Tag: halloween15

A dark force is at work in industrial Birmingham. The evidence is there before us in our streets, in our museums, in the halls of power, our entertainment venues, our dark mills. Yes the devil himself pervades the fabric of Birmingham culture. Nowhere is this presence felt more than in the imposing effigy in the main atrium to the Museum & Art Gallery in Chamberlain Square – the Civic focus of art and tradition in Birmingham. It is the first ambassador to welcome the casual visitor or tourist to the culture of Birmingham.

Tagged with: ,

  A hundred (or more) tables but I’m not hungry. How hungry can one town be? How much lunch can one town eat? But here they are and here they eat. Here where the echo of a phone shop rings. Here, where the escalators drew you up into the Aladdin’s Cave of Sports Direct. Now: above us only sky; domes and light — but in the light the spectre. Pallasades. This space is still anchored in its past. I can see it as through Google Glass: ghosts of shops — shops we never loved, not really. Enough remains (the ramp, Tesco, the Bullring link) to place me in space/time. For now though there is lunch. I am not hungry. Why am I not hungry? Because the shops are not the ghosts. I am the ghost. I am the past. This map is only mine. At Foot Locker, turn …

A hundred thousand tables Read More »

Tagged with: , ,

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before: I’m not from Birmingham, though I’ve lived here for some time and I’ve learned to pass myself off. Over the years I’ve developed a fair sense of Birmingham’s official and folk history and I’ve picked up a Brummie twang and an authentic sense of loss and frustration about my (affected and now apostate) fandom for Aston Villa. No matter what I do though I can never acquire a lived experience and innate sense of Birmingham. Cultural osmosis cannot equip me with a deep down connection to this place in bone and blood, a fact of which I’ve now decided that I’m glad. You see I’ve been home for a few days, back to Guernsey. I’ve reconnected with my childhood haunts and found them… haunted. Everywhere I go there are ghosts.

Tagged with:

Shops used to be different back then, from now and from each other. Each one had its own smell and atmosphere. Visits to Witton Road were infrequent, as the concrete shopping centre at Perry Barr was the preferred destination, but when we did go it was usually for something exciting and interesting. Turning right rather than left at the bottom of our street was quite a treat. Each block on the Witton Road started with a larger shop, and the sides of the buildings were painted with signs. ‘Leslie Smith for Television’ read one. I never went in as we had a TV and no need for another, but it was a special shop as I’d been told Leslie Smith used to play for Aston Villa whose ground was on the next main road over. On the next corner was Dick Taylor’s sports shop. Everyone called him …

Local shops Read More »

Tagged with:

The locations and dwarf holes mentioned in this tale are based on fact. The people and all the rest are not. I walk along the canal and look above wondering how much concrete is necessary to prevent the entire elaborate junction from collapsing. The pillars holding up metal and flesh appear to be the legs of giants while the traffic travels along their spines. The graffiti at the bottom gives it the look of elaborately painted nails. Or like a tattoo that marks the owner’s individuality. I look at my right hand and frown at what I’m holding. Have I been drinking? Focusing on the bottle of vodka it suddenly occurs to me that my mind is in the process of being drowned by a tsunami of ethanol. I look at the water rippling on the breeze. My attention is drawn to the sound of a bell …

An Urban Fairytale Read More »

Tagged with: , ,

It was a shocking moment when after nineteen years of living in Birmingham I realised it will never be finished. The building work will never be done, some part will always be being demolished for another part to be built fresh: no one will ever take a step back, with their hands on their hips, and turn around with a ‘TA-DAA’. The ubiquitous cranes will always be part of the skyline, they’re not visitors they’re residents. Cities are the bodies of our collective souls, and like bodies they change, regenerate, and can be easily marred. Ever see Ground Zero from up high? It looks like a fuck-awful scar across the face of pretty girl. The Queens Drive staircase is an access staircase that travels from the bottom of Station Street up to the passageway that connects the Pallasades to the Bull Ring, with an exit to New …

Requiem for a piss stained short cut Read More »

Tagged with: , , ,