You may have read in the Evening Mail an article about how our trains are going to be painted a different colour come the autumn – and if you’re a regular commuter on the Cross City line you may have read the article and thought ‘great, that means the end of London Midland and their appalling service’. If you did read that and think that, I’ve got bad news for you.
Just after 3pm today, at Aston, despondent football fans shuffled onto my train. Barely anyone spoke, or would look at one another. It was as though they’d been caught stepping out of Taboo Cinema Club by their kid’s headteacher. All that is except for two. A beautiful couple they were, not in colours nor in football casuals but in the high end label equivalents. They looked… preppy. As my ears tuned into their talk, I picked up her Sloaney vowels, his public school consonants. Chelsea. Up for the game, now off into Bullring for a bit of shopping. Designer treats, another polo shirt perhaps? Birmingham’s a destination now, ya? Make a weekend of it. Go to the Cube. Eat some salad by the canal. Laugh. It’s not like they expected at all — Birmingham’s changed.
We’ve been out drinking for about six hours, we’ve lost a lot of people and one of us is bleeding. In a few minutes one of us is going to try to pick a row with a train driver. I am cool hunting in the suburbs of Birmingham, and it’s going poorly. Here are two things that are hot right now: craft beer, and Birmingham. So hot are these two things that when The Guardian ran yet another piece a piece on how Birmingham is cool now, craft beer formed a central part of its thesis: “Two years ago, you struggled to get a pint of real ale, let alone craft beer, in most of Birmingham. Now, from Colmore Row, down John Bright Street, to Digbeth, the city centre is awash in the stuff. It’s as if a phalanx of hipsters, fleeing London’s housing market, have swept …