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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Boris Johnson’s Christmas Carol

Thatcher was dead: to begin with. There could be no doubt about that. Johnson had been to the funeral himself, sat near Osborne who was failing to hold back the tears. She was as dead as a doornail. Or less metaphorically, the 96 football fans who her government smeared and denied justice after Hillsborough.

It was a cold afternoon in early December, and after cancelling another interview, Johnson was heading home for an evening with a good Russian vodka given to him by a close friend. The knocker on the door of Johnson’s temporary accommodation seemed to form a face, the digits 1 and 0 became a winking eye and a nose that seemed to follow the average wage down a graph. And was what was once a letterbox a handbag?

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Deep Impact?

We last visited Digbeth’s Impact Hub as it launched a few years ago when hardly anyone knew what it was, and those that had a little bit of a handle thought the claims being made for it were outlandish and dismissive of the existing spaces and activists in Birmingham. Despite that – and may be very much because of that ambition – it has grown into a space that is one of the building blocks of what might be termed a revival of Brum’s thinking social-conscious. And now it’s gone. 

Danny Smith went back to talk to driving-force Immy Kaur to find out what’s next and talked to her for a long time…

I arrive a little early and Immy is having lunch with a bunch of people at a big table near the kitchen area. Even while eating she is talking about the breakdown of the site, I get the impression that she never really stops. The people around the table all are unconsciously deferring to her, and I mention it although I know she’ll hate me for noticing.

Last time we talked I mentioned the bells she wears on a bangle around her wrist, I notice she’s wearing them today too. She must be both busy and stressed. The Impact Hub has been running for five years and has now been hit with a huge bill to vacate the premises they spent a fortune turning into the friendly industrial space it is today.

Did you wear the bells especially?

No, someone tweeted at me the other day – in response to your blog post – that they hadn’t heard them on me for a few weeks. Because I’ve been running into work everyday. When I run they bang on my arm and hurt me so I’ve been taking them off, and I got my running bag and took them out and put them back on.

 

So, Impact Hub: why is it closing?

Two main reasons: one is that it’s getting too expensive in Digbeth… 

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Eye-opener – leaked email reveals the code behind New St advertising screens

Big brother, is watching you apparently. We’re all scared of the Bladerunner-ish techno future where the big screens outside New Street station target you personally with adverts that you ignore on the way to get a train. But how do they actually work? This leaked email from one of Birmingham’s many top PR/social media/smart city conglomerates could reveal all… 

To Andy Street
From: Andre.De.Jong@zaphiks.in

Re: Code

Hey Andy,

How’s the shop doing? Nearly time for one of those adverts with the anthropomorphism, eh?  It gets earlier every year. Or are you in charge of the buses and sorting out the ever increasing homelessness problem on the streets now? I forget. And you do too, also. 

Anyway, I know it’s a bit late but, I’ve finally finished the code that makes the eye screens around the shopping centre on top of New Street Station check the crowds and respond with appropriate advertisements. Glad we kept the PR about them vague, but assuming that the tech to actually detect faces hundreds of yards away and check their sex and age and that exists and is plugged in, this should work. 

It’s a Beta or maybe earlier than that, Feta or something.  Continue reading "Eye-opener – leaked email reveals the code behind New St advertising screens"

Wow Brum! 48 Hours in the Jihadi Capital of Britain

For many years England’s second city has been seen as a cultural backwater, but following significant inward investment it has over the last decade been quietly changing for the better. It is the youngest city in Europe, it boasts a burgeoning foodie scene, a world class shopping experience, and was recently hailed by BBC Radio 4 as ‘The Jihadi Capital of Britain’. We sent Florrie Canaffordan-Internship for a weekend in ‘Brum’ to see what the city has to offer, bab.


I must admit I had my reservations about this assignment, but we journalists must always go where the story is! A little research ahead of my trip quickly convinced me however that Brum is – whisper it! – literally so super hot right now. Here is the story of my weekend in the second city, as told through the regurgitated clickbait listicle format. Enjoy, and don’t forget to click on the ads!

