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 …

How Brummie are you? Quiz Read more »

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The thing about anywhere you consider ‘home’ is that you never really start considering it that way until it’s not there any more. Walking into Central Library on its last day I found it devoid of books, mostly partitioned off, infused with dour atmosphere and dotted with cheap furniture. It looked for all the world like a second world abortion clinic. And it felt like being punched in the back of the head. But even then walking out of the doors—knowing it’ll be the last time—bought a lump to my throat the size of a child’s fist. Sometimes home is stolen gradually. Changes adding up slowly between each visit until you look around one quiet afternoon and wonder where the fuck you are and who these fucking people are anyway. Other times you’re standing outside the charred remains of the club that defined your young adult life …

Shelf sacrifice Read more »

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I woke this morning to a few tweets informing me that today is the 41st birthday of the Gravelly Hill Interchange, better known as Spaghetti Junction. Within these birthday messages lay a joke, a myth about Junction 6 that lies at the heart of many an outsider’s knowledge of Birmingham. This is the myth that traversing Spaghetti is hard.

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Four years ago I wrote this, a slightly hysterical but solid blog post about the film 1 Day. 1 Day is a grime musical starring actual members plucked from Birmingham’s rival gangs, the Burger Bar Boys and the Johnson Crew. The article was written during a time where I was working in a Pupil Referral Unit in north Birmingham with kids that were gang members or vulnerable to them. The posts trepidation to the film coming out is an echo to my higher-ups absolute panic about the film which they (wrongly) thought would cause another spike in violence between these two gangs. I eventually left the unit, and a large portion of me leaving was down to not being able to fully leave work at work, you get to know the kids and through that you are afforded small peeks into their worlds. Eventually this, and the …

One Mile Away Read more »

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Here’s a question I get asked a lot: “What on earth are you doing here?”. I wasn’t born here, in Birmingham, but here I am now: a grown man, a wife, a house, kids and a cat. A responsible job even. Birmingham has me, has me locked in tight. “But why Birmingham, of all places?” I didn’t grow up here, in Brum, but here I stand, here and now. I’m part of this place, it’s part of me. “How did you end up here?”

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