Stop making fun of me because I’m from the Midlands
What’s your beef with us Brummies?
Before I came to uni in London, friends and family tried to educate me about the prejudices Midlanders face when moving literally anywhere else in the country.
While many of us are content staying put for fear of the judgement in the South and the harsh climate in the North, I ignored the warning signs and set off for Euston in my rose-tinted glasses. However after a month here, it’s becoming increasingly clear – everyone loves to hate on the Midlands.
First up, WE ARE NOT THE NORTH. It’s quite simple, and it’s also in the ‘Mid’ part of the name, but I keep having to explain this to anyone I meet from further south than Oxford. To quote Ed Miliband in his career destroying interview with Russell Brand, “it’s just wrong”. Not only is it geographically impossible, but we also don’t identify as Northerners. In fact, without trying to sound like a hippie, people from the Midlands don’t really subscribe to labels at all. We’re laidback, self deprecating, and quite frankly above all your North/ South bollocks – you just don’t know anything about us.
In fact, everything you think you know about Birmingham probably isn’t true. I mean, obviously all of my friends on gap years are currently tucking into some Black Country pork scratchings on their sofas on Benefit Street, casually jeering at people they know on Jeremy Kyle. But oh wait, no they’re not.
People talk about Brum as if it’s some shanty town run by druglords and rival gangs. During freshers’ week, everyone else gets “What’s your favourite band?” and “Do you watch Great British Bake Off?”. Meanwhile, I got “Are you not afraid you’ll be caught in a drive-by shooting?” or “Have you ever been held up in an armed robbery?” to try and break the ice.
Worse still, when having the obligatory discussion about A-Levels and GCSEs with someone from a Somerset private school the other day, the words, “Did you have any grass at your Birmingham state school?” were genuinely uttered. Only two country parks and several hundred acres of woodland, hun.
People just don’t seem to get Birmingham. Last year, Fox News ran a report suggesting that parts of Birmingham are “no-go zones” for non-Muslims and that Sharia Law is being implemented on the city’s streets. This was a disaster for the city’s rep – but all things considered, probably more of a disaster for journalism.
Brummies have learnt to embrace our misfit status and have a really good time, which usually involves a night on Broad Street, the city’s infamous strip of night clubs. We have all the fave spots: Walkabout, Gatecrasher, Reflex and Propaganda – and most of the time people even make it out of these establishments alive.
Another huge talking point is our accent. I didn’t choose it, and it wasn’t created for your entertainment, but Southerners have a real knack for sniffing out an elongated vowel or the occasional dropped T. Sarah Low, a first year English student from Solihull, told The Tab: “Midlands racism is a very real thing – the onslaught of crappy Brummie accents you get when you tell someone where you’re from is just insulting.”
All an innocent Brummie can do is nod and smile as virtual strangers mimic “Buuuuuurmingum” at us, and pretend this is the first time we’ve heard such hilarity.
The University of South Wales also recently conducted a study into how intelligent or stupid each regional accent made people sound, with the Brummie accent ranking last – officially making it worse than than staying silent. Wow. Haven’t they heard people from Liverpool?
Birmingham and the Black Country also have very individual dialects, depending on exactly where you’re from. I quickly stopped using mine around people who looked seriously offended that a bread roll is a cob, a forward roll is a gambol, a graze is a scrage, an idiot is a norse and a mad person is yampy. Unbelievably, we are entitled to have our own words for things, and according to local legend our vernacular is the closest to Anglo-Saxon. So actually, you’re doing it wrong.
No-one understands how much life-changing stuff has come out of the Midlands either. Shakespeare, the Industrial Revolution, UB40, Peaky Blinders, Gary Lineker, the Balti, Robbie Williams, the Mini, Stilton, Ozzy Osborne, Worcestershire Sauce – the list goes on. Would any karaoke night be complete without a middle-aged man bawling Angels down the microphone?! No, it would not.
My personal claim to fame is that I come from the same village where Tolkein spent his childhood and was inspired to create fictional places like the Shire and Mordor. So you’re welcome, world.
What I’m trying to say is that Birmingham’s not as bad as you like to think. Give us a chance, despite our flaws, and we can overcome Midlands racism together.