I survived Brum (and the gym)
Trip Start May 27, 2010
97Trip End Aug 31, 2011
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I spoke to Julie, my sister in law, on Tuesday, and heard little Eligh (now 8 months old) howling in the background - he'd just had another stack
What is also a challenge is every day putting up with a sniffer in the office. Someone who constantly sniffs, snorts, coughs and sneezes despite being in good health. It's like the girl I used to work with who would constantly cough. We figured it must've been a nervous thing, a habit formed without even noticing. But it's a very distracting habit and it makes it hard for me to concentrate on the hard work that is drafting my blog when all my senses are honed in on the sniffer. That's the worst thing, when something is drawn to your attention or you notice something, you can't stop noticing it and it begins to really give you the sh*ts. Granted, I'm easily irritated. But surely people realise that what they're doing could be irritating to others. Socially annoying. Bad manners even. Urgh. Blow your nose people. Sniffing's not cool anymore.
I guess sniffing is something I'm going to have to get used to now that it's getting colder though
Gemma and I had dinner on Wednesday night to help break up the week. We met in Earl's Court after I finished work and after she had finished feeding the old girl. Indian was the order of the day, so after a couple of pints we got a table at a restaurant up the road and filled our bellies with curry and naan while discussing deep and meaningful stuff and chatting about our travels. I went home afterwards to watch more of season 3 of Rush, my favourite Australian cop drama. Bung-eyed Drazic is one of the show's stars, and even though he had some horrific damage caused to his face in a car accident, and is rumoured to have a fake eye, he's still hot. See, I'm not that shallow. We all have flaws. I have plenty. Someone I know even has grey hair but I still talk to him don't I! hahaha It's what's inside that counts.
To prove my shallowlessness (no, that's not a word), I ventured to the midlands region of the UK this week. Biiiiiirrrmingham, to be precise. Yep, land of the mighty Brummie. To be honest, Birmingham never made it to my list of must-see places, but my eyes were opened to the interesting array of things on offer when I made my first visit on the weekend
- Population: 1,000,000+, the second biggest city in the United Kingdom
- In 2010, it was voted the third-best place in the UK to locate a business
- Also in 2010, Birmingham was ranked as the 55th-most liveable city in the world - I wonder how much fried chicken the mayor handed out to locals to make them all participate in that survey!
- 1980s pop band Duran Duran came from Birmingham, along with none other than Ozzy ("Sharun!") Osbourne
- The 'g' in Birmingham is silent (strictly speaking this wasn't a Wiki item)
- Philo lives there (this wasn't on Wikipedia either, but it should be, given that he is the only notable attraction in town).
I'd made sure everyone I knew had my itinerary so that they would know when I was due back in London. Via Facebook I informed everyone that if I didn't arrive back on the 8.30pm train on Sunday that I may have been sucked into a chav abyss and required rescuing.
So I left work on Friday and steeled myself with a few cans of cider on the train on the way up there, and it was evident that I'd consumed them too quickly when I made a trip to the on-board loo. I was quite happily going about my business when, to my absolute horror, the automatic door slid open and a man on the other side got more of an eyefull than he bargained for - oops, I'd forgotten to lock the door! All I could say was "close, close, close!!". The man wrestled with the door and managed to close it again. If I hadn't been half pissed I would've been horrified, but as it was I spent a couple more minutes in the toilet laughing my head off and then braved the public with a smile on my face as though I hadn't a care in the world. Suffice it to say the man wasn't outside the door when I exited the loo - I'm sure he was more embarrassed than I was and scurried off to find another (unoccupied) dunny!
After a day of sightseeing on Saturday, which took all of 30 minutes, we jumped on a train and headed to Stratford on Avon, a cute little town which was once home to Shakespeare. I made Phil take me out on a rowing boat and I took on the hard job of steering the boat down the river while he did some light exercise by rowing. We grabbed some lunch and a couple of drinks and then headed back to Birmingham.
When we got back, I turned my mind to what I was going to wear out for drinks that night. I began to feel all self-conscious and uncomfortable when I realised I'd packed my bags so hastily that I left my leopard-print boob tube at home. I had it all laid out to wear with my jeggings and hot pink Primark stilettos, which would be set off by my fake eyelashes, pink hair extensions and my brand new Lewis Vuitton handbag that I bought from the Camden Market just for the occasion. The guy who sold it to me assured me it was real, and I believe him too, because it cost me bloody £15 (not cheap!) and the spelling was right - the rip-offs say "Louis Vuitton". As it turned out, it was probably a good thing that I left my sick outfit at home. I'm not sure Birmingham was ready for such a hottie anyway, and I would've just put all the other girls to shame, what with their muffin tops and toothless partners. So instead I flew under the radar in my jeans and other standard inconspicuous clothing and tried to assure myself that it is ok to look normal sometimes. We went to a couple of nice pubs and observed some random behaviour by young and old, and I demonstrated my strength when I tapped Phil on the shoulder and he fell over. I really should be more careful around small people!
I will admit that I had pre-conceived ideas about the place, borne from hearing the opinions of Londoners and other Australians who had heard of the city's reputation. To be fair, Birmingham was once known as an industrial blue-collar centre full of rough-nuts. Times have apparently changed and it is now a more of a suburban sprawl. Its residents, however, still have a peculiar accent, to put it politely. And they're still rough-nuts.
Birmingham is much like Shepparton, my hometown. Shepparton has similarly awesome claims to fame, such as the communication tower in the Maude Street Mall, K-Mart, and the decorated cows strategically placed all over town. It has been home to important figures such as Richard Pratt and Damian Drum, although I can't say I have any idea who Damian Drum is, and I dare say most other people in town wouldn't have a clue either. Like Birmingham, Shepparton has its fair share of low socio-economic scum who hang out at bus shelters and the K-Mart trolley bay, bumming ciggies and getting around in their shell suits (think Vicky Pollard). But a city without a chav is like a pub with no beer. You go there anyway, despite the people and the niggling fear of having your purse, phone and bobby pins nicked. In summary, it's not all bad, and Birmingham does have a few redeeming qualities. I reckon there are worse places on earth. I just haven't found them yet.