A City Dreaming as Potholes Multiply

Birmingham (UK) looks tired. This is not only about run-down buildings in need of some urgent “facelift”. I am talking about reservoirs, waterways/ and drains littered with plastic bags and bottles and roads filled with potholes. Some of these potholes demand numerous manoeuvres to avoid breaking some part of your vehicle or just getting stuck and blocking up the rest of the traffic. Others are so huge and deep that one can make a case for rearing trouts in them. And, do not allow me to start on the matter of rats scurrying around. Soon we shall be recruiting the Pied Piper of the Bullring to lead battalions of rats along potholes littered roads to drown in our canals.

And given that much of the City’s money got lost or more correctly frozen in the ice of Iceland, with not the slightest hint that even a thawing out from a recent volcanic eruption would reveal where the missing sums were stashed away – I do not see much hope for the infrastructure to change for the best. Yet, the City Council’s publication (Forward), bombards us with some ludicrous claims from the Council executives about the greatness of the city.

Hence, the New Library to be built by the Centenary Square (2013) is presented “as the most advanced learning and cultural centre of its kind in the world. Yes, not only in the UK or even Europe – it is the whole world. And only God knows what the 2014 New Railway station at New Street will be billed as! Have any of these bureaucrats making the claim, ever travelled beyond the Midlands? Or have they arrived to such mind-boggling conclusions after a search on our internet services, maybe the best in the world? Or is it that their idea of the whole world (starting right here in the UK) is wholly different from mine? The Birmingham City Council’s obsession with being the first and the best in ways too many to count or list in this blog may reveal more about the insularity of these bureaucrats than anything else.

In the meantime, I will continue to be thankful for the numerous small wonders, gracious people, hospitable friends and countless surprising discoveries, I have made while residing in Birmingham for the last eleven years. Home for us, being part of a Diaspora, has been further enlarged and given added complexity by this fact. It is the longest we have stayed in one place as a family – meaning that there must be more to Birmingham than the many wonders the city council would have us to believe. It is a pity that these bureaucrats of the city council are unable to connect with these.

In the meantime, if you are planning a visit to Birmingham (beyond its city centre), set out well in advance, be sure to have handy remedies for headaches, and you will need a lot of patience. And if your are walking tread carefully! In any case you will meet some very friendly and helpful Brummies, full of good tips on reaching your destination safely.

© copyright March 26, 2010

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