Brummie of the Year 2019 — Stephen Duffy

This is the tenth Brummie of the Year award, first awarded in 2003 by the then Birmingham: It’s Not Shit. Past winners and nominees have included UB40 saxophonist Brian Travers, itinerant blues guitarist Charlie Mitton, and escaping red panda Babu.

This year we thought long and hard, and Tom Watson nearly snuck it at the end. His dignified exit as West Bromwich East MP nearly matched the one as Baron Tweetup in my Twitter pantomime, where we think he left a glass slipper on the dance floor at a karaoke bar or something.

Stephen Duffy

However only one Brummie so far this year has written and released a record that will make you smile and cry at the same time, will have you running up Constitution Hill and worry about losing your accent. It’s another triumph for the man who once told us: “people from Birmingham do have a slightly more sentimental nature to them”. Yeah, we do.

In his neglected masterpiece he revealed how he “sang [his] songs of Birmingham” and asked us if we digged “the proletarian way he got it wrong”. We did, we do, we probably will for ever.

For the achievement that was making a drum machine sound sexy in the 80s, through making us like a record that features Nigel Kennedy, to making this beautiful, nostalgic, sad and funny record – and all without losing his accent.

He recently said “Most artists think they’re dreadful, but I think I’m brilliant.” For a boy from Alum Rock that’s unusual. So for the distinctly un-Brummie trait of blowing his own trumpet (though, not ever on record) and actually being right we award Stephen Duffy ‘Brummie of the Year 2019’.

 

(Go get the LP)

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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.

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“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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Birmingham’s got a much greater John Lewis Christmas advert

A lovely upside down christmas tree

Mr John Lewis who is head of Birmingham, has decided that we should spend  £150,000 on an advertising campaign all about Greater Birmingham. It seems the marketing people have been taking their cue from Mr Lewis’s other business — as we can see from this leaked script.


 

From: Andy.Street@greaterbrumminghamlep.com
To: Andre.De.Jong@zaphiks.in
Re: Christmas
1st October 2014 11:01


Hi Andy,

Please find attached first script ideas for the Greater Birmingham campaign DRTV. I feel there may be a lack of Black Country in it — can you discuss with Walsall Council? We could swap Roy Wood for Noddy?

Need a URL for response on the end plate – do you talk to Capita or do I?

Greater Birmingham Winterval Advert

EXT NIGHT: YELLOW LIGHT, AND SNOW, DRIFTS ACROSS THE INNER RING ROAD BY ALPHA TOWER

UKELELE VERSION OF MR. BLUE SKY WITH A WHIMSICAL VOCAL BY NATALIE POWERS OF SCOOCH. It should take a while for people to go “ah that’s what it is.”

A SMALL BOY IN A PEAKY BLINDERS HAT IS WALKING THROUGH TOWN

THE SEA LIFE CENTRE, SAD PENGUINS STARE THROUGH SMEARED GLASS AT AN EMPTY BUCKET, BLOOD STAINS ON THE TILED FLOOR

THE CANAL BEHIND THE MAILBOX IS FROZEN – THERE IS SOME DISCARDED ONE SHOW BRANDING POKING THROUGH

HE STRUGGLES THROUGH THE GERMAN MARKET, THE GERMANS ARE DISMANTLING IT AND SOGGY WURST IS EVERYWHERE ON THE PAVEMENT.

HE GOES TO CAFÉ BLEND BUT IT HAS BEEN TURNED INTO STARBUCKS, A SUBWAY, AN OFFICE OF NEWS INTERNATIONAL AND THE JEREMY CLARKSON FAN CLUB HEAD OFFICE.

TRAFFIC IS BACKED UP FOR MILES, OUTSIDE A CLOSED QUEENSWAY TUNNEL.

SNOBS IS BOARDED UP – THERE’S A LOST LOOKING INDIE KID SITTING OUTSIDE. IN THE BACKGROUND A BULLDOZER ROLLS TOWARDS PARADISE CIRCUS.

HE SHUFFLES PAST BIG JOHNS AND UP PAST SMALL HEATH PARK, THE SWINGS ARE PADLOCKED UP FOR THE NIGHT, SOMEONE’S CHUCKED THE LIFE-RING IN THE BOATING LAKE AGAIN, BUT ZOOM OUT, DOESN’T IT LOOK LIKE A CHRISTMAS WREATH?

THE GARRISON PUB LOOKS A CLOSED AS EVER, PLASTIC ST. GEORGE BUNTING FRAYS FROM THE GUTTERING.

BUT THEN HE HEARS SOMETHING INSIDE – AND PUSHES THE DOOR OPEN ANYWAY…

WE SLOW DISSOLVE INTO HIS POV AS THE SCENE INSIDE IS REVEALED:

THE GARRISON TAVERN IS DECKED OUT IN LATIF’S FINEST XMAS DECS – IT’S A HAPPY CHRISTMAS LOCK-IN.

JAMELIA IS BEHIND THE BAR WITH CLAIRE SHORT – BOTH IN SAUCY BARMAID CHIC.

MARTIN SHAW IS PLAYING CLUEDO WITH TREVOR EVE, AND IS THAT KOJAK AS THE REV. GREEN ON THE CARD? IT SURELY IS.

