Saturday, 3 November 2012

     The people of Bromsgrove are up in arms about a proposed new building within the town and in my view they are right. Now don't get me wrong - yes in my last blog I enthusied about the changes and developments in Birmingham, most of them set in shiney new futuristic buildings - but that was different.
     It was different for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, was that in Birmingham, they strove to build interest and aesthetics into the new archetecture. Yes, the buildings are primarily construted of steel and glass, as is the proposed one in Bromsgrove, but there are curves and angles, quirks of design and embellishments, which make them oddly in keeping with the older, original buildings they are set around.
    Then there are the purposes of the buildings themselves. In Birmingham they contain flashy shops and fancy restaurants as befiting a large city centre. Their consumers are on the whole, suited-up business people, taking a quick break out of their hectic lifestyles.
     Not so in Bromsgrove. Yes we have office workers and bank managers but take a look around you the next time you are in the town centre. Are those the people milling around the High Street? Bromsgrove planners certainly seem to think so.
     I beg to differ. The shoppers, the browsers, the consumers of the High Street are a vastly different crowd to those in Birmingham. There are harrassed mothers with often fractious children, older, semi-retired couples and lots of school children, especially in the lunch hour and after half past three.
     For all our expensive housing and two-car households in Bromsgrove, we are not an 'Executive Town'. We are a town made up of people who don suits and shirts to do a job and who are quite happy to leave that finery behind, when we leave the workplace.
     But unfortunately we have overlooked something. We think that because we live here, our chidren attend schools here and especially because it is here we pay our council taxes, we have the right to oppose changes to our town. You see, that is the crux of the matter. It is not our town. We may be belong to Bromsgrove but it certainly does not belong to us. If you think differently, ask any Bromsgrove town official...

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Birmingham is turning into a beautiful city. It surprises me to be writing this because it was never something I ever thought would happen.

Having settled in the region, after leaving my hometown of Glasgow and first trying out the questionable delights of big-city life in London, I found Birmingham to be a friendly but less than glamorous place to be.

My how that has changed! Huge constructions of steel and glass in fantastical shapes and architectural magnificence vie for the eye’s attention and the heart’s wonder. Everywhere, there is a shining example of how the city is progressing into this new millennium, looking every inch the glittering star of the Midlands.

And it has become cosmopolitan. Whether as an effect of the regeneration or a more natural process, I have no idea. But it’s plain to see. And it’s everywhere. Not just in the City Centre but in the outlying areas and districts. Everything is becoming new and shiny.

But it gives me cause to wonder. Not all change is progress. I hope we can still keep the true architectural gems from days gone by, the beautiful stonework, the decorative facades and the warmth these buildings inspired within the people who lived and worked within them.

For, to me, that is the enduring memory I will have of Birmingham. That open welcome from its people, to all who chose to make it as their home.

Not that the high flyers and the smart-as-a-new-pin business people who rush around the city, looking both sartorially elegant and amazingly busy at the same time, lack warmth is more that they lack the time to display it.

Like a coat of armour the suits are worn to present a different face to the world. Take the man or woman out of the suit and ‘hey presto!’ the person reappears. Because underneath we are all the same. We all eat, we all sleep.

There isn’t a working mother in the country who doesn’t rush around trying to get the tea sorted for her family, whilst also tying up the loose ends of that report which has to be in by next Friday.  

Or a mother who, throwing dirty laundry into the machine, wonders how on earth she is going to make herself glamorous for a night out, when it feels as if the bags under her eyes are down to her knees.

I know all this because I was that woman and still am.

[Taken from “From the Mundane to the Extraordinary in 30 seconds.”]