Wednesday 22nd July 2014
One brilliant thing about growing up in Brum is that it is close to everywhere, some of which are lovely little havens. People from other major UK cities like to mock the city, mainly accent and criticism of the architectural butchery, which included some now listed buildings. Many of these people are jealous of the second city status. Most are jealous of its hidden gems, like the one down the road from where I grew up, which was a famous hunting ground of a young J R Tolkien!
What’s even better was growing up in Hall Green. Running through it is a main road and railway line which runs all the way to Stratford Upon Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, so they say (some claim he was born in Norfolk or East Anglia. Unfortunately for that town, they lost out on annual multi-million pound tourism industry). It’s funny how people make fun of the regional accent, when some the greatest playwrights and writers grew up around. A source of great inspiration I think.
Must kids in the south Birmingham area have gone to Stratford more times than they’ve had hot dinners. Most school trips and school holidays involved a visit, maybe two or three times a year. No complaints on my part. I loved it. I’d go by myself on odd occasions. Most foreign friends I have taken there. I’ve gone on the odd beer crawl. Even though I am a writer and really enjoy Shakespeares work now, I used to much prefer the Butterfly Museum, which we would have an assortment of parakeets flying around a big leafy greenhouse, not to forget the scurrying quails on the ground.
On this occasion, I of course took Pamela by car. She loved the canals and theatres and medieval houses, as well as sweet little shops (although like most visitors, she was freaked by the Christmas shop; open 365 days a year (apart from Christmas Day; beautiful ironies are such a blessing to the heart)). She also scoffed at the price to Shakespeares’s birthplace. We did find a little place that sold fudge, and Pamela took affection to the fudge seller’s accent, which happened to be Glasweigan. Glasgow also happened to be the last leg of our UK tour (it feels a bit tongue and cheek by saying Scotland is part of the UK now). It turns out, his brother has a bakery very close to where my Uncle and Aunty live in Newlands, just at the bottom of the road in fact. Later on, Pamela heard Spanish being spoken and the Latina chip in her head went into high alert, with a need ask a thousand questions about their origin at an exhaustable pace. These poor lads hailed from Chile. Saying that, I’m kind of like that with Hondurans who have visited the UK. “WHY DIDN’T YA GO TO BRUM?”
We then sat by the canal for a while, as I was still suffering a wee bit of a hangover. I got a bit of a sunburn, lying there, talking about childhoods and old friends. The day was turning into late afternoon and we were due to meet my old writing buddy Mary, a great mate who had a big part in me being here in Honduras, for a lovely balti; a typical dish in Brum.
That’ll be in the next update.