BOB WARMAN AND NICK OWEN ARE ON THE QUIZ MACHINE, SUZANNE VIRDEE IS TRYING TO SEE OVER THEIR SHOULDERS BUT SHE’S TOO SHORT – SHE THRUSTS HER ARM BETWEEN THEM TO PRESS THE CORRECT ANSWER – “WHO WAS THE NEWSHOUND?  A) OSCAR B) CHIPPER”

STAN COLLYMORE THROWS SOME SCRATCHINGS FROM THE BAR TO ANOTHER PUNTER – TREVOR FRANCIS – WHO TAKES THEM OFF HIS CHEST AND BOUNCES THEM OVER STEVE BRUCE WHO ROLLS HIS EYES TO A GRINNING DWIGHT YORKE. FAT RON COMES THROUGH THE HATCH BEHIND THE BAR – HE’S THE LANDLORD, HIS SHIRT STRETCHES OVER HIS GUT – HE NODS APPROVINGLY AND SWITCHES THE KARAOKE MACHINE ON.

THE PISSED OLD CHAP AT THE CORNER TABLE, YELLOWING BRMB T-SHIRT,  WITH A PINT OF MILD AND A PLASTIC BAG OF VEG SPILLING OUT TURNS OUT TO BE A SMILING MIKE WHITBY. THE DOG AT HIS FEET IS THE SPIT OF THE ONE FROM WOOF!

SATNAM RANNA AND MALKIT SINGH WALK THROUGH THE DOOR. A COUNCIL PR (PLAYED BY SOMEONE FROM DOCTORS IF AVAILABLE) SURREPTITIOUSLY PUTS UP A SIGN THAT SAYS ‘WINTERVAL’ OVER A POSTER THAT SAYS ‘CHRISTMAS’ AND THEN GIVES THEM BOTH A WARM HUG.

THERE’S A SAD REFLECTIVE MOMENT AS NEIL MORRISSEY PAUSES AND RAISES A SILENT TOAST TO A PHOTO OF MICHAEL ELPHICK AS BOON FRAMED ON THE WALL.

CHRIS TARRANT AND SALLY JAMES ARE OBVIOUSLY AN OLD MARRIED COUPLE – IT LOOKS LIKE THEY’RE BICKERING, HE BRINGS OVER A G’N’T AND SAYS ‘BUT WE DON’T WANT TO GIVE YOU THAT’ – SHE LAUGHS AND IT’S ALL OK.

MARK ROGERS IS ABOUT TO DO THE KARAOKE – HE’S DOING DON’T YOU WANT ME BY THE HUMAN LEAGUE.

LAWRENCE OUT OF FELT IS ‘MINESWEEPING’ DRINKS FROM THE TABLES, FAT RON CATCHES HIM BY THE SHOULDER – SHAKES HIS HEAD BUT INSTEAD OF CHUCKING HIM OUT GIVES HIM A PINT OF BREW XI.

DIGBY JONES IS WRAPPING PRESENTS TO PUT UNDER THE TREE: A TOASTER, A KETTLE, SEVERAL HUNDRED COPIES OF 101 THINGS BIRMINGHAM GAVE THE WORLD.

THERE’S A BIG OLD SING SONG ROUND THE PIANO, ROY WOOD IS DRESSED AS SANTA, WITHOUT LOOKING CREEPY HE BECKONS SMALL BOY TO JOIN THEM. THEM IS WHOEVER WE CAN GET: ONE OF THE CAMPBELL BROS. TURNS TO CAMERA — NO WAIT IT’S ALL THREE, AND THE REST OF UB40 ALL MATEY, ADIL RAY AS MR KHAN, JOAN ARMATRADING, DAVE HILL FROM SLADE, APACHE INDIAN, ALBERT BORE, MARTIN MULLANEY, SUE LAWLEY, PROBABLY KING MALL THE DHOL PLAYER AS IT’S HARD TO GET HIM NOT TO TURN UP ANYWAY, PAUL HENRY – IN HIS HAT IF HE CAN BE PERSUADED, THE SAXOPHONE GUYS – YOU KNOW THE ONE OUT OF THE BEAT AND THE JAZZ ONE, IAN LAVENDER IN HIS PRIVATE PIKE VILLA SCARF, ROLAND GIFT, STEPHEN DUFFY & SIMON LE BON WITH ARMS AROUND EACH OTHER. DION DUBLIN IS TRYING TO GET GEEZER BUTLER TO PLAY A DUBE CUBE.

LES ROSS AND ED DOOLAN – SADLER AND WALDORF STYLE (CLOSE AS WE CAN GET WITHOUT COPYRIGHT PROBLEMS) – ARE SITTING TOGETHER NODDING.

LES ROSS:

There’s nothing like a good old greater Birmingham sing-song

ED DOOLAN:

And this is nothing like a –

HE IS CUT OFF BY TONY BUTLER PUTTING A – FESTIVE – BUCKET ON HIS HEAD

BACK TO THE CROWD – IT’S NOW GETTING TO THE END OF THE SONG, THE SAD BIT

JEFF LYNNE TURNS TO CAMERA FROM PIANO STOOL – HE’S PLAYING MR BLUE SKY NOW – AND WINKS

END CAPTION – IN BASKERVILLE:

Wish it could be THIS Christmas every day?

It can in GREATer BIRMINGHAM


As leaked to Jonathans Bounds & Hickman, Julia Gilbert and Tom Lennon.

 

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Sutton Coldfield Sneezing Girl

Sutton Coldfield Sneezing Girl
Picture courtesy ITV and Media Archive for Central England

Talk of a world-record hiccuping girl on BBC News this weekend led David Nash to ask after the Sutton Coldfield sneezing girl of 1979, and the wonderful people at MACE were able to deliver this video footage of Tricia Reay as she set off to France for a miracle cure.

Paradise Circus was pleased to hear that Tricia did eventually stop sneezing, but the sad end to this story is that her Guinness World Record title was lost a few years later to another teenage girl from Pershore – though not before her achievements were celebrated in a bluegrass style song by Roy Castle on a Record Breakers LP (which may not have broken any records itself, but is much fun — more here):

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