Thursday, June 28, 2007

Three is the Magic Number

Fascinating. With Brown's new cabinet grabbing the attention of all the media, you would have had to look very carefully to notice this interesting piece of news. It has previously been alleged that Blair threatened to resign if he was question under caution by police as Prime Minister. I can't find any evidence that this was under caution, but it would make sense.

Perhaps Blair is still writing his legacy from beyond Number 10.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Britain Welcomes Regime Change

After over 10 years in power, the only Prime Minister I have experienced in my adult life has finally decided to hand over the reigns to his best mate Gordon Brown, signaling the end of an era, and the start of another. If I can be bothered, I might bore you with my thoughts on Blair's legacy. As for Brown, I think it is only fair to give him a chance. Let's hope he is a wise and popular leader.

I await the announcement of the new cabinet with interest. Are we finally going to have the important but historically overlooked role of Secretary of State for Birmingham. After all, the Conservatives have a shadow Secretary Minister for the City (no kidding).

Gosh, they do get excited when they win a seat in a city north of the glorious capital don't they?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Birmingham's Heavy Metal Legacy

When I heard about the BBC TV series the Seven Ages of Rock, I was interested in watching it until I found out that the first episode was about Jimmy Hendrix. No true history of rock could start at the rock adolescence of Jimmy Hendrix as one Points of View viewer put it; rock started in the 1950's with the likes of Bill Hailey and the comets.

When I heard they were going to have an episode on heavy metal however, I had to watch. Would they mention Birmingham's pivotal role in this successful genre. Amazingly they surpassed my expectations, and effectively attributed the founding of heavy metal to Birmingham.

Tony Iommi, lead guitarist for Black Sabbath, lost his fingers in an industrial accident. To help him play the guitar, he slackened the strings which produced a heavier sound. The music was inspired by the hard working-class sounds of the industrial factories. And it was a conversation between two of the band members which bravely asked the question: people go to see horror movies - why don't they listen to horror music?

So Black Sabbath's role in the origins of heavy metal were shown. Along with Deep Purple, they went on to pioneer the genre. And just like their home city Birmingham, while the music soon got a hard-core following, the "critics" and "experts" panned it.

So far so good (so what?). What I did not know is the influence of another Birmingham band, Judas Priest on the genre. They embraced the term heavy metal, and gave it the leather-clad look (here London gets a mention; the lead singer of Judas Priest came up with the idea for the apparel after visiting a bondage shop in Soho. Typical of the cockneys to lower the tone).

So there you have it. Sod the "Madchester" indy revolution, Birmingham produced one of the longest running music genres of modern times, and along with fantasy books (inspired by JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings) the city really has given a fantastic albeit dark legacy to the world.

Why not celebrate Birmingham's Heavy Metal musical heritage at the Metal symposium on Friday 13th July 2007 (it had to be that date didn't it?).

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Taking Liberties

I went to see the film "Taking Liberties" today, which has been extensively advertised by bloggers and has been heralded as Britain's answer to Fahrenheit 9/11.

If you have not seen it yourself I would certainly recommend it. You probably will not find out anything you did not already know, but it is a useful consolidation of the many reports of heavy-handed policing in the British post 9/11 era.

I can't help thinking that someone was trying to prevent me from seeing the film however. When my friend and I went to purchase tickets for the film, we were helpfully informed "You do know it is a documentary don't you?" Yes, that was why I was buying the ticket. Did they ask potential viewers of Pirates of the Caribbean if they knew it starred Johnny Depp? How strange.

Then I noticed the paper flyers which give a description of the film incorrectly summarised the plot of Oceans Thirteen on the Taking Liberties flyer! Was this so people would walk out in disgust after five minutes? When I left the screen after the film, the flyer had disappeared! It's a conspiracy I tell you!

There was not that many people watching the film but it was a 3.15 showing. Regular readers will note that I have been posting a few articles on freedom of speech recently, but this one certainly did focus the mind. Instead of attacking the right about "the right to offend", perhaps I should be working with them to stop the erosion of freedom being perpertrated by those who seek to destroy our way of life; the Blair administration. On the other hand, it does annoy me that many opposition websites seem to spend more time defending the Iraq war and sticking up for the right to call people gay/black bastard/ ginger than concentrating on the very real threat to freedom of speech that was taking place in our parliament. As some might say, the rules of the game are changing.

Anyway, enough of my pontificating. The film has inspired me to do two things:

1) I am going to join Liberty (and I urge you to do as well).

2) I am going to join Amnesty International (unless I find out they have dropped their neutral stance on abortion)

If this is my last post, you know what happened.

Dale's End

I seem to have been removed from Iain Dale's Blogroll. It happened sometime after I posted this article attacking his position on, of all things, freedom of speech.

There would be an irony if I was removed from the blogroll of someone who believes freedom of speech is the right to offend because, well, I offended them by pointing out (using freedom of speech) that they were wrong?

I really do not have time for right-wing hypocrites. Iain Dale follows Guido Fawkes in being dumped from the select few who make the national People's Republic blogroll.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Fun Facts about Birmingham

I wanted to do another post about why Birmingham is such a great city, but found so many interesting facts that I might just link to the sites themselves and summarise my top 5:

1) Birmingham has more trees than Paris, more miles of canals than Venice and more parks than any other European City. Concrete Jungle my arse.

2) Birmingham City Council is the biggest local authority in Europe, and employs twice as many people as the European commission.

3) Birmingham is the UK’s largest manufacturing and engineering centre and accounts for 25% of the country's exports. F.W Lanchester built the first four-wheeled petrol driven car in Birmingham, hence the nickname Brum.

4) The Jewellery Quarter is the largest concentration of dedicated jewellers in Europe. Half of all jewellery made in the UK comes from Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, with a third of jewellery manufactured in the UK made within one mile of the city centre.

5) The City's annual St. Patrick's day celebration is the third biggest outside Dublin and New York and the largest Vaisakhi celebration outside Asia. Eat your heart out "cosmopolitan" London

For more reasons why Birmingham is great, please see this post. The inspiration for this article came from here, here and here.