Monday, 14 November 2011

Why in Birmingham?

By and large, I enjoy working in Birmingham very much. Actually, I enjoy it a lot.

It is my birthplace and it has pretty much always been my home. People used to think of it as some post industrial hell-hole but in the last 25 years or so there has been a tremendous transformation in the City Centre that always leaves visitors impressed and to be honest many of the suburbs, attractions and parkland have always been remarkably at odds with the perceived view. To see the greenery spread out, to realise the great things that happened here, to hear its distinctive and lovely accent and to find amazing buildings and stories in unusual places is a wonderful thing.

So it with some sadness that I've realised in recent months that it's becoming harder and harder to work in the place, at least doing City Centre walking tours. Why? Because of all the towns and cities where I do walks, this is virtually the only one where you can be guaranteed "interference" from unusual people while trying to do a walk.

This varies from the mildly abusive (shouting at groups in the distance), through the whole spectrum of "latching on and pulling faces", "telling drunken stories of their own", "people with 'issues' coming and staring in a way that unnerves both me and the group" right up to "threatened physical abuse".

Now whenever I mention this to anyone they always seem to think that this is an issue that would afflict any busy city centre, especially at night. But you know what? I have though I say it myself a pretty wide range of tour destinations and this really is a Birmingham phenomenon. I genuinely have no idea why.

I've thought long and hard about posting this. After all, it's not likely to do either the City nor my business much good if I say these things, is it? But in recent weeks I have not done a single walking tour without some sort of incident of this nature and one day I'll simply pack up the umbrella and go and do this somewhere else. It doesn't happen in London (and I include inner city places like Lambeth and Bethnal Green in this), nor Bristol, nor Reading nor Nottingham. Nor many dozens of other places.

Answers on a postcard please to the great question: "Why in Birmingham?"

1 comment:

  1. I was with a group of photographers on Sunday afternoon in Rea Street by the Bradford Street junction, and we got hassle from a couple of drunks who I guess had just been barred from the Anchor, into which we then repaired.