We all know that Birmingham isn’t shit. We’ve spent nearly 20 years telling people, showing the world, and often undermining our case. In our book we lay out the ineffable reasons why we say ‘Birmingham: it’s not shit’ and attempt to eff it.
You’re not meant to answer your phone at work, you have to do it surreptitiously. Which is why, despite Benjamin Zephaniah phoning me up to tell me just why he’d turned down an OBE in the Queen’s Christmas honours, I’m not quite sure why he did it. Phone me up, that is.
It was undoubtedly the right thing to do — good people do it, J.B. Priestley, Alan Bennett, Harold Pinter, David Bowie, Glenda Jackson as well as some absolute rotters like Evelyn Waugh the vile body who declined a CBE in the late ‘50s because he wanted a knighthood instead — but it would have been fantastic to hear the reasons this great Brummie did from him directly. My attention was not only compromised by taking the call in an open-plan office but by the fact I was hiding something from Ben, or being politic about it at least.