Well, yes because it is the UK’s second city after London but nobody wants to come second.
All that effort, all that work, all that planning and you come second.
It’s about time we took a more positive slant on what Birmingham has to offer as psychologically coming second may as well be 102nd. Just ask Liverpool FC or any number of football teams who all at some time will have come second. As former manager Bill Shankley said, “If you are first you are first. If you are second you are nothing.”
John Regis lost by a metre to Frankie Fredericks in the 200m final at the World Championships in 1993. He set a British record, beating the eminent runner Carl Lewis and got a silver medal but that wasn’t enough. “Second is first loser. You always want to win and you train to win. No-one trains to come second’.
So yes Birmingham is on the podium but not at the top. The world is not looking at who’s second and third, just who’s wearing the gleaming gold medal. I was in New York for six months last year and upon hearing my English accent, not one person asked where in England are you from? Instead what they asked was ‘how does this compare to London?’ or ‘when are you going back to London?’
I had friends from Milton Keynes, a town that calls itself a city, visit for the first time and I was determined to show them that Birmingham is a fantastic (real) city full of culture, history, some great architecture, a commercial buzz, entrepreneurship and fabulous, friendly people.
I took them to the farmers market at the Jewellery Quarter, through St Pauls Square and the commercial district towards the shopping areas rounded off by Selfridges in Bull Ring to step out from under the rain. We then enjoyed a drink or two in welcoming bars before ending the day at the German market which was extremely busy even in the drizzle.
On another day we would have experienced the quaintness of Moseley or Harborne and the immensity of the Birmingham Museum and Gallery and any number of places of historic interest, not to mention a fantastic array of restaurants encompassing every cuisine imaginable or an excursion on the canal rounded off by a visit to the theatre or Symphony Hall.
The spiritual home of the motor car, the area gave birth to the Mini but has also spawned some uber-successful people including Lenny Henry, Julie Walters, Frank Skinner, Jasper Carrot, JR Tolkien, Cat Deeley, Nigel Mansell, and Bill Oddie. Also a whole host of musicians; Duran Duran, UB40, ELO, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osborne/Black Sabbath, Noddy Holder/Slade, Traffic and Ocean Colour Scene not to mention some of the country’s foremost industrialists and entrepreneurs; James Watts, Thomas Telford, Mathew Boulton and James Brindley before we even get to Cadbury’s chocolate.
Journalists, PR and marketing people, all this is something to be proud and that’s me talking as a non-Brummie who chooses to live here. All we need is to brand it with a different name. What happened to the heart of England?