Two council officials, in hi-vis vests and hard hats stand outside a locked building site. You know the council officials are Council officials as it says BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL OFFICIAL on their hi-vis where it would say ‘Beckham’ if it was a late ‘90s No 7 Manchester United replica kit.
You know it’s locked building site as it says that on a poster across the way in. ‘Closed due to liquidation of contractor’ it says.
One official is reading the paper. It has a paragraph which reads…
“One Chamberlain Square will be eight storeys tall and is due for completion in summer 2019 when financial services firm PwC, which is handling the liquidation of Carillion, will move in.”
No caption is needed as this is the perfect satire of late-capitalism already.
It’s the morning, the results of the US election are in. We can tell this as a man in a suit in the background is holding a newspaper that says ‘Trump wins presidency’, despite that being both a shit headline and an impossibility because the papers were all printed before the results were in.
We’re in the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce office. It says so on the sign. There’s a bloke, well fed in a suit and tie. His desk sign tells us he is Paul Faulkner CEO of the Chamber. Let’s just say he’s made this out of a Toblerone packet much like you may have done playing offices as a kid, because, how would you get one of those these days? He’s on the phone, but holding it off his ear, hand over the mouthpiece.
“It’s BBC WM on the phone, desperately casting around for a local angle on the Trump election. I’ve told her that Midlands business can help make America ‘great’ again. But now they want an example…”
He has a traditional secretary, glasses and a beehive. She’s bringing him in a cup of tea – with saucer – on a tray. She says:
We’re not sure how this ends, so you can pick your favourite response here. It’ll give you about as much power over what happens next as your average voter.
- “He could get the bricks for his wall at Wickes’s up by the Albion ground?”
- “It’s a pity they’ll now be able to make their dystopian films at home now”
- “Do they like award winning pop-up street food?”
- “I think they are capable of making up their own bullshit.”
- “You can get white sheets for Klan outfits and tin foil for hats at Latifs.”
- “I’m sorry, this retro construct of a scene is so far removed from reality as is the idea that a sensible member of the Birmingham establishment would say something so stupid, that I am unable to suspend disbelief for long enough to comment.”
Interior of the Council House, which you can tell because of the sign that says ‘Council House’.
There is a newspaper — why? no-one knows — on a desk, the headline reads “More Council Budget Cut — they can’t even afford the museum”.
A man is on the phone, it is Leader of the Council John Clancy. He has a name plate.
“Yes you can light up the Library in the colours of the Belgian flag. No, I know we said we couldn’t afford the electric for Paris, but this time it’s 1/3 extra free.”
David Cameron is in a four-poster bed, wearing a Dickensian nightcap. He’s cuddling a big stuffed toy, which looks a little like a pig. He’s smiling, content snoozy Zs waft up from his chubby face. There’s an old-fashioned medicine bottle on the bedside table, it’s labeled ‘Dr Murdoch’s Neo-liberal Sleep Soundly Juice’, there’s a hardback copy of Hard Times which is covered in cobwebs unread. Readers may like to familiarise themselves with the oeuvre of Mr Dickens to get the most from this cartoon.
In front of him are stood three ghosts, you can tell they are ghosts due to the fact they’re a bit faint. And you can tell what they’re representing as each one has a descriptive sash around them: Albert Bore (Past) wears threadbare clothes and a haunted (gettit) look, Andy Street of John Lewis (Present) is carrying a metaphor for the public’s influence over the region’s economy wrapped up as a gift, and John Clancy (Future) carries a ballot paper for a metro mayor , he doesn’t look too chuffed.
The ghosts are shrugging, because Cameron won’t wake up and listen to them.
In the background a wrecking ball is swinging through Central Library, and some children are crying in front of a dour looking Christmas tree with no decorations. The tree is covered in hazard tape and a sign that says ‘cancelled’.
Caption: Gods bless us all, every one.
Exterior of Birmingham Council House – you can tell it is as the cartoonist has drawn roughly the neo-Venetian curves, but has also added a sign that says ‘Birmingham City Council’. There’s a smaller sign that says ‘Improvement Panel Meeting’.
There are two chaps in hard harts and hi-vis. One is holding a piece of paper that says ‘demolition order’, the other holds a newspaper that says ‘Kerslake report latest’.
“Yes, this is it,” says the second, “ugly, not fit for purpose, out of date and causing a huge blockage to progress. Bring on the wrecking ball.”
A meeting room. A sign on the wall reads ‘Birmingham City Council Terrorist Response Committee Meeting’
A long boardroom table. Glasses of water, pens, paper, name plates for local councillors, one is labeled ‘chair’. There is no-one in the room.
There is an old-fashioned phone near the Chair’s seat, it is ringing.
We can read the chairperson’s notes. Item one is ‘apologies’, under that there is a list of committee members and reasons why they aren’t there.
Attending Marketing Birmingham Envelope Opening
Attending Capita Xmas party
At Labour leadership campaign event
Can’t make it, am at Impact hub for social capital workshop
Also on the table are two newspapers, one’s headline is ‘COUNCIL ANTI-TERROR COMMITTEE TOO BUSY TO MEET’ the other leads with ‘PARIS SHOOTER PHONED BIRMINGHAM’
The caption reads ‘one missed call’.
Two men, in suits, are standing in front of a large square building. The building has no distinguishing features apart from its sign, which says ‘Birmingham City Council’. The men have no distinguishing features at all. Near the men is a newspaper headline board, like we don’t really have any more, it reads ‘Birmingham Labour Leader to be announced’. On top of the building is a chimney, like we don’t really have any more: white smoke comes out.
One man says to the other, “They must be burning the evidence”.
Matt nails it again.
Four men in suits and one woman, are waiting for a bus at a request stop. The stop has ‘Birmingham City Council’ on it. Each of the five in the queue have a rosette announcing their names and their candidate status for Council Leader. It doesn’t matter who they are though. It’s raining, they are sad.
In the gutter a paper hyperlocal blog announces the hashtag #Brumleader, it’s melting with the water.
Worse than the rain, the old-fashioned routemaster bus has just driven past the stop, splashing the leadership hopefuls from a puddle. The bus’s destination board says ‘WMCA via Central Government Edict” Driving the bus, grinning inanely in a hat, is stoned chancellor George Osborne, while hanging off the back door pole is John Lewises’s Andy Street. His name is on the conductor’s badge he wears, the tickets flowing from his machine have ‘cuts’, ‘blame’, and ‘Noddy Holder?’ written on them.
One of the interchangeable councillors says to the others, “I thought it was going to be a Metro Mayor”.
The caption reads ‘Too shy to put their hands out.’
Five people in suits are standing in front of a war memorial. They’re all standing to be leader of the Council’s Labour group, but you probably don’t recognise them. That’s not our fault, it’s theirs.
They are bowing.
A man with a press ticket in his hat is measuring the angle of their bows.
In the background is the Erdington Conservative Club. Robert Alden is eating a Beano style slap up meal of a pile of mashed potatoes with all sausages coming out of the top. There are mice running around his feet, but he doesn’t mind.
Caption reads: leadership material.
A man in an artist’s smock is standing in front of an easel, the canvas is empty. They’re in a room that has ‘Council House’ on a sign on a wall.
A man in a suit is posing in for a painting, all statesmanlike. He’s near a desk that has his nameplate on ‘Councillor Ian Ward’.
Another man is standing by the artist, he’s holding a newspapers which has the headline ‘WARD: I’VE NO MANIFESTO’.
“No,” says the artist, “It’s finished.”
The caption: The Blank Canvas.