Super Prix


Remembering the Super Prix is a fiction within a fiction.
Going to my Nan’s flat,
180 Elizabeth Fry House,
just to hear the roar and grumble
of the cars from her balcony.
A simulcast of first and second-hand experiences.
Being there but not being there.

Watching the race on TV
with the fringes of town
shown as a kind of alternative, patched up, Monaco,
but never making it
to see the actual event.

Thinking I’d only been on the No. 8 earlier that week, along that same stretch of road, sitting upstairs on the front seat of the bus, no less.

The No.8′s route was an adventure into the forbidden space of the Super Prix.
The excitement started when the bus deviated from the orbit of the inner ring road, on to the Hagley Rd.

First, passing the Oratory with the raised disc of Five Ways at the end of the corridor of traffic.
Either side of me, I thought the office buildings projected a Texan-style flexing of the city’s identity, of wealth made from making energy from fossils. Oil money craned into the sky.

Then, the bus did a grand right on to Islington Row, where motorsport’s slogans of legal addictions – stuck on the the crash barriers and safety fencing – slipped into view on the pavements of Belgrave Middleway.

Everywhere there were Camel yellows, Marlboro reds and a familiar deep, warm orange -
the same colour as the carpets
in the Central Library.

Then to Haden Circus -
and as reality continued to be suspended – there was a pit stop for emergency vehicles, protected by a half-crescent of concrete blocks, like some physical, road-built morse code
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101 Things Brum Gave The World. No. 46: Thomas the Tank Engine

Scariest little tank engine ever

Railway enthusiasts get a bad press. If it’s not the anoraks, glasses, and spots it’s the destruction of the Tory countryside in order to build train lines. Or it’s—in the words of Daniel Kitson—that they “aren’t paedophiles [they] just like the look”. The clergy  get a bit of that too. For all their good works, you might keep your nippers away from Catholic ones.

Luckily this particular tale of Brummie greatness features an Anglican cleric and ‘railway enthusiast’ who did something brilliant for kids: Wilbert Vere Awdry, better known as the Reverend W. Awdry who invented Thomas the Tank Engine.

In 1940 he became curate of  St. Nicholas’ Church, Kings Norton, Birmingham  and it was there in 1943 that he invented the characters that would make him famous—to amuse his son Christopher during a bout of measles.

The rest is Beatle-flecked history, which in some way exists in a combined Birmingham:based fictional universe. Sodor, Mordor—you can just see the orcs and stuff starting their epic journeys here can’t you:



King’s Norton station CC By: Benkid77

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Birmingham’s Musicians head up plans for the Birmingham Republic

Following the news that Happy Mondays’ Bez will run for parliament in the 2015 General Election, Paradise Circus has discovered plans by a group of Birmingham musicians to run for office next year under the banner of The Peoples Republic of Birmingham Party.

If all musicians are successful and gain seats, Birmingham will immediately make moves to declare itself independent of the United Kingdom: Ron Saunders will be on the £10 note, Jasper Carrott on the fiver, and border controls will be put in place at Junctions 5 and 7 of the M6.

Here is how the cabinet of the brave new dawn is shaping up… Read more ›

Posted in lolitics

All hail our Greater Birmingham leader



The John Lewis flagship store in Birmingham. CC by: Elliott Brown

Do you remember the celebrations, the night Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis, was elected and crowned leader of Birmingham? The people were out on the streets waving Denby crocks, chanting his name, making ‘Andy is Handy’ banners on Egyptian cotton bed sheets. It was truly a night everyone came together to celebrate a popular victory of a person no-one has ever heard of, who runs a shop that isn’t even open.

I couldn’t sleep for the peeping of Prius horns, so I was watching the results coming in on television: did you stay up for Keith the landlord of the Prince of Wales losing his seat on the governing body to the duty manager of Poundland Corporation St? Did you, fictionally, cheer when the first preference votes were announced by Adrian Goldberg live from the ICC: Abid from the Spice Merchant in King’s Heath, and the famous Big John (of Big John’s) narrowly failing to get enough votes to lead ‘Greater Birmingham’? Did you?

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Birmingham City Council employs a Human – what happens next will amaze you.

Posted in lolitics

13 ways to solve the Birmingham Council funding crisis without flogging the NEC

If we have to take a bath, let's take a bath of beans

The day after they approved their new budget (with £86 million in cuts), Birmingham City Council have announced that they will sell off the NEC Group to help balance their books, worse for them they’ve had to cancel 18,000 bus lane driving fines. We were upset by this news, but luckily we are children of the 80s and we have watched a lot of Blue Peter. We know that when times are tough regular people can dig deep and rally to all sorts of fundraisers. When we did it in the 80s, to pay for a guide dog or a well in Africa or a lifeboat or something, the huge targets on the totalisers would always come good because it’s known that poorer people give more to charity and it’s known that none of us had any money in the 1980s. So we’ve decided to raise some money to save our city, just like we saved whales and stuff when we were kids. We’ve reached back to tea time telly for inspiration, added in some trendy modern ideas too, and are proud to present a range of fundraising options to save the city and to save the NEC. So come on! Get fundraising today and the city can continue to benefit from the profit on Robbie Williams concerts. Forward!

