Paradise Circus Live – full live show

Like an old Monty Python cash-in LP: for lockdown listening the full live show the Paradise Circus troupe did at the mac a little while back. 90 mins of hyperlocal satire now available to listen to in your home.

If you enjoy it, please bung a little something to Brum Baby Bank. Oh, and you can buy our book, which has more of (in some cases exactly) the same.

Paradise Circus Live is old fashioned revue with a local twist – a host of satirical sketches, stand-up, songs, games and monologues. Jon Bounds and Jon Hickman bring a version of their popular Birmingham miscellany, Paradise Circus, to the stage with biting satire of the media and Birmingham itself — all refracted through a thick lens of Marxist critical theory. It’s funnier than it sounds. Hickman is not from round these parts and Bounds will take him through what it really means to understand Birmingham.

Learn just how to be a local Breakfast Show DJ, what happens at a Birmingham City Council meeting about promoting the latest Big Plan, and how to write a broadsheet article about Birmingham in an editorial meeting down in that London. Help us to find King Kong, discover who won the 1972 Snooker World Championship (which was played 60ft underneath the BT Tower) and work out how much the Council has paid to Capita during a stirring rendition of Mr Blue Sky.

Mark Steadman is at the piano with comedy songs like his famous 11 Bus song which mentions all of the 280 stops in order (11A of course). We may even end on some ELOke.

Paradise Circus Live may finally prove that Birmingham is not shit, or die on stage trying.

Listen now:

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Do they know it’s bin day? We release charity single in support of bin strikers

Last bin day, we went out to see if the bags had been collected outside PC towers and instead found a package addressed to us. It contained the master tape for a song with more hooks than we have different types of bins to sort our recycling into. No other details were provided, it’s like the bin made a record. So we’re putting it out, and leaving it out.

(I’ve Lost All My Respect For You) Since the Bin-Men Went On Strike is the first release on Paradise Circus Records.

The way the strike has been covered in the media has created a bit of a bad smell with a lot of rubbish spoken, recycled with dumb opinions all over social media. No-one goes on strike lightly, it’s always a last resort for workers to give up pay to protest, and we felt that they needed to hear that a lot of Brummies appreciate how hard they work to keep our city clean and the collections safe.

Without our refuse workers things have wheely bin bad, and that shows how much we need them. We hope the single is picked up, and makes a clean sweep in the charts.

The single is on sale on iTunes, everywhere else you can buy digital music, and you can stream it on Spotify.

All proceeds will be donated to the union strike fund.

Support the Brum Bin Strikers on Facebook.

Up the charts, up the workers!

Satan over Birmingham

A dark force is at work in industrial Birmingham. The evidence is there before us in our streets, in our museums, in the halls of power, our entertainment venues, our dark mills. Yes the devil himself pervades the fabric of Birmingham culture.

Nowhere is this presence felt more than in the imposing effigy in the main atrium to the Museum & Art Gallery in Chamberlain Square – the Civic focus of art and tradition in Birmingham. It is the first ambassador to welcome the casual visitor or tourist to the culture of Birmingham.

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Into the Blue

THUMBNAIL_IMAGEWith cover by 101 Things Birmingham Gave the World artist Mark Murphy, Peter Bourne’s new novel is an ambitious and very real book. We’re happy to share an excerpt.

Set against defining 1980s events like the Falklands War and the Hillsborough disaster and the ever-changing landscape of Birmingham, Into the Blue is the story of a family tree decayed by betrayal, revenge and suspicion. More info here, or buy on Amazon right now.


Carl’s a man of few words. And even fewer on the telephone. The Talking Clock has a wider range of conversation. Carter has never been able to digest his father-in-law’s slow, ponderous and thick Small Heath accent without diverting his brain elsewhere. If Carl was an animal, he’d be a city pigeon. If he was an image, he’d be a monotone visual of a 1980s roundabout. If he was a sport, he’d be crown green bowls. Carl informs Carter with loveless precision that his mother will call him back and let him know if Wednesday night’s suitable. Carl does his pools run on a Wednesday followed by two pints of piss in The Green Horn in Redditch. The one night of the week Carl leaves the comfort of suburban bliss, aside from the twice-monthly trip to the Chinese with Pat. An occasion where Carl doesn’t need the menu. He’s found what he likes and sticks to it. Carl’s a tedious creature of habit.

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No sad songs, an interview with Stephen Duffy

The excuse for talking to Stephen Duffy is the release of the first Lilac Time album in ten years, but that really is just an excuse: we could listen to him forever. Paradise Circus is more named after the Lilac Time album  of that name than even the traffic island. That said, No Sad Songs is a wonderful collection that you should head out and pick up right now.


“Yes, we have always been guilty of self mythologising,” Stephen Duffy tells me, so allow me to build my own. I’m talking to him not sitting on the grass near Nick Drake’s grave, nor in a dappled Digbeth pub where our words would be lit with dusty spikes of light though the stained glass, but over the phone. He’s at home in Cornwall, I’m in an almost quiet enough corner of a conference centre in London that will from now be forever Birmingham.

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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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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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Birmingham Airport to Coach Station in pixel-width strips

I’ve been playing around with slit-scan photography lately and at the tail end of a long and boring coach journey I thought I’d try recording the journey into Birmingham as a slit-scan. The app I was using was limited to 2044 pixels so I couldn’t do the whole thing at once but these five pretty much cover the view from Birmingham Airport to Digbeth Coach Station.

(click for full size)

Coach from BHX to Digbeth

A bit of explanation is probably in order.

The camera (in this case an iPad) is held firmly against the coach window. Any movements are those of the coach itself. It was set to take eight 1x480px photos every second and stack them in a row. So what you’re seeing is sort of like a movie, and sort of not at all like a movie.

When the coach is moving quickly you see a lot of noise as the strips of pixels have little in common and when the coach is at a standstill you see the same image repeated over and over as a block. The inbetween bits, where the speed of movement marries up with the view, is where the interesting stuff happens.

For example, the houses on the outskirts along the Coventry Road:

Coach from BHX to Digbeth.jpg

Or these large office blocks in Sheldon:

Coach from BHX to Digbeth.jpg-2

As we get into central Birmingham things start getting noisier but we also get an unexpected visualisation of traffic flow. As the coach comes to a traffic light or congestion the blocks of colour emerge. I also liked this slow crawl around a roundabout (after overtaking a big red lorry), scanning the billboard like a desktop scanner might:

Coach from BHX to Digbeth.jpg-4

There are many slit-scan apps available but I’ve been using this one.

King Kong, Sex and The Americas

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.


Photo by Paul Anderton
Photo by Paul Anderton

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