but they sell cheese cheaper at different times. Pic CC Dreamisles

Asda sells more than just groceries — it also sells other things like televisions and clothes and many things that you might want to buy like sofas too — but famously it sells groceries.

Offering much in the way of fresh food, the Asda must be careful about stock rotation and keeping fresh food fresh to buy for their customers.

Asda say:

We know you care about food waste, and we do, too. That’s why Asda has a whole range of initiatives dedicated to reducing food waste in our own operations, with our suppliers and in our customers’ homes.

And one thing that they do is sometimes you can get the fresh food but for cheaper when it is near dated. But when does this fresh food get reduced and when can you buy some fancy cheese from the deli, like the one that has cranberries in it, but for cheaper?

Well it’s hard to tell because it depends on when the cheese will go off, but usually you can buy it on the day when it will pass its sell by date. Sunday at around 3pm used to be good at the Asda in Perry Barr because they had to get rid of lots of stuff before early closing at 4pm and just before it shuts on other days too, which might be 8pm or maybe 9pm, we can’t remember and couldn’t find it online.

And the one at Queslett is 24 hours now but it causes problems with the traffic, what a nightmare.

What time does Select and Save on the Stratford Road close?

Select and Save is a supermarket on the Stratford Road in Birmingham. It’s at 870 Stratford Road in Sparkhill.

It’s not the only Select and Save (or Select & Save), there’s also one in Moseley, but we don’t know what time that one closes.

The Select and Save website says that it “was formed in 1997 by two entrepreneurs. Since its launch this convenience store symbol group for independent retailers has grown from 2 stores to over 100 across the UK, and is still growing. Select & Save retailers are supported by our two regional offices based in the Midlands and the North-East.”

It sells “Food Products, Baked Goods, Grocery Stores, Meat Products, Beverages” but does a special line — from what we can tell — in fruit and vegetables that you should cook that very day lest they go off.

CC By: Elliot Brown
CC By: Elliot Brown

We can’t find a photo of it on Flickr and it’s not on Google streetview either, so erm, here’s a photo of the inside of a supermarket. It’s an Asda.

Also, we don’t know what time it shuts. Maybe 8pm? The one in Moseley opens later, but we can’t be sure. Maybe call them… 01217785550

When and on what day do The Yenton clean their pipes?

The Yenton is a pub on Sutton Road, Erdington, Birmingham. 

cc by: Eliot Brown
cc by: Eliot Brown

Their website says “At Sizzling we believe the people of Erdington deserve more from their local pub. And it’s our job to give you just that.”

“We’re a friendly bunch and we pride ourselves on giving the warmest of welcomes. We’re committed to seeking out the very best quality ingredients at prices that are honest and fair. We’re a real part of the local community, proud to help fundraise for charities and offer our function area free of charge to locals and groups.

“We’re local to Wylde Green, Walmley and Sutton Coldfield, so whether you’re up for a party, watching sport, meeting with friends and family or just relaxing and taking the time to unwind, The Yenton is the pub putting the sizzle in Erdington. ”

We think they clean their pipes every Monday.

Finally: Birmingham Mail, without the “content”

Fed up with pesky ‘news’ content spoiling your enjoyment of the adverts on your local paper website? Feel fed up no-more, with Evening Mail blocker: all the ads, all the page furniture, all the recommend articles about weightloss — but none of the ‘local news’. Save MBs of download time!

Heavyweight pages from the Birmingham Mail

Simon Howes recently posted the above picture online — it’s a demonstration of the page load from the Birmingham Mail under two sets of conditions. First we see the hard work needed for your computer to load as it should — with all links to external click bait and whatnot — and then we see how it looks with just the “content”, via an adblocker. Which got us thinking: the ads are really getting bogged down by all that news… what if we could just turn that off? Surely we could hand that 9.3% of processor time back to the stuff that matters… back to ad trackers, and flash popovers.

We’ve written a browser extension (for Chrome only at the moment) which will strip away all those churned press releases, all those homilies to mixed use development, all those funny bits that they were inspired to write from somewhere…

Don’t waste your time looking at photos of how the Scott Arms looked like in an only slightly bygone age.

See the Birmingham Mail as it should be: download the Evening Mail News Blocker now!