Oh Birmingham! I’ve only been gone two weeks and what’s happened to you?
I’ve always rather liked the fact you don’t have any airs and graces. I like that you don’t try too hard to be cool, and that you’ve got a bit of a funny accent. I like that on a Sunday morning you look like you’ve had a damn good time the night before judging by the amount of empty bottles and used condoms on the floor. Admittedly I’m not too keen on the unsavouries that hang around in your underpasses, armed with a house brick and ready to swap your new phone for a nice concussion, but everyone has their bad points.
So imagine my shock when I returned from two weeks in the ‘shire to find a certain Mr Jack Wills residing on your high street! What on earth is that doing there? Did it aim for Stratford and miss?
To prove that my eyes were not deceiving me, and under the pretence of needing a new pair of shorts, I decided that it was time for further investigation. Now much as it shames me to say so, I have graced the floors of one of Mr Wills’ shops before, (well when in Chester it is quite acceptable for one to pay a visit to a University Outfitters of such distinction), but was met with such fug of hedonism and chorus of yahs, daaaahlings and daddy-I-absolutely-must-have-this-pinstripe-blazer-immediately-or-I-will-simply-wither-and-die, that I became rather nauseous and left.
Now before crossing to the dark side, I decided that I had better make some sort of effort not to look like the regular high street riff-raff, so made sure that my shirt collar was flicked up in a way that says I might be posh, but I’d trounce you in a game of slaps round the back of the boat house, and tried to look like I belonged there.
On arrival at this
shop establishment, I was welcomed by one of those smug bastards who are paid to stand by the door and show you what you could aspire to should you choose to shop there.
“Good afternoon, how may we help you today,” he intoned with hugely elongated vowels that suggested his native Brummy accent had been subjected to years of elocution lessons. Nonetheless, the look that accompanied this sent a much stronger message; “Actually mate, Primark’s that way.” But no, I was not deterred. I would get to the bottom of this imposter that had sneaked its way in whilst I wasn’t looking.
Needless to say I wasn’t met with the same level of hedonism and vulgarity that its Chester counterpart demanded. Instead I was greeted by the sight of a couple of bemused looking kids who has obviously stumbled in, too illiterate to read that this was not actually a further branch of Jack Jones, and a couple of haughty looking girls asking if that gillet is available in sunflower? (Sorry luv, we’ve only got the body-warmers in yellah, will that do?) For fear of dirtying the upper floor of the shop with my critical gaze, I was swiftly directed to the gentleman’s department on the lower floor.
Anyhow, I figured whilst I was putting myself through this rather surreal experience that I would look for said pair of shorts that I entered the shop under the pretence of buying. After several minutes of perusing the casually cluttered shelves I spotted a pair that I thought would do the trick, all the time under the watchful eye of a shop assistant who obviously thought I was in no way capable of affording such fine fashion. Nonetheless I kept up the charade of browsing until I established that the shop assistant was indeed correct; I couldn’t afford the shorts (nor would I want to at nearly sixty quid!) so left whilst my dignity was still intact, because let’s face it, this probably would be a perfect time to stage the latest chapter of my idiocy.
“Come back soon,” the guy on the door said as I stalked out.
He may as well have told me to fuck off.
So anyway Birmingham, I didn’t think you were the kind of city to give in to peer pressure in order to fit in with the likes of Oxford and Cheltenham, but you do seem to be making an effort to reassure me that you’re still the place that I know and love. And just so you know, I thought it was a nice touch that one of your Big Issue men (you know the one; he sounds like he has had his voice box ripped out as he slurs Biiiiisssue outside the cathedral) actually sneezed on it before he offered it to me this time.
Now if that’s not classy, then I don’t know what is.