101 Things Birmingham Gave the World No. 81: Books about Birmingham

Like Neville Chamberlain before you, you have the opportunity to hold in your hand a piece of paper. And, per page at least, it could have fewer lies on it. Why not buy 101 Things Birmingham gave the World right now? A fantastic Christmas gift.

But there wouldn’t be books about Birmingham without the work of the 18th century’s Thomas Warren, who was the first publisher to come from Brum: and let’s face it no-one from anywhere else was going to publish them.

From his house over the Swan Tavern on the High Street, he founded a modest book making empire, and eventually a book shop. No records of the shop remain, or of any other independent bookshop in Birmingham at all.

Warren edited and published Dr. Samuel ‘Dictionary’ Johnson’s first book – a translation of Jerónimo Lobo’s Voyage to Abyssinia – which was a huge success and sold hundreds of copies, absolutely none of which ended up for sale second-hand at Reader’s World.

Without Thomas we’d never have had: David Lodge’s campus novels which pretend not to be set in Birmingham, Alton Douglas’s Dogs In Birmingham, Jonathan Coe’s Rotters’ Club, Henry Green’s Modernist classic Living, Washington Irving’s Bracebridge Hall (set in Aston Hall), Benjamin Disraeli’s 1845 novel Sybil which uses Birmingham as a background political barometer, or the wonderful work of Catherine O’Flynn. Nor this one, which has been called “wiser than it seems” by non other than Solihull’s Stewart Lee.

He also founded and published the Birmingham Journal – in 1732 – our first newspaper, and a hard slog that must of been too as there were no existing papers or websites in the city to copy content from.

Three cheers for Thomas Warren, a man who managed to change the world, despite living over a pub.


This is the book that proves that Birmingham is not just the crucible of the Industrial Revolution, but the cradle of civilisation.

It’s the definitive guide to the 101 things that made the world what it is today – and all of them were made in Birmingham.

Read how Birmingham gave the world the wonders of tennis, nuclear war, the Beatles, ‘that smell of eggs’ and many more… 97 more. It also includes a foreword by Stewart Lee called ‘A Birmingham of the memory,’ all about his relationship with the city.

101 Things Birmingham Gave The World, is not a Birmingham of the memory. It is a living breathing thing, wrestling with the city’s contradictions, press-ganging the typically arch and understated humour of the Brummie, and an army of little-known facts, both trivial and monumental, into reshaping its confusing reputation.
Stewart Lee

Break the Brum listed building code

Signs and symbols used as a code to mark listed buildings in Birmingham before a suspicious fire or a demolition order have been revealed, and now ‘experts’ have explained how to protect yours. Look out for these drawing on walls, doors and even bins outside your property.

Some indicate that it’s not worth the effort of battling local opinion, others that they may be a prime target.

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?”

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

13 things you’ll only know if you grew up at my parents’ house in Coleraine Road, Great Barr, B42

We all remember being alive in the past. Sometimes we remember shops that were in the same place as a different shop is now, or that bus tickets were slightly different. And we all grew up in our own local area – how mad is that? The internet papers are full of it as the past makes us feel good. But how much of a person that grew up at my parents’ house in Coleraine Road, Great Barr, B42, are you? Find out by looking at this prime number of things you’ll only know if you grew up at my parents’ house in Coleraine Road, Great Barr, B42.

 

  • The hot water won’t be on if the heating isn’t, (and the heating won’t be on until October) you’ll have to run a bath with the shower.
An old bathroom, yesterday.
An old bathroom, yesterday.
  • The circuit board that provides hooky cable should be unhitched if you’re not watching the sports or the movies, as they can tell, you know.
  • Bin day is Wednesday.
  • There’s no point trying to break in by climbing over the back fence into the garden if you come home a bit drunk one Christmas eve in the early ’90s. You’d still have to put the window of the back door to the lean to through and that is simply not worth the hassle.
  • The bloke next door has pinched a bit of garden up the back by the shed, but it’s not worth challenging him on it, just give him the cold shoulder.
  • The alarm code is a portion of the old phone number before we switched from British Telecom to the Birmingham Cable Company and had to get a 681 number.

    How this bus stop looks now.
    How this bus stop looks now.
  • It takes exactly four minutes to walk to the number 16 stop by the Beaufort pub. If you leave at 7:25 you’ll get to school on time.
  • You can’t get Channel 4 as the aerial has to point to the Wrekin rather than Sutton Coldfield because Hamstead hill is in the way. The TV will sometimes go green when it’s been on for a bit, if it bothers you you’ll have to switch it off and let it cool down, banging it does no good.

    The TV's gone green!
    The TV’s gone green!

Continue reading “13 things you’ll only know if you grew up at my parents’ house in Coleraine Road, Great Barr, B42”

Pokemon No: Craft beer bar krabby on ‘unfair’ distribution of pocket monsters

Thundurusly 1000 Trades manager upset manager John Stapleton.
Thundurusly 1000 Trades manager upset manager John Stapleton.

Owners of 1000 Trades a new trendy bar in Birmingham’s trendy Jewellery Quarter say they fear losing custom: because they have no Pokemon compared to nearby chain outlets.

In the augmented reality game Pokemon Go players travel around the real world to capture and train creatures known as Pokemon – the most famous of which is Pikachu.

Pokemon have been spotted in various locations around the city, in churches, parks and — unless this is a mirage — the Taboo cinema club.

Continue reading “Pokemon No: Craft beer bar krabby on ‘unfair’ distribution of pocket monsters”