Getting There

Birmingham is a little over 100 miles north of London and is also easily accessible from most other major UK cities. Initially I had planned to jump in the MG and take the M40 through the family seat in Oxfordshire, but groovy new local by-laws instigated by Brum’s City elders have recently banned women from driving. So I hopped on the Chiltern Trains service for a very reasonable £20 return (plus another £20 for my chaperone, of course!)

Where To Stay

Brum has a range of hotels to suit any taste and budget, but if you’re willing to spend some time and effort on the encrypted Dark Web ahead of your visit, you can find some amazing best-kept-secrets at real bargain prices. We opted for a boutique Terrorist Cell located on the Hagley Road, just a mile from the city centre.

Canal Trip

A little-known fact is that Brum boasts more canals than Venice! Regular boat trips will provide you with tours around this engineering marvel of the Industrial Revolution. Friendly guides provide running commentaries about a different kind of revolution, pointing out buildings that line the route which are occupied by Imperialist aggressors such as Price WaterHouse Coopers and Deutsche Bank. The guides are incredibly knowledgeable and are able to point out significant security weaknesses in each building, which made for an informative and fun way to spend the afternoon.

Drinking

In need of refreshment following the boat trip, we headed for The Victoria on John Bright Street. This is a charming city centre hostelry that serves the local theatre crowd from the Alexandra, just across the street. The current production there is a newly-adapted version of Rent, in which homosexuals are publically flogged before going to hell. Tickets are hard to come by, but you may rub bloody shoulders with the cast in between performances. The interior of the pub itself has recently been renovated to it’s original Victorian splendour and has for the last 6 months refused to serve alcohol. Try the artisan peanuts!

Eating

The Ultimate Burka Bar just off Broad Street serves fantastic home-cooked food in a thrilling atmosphere, as the restaurant runs daily Open Mic nights for Hate Preachers. The staff all get in on the act, too, and dress in hilarious traditional English attire. Our waiter’s costume was that of a disgruntled EDL protester, complete with seven empty cans of Stella Artois trailing in his wake. It was all just so authentic and gave a real taste of Britain’s lost identity! We opted for the house special, which came served on a genuine, reclaimed Afghani IED.

Shopping

Wickes in up-and-coming Stirchley is located 3 miles from the city centre along the Pershore Road, easily accessible via public transport. This place is a treasure trove and a real hidden gem. With help from the friendly staff I was able to purchase most of the components for a nail bomb at a very reasonable price (Londoners will be shocked at how far their money goes here!) Sadly Wickes did not stock the fertiliser Google said I needed, but thankfully the charming Wyevale Garden Centre just up the road in Bournville were able to help me out. Pro-Tip: Pay in cash, do NOT use your debit card.

Sight-Seeing

After picking up the fertiliser we took the opportunity for a spot of sight-seeing around leafy Bournville itself. The area is dominated by the Cadbury chocolate factory, and all the homes and gardens here are a monument to the faded and defeated power of 19th Century infidel crusaders. Utterly charming!

…and with that my weekend in Brum came to an end all too quickly. I was amazed at the vibrancy of this landlocked city Caliphate and will certainly be recommending it to my friends. All that is left to say is: Manchester, you have a lot of catching up to do, bab!


“Jihadi Capital of Britain?

On 24th March 2017 at 07:34am the BBC Radio 4, Today Programme broadcast the following

See also:

The same essay about Albert Bore every day

Duran Duran get pilloried for claiming, on their 1995 covers LP Thank You, that ambulances won’t come to their houses because they are black. But they’re right, try to dial 911 from South Birmingham of the late ‘70s: it’s unlikely that any of the emergency services will turn up.

It’s also true that if you phone the Capita-run call centre for some bin bags or to pay your council tax it’s likely you won’t get anything useful. They’re not discriminatory, just a bit crap – hamstrung by both council bureaucracy and  inertia driven by the commercial profit motive.

And while Sir Albert Bore didn’t sign the Capita contract (that was a Tory/Lib Dem joint production back in 2006), he is judged for presiding over the aimless ‘looking for it’ that followed. In an era that started to demand big personalities and decisive action, it was all too easy to assume that Sir Albert’s reticence to ‘find’ the contract was nominative determinism.

“He’s called ‘Bore’, he must be dull.”

“Solihull’s council leader is way more exciting, even if the place is cold and he’s sliding downhill.”

