This site’s been quiet for a while – a few job changes, a few relocations and various life events put paid to my prior efforts to focus on anything else. Nonetheless, I’ve kept an eye on what’s been happening – and it’s hard to miss the huge changes in the city centre. Gone is the old Birmingham Library, seen here at the left of the image from 2013:
And by 2017, the void created by its demolition:
The demolition of Paradise Forum (and the old Library and Birmingham Conservatoire) was a bit of a sad time. It felt like a piece of contemporary history was being bulldozed out of existence. But thankfully on places like Flickr, we still have a venue to see how cool these places looked, and how they defined the central city landscape. Here’s a video I shot in 2016:
If you look around, there’s still parts of historical Brum you can still find pretty easily. Not too far from the centre of town, the Holloway Circus roundabout (recently remodelled for traffic, thank god) has the flaking, deteriorating, unloved yet still wonderful Horse Fair mosaic (the only original 1960s mural still in its original site)…
While construction continues, enjoy this rare photo from the top of Alpha Tower, taken while I was up there for work in September 2015. Some of my older photos are in my ‘Birmingham’ gallery on Flickr.
It’s been almost a year to the day and Brum gets a dusting of snow once more. Prior to the snowfall the temperatures have dropped ludicrously low; here’s a lovely video of icebreakers at work in the Canal Street Basin (just behind Broad Street and the NIA):
When it did hit, many people were still unprepared. People I spoke to who’d been driving between Birmingham and the Wolves area had witnessed multiple accidents on the roads. @KeithWilkoITV reported earlier that all 23 of the city’s gritters have been out and the council are braced for more snow tomorrow.
The Mail reported on Thursday that the council, in partnership with Amey, has been treating 1200km of routes â€“ around half of the cityâ€™s roads â€“ every night. BBC News reported that, as snow began to fall at around lunchtime today, the West Midlands remains on an amber snow alert as 5cm (2 inches) of snow is expected to fall over the next day. “The snow is expected to give way to sleet and rain and could cause some travel disruption. Temperatures are set to drop down to -1C overnight.”
As many will be aware, the English Defence League will be undertaking a protest in Centenary Square this Saturday the 29th of October 2011. A simultaneous Peace Rally is taking place in Chamberlain Square with police cordons segregating the two groups. On Wednesday, the EDL’s protest area was altered to conform to safety requirements, as confirmed by the Birmingham Safety Advisory Group (incorporating West Midlands Police and the other emergency services). West Midlands Police have also issued a number of conditions upon the protest:
The protest shall take place in Centenary Square.
The duration of the protest will be no longer than 2 hours commencing no earlier than 1pm and ending no later than 3pm on 29 October.
A static protest will be taking place by supporters of the English Defence League, while a separate community event will also be held in the city simultaneously.
The event, and any counter demonstration, will take place in Chamberlain Square.
The event will be no longer than three and a half hours commencing no earlier than 12.30pm and ending no later than 4pm, on 29 October.
As on previous occasions, police have no power to ban a static protest – in fact the right to protest peacefully is a sign of a healthy democracy and we have a positive duty to facilitate that right. Assistant chief constable Marcus Beale, who will lead the policing operation, said: “We have to balance the desires of those involved with the safety requirements for the event, and ultimately this has to take precedence.
“We want people to feel reassured and in response to community concerns, we will be staging a large-scale operation on the day to ensure that everyone who comes to the city centre, be it to take part in the protests, or to go about their day to day business, can do so in safety.
“West Midlands Police do not welcome this protest as we recognise that many people feel anxious about it being in the city so soon after the disturbances in August. Like them, we believe that our resources would be better placed in neighbourhoods tackling the crimes which matter most to local people.
“With that in mind, we urge people to go about their normal business and not allow the protest to affect them or undermine Birmingham’s reputation as a harmonious city with many different cultures living alongside each other in peace. The policing operation will strive to ensure it remains that way. Any criminal or public order offences will be robustly dealt with.”
If you are intending on visiting the city centre on Saturday, please bear these restrictions in mind and avoid the area entirely if at all possible. The last time the EDL were in town, acts of random violence and some vandalism occurred (although mostly undertaken by people purporting to be EDL supporters, other groups of people were also involved, possibly in retaliatory action.) No doubt police presence will be visible and high profile in order to curb any inflammatory actions.
