Birmingham: you get the culture you deserve


Once, Birmingham had a scene. For a hot minute, somewhere between 2008 and 2009, it found something. And then we fucked it up.

By way of example, remember when the Birmingham Bloggers were a thing? I know there’s technically still a Facebook group or whatever, but it’s not like it was in 2008-09. With that group of awkward nerds came the sharing of knowledge and the birth of creativity; the kind of ideas that start from pub chats, or from blog posts or even single tweets. The ‘wouldn’t it be cool if’ ideas, like building cocks in the snow, or running a 5k at midnight, or sitting on the #11 for a day. Or even coming to a pub to hear some interesting people speak.

In that time we had barcamps and ‘cafés‘ – which are just meetups with a poncey name – and then towards the tail end of 2009 we lost it. Some of us tried to keep it going. Some of us tried to help put a radio station together, or build an events listing website, or start a magazine, or build an events listing website

I think there are two problems at play in this city. For one, the social media scene got fucked up because all those with the best ideas went off to seek their fortunes, and the ones who were taking notes started charging people.

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Jack Dromey Twitter photo short story competition – September

It’s time for this month’s Jack Dromey MP Twitter photo short story competition. To enter,  just write a short (no limits) story based on this photo that Erdington’s MP Jack ‘Mr Harriet Harman’ Dromey has posted to his Twitter account. Post them in the comments, winners win a special Herne Hill, South London and Suffolk related prize, compo ends noon Friday 16 September.

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Andy Street unveils WM mayor bid – we’ve got a leaked campaign email

The zaphiks servers just aren’t secure…



Re: All hail the Mayor!!!

9th September 2016 12:01

Hi Andy,

How’s the shop going?

I hear in the news that you fancy a knock at the big job, that’s super. Given your work in a similar but totally accountable position for the last few years I’m sure you have what it takes. Don’t listen to the naysayers, Andy, nor the voters!

You’ll need a media guy, it’s all about the advertising these days. Post-truth politics is the new thing so we can just lie all day. AND I still have Dion Dublin’s phone number, can you play dube cube Andy? We could get a load with your logo on.

I’ve already thought of some some slogans for you. How about:

  • Taking back control (for exchange only within 28 days of purchase)
  • ‘Best Midlands’, or something, it rhymes
  • Street cleaning/Streets ahead/Street view something
  • Andy Street: Serving the midlands (please take a ticket)
  • Never knowingly undersold – not sure what this one means.
  • We are the up to 99% off
  • Build a Wallmart and make Asda pay for it! (They’re the same company, right?)
  • If you want a digger for a neighbour, go to B+Q
  • Eat the Rich tasty ready meals in our essentials range.

Btw what’s the best email to get you on now you’re moving on?
Kind Regards


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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.

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Edgbaston woman regrets ‘Leave’ vote

Gisela, 60, from Birmingham (for now).

Gisela, 60, from Birmingham (for now).

An Edgbaston woman told us today that she was having second thoughts after voting for the UK to leave the European Union.

Like a one woman Welsh village voting to cut its subsidies, Ms Stuart admitted that she had been taken in by the easy fixes offered by the Leave campaign and now regretted her support for Brexit.

“Some of my best friends have been shadow Secretary of State in the great offices, but nobody told me this would happen.

“I told everyone who would listen that we could stop spending money on those unelected MEPs and spend it on hospitals. The government has no control over what it does with its money, or at least that’s what Gordon Brown told me when I was in the government.

“Yes to controlling immigration, I’m not racist but, I thought I was just pulling the ladder up behind me. No one told me that there might be actual deportations. Some of my best friends are EU citizens and I’m devastated that they now might have to leave.. Hang on, I’m one too, scheisse er merde, I mean shit.”

“I just feel lied to,” she said, “I was told I was taking my country back: but it turns out they are taking me back to my country.”

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The Foel Tower Agreement: A manifesto for creating a healthier public sphere for a diverse city.

Birmingham has a young, diverse, integrated population. The city council declared it a city of sanctuary, it has a history of attempting to welcome people of all creeds and faiths. However it also has a history of tension and politics that has attempted to sow division for its own ends. In many ways we are at a point where there is a fork in the road about which sort of city we want to become.

