Great Brummie Chat Up Lines, No. 1: Martin Shaw and the café sink

The 70s. When men were real men and real men were Brummies. Here’s a professional pick up line from Martin Shaw, of Erdington. You’ll find it at around 42 seconds into this video but try to make time to watch it all so you can see if he takes her up the Ackers.

I Stopped at a café on this road once.

The owner kept telling me about this fantastic new sink he’d just had installed. Kept insisting I tried it. Filled it up. No problem. Washed my hands and face. Fine. Pulled the plug out. And the water ran all over my shoes.

 

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How to keep Birmingham’s Brutalist Architecture. No.6: over many years establish a tradition that it is “a naturally-evolved environment, a found space used in response to accidents of architecture”

Like they did at the Southbank undercroft. Well played.

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Pic CC Hatters

Posted in Brutalism

Birmingham: 14 in 14 for the Tory Party Conference

For the people visiting the Tory Party Conference in Birmingham this week, our city’s marketeers are offering a fact pack which includes  “15 IN 15” (their unusual “public relations” “quotes”): 15 things about Birmingham in 2015. We’ve noticed that it’s 2014, actually, so for Tories and political journalists up for a jolly (have you seen how to write an article about Brum by the way?) here are 14 things you should know about the city whose lap dancing bars you’ll be in for the next few days:

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Burn your house to the ground: why you need to kill your darlings to maintain your independence

I’m Howard. I’m part of this here Birmingham miscellany called Paradise Circus – an ongoing love letter to a battered city. Paradise Circus writes, films, photographs, draws, makes and records things about Birmingham. I am, we are, Jon Bounds and Jon Hickman, Craig Hamilton and Danny Smith, and a number of other people who want to contribute to a conversation about what the city is, was, and could be. We weren’t always Paradise Circus and we used to be famous. We could have been contenders, but we threw it all away. You should too. And in this article, originally published on Contributoria (CC licensed), I’m going to tell you why.

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The Small Room On Big Wednesday

Editor’s note: Some time ago we started working on a story about Snobs. Darren sent us this to use. It’s lovely. He told us ‘No tongue in cheek here, it’s a straight up poem about meeting my future wife at the Big Wednesday night in the mid ’90s. Love Snobs and have great memories of the place’. This poem is quite a big part of the story we are still writing, but we wanted to share it with you now, the day after Snobs as we all knew it closed. If you have anything to tell us about Snobs use the comments, and let us know if we can nick your story for our own (Jon H)


 

The Small Room On Big Wednesday

He was a vertigo-liver, but for tonight he’ll spin.

‘Just gimme some more!’

The unworn denim sleeves are a counter balance,

but it’s so fast, he’s seeing the inside of a potter’s wheel,

covering a vase from within, painted with a smear of ruby spot lights.

‘Pass the peas, like the used to say, pass the peas…’

They never talk; he’s only heard her mouth ‘Alright?’ to him all summer,

but they know each others’ moves instantly:

a midnight jigsaw of skin, sin and soul.

‘Doing it in the park, doing after dark, oh yeah, Rock Creek Park…’

Just be in a fag cloud’s distance from the DJ booth and it’ll happen,

tattooed by the same violet beams – a regiment line appears –

feet in-line, dance formation conceived,

45-degrees to 360-degrees, trainers played the parquet floor like a stylus on a record:

‘It’s a family affair!’

He thinks this is the closest he will ever get to women;

he’s soaked, his skin has been crying out of happiness all night,

but thinks: ‘I can’t hug and sponge sweat on your dress.’

The boy will be thinking about tonight for years to come,

in a still, warm house with a dawn storm roaring outside,

after they are married.

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Rings

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“It could just be dehydration talking but I can feel the city. Can you feel the city?”

We’ve paused to cross Bristol Street. Neil looks at me: is that concern, or pity?

“Like circles. It’s all circles. Spinning. Like we’re making a circle, but so is the city, and the Earth, they’re moving too. It’s a connection.”

The Green Man is alight. We’re off. I stop talking, thank goodness. I sound stoned.

Earlier I told Jon Bounds what Neil and I were going to do this lunchtime. Which way should we run?

“It’s Autumn. Always go anti-clockwise in Autumn.” But it feels like summer. “The Met Office say Autumn starts in September.”

So we did it. I’m not sure what we did, but I think it might have been magic.

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101 Things Brum Gave The World. No. 59: The 45th President of the USA

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On Tuesday, November 8, 2016 voters in the USA will choose their 45th President. If it’s not Hillary then Hillary will at least be the story, and behind every great woman is a man and behind that man is a song and behind that song is a woman and that woman is from Bearwood, behind which is: Birmingham.

The song that catapulted Bill Clinton to the presidency was Don’t Stop by Fleetwood Mac: a hopeful song forged in adultery, a message between two parts of a powerful professional couple whose careers were intertwined.