A press release from this afternoon reports the following cordons are to be imposed upon the centre as a result of the protest:
[…] Access to Victoria Square will be restricted with police cordons in place around [Centenary] Square. Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, who is leading the policing operation, said: “We understand that the policing operation may cause some inconvenience to members of the public who intend to visit attractions around Victoria Square on Saturday, however the cordons are unavoidable.
“We apologise for any inconvenience the cordons may cause, however we have to balance the desires of everyone involved, with the safety requirements for the event, and ultimately this has to take precedence.”
Under Section 14 of the Public Order Act, conditions have been placed on both events, and organisers have been informed.
ACC Beale added: “We want people to feel reassured and in response to community concerns, we will be staging a large-scale operation on the day to ensure that everyone who comes to the city centre, be it to take part in the protests, or to go about their day to day business, can do so in safety.
“[…] We urge people to go about their normal business and not allow the protest to affect them or undermine Birmingham’s reputation as a harmonious city with many different cultures living alongside each other in peace. The policing operation will strive to ensure it remains that way. Any criminal or public order offences will be robustly dealt with.”
Haroon Jahan (21), Shazad Ali (30) and Abdul Musavir (31)
Wednesday, October 5 2011:
18:50: West Midlands Police has dubbed the investigation into the deaths as Operation Pointer. Since the August updates, more people were arrested, eventually bringing the total to fourteen arrested (the most recent being a 21 year old Quinton man arrested on suspicion of murder, subsequently bailed pending further enquiries).
As of October the 5th, nine men have appeared at Birmingham Crown Court charged with murder and remanded in custody pending their trial. Four men remain on police bail having been arrested on suspicion of murder. Another 28 year old man appeared at Birmingham Magistrates on the 22nd of August having been charged with perverting the course of justice.
The police are urging anyone with more information about the incident to contact the Operation Pointer incident room via their central contact number, 0345 113 5000. Alternatively, independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Sunday, August 21 2011:
19:50: BBC News is reporting that a fifth man, Liam Young from Winson Green, has now been charged in connection with the killings.
Saturday, August 20 2011:
19:00: Two more people have been arrested: a 33 year old man, arrested at his home in Smethwick on Friday morning on suspicion of murder, has been released on bail; the ninth person is 28 year old Liam Young, arrested in Winson Green. Four people remain charged in connection with the murders; Ian Beckford, 30, from Quinton; Joshua Donald, 26, of Kelsall Croft, Ladywood; Adam King, 23, of no fixed address and a 17-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons.
17:15: the open air funeral has finished and mourners are largely dispersed; traffic is still fairly heavy in the locality. Prayers were held for the three individuals; Sheikh Muhammed al Yaqoubi addressed the assembled crowds and Saqib Majid, the cousin of Ali and Musavir, read out a poignant tribute.
16:15: an open air funeral is currently taking place in Summerfield Park, Birmingham to commemorate the deaths of Jahan, Ali and Musavir. Prayers have been said and some 20,000 people from all faiths and communities have attended to show their support for the deceased and their families. Tariq Jahan has continued to urge the communities to remain united and at peace.
Motorists have been asked to park responsibly and respect that local residents may need to enter and leave their homes on the day. The area around Summerfield Park is residential and highly built-up; there is only limited parking available at Summerfield Park. There are bus services every 5 minutes along the Dudley Road (www.nxbus.co.uk or TravelineMidlands.co.uk for live timetables and route planners). There may be delays to travel on the routes near to Summerfield Park. Traffic restrictions have been in place between midday and 16:00; the area will remain congested until this evening.
Also, West Midlands Police earlier released an update on the number of arrests and charges filed as a result of last week’s disorder:
So far we have results for 80 cases. Of these:
57 have been Remanded in Custody (71%);
6 have been convicted, sentenced and released (8%) and
17 have been bailed, most with conditions (21%).
Wednesday, August 17 2011: A fourth man has tonight been charged in connection with the deaths.
Monday, August 15 2011: West Midlands Police today announced the arrest of a SEVENTH individual in connection with the Winson Green deaths last week. A 30 year old man from Birmingham was detained on suspicion of murder shortly after 10am today (August 15). To date, thre men aged 17, 23 (Adam King of Kings Norton) and 26 (Joshua Donald of Ladywood) have been charged with murder and have appeared before Birmingham Crown Court. Three other people (three males aged 16, 27 and 32) have already been bailed pending further enquiries.
