I’d forgotton to change my shoes, which was the main aim of going back to the flat; but I got onto Bath Row, and there was no evident problem with my feet. The ginseng I had taken was beginning to have a nice, calming effect, and I floated down the street; Birmingham’s skyline in the distance just past the Chinese Begoda roundabout. I was headed for the corner shop down the road, which I had noticed the other day was affilated with Irn Bru, my favourite soft drink. Edging past a young smoking man who stood menacingly outside the entrance, I got into the shop. A large chest freezer was in the middle of the floor, too big for the space for me to walk around comfortably. Bypassing the newspapers, I got to the confectionary, and got a Mars Bar, which had been my guilty habit for the last three days. Repeating the mantra in my brain, it helped me work, rest and play. As I paid for it, I noticed the fridge next to me. And inside the fridge was a treat, possibly sent to me from the universe. A 500ml can of Irn Bru. Retail: 49p. Too good to resist, I thought. Another purchase made. Leaving the shop, I went quickly through the subway under Smallbrook Queensway, wolfing down my Mars Bar quickly. In the tunnel, two men were making some sort of transaction, their backs turned to me. When I approached, they nervously looked around. I walked past smiling. Whatever it was, it wasn’t as good as the transaction I had just made in the Irn Bru shop.
When I got onto Smallbrook Queensway, a bus pulled up to my left, its side covered with and advert for the latest film by Aardman, The Pirates, with a large picture of a pirate, resplendant with curly beard and the token Aardman overbite. ‘Get on board’ in large capital letters printed above. I wondered what would happen if I did, if I stopped everything and got on the bus with my daysaver. Would I be transported to a new dimension, where I would battle with scurvy knaves for pieces of eight? An amazing journey into a faraway fantasy land, where I would be taken on as first a cook, and work my way up the ranks, half-crazy on rum and avarice? As I went over mesmerised, the bus pulled away, and I lost the opportunity. Never mind. All this would be found in my real destination for the day; the Flatpack and Still Walking festival.
Going up to New Street station I noticed billboards showing off a project full of children’s work – poetry and paintings in innocent scrawl, full of childish intuition and natural craft. All the while, a man with an accordion serended passers-by, either going in the direction of Smallbrook Queensway, or up the ramp into Town. He swayed in time to his music, and as I gave him a token 50p, he nodded me in the direction of the Bull Ring, which I was headed to anyway. I was going this way to get to WHSmith and then to the Film Bug programme, in the Colmore Business Quarter.
When I got to the Colmore Business Quarter, I was faced with the choice of going to Costas Coffee for Best of the Fests, or the Urban Coffee Company for Dust in the Attic. I decided on the latter, as I would be able to work my way up to Costas, then Margaret Street, and then finally to the start of the Birmingham Noir walk for half 5. My journey mapped, I headed to Urban Coffee Company, where I had been the day before. Inside the coffee shop, I got my second double espresso of the day, and got upstairs to where they were showing the films. Today, the programme showed fantastic archive footage from MACE, of the Birmingham Markets, the statue of King Kong, and when I arrived, footage of Handsworth from the 80s, followed by street arts and dancing around Birmingham. Archives, that make you see the city as it was, and imposes what you see when you get outside, as what was before. A difficult feat, as you try and layer what was over what is now. And still to this day, I can still never remember where Lewis’s actually was/is. No amount of re-mapping and re-tracing and asking others of the location will leave me satisfied. Images of the Bull Ring, and ladies in 70s finery peering into mirrors. That Bull Ring had gone, but had thankfully been preserved by the good people at MACE, and here, people watched, and remembered, and celebrated. Apparently in Costas, the scheduled programme of Best of the Fests wasn’t working. However, when I got over, a myriad of the finest short films from over time, a beautiful blend of animation, stop-motion and everything else was playing to the people gathered. People came, people went. For a Thursday afternoon, the re-imagining is going well.
NB – In my last post, I mentioned a poster next to the Top Nosh kebab shop, that I was going to search for. It initially sent me on a search that at first revealed secrets and intrigue, of cabals and secret handshakes. When I searched again, I saw nothing but blatant sexism. Apologies for any upset that this may have caused! The internet – an ever changing stream. The electronic world – as ever changing as the real world. Nothing is ever the same twice.