A child’s Christmas in Birmingham

It may not have been snowing that Christmas, or any particular Christmas – snow and Christmas are interlinked so that we see it even if the day itself is clear. Even if we see ourselves carrying dining chairs up Hamstead Hill in the sun, across roads and clear dry pavements, there will be snow in our memories. There will be dripping gutters, splashing onto noses, wet but still comforting. There will be rutted slush in the gutter, darker grey on the frozen ends nearer the traffic fumes.

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Have a Brutal 2015

Brutal 2015

We’ve already signed off for the holidays but we know that some of you are still in the office today — after all, there’s no work to do and the boss will let you go home at 12 in any case so it’s basically a free day off and only a mug would take it as holiday.

Well anyway, as you’re the sort of person who is in the office on Christmas Eve we figured you’re also the sort of person who has left shopping a bit late — after all, you’re getting out of work at lunchtime so you can just grab stuff on the way home; what’s all the fuss about, right?

If you are still shopping, and if you’re at the office with nothing to do, why not print off a few copies of our FREE 2015 calendar? Elliott Brown tirelessly snaps photos of all things Brum, and he uploads them to Flickr under a Creative Commons license so we’ve nabbed 12 photos of Brummie Brutalism for this calendar.

We hope you like it, but if you need more gift ideas here’s our handy last minute shopping guide.

Download the calendar (PDF – 28mb)

 

Birmingham’s Christmas round robin 2014

RoundRobin2014

 


Dear (Greater) Manchester,

Season’s greetings! And so happy to hear that your little administrative family has extended this year. We are too trying to build the brood, but despite a lot of temperature taking and effort all rounds the patter of teeny tiny Black Country boroughs has yet to happen. Still – it’s fun trying!

We’ve had a mixed bag of a 2014 – I was feeling much more chipper after a little bit of cosmetic surgery ‘down there’, but the latter half of the year has been us moving from one financial worry to the next.

First off, little Mike Whitby had a party while we were away and all sorts of undesirable types must have seen it on Facebook and gatecrashed. How else would you explain all those red trousers in Birmingham, we know Little Mike doesn’t know anybody like that: unless he’s fallen in with a bad lot saints he started spending all that time in London. The police had to be called, they closed off Broad St(!) and it cost a fortune: that was all our entertaining budget gone.

We had to sell our little summer place in Solihull, which was a wrench, although we mainly used to rent it out on a timeshare basis. Some of the people that we’ve had in were awful, we stated no dogs but you should have seen the amount of hair and unmentionables left in March! We’re well rid of it.
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Satirical Cartoon: Winter Wonderland

New Street, November.

There is a parade of naff wooden huts filled with tat. The scene is illuminated by gaudy, bright, coloured bulbs. A man in a suit is eating a hotdog, next to him a guy who looks like a bad Dave Grohl impersonator is furiously taking notes.

In the foreground, a family done up against the cold: the woman says “I thought they’d shut the winter wonderland down” and the man says “Well they should — it really is crap”.

Their two children are crying.

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.

 

Visit the Paradise Circus Online shop.

tshirt

101 Things Birmingham Gave The World. No. 40: Photocopying your arse

Wanted

 

1779: James Watt patents a copying press or ‘letter copying machine’ to deal with the mass of paper work at his business; he also invents an ink to work with it. This is the first widely used copy machine for offices and is a commercial success, being used for over a century. This letter copying press is considered to be the original photocopier. [Source: Wikipedia]

1779 Dec 15th: At the Lunar Society Xmas party, Matthew Boulton was seen removing his britches in the vicinity of the machine. [Source: Knowledge of how humans work]

Only one of those statements is recorded in the history books, but we’re saying both are definitely true.

 

Happy Christmas.

 

Photo by Martin Deutsch

101 Things Birmingham Gave The World. No. 39: Doctor Who

the-go-gos-im-gonna-spend-my-christmas-with-a-dalek-oriole

Way back in 1963, a children’s educational TV programme aired and not that many people noticed—they were too upset that Aldous Huxley had died (especially Sheryl Crow). It starred an old chap who pottered around the universe in four dimensions. But without a nemesis the story was going nowhere, he wasn’t much of a hero—what he needed was an evil race to battle—one that was flawless, except for the flaw that they needed a level floor.

But how would they perambulate across those even surfaces? They needed some sort of castor that kept the two bearing surfaces of an axle, fixed and moving, apart.

Luckily in 1876, in Birmingham,  William Bown patented a design for the wheels of roller skates which did just this…

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101 Things Birmingham Gave The World. No. 18: Christmas

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Santa Claus on his sleigh, people moaning about how it all starts too early and has got all commercialised and stuff, I know it’s been said many, times many ways, but Christmas to you.

Most of our notions of modern Christmas come from the Victorian author Charles Dickens, who being the rock star of his time toured the country reading from ‘A Christmas Carol’. Turning a then barely-noticed mark on the calendar into the jolly family oriented affair we associate today.

He really saw the value of a time of year where we take time to connect with family and give out nothing but love. The story of Scrooge is ultimately one of redemption, not one of spiritual redemption but one of redemption through the forgiveness of others and connection with his family. The place where Chucky D chose to first read from this book? Birmingham Town Hall, So really Birmingham is Christmas’s Bethlehem.

Happy holidays. And yes I know we’re too early.

With additional material  by Danny Smith

A Christmas Carol

The life of a blogger is nothing if not glamorous, only last week I was backstage at the dress rehearsal for 3P’s marvellous version of The Nativity. Even before the performance, the squash was flowing and more than a couple of biscuits were passed around. Amid all the revelry the pre-performance jitters were in evidence: the third Wise Man had to be cajoled to climb out of the book cupboard and several shepherds had to be persuaded from kicking their prop sheep out of the window altogether.

The performance was a masterpiece, including a entirely improvised bank robbery sub-plot and a song and dance number that went on for three or four extra verses because none of the cast could remember how to end the song. I’m proud to be a part of such a game changing version of the Christmas story, which this year focussed completely on the story of the shepherds as 3P has no girls in it to play Mary. Granted, my role was to stand in the wings and push the correct performer to his mark at their cue. I got pretty good too, I now reckon I can shove an average-sized seven year old with an Olympic degree of accuracy.

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Winterval starts here

Last year Birmingham City Council  held a Christmas lights ceremony that ended in what most called a ‘fiasco’. Our crap Altamont was down to nobody guessing that one of the biggest bands of the moment giving a free concert would be popular.

This year instead of a big fuss there will be a Christmas parade. In November. One month and ten days before Christmas, reindeer and whatnot will be kicking off our celebrations. With no pretence at trying to encompass other celebrations to draw out the shopping season, at least with ‘Winterval’ they were trying. Its an old rote that Christmas starts earlier and earlier each year but five weeks before Christmas is bordering on silly, seeing as most men are still be scurrying around in the dark on Christmas eve wondering if a bottle of screen wash is a suitable present for a ten year old. Granted, Jesus was probably born in April but lets try to stay within December eh?

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