March 30th, 2015

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Chrome vs. rust

Not for the first time, I've been to Birmingham to look at cars.

These were two of them.

The great thing about the Practical Classics Restoration Show is that it features a fine selection of clapped-out old rust buckets, which makes me feel better about my own clapped-out old rust buckets. Compared to this one (which is a Riley RME - just about) mine are in fine fettle...

You know when it all went wrong for the British motor industry? When they stopped putting bearded blokes in winged helmets on the front of the cars, that's when.

This is a Rover P3, showing all those Scandinavian metal bands how it's done...

More chrome (and rust) beyond the cut...

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Birmingham untourist trail

Scenes around Birmingham, jewel of the British midlands...

Everyone who goes to Birmingham takes a photo of the Selfridges building. It's the law. Here's mine.

What is this colonnaded cube, sitting on a post-industrial wasteland? A stately home that's fallen on hard times? Nope. It's Curzon Street station - Birmingham's first railway station. It's been disused for years, but in the near-ish future it will become the terminus of the new Hi-speed line to London.

There is, inevitably, a Masterplan. Be afraid, Birmingham. This is your future!

Just along the road from Curzon Street station, we find this pub. Last orders were called some time ago, it seems.

Every time I see buildings like this I can't help thinking how they might work as a gig venue. This one would be pretty good, I think. Near the city centre, close to the universities (students do still go to gigs, right?) - and no neighbours to worry about.

In the end I suppose this pub will be swallowed up in the new redevelopment Masterplan (see link above), but a short lease until then would be fairly cheap, surely. A few years' worth of rock 'n' roll is just waiting to happen here...

Down the road a bit, the Birmingham cityscape starts looking like the Lower East Side of NYC, circa 1982. Here's a massive, empty warehouse, which is for sale and/or to let. How come it's not being squatted by No Wave bands?

Again, the opportunity might not last forever, because the redevelopment steamroller is a-comin' through - but for a few years there's a chance for ART to happen, surely?

And finally, in our Birmingham architecture selection, here's a house - near the warehouse pictured above. It's just a house. But I like it.

Some nice brick detailing, and those splendid sash windows in authentic green (the notion that window frames should always be white is very recent - up to about 40 years ago you'd paint your window frames any colour you like).

It should really have a beaten-up Morris Minor parked outside, and some kids playing hopscotch in the road. Sorry about that ghastly great BMW. But you can't win 'em all!
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Balls to Birmingham

Adventures in Birmingham, continued. (Yes, it is possible to have adventures in Birmingham, I tell you. A bit, anyway.)

In Birmingham, you can buy animals as a kit of parts. Glue them together in the comfort of your own home!

Some of my readers might recall Andi Sex Gang reciting a poem to a pig's head at the Whitby Goth Weekend a few years back. I remember the fuss that caused - the way people carried on, you'd think that Andi had broken into a pig sanctuary and killed the pig himself. Some seemed to assume he'd done something illegal.

In fact, you can buy pig's heads from specialist big-chunk-of-dead-animal butchers like those in Birmingham. They're not even expensive - just a few quid. There's not much actual meat on a pig's head, after all. But if you leave the eyes in, it'll see you through the week.

I'll get me coat.

Another delicacy from Birmingham - chicken feet. I have no idea how you'd cook them. But a great bulk buy option for all you voodoo practitioners out there.

Disconcerting though it may seem at first glance, I do rather like the way Birmingham's butchers put it all up front (and I speak as a vegetarian here). It's a very honest way of selling meat. All those people who freaked out at Andi Sex Gang had probably never seen meat that wasn't shrink-wrapped.

And now we come - with a certain relief - to the veg section. Here's a stall selling veg in the now almost universal 'paaaahnd a bowl' manner.

But I reckon you get a lot more for your paaaahnd in Birmingham than you do in London. Look at that veg - heaped up in great piles! In London you're lucky if it peeks over the rim.

More Brum nosh this way...

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