Say goodbye to the Premiere video club, Old Walsall Road, Hamstead.  This is at least the third premises for the ‘club’ along one stretch of shops on the edge of Brum—it first opened in the eighties when easy availability of ‘Driller Killer‘ and the movie ‘Shag’ (which seems to have vanished from existence) on VHS or Beta was upmost in the minds of the Great Barrians and quickly expanded. Like the universe what expands must eventually contract, and the tapes are finally disappearing in a gnab gib.  

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The locations and dwarf holes mentioned in this tale are based on fact. The people and all the rest are not. I walk along the canal and look above wondering how much concrete is necessary to prevent the entire elaborate junction from collapsing. The pillars holding up metal and flesh appear to be the legs of giants while the traffic travels along their spines. The graffiti at the bottom gives it the look of elaborately painted nails. Or like a tattoo that marks the owner’s individuality. I look at my right hand and frown at what I’m holding. Have I been drinking? Focusing on the bottle of vodka it suddenly occurs to me that my mind is in the process of being drowned by a tsunami of ethanol. I look at the water rippling on the breeze. My attention is drawn to the sound of a bell …

An Urban Fairytale Read more »

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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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The source of the Hazelwell River. It appears to come from the allotments and there's no sign of a leaky tap.

As a home worker I need excuses to get out of the house so, despite not being that interested in food other than as fuel, I’ve been volunteering at Stirchley Stores, doing shifts and running errands a few times a week. As well as the essential contact with other people it also gives me a commute, of a kind. It’s just a walk through Hazelwell Park and over the River Rea, five minutes at most, and it’s given me a real appreciation of these small, local parks which cover the Birmingham sprawl. Functional and unpretentious, Hazelwell Park is a typical community resource. A large rectangle with space for ball sports (as I believe they’re known), enclosed on four sides by a terrace, a patch of woodland, some allotmments and the mighty Rea. Like other parks along the river its path forms part of the National Cycle Route …

Letter from Stirchley: A New River Read more »

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With the Birmingham Popular Music Archive I’ve been inviting the public to contribute to an online database of music culture in Birmingham, by placing venues, artists, people or anything they feel relates to music on a map. The results so far were commissioned in the form of the Birmingham Music Map as part of ‘plug in’ mac‘s opening exhibition curated by Simon Poulter, more details on the exhibition are here. Here’s a shot of it in situ. Poster copies are available, screenprinted on gorgeous white archival paper at B1 (707 × 1000mm /27.8 × 39.4in) in a signed and numbered limited edition of 100 copies. (£25 Now £15 plus £5 postage and packing — recorded delivery.) Price for framed copies on application. Please email for details. Explore the online version, either click and drag, or use the zoom and scroll controls at the bottom: PDF Version of map You …

Birmingham Music Map Read more »

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Old punks never die- they just smell that way. Costers is closed and part of my adolescence disappeared. I’m sitting in its cultural replacement which by all accounts is exactly the same but better. It’s brighter, louder, bigger with comfyer seats, two TV screens and a pinball machine. The Costers crowd have made the migration of 100 yards to another underground bar and first impressions are good. Personally it should feel like a fresh start but I cant help but miss the ghosts. Costers was a dark run down shit hole but it had a cobweb of personal history hanging from every corner. My connection to the Birmingham alternative scene it seems was the shared fetish stick of that shit hole. I’m young enough to generate new memories – but too old to invest heavily in this scene.

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