Today, Birmingham City Council hosted a meeting to discuss what it means to be a Brummie. It had a hashtag on Twitter #mybrum so interested parties could follow the discussion and even watch the meeting online.
My first thought was, can this be true, the council are meeting to discuss what it means to be a Brummie? Yes it was true, even Carl Chinn, Brummie historian, was there.
My next thought was, am I a Brummie? I don’t think I am.
- I was born in London. Yet I don’t qualify as a cockney nor consider myself a Londoner.
- I left London when I was about 6 years old to live in Smethwick, Staffordshire. Then it became Smethwick, Worcestershire. It is now in Sandwell.
- I lived in Bristol for 4 years.
- I then lived and worked in London, Surrey and East Sussex for a few years.
- I now live in Birmingham and have done for nearly 25 years now.
So I have spent the majority of my life living in Birmingham. But I wasn’t born here and none of my family were. My maternal family are from Smethwick, my paternal family are from Norway, my father was born in South Africa.
So now this beginning to sound like ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ Which is why I guess they wanted to know what it was that made people feel that they are a Brummie.
I then saw this report from the BBC: Birmingham: can people name England’s Second City?
Shocking that they don’t know very much about Birmingham, yet not surprising. Birmingham and the people live here, have in my opinion always undersold the city.
Birmingham is home to The Mini, The Jewellery Quarter, Cadbury’s, HP Sauce, and places that were inspiration for JRR Tolkein such as the Two Towers in the book, Lord of the Rings. It has three Michelin Star restaurants and an infamous Balti Triangle. And of course, The Bull Ring.
I am sure most of them will know the accent. Yet the accent changes from one street to another and often gets confused with the many Black Country dialects. A few weeks ago I was in Dudley and I asked a women for directions. I was only a few miles from my home. I hadn’t left the West Midlands County let alone the country. Friendly as she was, and she really was, because people round here are, she treated me as one would in another country. ‘Yowm not from round ere am ya?’ (Apologies for the poorly written dialect, I am not intending to poke fun, as they do a better job of it themselves.)
Brummies are quite rightly proud of their city. And I think it’s a city that gets better and better. I quite like living in Birmingham for now. Yet I am pretty sure I will not spend the rest of my life here. There are so many other places I want to see, so many other things to do, so many interesting people to meet. I have very itchy feet and no attachment to bricks and mortar and possessions. And no real attachment to Birmingham. Which is probably the real reason I am not a Brummie.