If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Despite the protests of anyone who’s ever wanted to make it from one end of New Street to the other, asking people for money is profitable and it will continue. Birmingham has some world class panhandling: the girl with the odd voice and dreads who needs 65p to get home to Bearwood, the squaddie who’s missed his train back to base, Vernon the Big Issue seller who made a Christmas single, and not to forget the historical local begging on a global stage that bought us the ICC with all that European money. So would you be surprised to see that the city invented a certain type of begging? Of course not, but it happened some way before there was a city to beg in. In the Domesday Book, Birmingham is recorded as one homestead: worth about two goats. But …

101 Things Brum Gave The World. No. 50: Panhandling Read more »

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Discovery is subjective. When Europeans discovered the Americas, they didn’t let indigenous races spoil their narrative: that continent was discovered and it would stay discovered, damn it. They say that every generation of teenagers thinks it’s invented sex. The moment we become sexually active we reinvent the wheel (you ever tried it? I’d advise you stretch first) and simultaneously project our parents into a sexless hinterland (a bit like Telford, where fittingly Philip Larkin worked), denying them a sexual history despite being embodied evidence of it. Brummies have an Americas: it’s the King Kong statue, a monument forever being discovered.  

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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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So I spoke to the Editor* about what to write about this week and he gave me this, probably to wind me up, which suggests that ten people are responsible for most of the graffiti in Brum. I knew my feelings on graff have been documented ad nauseum in other places. Also I find the weary ‘is it art?’ argument nonsensical and unhelpful and am at loathe to drag it out one more time. So, for once, I thought it would be good to give someone active in that world a chance to reply. The guy I spoke to didn’t want to be named so I haven’t. What do you think of the thought that there only ten people responsible for the graffiti in Birmingham? I doubt the council see it like this to be honest, I can imagine they have a wanted list a lot longer. …

Tag nuts Read more »

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Anglo-Saxon England was a horrible violent place with different kings and fiefdoms slaughtering for land, old gods, and, when the Danes landed, shits and giggles. Not unlike Newtown (except the bit about the Danes – I’ve never seen a Dane  in North Birmingham). Another thing worth stabbing your neighbouring villagers up the arsehole for, was gold. Not the tatty mass produced Elizabeth Duke crap the third generation crack-babies are killing each other for at present. Beautiful, hand crafted gold unique items; normally it was used for decorating the weapons you yourself used to rob people for their gold, thus making you more attractive to rob. You can see why it escalated. To keep it safe they buried it, and The Staffordshire Hoard was discovered last year in the West Midlands; if you mean the ‘West Midlands Region‘ which pretty much covers everything with buildings between London and …

Surge Domine et dissipentur inimici tui et fugiant qui oderunt te a facie tua* Read more »

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For those of you whose memory has been damaged by brolly spokes entering your ear waiting for some lights to be switched on, Winterval was the blanket catch all name for a series of council ran events that included Eid, Christmas and New Year. That turned, with the help of some lazy journalism and right wing knee jerking, into BIRMINGHAM BANS CHRISTMAS. No doubt someone will bring this story out of the loft again this year, blow the dust off and string it about, Christ it been going since ’98, it’s almost a tradition. Do you remember it now? When Birmingham became a laughing stock because we had chosen to be inclusive and tolerant? Pah! Who would want that? Certainly not the church, when the Winterval shit storm was kicking off the shit was so deep that young children were sledding down hills on it while their …

Danny Smith: Merry Winterval Read more »

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