Continue reading “The same essay about Albert Bore every day”

Goodbye Pavilions*

Really, nobody gives a fuck. Today it’s a empty space, a ghost town, but has it really been anything more? Does anybody have any fond memories of the place? Devoid of shops you can see the artless early nineties post-modern design, which looks a lot like the pastel flourishes of late eighties blandness. Even the Evening Mail’s frothing gang of wow merchants can’t summon the energy to care in this hilariously empty “news” article.

Six years ago I’m at a public exhibition speaking to an Argent representative about the redevelopment of the Central Library, they’re pretty vague but they’re talking about turning the whole area into their other achievement Brindleyplace and the Gas St Basin. I swear for a little bit, and leave.

Recently it’s been used as a shortcut to the bus stops opposite Moor St and a place for the bus drivers to eat their lunch. My fondest memory was an art installation that used some of the empty units a few years ago. Culture in the gaps.

past times

My good friend wrote “Capitalism disappoints” and stripped of the shops the Pavilions echos with emptiness and exposes this disappointment. Places like this aren’t built for anyone to like they’re built so not to offend, mixed use developments and the such are tin crowns waiting for the cubic zirconia of retail ”experiences”. And they’re spreading. Costume jewellery for a beauty contest where we aspire for second place.

Continue reading “Goodbye Pavilions*”

Bournville: A Star Wars Star Story

We’ve just heard that the lead in the new Star Wars film, Rogue One, is from Bournville: Felicity Jones, formerly of The Archers. So we feel we need to do some jokes, but there’s a problem: one of us has never seen Star Wars, one of us has never listened to The Archers. Here’s how we got on…

JH: Mate, the lead in the new Star Wars is from Bournville. What do we do about that?

JB: Is she?

JH: Apparently.

JB: I don’t know what she looks like.

JH: Well nobody does mate it’s another new film and we’ve only seen one trailer, today. It’s not Daisy Ridley.

JB: Isn’t she the new one?

JH: No she’s the new one from the old new film. This is a different one.

JB: Oh, right you mean the one from The Archers. Felicity Jones.

JH: I don’t know what she sounds like.

JB: Yes. I checked it now, I think it’s the same one.

JH: OK. So The Archers, that’s an angle, right?

JB: She played one of the ‘working class’ Grundys — is there anything really farmy-mucky in Star Wars?

JH: They’re all farmers mate.

JB: No they’re not, some of them run a pub.

JH: The Cantina?

JB: No the Bull

JH: What planet was that on?

JB: Huh?
So what is this film about then?

JH: It’s the set up to Star Wars. She has to find some secret documents.

JB: The fourth film?

JH: No the first one, with Mark Hamill in it.

JB: The new one?

JH: No the old one. Not the new old one, the old old one.

JB: What’s the secret document?

JH: Looks like she found the Capita contract.

Five Things Felicity Jones is Rebelling About in the Next New Star Wars Film

  1. Lack of pubs
  2. Stirchley’s border creep
  3. Dairy Milk recipe change
  4. Cross-city line delays
  5. She wants to paint her door another colour

Finally: Birmingham Mail, without the “content”

Fed up with pesky ‘news’ content spoiling your enjoyment of the adverts on your local paper website? Feel fed up no-more, with Evening Mail blocker: all the ads, all the page furniture, all the recommend articles about weightloss — but none of the ‘local news’. Save MBs of download time!

Heavyweight pages from the Birmingham Mail

Simon Howes recently posted the above picture online — it’s a demonstration of the page load from the Birmingham Mail under two sets of conditions. First we see the hard work needed for your computer to load as it should — with all links to external click bait and whatnot — and then we see how it looks with just the “content”, via an adblocker. Which got us thinking: the ads are really getting bogged down by all that news… what if we could just turn that off? Surely we could hand that 9.3% of processor time back to the stuff that matters… back to ad trackers, and flash popovers.

We’ve written a browser extension (for Chrome only at the moment) which will strip away all those churned press releases, all those homilies to mixed use development, all those funny bits that they were inspired to write from somewhere…

Don’t waste your time looking at photos of how the Scott Arms looked like in an only slightly bygone age.

See the Birmingham Mail as it should be: download the Evening Mail News Blocker now!