February 2008 Archives
Mike Whitby's favourite slogan - "A Global City with a Local Heart" - seems to be getting about a bit.
It was recently spotted in connection with the Best Bar None award, a scheme set up by the Home Office to promote sensible drinking and all that. But according to Vale Mail "Birmingham organisers are setting their entrants an extra task. Landlords have to explain, in no more than 250 words, how their establishment contributes to Birmingham's vision of being "a global city with a local heart".
Cue publicans scratching their heads as they wonder exactly what that means, something some of us have been trying to figure out for a while now. Let's have a go.
This has been a bit of a roller-coaster week for the Midland Metro.
No sooner had it emerged that Centro and the city council were looking to get something moving on the Snow Hill-New Street section of the proposed city centre extension (bringing Metro more into line with the City Centre Plan, it emerged later in the week) than Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Jerry Blackett was talking about the business community withdrawing support for Metro on the grounds that the Government is never going to fund it.
It's tempting to ask: "what support?". Certainly in Mr Blackett's case every comment I've seen him make on the Metro has been consistently negative. He's been "not sure" about trams on the Hagley Road, he's suggested that a fleet of "fast buses" would be much cheaper and almost as effective, and on Saturday once again he was suggesting that funding should be sought for "more buses" instead of trams.
Or, I should probably say, "da jia hao".
You see, my 2008 resolution is to make a bigger effort to learn Chinese. Don't be overly impressed by that though because, you see, I have already lived in China for one year and my "zhongwen" (chinese language), I would say, is considerably below average.
So here's a little more about me: I am 25 years old and work as an Oral English Teacher and freelance writer.
When I moved to Shanghai in 2007 with a twelve month contract, I never ever would have thought that I would be staying any longer than that, but here I am.
Did anyone really think that the Oscars would not go ahead this year? I mean really, really think that the event would not happen?
Let me run an idea by you, take one of the biggest, flashiest, money orientated industries, give them a six hour advert broadcast to tens of millions around the world, media domination for weeks before and days after, millions of dollars added to the box office take of the winners.
Now ask yourself does this sound like something that Hollywood would pass up?
The writer's strike may have cast a giant shadow over all of the arrangements for the biggest show of the awards season, but was it ever really in doubt? All of the industry knew that if you cancelled every awards show from the golden globes to the best actor in your local primary school play, the Oscars had to go ahead.
The significance of the Oscars ceremony cannot be down played, its importance to the US movie industry both trade and consumer, love it or hate it, it's something that we cannot get away from, everyday the latest twists and turns in the dispute were headline news, actors boycotted, shows were cancelled, pundits expressed concerns and the public lapped it up.
This feels like first day at school.
I've done enough public speaking to know that one should never start with an apology, so here's an admission instead: I'm a blogging virgin. I love a challenge and when this opportunity came up, I figured "What's the worst that can happen? I lose what little street-cred I had and people I've never met take issue with what I've posted on-line?" Hey, I'm already on Facebook.
So, a bit about me: I originally hail from a great city with a chip on its shoulder about its second city status (that's Glasgow by the way) but have called Brum home for the last nine years. Living in Moseley and now Kings Heath, Birmingham has got under my skin. I run Indigo Ltd, a marketing and fundraising consultancy which works to help companies maximise their income (usually in the arts and cultural sector), and I'm also quite active in Birmingham's business community, spending much of last year as Chairman of Birmingham Future.
Frank Skinner used to say that you can replace the word "local" in any sentence with the word "crap" and it would still make sense.
I think what he was getting at, in between football and sex references, was that the more important anything is the more national or international it becomes.
Even if you're interested it can require the tenacity of a American TV cop solving a crime his way (and if the pen-pushers at City Hall don't like it...), skim reading page after page - or on the internet clicking 'back' after every time you land on a page about Birmingham, Alabama "the magic city".
Mark your calendars for July 11-13 2008, for this year's installment of what Plan B magazine called "the best organised and most wisely curated festival".
We're talking about the Supersonic festival of course.
2008 sees Supersonic, now in its sixth year, go from strength to strength: adding new stages and more opportunities to see bands you've never heard of alongside established performers.
The festival takes place in the urban setting of Birmingham's Custard Factory offering a firm ground underfoot as you take advantage of the Capsule duo (Jenny Moore and Lisa Meyer)'s highly eclectic booking policy.
Along with the critically acclaimed musical side of the festival, there will be more film programming, more art based endeavours, more stalls and more cake.
In the two minutes it takes to dash to the washing machine from the bathroom with a reeking bucket of poohy nappies, Arch has managed to open the child-proof cap on the big bottle of mouthwash and drink its contents.
As I dither trying to decide whether my priority is to comfort him, make him sick or wash my hands, I recall a newsletter from a company called Real Coaching Solutions saying women are natural multitaskers. Ho ho ho! In my dreams.....
How I wish I was the kind of woman that could indeed type a report, negotiate a deal, plan dinner for the family and remember to wash the football kits all at the same time. Motherhood would be a breeze if I could. Even watching Arch and washing nappies simultaneously has me flummoxed.
Given that I'm that kind of person, in my 21 months of being a wing-and-a-prayer mum, I have tried to give up multitasking whereever I can.
"We want a bit of a CV," said the commissioning editor.
Very dodgy propositions these days, as I'm sure you're aware, either as readers or writers of same.
Now, from the Himalayan perspective of pensionerhood (a tributary of the great River of Life otherwise known as a creek that rhymes with grit) I can toss off a dozen very impressive sides of A4.
But let's keep it short. Don't worry, I only do the Powerpoint presentation stuff on a second or third interview.
I shudder to record that I know of people who these days hand CV memory sticks to their interviewers as they leave the inquisition room.
So, to dispense with all the meaningless bollocks about exam grades, my two Oxbridge degrees and my Yale doctorate, my time in the darker reaches of the intelligence service and my skills as a part-time gigolo, let's just say I've spent a long working life as a hack.
My name is Michael and I love films.
I live and work in Birmingham and make my living, managing a cinema. I have a passion for words, books and narrative: give me a film that can tell a good story and I am happy. I am inspired by people and imagination and really have no time for fools no matter who they think they are.