Well what an education Saturday was!
My almost 14 year old son had read that he could have his PlayStation controller customised for free by renowned graffiti artists if he took it into Birmingham City Centre on Sat 24th March.
Being part Scottish [and therefore 'careful' with money ;)] this sounded like an interesting idea to me and so train tickets in hand, we set off for the City.
This might not sound like a big thing for many of you reading this blog but believe me when I say that Bromsgrove town centre in no way compares to the hustling, bustling city it sits just beyond the fringes of.
Even though I once lived in Birmingham for over a decade, I am filled with a sense of wonder whenever I approach near enough to be drawn into its overwhelming aroma of perfumed shoppers, designer bags clutched at the ready, which sits comfortably atop a miasma of poverty, the two placed in juxtapositions to one another like a bad oxymoron.
It was raining. Hard, sharp rain which seemed to blister the sky with its anger. The sort of rain that soaks you in under a minute flat. The graffiti artists were in a modified cubicle outside, the queue already almost half a mile long by the time my son joined it.
My daughter and I left him to it, promising to return in half an hour to judge his progress. Little did we know it but this was to be a recurring theme throughout the day as it took just over five hours for him to get to the front of the queue.
During this time my daughter and I wandered the shops, I had a makeover [it used up at least ten minutes of the time and amused my daughter] and we got caught up in the Gay Rights Parade. I hadn't know that this was on and so was amazed at the sheer volume of people who lined the streets to watch it pass by.
I am a traditionalist as perhaps you know from my writing but I do uphold a belief that no one system of beliefs has any more right to exist than another. I actually don't care what people's sexuality is. What I do care about is that they treat each other with respect and dignity and receive the same in return. So therefore I have to say that whilst I understood the desire for the march and as some might protest, the 'need' for it, I would have preferred that it had been a little more tastefully done, a little less pantomimed as it were...
Brazilian dancers with costumes which left nothing to the imagination, men in drag, women in jackboots, men wearing nothing but a pair or underpants and a smile...it was all there. I watched the audience with curiosity. Had they all stumbled upon the parade as I had? Unlikely! The crowd was far too huge for that to be a probability. I saw same sex families with young children [adopted perhaps?] held aloft, the more traditional male/female pairings with young children, gay couples of both denominations and groups of heterosexual men and women ...and to my knowledge and undying pride, not a foul word was spoken by any of them. And it brought a lump to my throat.
Across the world people slay other people, they fight in brutal, bloody wars over little scraps of land or ideals that demand tyranny and oppression of the masses...and yet here was Birmingham being open and accepting and liberal and I loved how it made me feel!
So well done Birmingham! Well done all you Brummies. You rock!