Look up/look down

Of course, one of the main directives of psychogeography/the art of the derive/being a flaneur/buggering about aimlessly *delete as appropriate* is to look up and around at the sights on offer, and not to stare down at the ground with hands in pockets looking at your smart device or your shoes.

However. Look what I saw today near Fazeley Street. A promise of a secret underground lair. I wonder what’s there?

Pausing, I whipped out my trusty phone which was connected to me so I needn’t worry about dropping it down the holes (it doubles up as my listening device.) Not caring that I may have looked like a bit of a pillock to the traffic junkies, I got down and knelt to the floor. This is what I saw…

How exciting! Obviously a ventilation system for the attached building, but what an intriguing secret passage! I was pleased, and made my way to the One Earth wholefoods shop on Allison Street for my dinner which is where I’ve been going recently.


The Wind: Genesis, re-birth and transformation on Gough Street.


Last week, it was announced that the former Birmingham United Services Club on Gough Street (BUSC), most recently popular as the latest venue Eddie’s Rock Club was to close down and be re-born as flats. The phrase ‘re-born’ pertaining to a building amused me, especially given my recent posts about the Beorma Embryo. What’s especially interesting about this is for me is that the area of Gough Street and BUSC is where I first came up with the concept my project about Birmingham’s changing cityscape ‘The Wind’ back in 2008.

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The Floozie now becomes Mother Earth

Dhruva Mistry’s The River, commonly known as the Floozie in the Jacuzzi, is being drained pending repair, and a flowerbed currently being put in it’s place. Planting is expected to be finished in mid-July, and repairs are due to start in January.

This made me think of the connotations of the Floozie being seen as a Mother Earth/Gaia figure, with her womb being the centre of Birmingham’s city centre. Wikipedia says the work on the sculpture was completed in 1994, and was officially opened by another Mother Earth figure, Diana, Princess of Wales. Diana also being the goddess of the hunt, the moon and childbirth in Roman mythology.

Ideas have germinated and sprouted with this one. Maybe it’s the start of a more feminine Birmingham. Obviously with the Grand Central nearing completion, the New New Street Station and of course the Beorma Quarter, there is still a lot of macho grandstanding about Birmingham being bigger and best but I’m sure that smaller, more compassionate pockets will be forming across the city and hopefully spreading like wildfire across the globe.

Indeed, I have always maintained that for every phallic building (the Hyatt Regency, the Rotunda, and the Beorma Tower) in Birmingham, there are feminine buildings in close proximity (the ICC and the NIA, the Library of Birmingham, and especially Selfridges (and ESPECIALLY Selfridges.) Maybe that accounts for why Birmingham is such a nice place. The yin always has a yang around the corner. Grand Central, I think, is also a feminine one.

(In The Wind, the ICC and The Hyatt Regency’s coupling proudly produce the Library of Birmingham as their long-awaited newborn, an act of love made when the Conservatives erected their perimeter fences around them when they had their yearly booze-up at us taxpayer’s expense. But what a lowly daughter Little Miss L.O.B turned out to be! Last out of bed in the morning, the slatternly slug-a-bed! Doesn’t even bother to rise until 11am! And slumps off to bed at 5 without so much of a bye-your-leave.)

But for the while, the Floozie will be a flowerbed until they try to fix the problems that is preventing The River from flowing. And if, or when the water breaks, what offspring will be produced for us? The people of Birmingham are waiting.