A third vehicle, a black Audi 3, was recovered late on Saturday night and according to West Midlands Police “is undergoing forensic examination by officers”. Their press release goes on to say,
DCI Anthony Tagg from Force CID said: “We are now confident that we have recovered all three vehicles which we believe were involved in the murder in Dudley Road in the early hours of Wednesday 10 August.” He added, “enquires are ongoing and we are still actively seeking a number of people in relation to the murder enquiry. We would appeal for anyone with information about the incident to contact us.”
A team of 70 detectives and 15 police staff are continuing to work on the investigation into the deaths of Shazad Ali, Abdul Musavir and Haroon Jahan in Winson Green.
Anyone with information should contact police on 0345 113 5000 or call Crimestoppers confidentially on 0800 555 111.
Also, a reminder to check out the Birmingham Riots 2011 tumblr maintained by Casey Rain. I’ve been reblogging images and updates including the ones he’s been amassing, his site’s been very excellent since Monday.
Carol Ann Duffy’s written a moving tribute to Tariq Johan. It’s entitled, simply, “Birmingham for Tariq Johan.”
After the evening prayers at the mosque,
came the looters in masks,
and you three stood,
beloved in your neighbourhood,
brave, bright, brothers,
to be who you were â€“
a hafiz is one who has memorised
the entire Koran;
a devout man â€“
then the man in the speeding car
who purposefully mounted the kerb â€¦
I think we all should kneel
on that English street,
where he widowed your pregnant wife, Shazad,
tossed your soul to the air, Abdul,
and brought your father, Haroon, to his knees,
his face masked in only your blood
on the rolling news
where nobody’s children riot and burn.
Paul Lewis has also had a remarkable week journeying around England; during his travels he encountered the Birmingham riots and has recounted what he experienced on the Guardian web site.
Image via The Guardian
17:27: Wow – an astounding 6,986% increase in visitors to About Brum since Monday! Thank you very much for choosing to use my humble web site to keep up to date on events in Birmingham. I make no money from this site; I only hope you’ve found what I’ve posted so far informative and useful. Stay tuned or subscribe to About Brum’s RSS feed and Twitter account for further updates as they come down the wires.
17:13: An inquest into the Winson Green hit-and-run deaths was opened and adjourned today. Given the ‘exceptional circumstances’ surrounding the case, the coroner has announced that he will be releasing the bodies to the parents’ relatives next week. The car suspected to be involved in the incident was found burnt out in a side street approximately 200 yards away from the crime scene. Police also recovered a second vehicle, also believed to be involved in the incident. It is likely that police will request extra time to detain the currently arrested individuals for further questioning; CCTV imagery obtained from the area may also prove useful.
Any individuals who have information or witnessed the accident are encouraged to come forward to West Midlands Police and have been guaranteed anonymity.
The Birmingham Magistrates Court also worked late again last night, with 13 individuals appearing in court ‘accused largely of violent disorder, burglary and going equipped to steal.’ (WMP press release). I also personally witnessed the arrests of several people last night on Colmore Row, with one individual charged with possession of a controlled substance and another individual on charges relating to this week’s looting! So all in all, a nice way to round off things. That was the only bit of trouble last night; the entire town was pretty calm and very peaceful.
I spent a while last night walking and talking with officers patrolling the city centre – at once a very enjoyable experience and a fairly eye-opening experience. One thing which was clear was each and every officer has given their absolute utmost this week, with all rest days cancelled and 12 hour shifts put in place – many were also working extra hours unpaid, coming in hours early and leaving hours later – to support each other. They were all fairly exhausted – particularly officers who had fought against looters and rioters on Monday and Tuesday across Birmingham, then continued with beat duties and undertaking raids on suspects involved in the lootings. However, they were all very happy that their combined efforts had brought the situation under control and maintained the peace for everyone else.
West Midlands Police is also encouraging organisers of various smaller ‘peace marches’ on Sunday to postpone or join forces with the cross-community Peace Rally, due to take place at 3pm on Sunday the 14th of August at Summerfield Park, Dudley Road, Winson Green.
18:23: West Midlands Police has formally issued an update on the further arrests following the hit-and-run deaths in Winson Green. Three people have been arrested on suspicion of murder; a 16-year old, 17-year old and man aged 26, all from Birmingham. The 32-year old man initially arrested following the incident has been bailed pending further enquiries.
