Wednesday, 13 October 2010

No.402 Of Best Kept Secrets

I was in Birmingham yesterday for the first time in ten years staying at what used to be the Midland Hotel now the MacDonald Burlington. I like this hotel. It has a certain majestic grand old lady feel to it and plenty of history too. It was the hotel where Enoch Powell made his famous "Rivers of Blood" speech. It also has deep connections to the railway industry being just a stone's throw from New Street Train Station.

I spent three very happy years at university in Birmingham and have fond memories of the many things I did while there, from evening classes in Japanese and Aikado to working as a barman, a waiter, a stores security guard and a night watchman at the Birmingham Mint where they used to make many coins for use in the UK or commonwealth countries.

There's something rather strange about the city though for me. When we arrived to the airport on Monday evening at about 8p.m. there was hardly anyone around and when we left at 9p.m. last night there were fewer people still. It's the UK's second biggest city and yet no-one seems to be about and when you go abroad no-one you talk to has heard about Birmingham.
They have fabulous shops, restaurants and clubs in Brum with a thriving night-life and it is claimed, more waterways then Venice. When I left I couldn't help but wonder whether the city's inhabitants are having a great time living there and wisely keep quiet about just how good the place is.

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