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Old 7th Dec 2006, 10:19   #11
Daveybot
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Default Re: Birmingham: Not as bad as it used to be

Well, the bulbous building is actually Selfridges, designed by good ole Future Systems (they of the Lords Media Centre - or 'Wallace's Grin' - fame) but it was built on that part of the city known as the bull Ring. I've always considered 'The Bull Ring' to mean 'The Bull Ring Shopping Centre', but of course that's incorrect - much as people misidentify that hideous London tower at 1 Canada Place as being 'Canary Wharf'.

I like looking at the new Selfridges from afar, as I think we should have more aliens landing on this planet generally, but its utter lack of acknowledgement with anything of either human or urban scale disappoints me hugely. Engagement with the street? What engagement? What street? If Kermode were an architecture critic I'm sure he'd say it symbolised the death of narrative architecture. Or something.
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Old 7th Dec 2006, 11:00   #12
ono no komachi
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Default Re: Birmingham: Not as bad as it used to be

Oh I don't know, I thought its location helped, perched where the street opens out and goes down towards the elegant old church (whose name I don't know ).

The last couple of times I went to Birmingham I had a delightful time, so I'm sure my opinion is coloured by that. Very pleasant memories of a jug of sangria followed by a bottle of rioja over tapas in The Mailbox.

Just spotted this from one of BiNS' earlier posts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BiNS
it's pulling itself up by the bootstraps and will soon be as sophisticated as Paris. Or Preston.
Aaah Preston, that jewel of the North West. I've recently indulged in my annual nostalgia-fest of crawling the Preston pubs with Scottish Jane. Such fun.
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Old 7th Dec 2006, 11:32   #13
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Default Re: Birmingham: Not as bad as it used to be

I have a theory that most places are not as bad as they used to be in Britain, with the sole exception of London.

I base this on visiting places like Newcastle recently, which looks great; even Exeter, which was purgatory when I went to secondary school there, seems to have some small dim spark of life in it.

London seems a bit stagnant these days in comparison.
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Old 7th Dec 2006, 11:53   #14
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Default Re: Avatars

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I think I have to have been a member for 60 days before I can start new threads
60 Days? No, let me try that one again. 60 Days!
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Old 7th Dec 2006, 16:27   #15
John from Paris
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Default Re: Birmingham: Not as bad as it used to be

I didn't actually start this thread as such; rather I initiated a Brummie digression in the "Avatars" thread, then suggested that BiNS - who in fact isn't "old" enough to start threads all on his own (yet) - start a Birmingham thread, and that if he didn't, I might...
And then it got transferred by the powers that be (with a naff title, hint, hint... Couldn't we have kept "Birmingham Is Not Sh*t"???)

So anyway... I lived in Birmingham 1977-79 and 1980-81 (first, second and final years of four-year first degree course), then for another eighteen months in 83-84...
Twenty-odd years on it really has changed considerably - though I can't say I know it as well as I used to, I just go back for a day or so now and then, on the way to somewhere else, mainly for Proustian memory-jogging purposes... or drunken wallowings (same thing, in fact).
Once when I was there (must have been around 2002/2003?) there was this gigantic crater right in the middle of the city, with a precarious footbridge contraption making it possible to get from one side of it to the other. I'd never seen anything quite like it. So that was between them knocking down the old Bull Ring shopping centre and putting up the one already referred to here.
Yes, the proximity (to each other) of those bookshops is nice... sort of... I found myself dashing from one to another and back during a mad frenzy of price-comparing... finding they only had two 3-for-2 books I really wanted in Borders, and another two, not three, on 3-For-2 in Waterstones...

Another thing about Birmingham is that snooty southerners tend to consider it as "north", or at least definitely not "south" - but northerners wouldn't include it in their version of "north"...

Is it worth visiting? I've never succeeded in persuading any of my friends in London to go for a day. It has a very, very bad reputation, it must be said. It gets one star (= "interesting" ) in the Michelin green guide (1995) to Great Britain (as do Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester). So it could be worse (Sheffield and Dundee don't get any stars...) There's some outstanding Pre-Raphaelite stuff in the City Centre museum...

For some well-observed glimpses of Birmingham in the seventies, see Jonathan Coe's The Rotters' Club. The action is set between 1973 and the day Mrs Thatcher was elected in May 1979. Jonathan Coe being two years younger than me, his evocation of life in the sixth-form is exactly contemporaneous with my first two undergraduate years. Then the sequel, The Closed Circle, picks up in 1999, with a few pointers to what's changed in the first section. (But much of the sequel is set in London... implicit moral: a number of the characters got out of Birmingham as soon as they possibly could...)

I won't say anything about the accent. Just tell the joke about a Brummie buying an outfit for a fancy-dress party...

"You look very good in that, sir. And might I suggest a kipper tie?"

"Ooooh, that's roilly noice of yer. Meeelk and woon shogger, ployze."

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Old 7th Dec 2006, 16:58   #16
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Default Re: Birmingham: Not as bad as it used to be

Quote:
Originally Posted by John from Paris
(with a naff title, hint, hint... Couldn't we have kept "Birmingham Is Not Sh*t"???)
Nope!
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Old 7th Dec 2006, 17:31   #17
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Default Re: Birmingham: Not as bad as it used to be

For all things Brum related, you can do worse than visit here. There are some little gems if you look hard enough. And for images, try here. The site was started as a tongue in cheek protest after Birmingham was shortlisted for European City of Culture and subjected to cruel jibes from the rest of the country.

Did you hear the one about the Brummie who went to Newcastle?

Brummie walks into a barbers and says
'Could I have a perm please?'
The barber gives him a puzzled look and says
'Aye. I wandered lonely as a cloud.......'
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Old 7th Dec 2006, 18:06   #18
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Default Re: Birmingham: Not as bad as it used to be

Quote:
Originally Posted by John from Paris View Post
"You look very good in that, sir. And might I suggest a kipper tie?"

"Ooooh, that's roilly noice of yer. Meeelk and woon shogger, ployze."
Fuhunny. My l'il brother and his friends have a kipper toy in-joke with their brummie mate, Rawroi.

I had a few friends down there, who I am sadly no longer in touch with, who showed me this very odd optical illusion - driving up this hill with (I think) trees on either side of the road, you could see a large building in the far distance ahead which appeared to get smaller the closer you got to the crest of the hill. It was like one of those Vertigo-style zooms Hitchcock liked so much. Scared the crap out of me, never went back.
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