Enquiries into the collision are ongoing — anyone who witnessed the collision or has information in connection with the incident is asked to contact West Midlands Police on 0345 113 5000.
16:52: A day of reflections. Many questions to be answered, including how the circumstances surrounding the Winson Green hit-and-run came about. Was it avoidable? Many things to be learnt from WMP’s area-by-area response and whether analysis was undertaken correctly concerning any possible conflict between different communities. Still much to also be learnt about the person currently under arrest related to the case.
On the whole though, Birmingham is returning to peace with people surveying the scene. Wolverhampton’s carrying on as normal, bar a few shops with boarded up windows. Damage mostly limited to a couple of sections of town, the Nisa near the railway station was smashed but still open for business as usual. The new railway bridge escaped completely unscathed, not a scratch on it!
In music news, AIM (the representative body of independent UK record labels) has worked furiously to put things in place to assist the indie labels who’ve lost all stock following the Essex SonyDADC warehouse blaze. On Tuesday, they put out a call to action urging fans to support their favourite artists and labels to help them survive the crisis – read it in full on the A2IM site. Today, they announced a fund to help those labels:
Following the devastating fire on Monday night at SONYDADCâ€™s Enfield facility, which destroyed the stock of hundreds of independent labels AIM and [PIAS] have been working together to coordinate the extraordinary number of offers of help which have been pouring in from across the world. This morning, we are announcing the creation of a fund to help independents affected by the catastrophe. They will be able to draw upon the fund to help cover the interruption to their business and the cost of getting back onto their feet.
The fund is being provided by some of AIM’s larger member labels, other well wishers and from AIM’s reserves, and will be made available to affected smaller labels pro-rata to labels’ [PIAS] turnover this year, as required.
[PIAS] are first and foremost focused on supporting their labels. AIM will be coordinating the fund, and also other offers of help in the form of promotions and benefit gigs.â€¨ Alison Wenham commented â€œthe independents will survive this disaster, as they have survived other business challenges. We represent a community which has a mutual respect for the work of all indie labels, be they large or small, and the industry needs to nurture and protect these small companies in times like this. We wish to thank everyone in the community for their generous and unfettered supportâ€.â€¨â€¨
Martin Mills, Chairman of the Beggars Group, said â€œLarger labels are much better resourced to weather this storm – but small and new labels are the future and need support from their peers to see them through this crisis “.
Daniel Miller, Founder, Mute said “Following the sad events surrounding the fire at the Sony DADC warehouse which houses [PIAS]’s physical distribution, it is crucial that the independent community stands together to ensure the ongoing business of the labels so badly affected. Mute supports any initiatives that will enable this to happen.”â€¨
Details regarding how to contribute and who to contact:
Anyone wishing to contact [PIAS] and AIM in respect to this fund should email firstname.lastname@example.org
12:14: Cameron currently leading an emergency recall of Parliament; beginning to get a little fractious. Watch live, either on BBC News online or ParliamentLive.tv.
02:37: Rumours of a Gurdwara in Derby on fire are completely false. Silver Commander Superintendent Kul Mahay has visited the site (a former pub on St. THomas Road) and confirmed that a small fire was set but no damage done. Minor fire and smoke damage.
From the Sangat Television Justin.tv chat earlier:
soldier89: just got back from the so called burnt down gurdwara
gss9: soldierrr89 khidddaaa u good?
soldier89: yeah man
gss9: soldier wuts the situation no fire?
chris131084: well I’m clearly not
soldier89: its an old pub that is currently being converted into a gurdwara. 6 kids broke in and started a small fire inside
gss9: ohh i seee
soldier89: police and fire service got there fast
fayce: prove it
soldier89: 1 witness, no arrests
gss9: ya thanks soldier89 for clearing it up
Malicious text message circulating about mosque being firebombed in Birmingham. This is untrue.
Sky news still have a correspondent with live breakaway coverage of the candelit vigil in on Dudley Road. They’re also showing a VT about the murders, worth a watch if you have Sky TV. (you can currently watch online for free via the Sky News web site).
Some stills from the VT:
21:45: Dudley Road, Winson Green
I live nearby, so I decided to visit the scene of the accident on Dudley Road where Haroon Jahan, Abdul Musavir and Shazad Ali were killed last night. When I arrived about 200 or so people were milling around, talking amongst themselves – I must’ve stuck out like a sore thumb as one of the only white people there but I was greeted warmly and fell into discussion before most people went to the local restaurant or nearby houses to break fast.
