Monday, 4 October 2010

Birmingham

The Golden Boys
Boulton, Watt and Murdoch


Although condemned to a life of country bumpkinism, I get let out occasionally.

I get taken to the big city on a coach, in the company of a zooful of chattering monkeys, who find enough to say to keep tongues wagging for a solid two hours there and another solid two hours back. My therapist, on whose shoulder I wept bitter tears at such folly afterwards, advised me to erect a barrier between me and the wall of noise by means of another wall of noise, brought to me via earphones and one of these new-fangled gadgets that usually come attached with a young person in a public place.

Whatever happened to admiring the scenery out of the window and thinking aimless thoughts?

I am not sure that the young man who stood on the railings over a busy motorway for two days, threatening to jump, had not had a similar experience. Having thoroughly and very effectively disrupted the traffic on a busy main road into the city –  exacting revenge? – during that time, the police, who did their best to help with the disruption, finally charged him with ‘causing a public disorder’ or something and he agreed to come down. The waiter in the theatre restaurant next door told us the young man had felt peckish during his time of elevation, whereupon the authorities kindly supplied him with sandwiches; fingerfood is so much easier to manage on these occasions than balancing a plate and cutlery.





The set
The new play, ‘The Habit Of Art’, is excellent. I am beginning to think that Alan Bennett has reached an age where he can indulge himself and use as many rude words, filthy ideas and sad old men as he likes. The audience at a matinee is usually of  late middle age and over, and is given to tittering in all the wrong places; at the beginning of a play every slightly salacious reference and possible double-entendre provokes a storm of giggles. Luckily the playwright, having thus got the audience’s attention, calms down by and by, and so does the audience, saving me from spontaneous combustion.




Birmingham, proud of its self-awarded title, “The UK’s Second City”, is a very ambitious city indeed; the new library being built is of heroic proportions. Being unable to get through to the Art Gallery due to the afore-mentioned road blockage, we watched the dance of the cranes on the gigantic construction site instead, a different kind of art, but fascinating all the same. Unfortunately, we were chased away by a young man in a hard hat. Did he think we were going to hurl ourselves into the building chaos below?






All that remained before we were shepherded back on to the bus was to have fun with the many fractured buildings all around Centenary Square, a Hall of Mirrors of gigantic proportions.







25 comments:

  1. Enjoyable outing.

    Yes, companionable silence is wonderful, Dear.
    Warm Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral

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  2. Another strong silent type here Friko. Those ear phone contraptions are a God Send when you're sitting by some one who says something without having something to say. Love your post as always.

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  3. Friko, I'm getting to be the same way. I get so tired of the mindless and seemingly endless prattle of some people. I watch folks jog by my window and it always seems that one of them is talking the whole time. What does someone say while running along for miles and miles?

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  4. There's a whole world of difference between having nothing to say and, saying it too loudly, and, having something to say and saying it with eloquence and honesty. It's good for us in blogland, that you fall into the latter category.

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  5. It's half an hour from us on the train. Sometimes we go but I find the shops too big and overwhelming. I hate choice.

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  6. I am not one for noise either, not the noise created by over talkative people nor from a 'new-fangled gadget' in my ear - in fact I would hate to use one of those.
    Love all your crazy-mirror art photos.

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  7. i've never been to birmingham. i grew up in manchester and was told there's nothing really worthwhile south of crewe. happily i discovered dorset and wales! steven

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  8. Ah, so we've both had a recent coach experience. They're bearable when they also mean an urban experience, I find. But like you, I had had absolutely enough of chatter (35 pairs of lips) by 9PM (since 8 AM) and left the restaurant before dessert, unable to stand it a moment longer. Walked back to the hotel deliciously alone in an unknown and lovely city. Total bliss.

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  9. Like you, I'm not a chatterer. But as a writer, I enjoy listening in on conversations and sometime note down an outrageous remark or an interesting turn of phrase for later use. It's been amazing how much more tolerant I am now.

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  10. I have an ipod but rarely use it. I prefer the silence I guess.

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  11. But why did you not lead that pitiful audience up to the top of the house of mirrors high-rise, hand out finger sandwiches and then yell, JUMP! Imagine the satisfaction.

    Fabulous photos in this post Friko!

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  12. Did I just post my comment about how I laughed (very inappropriately) about the suicidal fingerfood fed guy? Or not? I'm confused. Will try again now ;-)

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  13. I'm like Vicki Lane. Being a born people watcher and avid listener, I enjoy random yack.
    Sometimes only to be amazed at the wild ideas pouring out of some peoples mouths(usually involving politics) but often learning a new way to look at something or to phrase something. I will steal blatenly.
    However, when it just becomes din, then I pull out the MP3 and tune out.

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  14. "Whatever happened to admiring the scenery out of the window and thinking aimless thoughts?" Ah, yes, know it well. This is a great, tongue-in-cheek travelogue! Alan Bennett is a favorite of ours, so we will be on the look-out for "The History of Art." From what you so amusingly describe, it appears to be a worthy successor to "The History Boys." The fractured photos are the perfect ending for this terrific post.

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  15. Sometimes it seems we're just getting noisier and noisier. When I see the incessant cell phone use, I wonder if it's more of a barrier, just like the chatter, actually working to keep people away.

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  16. Scenery, a book, a notebook and pen - anything that says 'leave me be' and lets me drift away and ignore the noise.
    What is it about bloggers? Here we are 'out chattering in cyber space' but it seems that not many of us are the chattering types in real life.

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  17. It's always interesting to see how others describe a place or -in this case- a town. When I went to discover a bit of Birmingham, it was Christmas market and they were hosting the Frankfurter Weihnachtsmarkt. I felt a bit like at home amongst those stands but one stand was disturbing: Glühbier instead of Glühwein. Whilst it was so cold that I had my warm winter coat on, there was almost nobody at this stand. I wonder why.

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  18. It is so hard to find a quiet place when travelling.
    I am such a fan of Alan Bennett and I treasure a letter he once wrote me.
    Lucky you for seeing the play!
    XO
    WWW

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  19. Great abstraction photos. You saw a lot more than just a play then?

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  20. Great - and intentionally uneasy - sympathy between text and photos, Friko. I really liked your post.

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  21. On our way to Sealife in Birmingham this summer , we walked that way and marvelled at the strangely shiny statue and enormous building site . The Sealife mirror maze paled in comparison .

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  22. That town would be great for our Friday Shoot Out the theme is 'reflections'. None of those kinds of scenes in my town. One of the reasons I live Netflix for movies is the choice to select BBC productions as opposed to all the flashy, blasting, bombing, boozing and sleezy movies made in Hollywood these days. It seems folks want everything 100 x the normal decibels in sound lately.Great post.
    QMM

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  23. I enjoyed your building pictures – very creative. As for going on the bus with all the lips moving – I am not sure if I could stay sane – the play must have been worth it.

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  24. I had to laugh at your hungry suicidal fellow! Sorry, but it is funny.

    And I would have loved to have seen the play you just watched.

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