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If new Kingstanding councillor Gary Sambrook was a bit of a prat when he was at school, he hasn’t changed.

Meet Gary Sambrook, he’s just been elected as Tory Councillor for Kingstanding, after quite a few goes. Congratulations, Gary. His mates made him a song.


He seems to be attracted to road signs.

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101 Things Brum Gave The World. No. 45: Shit shoes



If you’ve seen any coverage of the Oscar ceremony, or any Oscar ceremony, you’ll know it’s all about the clothes. The women’s clothes. The women’s bodies, the ladies’ bras. Male attendees get to dig out evening dress and pass without comment. It’s an everyday sexist world, but let’s turn the male gaze on its head. Or feet rather.

Posh men’s shoes are always shiny, and that’s hard to keep up. Unless you have a basic military training, polishing leather is boring hard and messy. Luckily for the servants of the rich and famous, there is an alternative. An for that alternative the maids in Manhattan have to thank: Birmingham.

Back in 1793 a chap called Hand, in Birmingham of course, obtained a patent for preparing flexible leather having a glaze and polish that renders it impervious to water and need only be wiped with a sponge to restore it to its original luster. This is patent leather, and it’s been responsible for awful shiny shoes all the way from Bacons to Freeman Hardy and Willis, to Hollywood (which we invented too).

Birmingham: it scrubs up well. Or wipes up with a sponge easily. Or something.

Photo CC by: Dave Gates


Posted in 101 Things Brum Gave The World

Concrete and Cocktails: a journey to Birmingham’s glitter-stained independent heart

An unchained psychogeographic adventure from the authors of Pier Review.

Can you drink in all of Birmingham city centre’s independent hostelries in one day in 2011? Yes of course, although it might not be sensible. This is the first appearance on the web of this adventure, although it has been available as an eBook for some time.

CC by: Danny Wolpert

CC by: Danny Wolpert

As a part-time journalist and aspiring avatar for the gods of debauchery you are asked to do some unsavoury things. Be it covering some average indie band’s third ‘my dad drives the van’ gig. Or having to find an interesting angle on Valentine’s Day, despite having all romance crushed out of your soul by a government intent on turning the country you live in into a feudal system where big business robber barons set up their own personal fiefdoms using jazzy branding and clown make-up. But sometimes you get given a task that you are so attuned to, so personally right for, that it feels like the hand of Baron La Croix himself has pushed you to this point. Granted, the email only asked for a small article about my favourite independent pubs in Birmingham, but I knew this was a coded communication from the Furies, a challenge. Could I drink in all of the independent pubs in Birmingham in just one day? Of course I knew it was possible, just not very sensible. In my head I counted ten probable targets and beer maths did the rest. One pint in each meant ten pints at least. I was going to need back-up.Jon Bounds is a man with a lot of pie-placed fingers, his intelligence is sharpened by an odd wit. He seems to be the only person whose capacity for the Devil’s Dishwater exceeds my own and can understand the startlingly lucid and intelligent observations I tend to make after four or five small beers. So recruiting him was important and understandably easy given his weakness for strong continental lager and odd tasks.Please note the following account is pieced together from handwritten notes that degenerate into a language, I suspect, is a drunken dyslexic cuneiform, and a memory that doesn’t work properly in the first place.

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101 Things Brum Gave The World. No. 44: Musical differences


All bands eventually get back together, except for the only two that you might actually want to see again: Slade and The Smiths. They all get back together because they all split up and then find they need the money, and the reason they split up is called ‘musical differences’. The ‘differences’ being ‘the difference between the cash they each pocket in royalties’ and the ‘musical’ being Oliver! on VHS on the tour bus.

Oasis ran out of ideas, yes, but the creative bankruptcy just made it all the more galling for Liam that it his brother was earning in the region of seven times what he was: because Noel wrote the big hit songs.

Readers of Morrissey’s autobiography (and hi readers, these spaces in between groups of sentences are paragraphs) will know that El Moz and Johnny Marr got 40 per cent each while the other two Smiths got 10. And they’ll know all about the recriminations afterwards. And what the judge in the court case had for breakfast. When these bands split, like so much from Up North, it’s bitter rather than mild.

But they wouldn’t have split if it wasn’t for Birmingham.

Because back in 1914 as the World geared up for War, Birmingham invented musical differences—there just wasn’t enough real conflict around.

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Service Birmingham & Capita’s Auto Redacter

It's best for commercial confidentiality.

Code by Nick Moreton

101 Things Birmingham Gave the World

Birmingham was the crucible of the Industrial Revolution, but it gave the World so much more… all of this.

Random old stuff

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