Quite a sad moment, people around were voicing their anger and a few people were frustrated that they felt treated like terrorists or criminals – but there was no intention of anyone going to stir up trouble. Police presence was moderate but low-key; one (who said he was drafted in from Worcestershire) said they were there mostly to reassure and help anybody who might need assistance. I felt very safe.
“I am sorry for the lack of humanity”
Skid marks from WMP’s assessment of braking distance at the accident site. Plainly visible at 9pm.
Earlier today, whilst Dudley Road was closed (via The Guardian)
Just two of the numerous camera crews all reporting from the scene
The immediate vicinity at dusk, as people drifted away to break their fast
If you want to use any of these images please do so, please just link back to AboutBrum.co.uk so I can see where they get used. (Non-watermarked print quality available for press/media upon request.)
“Blacks, Asians, Whites, we all live in the same community. Why do we have to kill one another? What started these riots and what’s escalated them? Why are we doing this? I lost my son. Step forward if you want to lose your sons. Otherwise, calm down and go home.”
— Tariq Jahan, whose son Haroon was one of the victims of the hit-and-run last night
19:19: The Bullring’s board(ed up)… geddit?
(@Carl_Poulton via Twitter)
18:11: An exact transcript of a message circulating on BlackBerry Messaging:
â€˜everyman keep off the road tonight, Birmingham is going to be madness, people from london, leicester, derby, manchester to f**k up birmingham of them 3 asian guys that got killed in winson green there coming to riot hard and i donâ€™t want no one to lose their life because of it, stay in your yards and pass this onâ€™
17:45: After a relatively quiet afternoon (with just an unrelated fire at a Nechells metal recycling plant) most attention has been focused on what might happen tonight. On Sangat TV, people have been expressing their anguish and determination not to let things boil over into violence as many are fearing it might. Reports of EDL and BNP attempting to capitalise on the friction – perhaps by bringing in supporters into the city to incite violence – are thus far unconfirmed, as are the rumours of Birmingham City fans (“Zulus”) arriving in town to help defend it against rioters.
Pershore Road has apparently been blocked by police in both directions between Edgbaston Road and Belgrave Middleway due to a ‘police incident’. Riot vans are amassing at a police bases in preparation for anything which may happen tonight.
The earlier fire at the Smurfitt Hawkswood Metal Recycling Plant
(lord_apricot on Twitter)
(BeckyJohnsonITV on Twitter)
So… It’s been a tumultuous night. Uneasy calm at the moment, @RobSmithUK says, “Bham New Street looks battered and bruised. Lots of boarded up windows. #BirminghamRiots”. Much discussion needs to be had re: police strategy, policing numbers, balance of allowing looting and criminal damage and whether water canon and baton rounds should have been sanctioned earlier by Cameron & co.
The killing of two brothers and a third friend in cold blood on Dudley Road last night is being treated as murder by West Midlands Police. Appears to be a clear-cut hit-and-run. An eyewitness explained in a BBC WM news report, “the car came flying, took out three of us, flying into midair. Then it drove off – it intentionally mounted the kerb, it was gone within five or six seconds.” A 32 year old man has been arrested on suspicion of all three murders and police investigations are ongoing.
12:30: Smoke blowing across M6 in vicinity of Aston Expressway Aston Church Road closed (due to the Nechells metalworks fire) between A47 Heartlands Parkway and Chartress Road.
A417 Dudley Road in vicinity of Cavendish Road expected to remain closed until at least 16:00 according to WMP.
04:40: Upinder Randhawa, presenter with Sangat Television, has confirmed with sadness via Twitter that the third Hussein brother has died as a result of his injuries, making a total of three deaths as a result of the earlier RTA on Dudley Road. Very sad news.
03:33: reading that an official media blackout has been agreed upon and imposed by BBC & Sky. Makes a lot of sense if you consider the massive lack of updates on what is a very fast-paced situation in London in particular (and the deaths in Birmingham!) From DigitalSpy:
There is an Official Media Blackout! I have had official confirmation from 2 sources, both at BBC and at Sky. It is an UTTER DISGRACE that the majority of us is not being told of the real picture. I have friends in various parts of London who are absolutely distraught at what’s going on…
Manchester is a mere ‘diversion’ as to what’s taking place country wide.
