The Middle of Where? An Insider View of The Midlands
My name is Faye, I am 42 and from the Midlands – there I said it.
The Midlands has an image problem or rather we don’t really have an image at all – there’s the rub (as my fellow Midlander - Shakespeare would say). We’re a disparate bunch who won’t even admit we’re from the same place. Strength comes in numbers, and if you call me a ‘Brummie’, I’ll look affronted and tell you I come from Worcester which is at least 20 miles away. I am reminded of being on holiday as a 20 something, a Cockney/Northerner (usually) would ask where I’m from and I’d reply - ‘oh Stratford…you know like Shakespeare”. The Midlands is actually much more than Birmingham and extends as far North as Derby and then to the East lie Leicester and Nottingham. You could be sent to Coventry, over the Malverns or drink cider in Hereford and still be in the Heart of England but none of us are willing to become a ‘thing’
Stuck in the middle
We envy those proud Northerners who stand tall against the South while remaining united by their extreme geographical locations. The latter by the way may be soft but they can at least be identified by their distinctive colloquial call – can’t you always identify a Cockney accent on the beach? I can. In short they have a big brand identity with a distinctive USP (you know why you’re going there and what for) whereas the Midlands has been been left looking a little BHS.
Any self-respecting Midlander will know that if you move away, you lose the accent. Karen Brady never said “Bostin’ presentation there Bab” - people just assume you’re stupid. Only ‘The Peaky Blinders,’ (Polly and Tommy) have managed to portray intelligent, aspirational and yes sexually charged characters whilst retaining the Brummie lilt. Other than the Shelby’s when is the last time a Brummie was cast as the main protagonist? Or touted to be the next James Bond (though we can lay claim to the Aston Martin)?
The Heart of the matter
Then there’s the geographical issue. Are we really in The Heart of England or in reality a belly button? You might like your belly button but can you really say why? No one wants to be the middle of anything…middle child, mid-table, middle aged…it’s not bad or good, in simple terms it’s ‘must try harder’. Even our once glorious football team (I am actually only talking about the exotically named Aston Villa) are languishing in the Championship – unable to attain anything more than mid-table. Lacking the drive (and urge to splurge) to achieve the Man City dream and not shiny or show-offy enough to imagine Chelsea status.
How do we solve the problem then?
In short yeah from an insiders perspective, the Midlands has a problem but not an insurmountable one. Our past glories are great, we can re-brand and package our landscape to make people want to mini-break on the Grand Union canal. And talk more about how we were at the centre of the industrial revolution (Watt, Boulton and Wedgewood) – that by the end of the 18th century we’d helped Britain become the world’s most formidable power in industry. We also shouldn’t have a problem with spinning a good story. ‘Hello!’ we are the home of Modern English literature! But my answer is far simpler and it is this reader…the total eradication (never to be mentioned again) of UB40 and Slade.
Here’s my Top Five Midlanders for what it’s worth:
- Kevin Turvey – A.K.A Rik Mayall
- John Taylor
- Tony Hancock
- Adrian Mole inc. Julie Walters
- Robert Plant
Who would you add to the list?
Image source: Birmingham Mail
- Article by Faye Hanks