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14th Feb 2018

11 things you will only understand if you are from Birmingham

Kyle Picknell

 Yes. Yes, I have seen Peaky Blinders

Directions only come in one format in Birmingham. Ask someone where you need to go and they will tell you exactly how to get there, except exclusively in terms of the pubs you need to go past.

It’s a magical city, where pubs become landmarks, and a man with a plastic horse’s head sits in the city centre and plays the keyboard, most days, for no clear reason.

This is just how we operate. This is just how we do things here.

Without further ado, here are some more of my other favourite quirks:

1. “The Ramp”

Let me tell you about a place, a place known only as “the ramp”.

The ramp is essentially the focal point of all social interaction that takes place in Birmingham. “Where are we meeting?” the uninitiated will ask.

The ramp is always where we are meeting, and always where we will meet.

What is the ramp? Where is the ramp? I will not answer those questions for you, but just know that it is a special place, an ethereal place, existing on the very fringe of reality itself.

Maybe it doesn’t even exist. Maybe it’s simply a myth. I’m pointing directly at your chest now as I say this – maybe it was inside you, maybe the ramp was inside you all along.

No, actually. No it’s not. It’s over there. It’s that big ol’ ramp there with a Greggs and McDonald’s.

2. The tap water

Birmingham tap water is the best tasting tap water in the country. This is a fact. This is science. Do not argue with me on this one. Book a train (single – you won’t need a return), knock on at the nearest house and ask for a pint of the good stuff. You won’t be disappointed.

If you are then, sorry, I just cannot help you. Again, sorry.

3. You must, I repeat, MUST, hold your breath whilst driving through the Queensway Tunnel otherwise, I regret to inform you, you will die

Everyone did this. Absolutely every single person. If you didn’t do this you are a liar. I have many, many fond memories this game on the school coach. Puffing my cheeks out, making myself turn purple, pretending to faint, actually fainting. It. WAS. A. RIGHT. GOOD. LAUGH.

4. “The Old Snobs”

Very much like the way anno Domini and Before Christ punctuate the Gregorian calendar, the history of Birmingham can be divided into two distinct periods.

“Old Snobs” (OS) and “New Snobs” (NS).

Snobs is a nightclub in Birmingham that moved location in 2014, from its dilapidated, scaffolding-adorned location in the midst of a place actually named “Paradise Circus”, to fancy new digs in the heart of the city, opposite Grand Central station.

I do not care for New Snobs. Simply do not care for it. As far as I am concerned, time stopped after OS. We were hit by a meteor and wiped off the face of the earth. End of story.

The Old Snobs, however, was:

  • Roughly the size of my bedroom
  • Beers for £1
  • Had an infinite capacity, like the Tardis
  • Beers for £1
  • Stickiest dancefloor in the world so you wouldn’t fall over
  • You would still fall over
  • Beers for £1
  • Takeaway immediately next door
  • On both sides
  • Played ‘Superstition’ by Stevie Wonder four times a night
  • Also a sauna. You could sweat out the hangover before you had even accumulated the hangover
  • Beers for £1

5. The exact same impression whenever you meet someone not from Birmingham

It goes a little something like this:

“Hello, nice to meet-”


“Er, well yeah, actually, I’m from-”


“Ha. Yeah. Really good. Nice one.”

“Have you seen Peaky Blinders?”

“Yeah, I have I do quite like-”


6. Telling everyone, repeatedly, that Birmingham has more canals than Venice until they pretend to be impressed

J.R.R. Tolkein also based much of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit on areas in Birmingham, where he grew up.

Middle-earth and canals. Oh, and Cat Deeley.

No, no, honestly, no need to thank us.

Image credit: Getty

7. Getting a great big bag of tip-tops in with the lads

I am sorry, I am really sorry, but I do not know what an “ice-pop” or a “freeze-pop” is.

I am, however, familiar with a tip-top, particularly adorned with Mr.Freeze’s grinning face and coming in all the colours of the rainbow. Raspberry. Green. Cola. All the colours.

They were 5p each and everybody would buy as many as they could fit in their pockets and we would all chomp them down as quickly as possible before succumbing to crippling brain freeze, lying on the grass, and just melting away into an azure blue puddle.

Also: cobs are hard bread rolls, baps are soft, a gambol is a roly-poly, and roundabouts are islands.

Just so you know.

8. Pigeon Park

Pigeon Park is an odd place, home to three indigenous species and three species alone. They are, in no particular order:

  • Business professionals in suits
  • Scary looking goths
  • Pigeons

Thank you for your time.

9. The St.Patrick’s Day parade

The St.Patrick’s Day parade in Digbeth is an important date in the calendar of any self-confessed Brummie.

Are you actually Irish?

It doesn’t matter.

Are you going to watch the floats, or the dancing, or the parade itself?

Absolutely not.

Do you want to enter a dark pub at 9am, drink Guinness for hours with strangers and stumble, blinking, out into the blazing sunlight not knowing what day it is or where you are?

Step forward, my friend. Take my hand. Welcome to Birmingham. Soak it in. You have work tomorrow.

10. The Briar Rose

The Briar Rose is the predominate Wetherspoon’s in central Birmingham. Whilst there are others, none quite have the same magnetic pull as this place and its endearing features, such as having to walk several miles through an underground passage to go to the toilet and no seats being available, ever, no matter what time of day it is.

11. Not actually being from Birmingham

Sometimes we are tired.

Sometimes we just don’t have the energy to expand on the intricacies of Birmingham’s greater metropolitan area.

I could sit here for hours with a map, sharpie and some sticky notes and you still wouldn’t know where I am from so let me just simplify it for you. Let me just give you that single word, that one word, and you can do your impression and I can pretend to find it funny and we can all be finished with this tired, sorry dance.



Sutton Coldfield?





Oh! Birminummmmmmmmm!