I am absolutely appalled at this ‘starvation’ of news…. These ‘mindless’ ‘child’ like thugs DO NOT watch the news networks for logistics or excitement as to where the riots are happening…. An D / DA Notice is not valid here!
Formerly News RoomPosted: 9th August 2011 11:14pm #483
03:10: The amount of independent reports and circumstantial evidence makes it fairly easy for me to now say this with certainy: two British Pakistani men have now died in City Hospital (the Hussein brothers). The two brothers, along with a third member of the same family, were run over in the Dudley Road area adjacent to the Jet petrol filling station (BBC WM) during earlier rioting. Full circumstances are still being clarified. The third individual is still in critical condition. West Midlands Police have confirmed three people were taken to hospital following an RTA:
Twitter is ahead of the curve as usual so search for #birminghamriots for uncensored news.
02:22: Off to bed now, going to keep monitoring the news feeds until I doze off – more tomorrow. Sky News currently has updated features and some new interviews with people who’ve suffered at the hands of the thugs and looting, worth a watch. Keep an eye on Casey’s Birmingham Riots 2011 blog too.
02:16: Reports on Casey Rain’s tumblr that a police officer has been shot in Aston and two British Pakistanis have been murdered in the Dudley Road area. TAKE THIS WITH A BIG PINCH OF SALT, currently unverified.
TAKEDOWN OFF THE TOP ROPE! It seems that karma is not withot a sense of irony. (Yes, I’m aware this is from Canada a few years ago – if only British riot police were authorised to utilise such tactics 😉
01:27: Barton Arms pub in Lozells has been bricked, windows gone, riot officers inside.
(via @CharlotteITV and @JayTDWP on Twitter)
00:40: Reports of “a shooting” in Aston. LOTS of hearsay. May just be gunfire, may be attempts to shoot police. Casey Rain’s blog has an email submission which reads,
“police have lost control in the aston/lozells area Asian youths have started to beat up the looters police outnumbered the looters donâ€™t know where to run”
Take this with a BIG pinch of salt. In good news though, Harborne high street was completely deserted when I drove down it at midnight.
23:54: Foreign students snap video of riots through central Brum (taken from the private student accommodation building opposite the (former Matthew Boulton College) Birmingham Met College faculty (next to Millennium Point on Curzon Street):
23:47: another shot of the Hat Man store 🙁
23:06: Via @Rolo_D on Twitter, the smashed entrance to Birmingham Crown Court (opposite the old Virgin Records shop unit on Corporation Street):
News of two tasty little events – the second of which I’m particularly excited about. But first, to West Bromwich – and to a comedy competition!
The Public’s suffered from more than a little derision and criticism since it opened (“that big, hugely expensive building in the middle of West Brom which nobody bothers to go to” being heard when it first opened) but perhaps that’s being just a smidgen too cruel. It’s a good venue and exhibition space, receiving support and interest from people across the spectrum, and… Well, it’s nearby, isn’t it?
To their credit, the venue’s operators Sandwell City Council (plus exhibitors and event promoters) have continued to back the venue and their hard work (and cold hard cash) is paying dividends. Not only do we currently have the excellent Home of Metal exhibition – their Weekender, from the 1st to the 4th of September looks like a cracking little visit, particularly given we’re nestled in the very black heart of British Heavy Metal (home to the Heavy Metal Records record label no less!), there’s all kinds of fringe arts, culture and entertainment events on regular rotation.
Most recently, The Public’s announced a comedy showcase – culminating in ten comics being given ten minutes to perform in front of a heckling, drinking audience 😉 AND the winner taking home Â£100 in genu-wine Bank of England tenners. Pays the bar tab, if nothing else. The competition’s been called “Starter for Ten” – and also heralds the return (hurray!) of regular comedy nights at The Public into and through the autumn months. The winner of the competition gets to be the visiting comedians’ support gig – lesser men would be intimidated, but I KNOW there are some really funny comics in the Midlands. Perhaps I should get my arse over there to check this out.
Begin shameless quote from press release;
â€œThe Publicâ€™s comedy showcase is a great way to celebrate the outstanding talent the region has to offer and will provide amateur comics a fantastic opportunity to perform alongside touring comedians.â€
Also, Soweto Kinch is back in town! 2011’s Flyover Show – the fourth instalment of what’s arguably one of the coolest urban gatherings in the Midlands – is going to be BIG. He’s only gone and booked some Wolverhampton unknown who goes by the name of “Goldie” to headline this year! Soweto explains:How cool is that lineup! I’ll shamelessly quote from 69 Degrees, in case you haven’t already read:
Between Soho Road and Great Hampton Street, Birmingham, thereâ€™s the Hockley Flyover. Nothing too exciting about that, I bet youâ€™re thinking. But on 20th August, below this generic grey stretch of road, will be transformed into an arena of creativity and will play host to some of the most iconic contributors to Black British and Urban Culture.
