Friday, December 30, 2005

Happy Winterval!

We find ourselves in the middle of the Christmas season and the People's Republic wishes all our (one) reader(s) greetings of the season. There are no speeches on Christmas Day by the head of state in the People's Republic - and if there was, it would be more likely to take place on the 28th of December.

For those of you that don't know, the 28th has been declared the festival of Winterval in the People's Republic ever since 1998, when the City Council decided to replace the Christmas festivities with the Winterval festival so as not to offend our any of our ethnic (or should I say religious) minorities. In 1998, Christmas was on a Friday meaning that the Bank Holiday for Boxing Day was taken on the Monday the 28th and the rest is history. Updated 30/12/2008: Just in case you are considering quoting this to prove a point of political correctness gone mad, Birmingham City Council did not abolish Christmas in favour of a made-up festival called Winterval. Please see this post for further details.

In recent years Christmas in Birmingham has taken on some traditions. The Wheel of Birmingham is now here all year round, but we see the return at this time of year of the kids train sponsered by Centro (but luckily not run by Central Trains, so it actually runs on time) and the outdoor skating rink in Centenary Square. We also see the return of the Frankfurt German Market, our twin city, where we can drink mulled wine and German beer, eat Pretzels and German sausage and buy assorted trinkets and craftwork. This year the market research really paid off as a Bluenose stall was available. Super stuff.

I wonder if there is a Brummie Market in Frankfurt?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Dick by Name...

Dick Cheney has made an unannounced visit to Iraq today to check the security situation among other things.

If he really wanted to check out the security situation surely he should have announced his visit?

Central Trains are Rubbish

Central Trains, not to be outdone by Travel WM's fare-rises last week, make their attempt to win worst public transport operator in the West Midlands today by canceling every single train because there were not enough drivers. Apparently, drivers volunteer to work on Sunday's and not enough of them did.

Yes, this is what happened. Read it again and see how ridiculous it sounds. For providing such a bad service, perhaps payment of fares should be voluntary? Thank God they have lost their franchise.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Travel WM Talking Rubbish

In the week that it was revealed Sandwell's binmen turned down an offer of a £900 bonus to work the three days over Christmas (they were holding out for £1300) Travel Wind-Up Merchants revealed price rises of 8% on their bus fares. A standard peak-time single ticket goes up from £1.10 to £1.20, but more surprisingly a 4 week faresaver for the Birmingham & Black Country goes up from £38.75 to £42.25 - a rise of £3.50. Travel WM claim it is due to the "uncertainty in global energy prices".

What about the uncertainty in the arrival times of their buses?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Strikes Averted at Brum International

Strikes at Birmingham Airport over the Christmas period have thankfully been called off. The strikes were over the dismissal of two staff that the unions took offence to. The People's Republic is glad - such disruption over the Christmas period would have been disastrous for the passengers and the city. You wouldn't see this kind of thing going on in London and Manchester.

Unless British Airways are involved.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Gun Crime Convictions

More scum were taken off our streets on Friday as the six killers of Ishfaq Ahmed were sentenced to life imprisonment. His father used to run a carpet shop on my road and appeared on the news to give an interview. He leaves behind his partner Penny Morris and a young child.

The new claimed that the killers were part of the Johnson crew, the intended targets in the shooting of Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare that hit the national headlines last year. It shows the extent of gun crime in the city, and the scale of the job that is needed to tackle it.

With more convictions like this, we'll get closer to our goal.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Mixed-Race Couples Still Face Racism

During the week the murderers of young black Christian Anthony Walker were sentenced to around 20 years each. His girlfriend, Louise Thompson understandably finds it difficult to forgive her killers and blames herself for his death.

Racism tends to be less common nowadays but one thing guaranteed to bring it out is a mixed-race couple simply walking together in the wrong area in front of the wrong people. Forget what the police and the "community leaders" say - I am sure in parts of Liverpool, as in parts of Birmingham there are racist individuals and this I doubt this is an exceptional individual. I myself have been beaten up in Birmingham City Centre for no other reason than I was walking with a white girl (who wasn't even my girlfriend) when I was just 19, yet many people would claim this City is racially tolerant (not least the politicians who can make much political capital out of diversity). I was set upon by two Asian youths but before that was given a dirty look by a white male. It is not the only time I have received dirty looks in a similar situation either.

The worst thing about this is that it is like a cancer, changing the way you think. You start getting worried whenever you are in that situation. As Louise Thompson said, ironically nothing would have happened if she had walked home alone but by walking home with her to make sure she got home ok Anthony actually made the situation more dangerous.

Even worse than that, you start looking at other mixed race couples together and start getting jealous. Why aren't they being attacked? Only my intellect keeps me tolerant, but most people act on their feelings and become intolerant.

I've realised over the years that jealousy is the reason for these attacks. These people are thinking along the lines "I don't have a girlfriend so why does he - at least I'm the same colour".

I don't always understand why God allows these things to happen, but in the case of Anthony Walker two good things came out -the parents of Anthony forgiving the killers and apparently one of the killers is going to write a letter of apology to Anthony's mother.

I think there may be some lessons for us in there somewhere.

Friday, December 02, 2005

BBC Weather Acknowledges Brum

The new BBC weather maps have caused a lot of controversy, not least with the People's Republic. Originally they were not showing the second city while showing Manchester and London although this soon changed. Now they have started showing it on the summary map, which includes such urban centres as Plymouth, Norwich and Aberdeen. Is there a Brummie resistance movement who has been complaining (the People's Republic denies all knowledge).

Meanwhile BBCi Weather are years ahead of there terrestrial tele rivals, showing the three biggest cities in Britain, London, Brum and Leeds. Or at least the biggest two; after all my garden shed is bigger than the city of London.

And I don't even have one.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Police Murder Suspect Arrested in Birmingham

They struck the first blow after July 21st and they have done it again. Earlier this week the West Midlands police arrested one of the three suspects believed to be involved in the shooting of PC Sharon Beshenivsky. This time however it was down to dumb-luck; a routine enquiry over an unrelated sexual assault uncovered the address Yusuf Jama was staying at.

Birmingham is an obvious place for many criminals on-the-run to come to due to its central location and good(!?) transport links to the rest of the country. Independence would allow us to control our borders, preventing such unwanted guests entering Birmingham in the first place.

It would also allow us to bar the other main criminals attracted to the area; known as politicians, they often come here to garner our support in this politically significant region, and then do very little for the city in return.