Don’t Stop was written by Christine McVie who grew up in Bearwood, the daughter of a concert violinist and music teacher. She studied art in Birmingham and played in bands, getting connected within the music scene. Her own career was going pretty well but it wasn’t until she met and married John McVie, and then joined his band Fleetwood Mac that she really found success in the music industry. Both partners to the marriage found greater success during their period of professional and marital partnership then they had before, peaking with Rumours the album that gave us Don’t Stop – Bill’s election theme – and the tour that preceded the McVie’s divorce.

McVie has said that the song is about her feelings about the break-up of her marriage. As she’d also written another song on the album about how much she was enjoying her affair with Fleetwood Mac’s lighting director, this might seem bastardly behaviour but it was pretty standard in the Mac at the time. Christine, being an honest Brummie type, at least wasn’t as bad as Lyndsay Buckingham whose contemporary practise was to write songs about how he didn’t love Stevie Nicks: and then give them to her to sing. This author likes to cast her in the role of Bill and so we look again at the lyrics, hopeful but also personal, a love letter to Hillary perhaps:

“Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,

Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,

It’ll be, better than before,

Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

 

Don’t you look back,

Don’t you look back.”


What’s next? Hillary in 2016, that’s what.

Image CC Ableman. Fleetwood Mac facts checked by Howard.

Posted in 101 Things Brum Gave The World

101 Things Brum Gave The World. No. 58: The Last Night of the Proms

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As the orchestra parps, the squiffy toffs bray, and the BBC commentators struggle with pitching their insight towards an audience that pretty much only wants to watch for the 1812 Overture, please remember to direct some of your swelling pooterish patriotism towards Birmingham. For without the global city there would be no local musical pride.

The Proms were launched in 1895 by some people in London, but they were not the first regular musical festival season, not by a long way. That may well have been the Birmingham Triennial Musical Festival which pre-dated the proms by over one hundred years.

That first music festival in Birmingham, held over three days in September 1768, was to help raise funds to complete the new General Hospital on Summer Lane. It took another event ten years later in 1778 to achieve the funds to open the hospital in September 1779. A further five years on, in 1784 the performances became the Birmingham Triennial Musical Festival, and after calling it that they decided to run it every three years.

It was so bloody popular they built the Town Hall (in 1834) to house it, and it took the War to End All Wars to end it. But that spirit lives on, every September: with added plastic Union Jack bowler hats.

And the Last Night of those proms wouldn’t be the same without the Pomp and Circumstance of one Edward Elgar who was Professor of Music at the University of – wait for it… – Birmingham. He wouldn’t be where he is today without the city or its musical ambitions, four of his major choral works were commissioned by the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival.

Birmingham, land of hope and glory.

Image CC By: Steve Bowbrick

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12 reasons why Birmingham should banish Tolkien

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JRR Tolkien was, by all accounts, a lovely bloke. His books might be badly-written overlong prose in need of an editor which gave birth to an era of badly written, overlong “high-fantasy” sagas, but as a human being he was, from what I can tell, beyond much reproach.

Tolkien, as anyone who’s read a ‘Birmingham’s dead interesting and that’ article can tell you, came from Birmingham and, because he’s dead famous, people in Birmingham will, on occasion, embrace this figure from our history and celebrate his roots.

I’m here to explain why people who love Birmingham should not celebrate JRR Tolkien’s residency in our land. In fact we should do the opposite: ignore the hell out of him and his deluded fans.
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A Literary Map of Birmingham

Flushed with the success of our 101 Things Birmingham Gave the World Kickstarter, for which we thank you all, we’re thinking of expanding into other types of merchandise.

Literary_London_Map_-_Black___Anna_BurlesImpressed by Anna Burles’s Literary London Map, we’ve taken stock of all of our city’s artistic heritage and produced our own.

 

“A fine art print map of the borders of Birmingham featuring characters from art based in Birmingham. The famous and infamous. And also the less well known. Those with an amazing moniker or brilliantly conceived nickname who are a credit to their creator. Each character has been plotted in the corners of the city they most liked to roam or chose to call home (sometimes on Her Majesty’s Pleasure). Combining hand-drawn typography and illustration, the posters are available now, framed for £29, unframed for £13 (both + P&P).”

See it in all it’s glory:

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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.

Pre-order 101 Things Birmingham Gave the World: the Book now

The PC Satirical Cartoon

Described for you in text as we can't draw.

  • A group of people in suits, scabs on their faces, dishevelled, walk stiffly across Centenary Square with the new library in the background. They all look blank faced and stumble in the same direction towards the ICC.

    Sitting on the walls around the hall of memory are some young people, in tracksuits and with skateboards. On the floor near them are two newspapers (as the council have stopped clearing rubbish recently or something) – one paper has the headline ‘Tory Conference in Brum’, the other ‘Zombie Walk Today’.

    One of the young skateboarders in saying, “Which one’s Boris?”.

    Drawn by 

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Service Birmingham & Capita’s Auto Redacter

It's best for commercial confidentiality.

Code by Nick Moreton

Paradise Circus grew out of the famous, now mothballed, Birmingham: It's Not Shit that chronicled and championed the real Birmingham since 2002.