During the 19th century clean water was in short supply in Birmingham and there were major epidemics of water-borne diseases including typhoid, cholera and diarrhoea. Birmingham City Council under Joseph Chamberlain, set about finding a clean water supply for the City. James Mansergh identified the Elan and Claerwen Valleys as a place that could supply the water, and the Foel Tower is the starting point of the 73 mile journey of the water from the Elan Valley to Birmingham.

With the creation of online distributed discourse there are a number of publications and organisations acting as hosts for the civic debate — and they have a responsibility to make that debate clean and safe. Elan Valley water rather than Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’.

Birmingham has an opportunity to lead in this space, as it did in public health all those years ago. So we urge people to press those with the power to influence the debate to sign up to this manifesto:

The Foel Tower Agreement

A manifesto for creating a healthier public sphere for a diverse city.

We call all organisations, individuals, publishers and publications that host online debate about and in the city to work to create a healthier public sphere for a diverse city.

These hosts should commit to the following principles in hosting online debate.

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We’re half empty, but still the second biggest in Europe

"we leave the Midlands Engine running and then..."

Half of Birmingham voted to leave.
Half of Birmingham wanted to stay.

We wanted to stay.

To the victors, no spoils.
You’ve set off an earthquake.

Just today, just right now, you’ve voted yourself poorer. And the man who got you here is already pulling things out from under you.

We said Brexit would be bad for Birmingham.
We hope we were wrong, we fear we were not.

We don’t know what’s next, but we’re ready.
Get ready too.

Let’s be ready to build our Birmingham for ourselves. Let’s be ready to call bullshit on the things that will come our way. Let’s stop hate wherever we find it and stand up to the commercial interests that let it grow. Let’s be ready, there are some battles ahead.

Together. Forward.
And join a union, you’ll need one.

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Paradise Circus says: Vote Brumain

Local satirical miscellanies, so the mainstream media says, are not doing enough to get out their core constituency for the Remain vote.

We want to, we really want to. But a harder question than the one on the ballot is: is it possible to be funny about it? Sure it’s possible to do tiresome Python-referencing knock offs listing the shiny buildings we’ve built and placed plaques with european stars on them. But the rhetoric is dire, self-satirising, and so far removed from a rational debate that it’s hard to get purchase on.

The EU isn’t perfect, but it does provide some safeguards against the worst excesses of neoliberal capitalism – especially regards workers and individual rights – and of course the Brexit line-up is full of the worst of all people.

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101 Things Brum Gave The World. No. 80: The Inevitable Downfall of the BBC

The Plarchers, a Twitter parody

The Plarchers, a Twitter parody

It’s amazing that, with the modern attention span the way it is, the BBC has managed to keep any programme going for over 60 years. That’s a testament to a wonderful variety of writers, producers, and editors, it’s a tribute to the management that held faith and more than anything it’s a case study in how taking a punt on an innovative idea can produce something astounding.

The Archers, recorded in the Borsestshire village of Ambridge — but produced and broadcast from the nearby big city of Birmingham — is not only wonderful entertainment, but was the world’s first ‘scripted reality’ show. The genre, with The Only Way Is Essex, Geordie Shore and Midlands Today all riding high in the ratings, feels like the very definition of NOW: but did you know it started in May of 1950 for those of us in the Midlands, and on 1 January 1951 for the rest of the country? We’ve all been listening for 64 years and counting, or maybe it just feels like that.

But innovative and important though it is, The Archers’ tales of everyday country folk are a pernicious cancer at the heart of our Public Service Broadcasting.

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Rivers of shit: Let us challenge hate, everywhere

It’s been a terrible decade or so. Flecks of blood splatter the hands of everyone who panders to racism, distrust and hate: Trump, Farage, Cameron, the Sun and the Daily Mail. But it’s also on the hands of the supposedly neutral, good, people who are afraid of offending racists because they want their money, or votes.

Casual racism, small pieces of hate, or general othering that goes unchecked or is pandered to creates a climate where division is the norm and the mould of active dangerous hate can fester in the cracks.

Paradise Circus quite regularly takes the piss of the comments on the Birmingham Mail’s Facebook page: “get in and read the nice story before the racists get there,” we’ll say. There are worse places too, the mention of travellers on the Bearwood Page on Facebook is the starting gun for vile behaviour.

Once in a while it might happen on one of our channels, we find attack the best form of defence. But right now tolerance across the board is needed. Nothing seems to be getting better, it’s getting worse.

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