Drum & Bass legend Goldie and MOBO award winning UK rapper Akala, among others, are set to continue to defy stereotypes, featuring alongside graffiti artists, comedy acts, and theatre and dance work next month.
The fourth year of the free event promises to be thought provoking, challenging and entertaining, whilst proving that communities associated with negative headlines can stage the highest of artistic expression.
The Flyover Show 2011 will be held from 12:30 â€“ 9pm on Saturday 20th August.
Being a one man operation, AB suffers when said primary contributor is unavailable for comment. 😉 I’ve been dragged away from my various online projects for the past year, but About Brum is returning – and, with nose to the grindstone (with a pinch of good luck) the site will become far bigger and far more frequently updated in 2011 than ever before.
So stay tuned, interested parties, I have many, many interesting things up my sleeve. In the meantime, I’ll be updating periodically with the latest media and cultural goings on of this fair Second City whilst I build up a stockpile of excellent material to publish.
Attention all interesting people!
If you live in the West Midlands and you have a project, job, business, museum or other notable topic which you feel deserves some coverage, get in touch. I’m always keen to hear from people who are involved in something unusual and exciting!
With the temporary return of the Birmingham Big Wheel (hopefully without the Parisian commentary which made it all the more quirky the first time around), are we going to perhaps see a return of the Birmingham Big Screen?
For what seems like almost two years now, the Big Screen has remained resolutely dark, with nothing but a test pixel lit to show that it’s still got mains power. This is a real shame, as the screen’s a definite asset to the city centre; when I moved to the city in 2005 I enjoyed walking past it every day. I watched the news on it in the evening, I caught some short films and sometimes it even threw a few curveballs my way. As well as that, it screened the football and other major sporting events (drawing major crowds, not always without their own minor crowd control problems, but all in all well managed).
Can you name all the cities Birmingham’s twinned with? I could probably name one or two (Frankfurt springs to mind – if you’ve not been to the German Market at Christmas, you’re missing out!) Other cities include Johannesburg, Frankfurt, Milan, Lyon and, of all the placesÂ you’d never guess,Â Ramallah (intriguing choice, no?)… But Brum’s also been twinned with Chicago, the Windy City, since 1993.
How many did you get from that list? I’m somewhat reluctant to admit I didn’t even score three.
Every so often, there’s a bit of inter-city mingling, as one does when one is twinned with another city overseas, and this year Chicago’s come over to promote itself a little to the Brummagem population. They’re going stealth mode with this – and if you’re lucky, you might get a nice little treat to round off your weekend’s shopping 🙂 There’s ten taxis (marked with special stickers and logos) that are pootling around the city centre for the next two weeks. The promotion’s been going on since the 15th of October, and it ends on the 15th of November – this last day is important, as on the 15th one of the ten taxis will be giving out freeÂ journeys to every passenger! The 15th is a Sunday, so if you’re lucky you might find yourself travelling home from a day of shopping at the Bullring for gratis – much nicer than the Number 11, no?
IfÂ you chance upon one of the tenÂ marked taxis, there’s someÂ paraphernalia inside on how to win two round trip airline tickets to Chicago. If you’re feeling lucky, you can enter a competition to stay at a four star hotel and also win a shopping trip which I would imagine works out at quite a decent value given the current Â£/$ conversion rate. Feeling lucky yet?
The cabs look like this, so keep your eye open for one…
ArtsFest is this weekend – too many highlights to mention, but even the BBC are pitching up this year with their Bang Goes The Theory roadshow and there will be an attempt to set a new world record for Bhangra dancingÂ – check out the events programme for full listings. The weather is set to be gorgeous throughout Saturday and well into Sunday, so get out of the house, go enjoy some free culture and enjoy the weekend!
Of course, if it is all a bit much for you and you do you fancy a nap tomorrow, I suggest that at midday you hang around Victoria Square in the vicinity of the fountains (by the floozy in the jacuzzi). Why? …Well, why not?