Category: misc

An enterprising young chap has just re-opened Dale End dog-hole Saramoons as a theme bar: The Peaky Blinder. Despite now being much less likely to have any real gangsters in, it seems to have been a popular move — but did you know it was joining a proper crawl of pubs already themed around Birmingham-based TV shows?  Come with us and get smashed responsibly, in Brum’s best fictional boozers. Coming soon: The Citizen Khan. Pic cc Roger Marks The Boon (series 1-3 only) – Formerly Bassett’s Pole Harvester, staff at The Boon (series 1-3 only) are all dressed as has been bikers with ruddy cheeks and even more ruddy noses. There’s plenty of parking for your own motorbike outside and the country vistas offer nice sunsets to ride off into. Hi ho silver! The Pebble Mill at One – With staff in friendly jumpers, and music on the …

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This is the book that proves that Birmingham is not just the crucible of the Industrial Revolution, but the cradle of civilisation. It’s the definitive guide to the 101 things that made the world what it is today – and all of them were made in Birmingham. Read how Birmingham gave the world the wonders of tennis, nuclear war, the Beatles, ‘that smell of eggs’ and many more… 97 more. It also includes a foreword by Stewart Lee called ‘A Birmingham of the memory,’ all about his relationship with the city. “101 Things Birmingham Gave The World, is not a Birmingham of the memory. It is a living breathing thing, wrestling with the city’s contradictions, press-ganging the typically arch and understated humour of the Brummie, and an army of little-known facts, both trivial and monumental, into reshaping its confusing reputation.” Stewart Lee The book is now available …

101 Things Birmingham Gave the World: The Book Read More »

“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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As part of our making our 101 Things Birmingham Gave the World book, we promised to make an ‘album’ – an album of 101 songs that Birmingham gave the World. Our rules were simple — the songs couldn’t have existed in this form without the city of Birmingham. That means Brummie songwriters, musicians, instruments, recording studios or subjects. Where the connections are a little more tangential, well we’ll let you work those out, and you can hassle us and each other in the comments. The other rule: it had to be on Spotify, so no Funky Moped, or Brummie moptops The Beatles. We’re not saying that it’s the best 101 songs that Birmingham has produced*, but it’s a fantastic 6 hour listen — and of course it will finish with Mr Blue Sky. 101 Songs Birmingham Gave The World: Now that’s what I call Paradise Circus. See the …

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This article was commissioned by backers on the ‘crowdfunding’ journalism site Contributoria, but was not published. However as it is CC licensed we are able to publish here. Contributoria members are able to see the article’s production history. Local newspapers are fighting a war against the web for digital attention — their advertising revenue and their lives depend on it. But are some fighting more dirty than others: reading smaller websites and ripping off their content? If this were a case of copy and paste it would be solved easily. If it were a case of news stories it would be just what newspapers have been doing to each other since the first coffee house pamphlets — reporting what’s out there, borrowing each other’s exclusives. But this is more insidious: newspaper websites now trade in non-news pieces and ideas and content for these can be taken from …

The Wilko Report: Copy, right? Read More »

Local councillors often communicate in a torturous combination of management speak and political spin. They share the oratory and obfuscatory ambition of government ministers but lack the support of hundreds of SPADs or the rhetorical benefits of a classical education. But for a time the ruling officials of Birmingham — the largest local authority in Europe — spoke to the city in the simple, grammatically incorrect, language of the internet cat. A site called Lolitics from 2008 to 2012 took the publicity images — hard hats, awkward grins, pop-up banners and all — of the politicians and added lolcat-style captions, poking a very new type of satirical fun at a group of people who hadn’t quite grasped how communications were working in the world of social media. Council Leader Mike Whitby, a blustering older David Brent in a multicoloured tie, was lampooned as a man who spoke …

Lolitics: The power of civic satire Read More »

I haven’t walked across the city for a very, very long time. Certainly not since my parents shuffled off this mortal coil. You won’t find many urban ramblers in a city built for cars. But this afternoon I’m going to walk to Kings Heath. If I’m here I may as well see what’s happened since I left. First I strike out at the courtyard of the upside down library, that inverted pyramid of Alpine chocolate that was supposed to say something about the city. Now they’ve opened up three fast food outlets and a truly shocking pub in its atrium, this concrete beast of a building says everything it needs to. I buy a coffee from one of the gaudy takeaways. It tastes cheap and nasty, but I hold on to it, sipping from it as I cross the bridge built over the Inner Ring Road when …

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We’re in the paper today as part of one of those broadsheet articles they have about Birmingham these days. We’re actually right at the top of the article, with a link and everything. So this little post is aimed at new people who have come here. It’s a primer in what we’re about. Firstly, you need to know that we have a manifesto. It spells out what we’re about and how we work. Secondly, the work. We’ve actually already been around the houses on the generic ‘Birmingham isn’t that bad’ broadsheet feature. That should tune you into our tone. We have a number of recurring features, the main one being 101 Things Birmingham Gave the World (think nuclear war, tennis, Star Wars, the Internet, kettles and the FIFA World Cup). There’s a lot of other stuff here: short stories, poetic asides, and popular toys such as Birmingham in Real …

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Birmingham’s biggest hyperlocal satirical website is backing Birmingham to take the World Cup by storm — and it’s putting its money where it’s mouth is. In a betting shop, in Paradise Forum. The team behind Paradise Circus have attempted to devise the most Brummie World Cup bet possible, and they’re staking their all on it — at odds of over 200,000 to 1 — with what they’re calling the Brummie Backing World Cup Accumulator™. Did they back Germany, three times winners and again one of the favourites? There are connections as ex-Villa star Thomas Hitzlsperger still claims to be 100% Brummie: In case you villans forgot, I still am #100%Brummie pic.twitter.com/cWZHTjUSv7 — Thomas Hitzlsperger (@ThomasHitz) June 7, 2014 But he’s retired. Did they back Switzerland for the title? After all it’s where Lord Birmingham Digby Jones’ mates probably have their bank accounts. No, as Birmingham itself is …

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Spaghetti Junction: subs… to the photo library. CC by: Chris Gin We know that a lot of local journalists look to us for, ahem, inspiration but we were wondering what we could do to help out the hacks on the nationals. Now, the national press do like to show a passing interest in our welfare, but they only really have limited frames available for their stories. We’ve parsed that through our computers to come up with the basic boilerplate you, the national newspaper hack, need to write about the second city*. To start, lower expectations: Of Birmingham, not your article, silly. The best way to do this is point out that someone ‘right thinking’ said something bad. You could try doing a Google Books search for Birmingham to see if there are any literary quotations, or you could just use the Jane Austen quote. You know the …

So you want to write a generic ‘Birmingham isn’t that bad’ feature for a broadsheet… Read More »

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