I hope to get out running again before too long, but for this year I was a spectator for the first Birmingham International Marathon, run in October 2017, which was followed later in the day by the Half-Marathon - the Great Birmingham Run. It took several hours for all the runners to pass through Selly Park and Stirchley but there was consistent support throughout both races. Some of the photos I took around Christ Church can be viewed on the Christ Church website.
I am writing this just a few days before the first Stirchley Market of 2017 (on Tuesday March 7) and I have a bit of catching up to do, having never (as far as I can tell) posted any photos of last December's Market - overwhelmed as usual by the pre-Christmas rush.
When I woke up and discovered that Donald Trump had been elected as US President my first thought was, "It's happened again". In 2000 the opinion polls predicted that Al Gore would beat George W. Bush but, as we all know, it didn't turn out that way. Our reactions to the Trump victory provided the theme for the Crunch (Creative Lunch) session that day at P Café Stirchley. This is a slightly revised version of what I wrote then.
This poem explores one of the great ethical questions of our age. It is a work of pure fantasy, and indeed I never actually go into Starbucks.
I gave a false name in Starbucks.
It was so easy the first time.
No guilt. A victimless crime.
It was like trying on a new set of clothes.
Is this my emotional colour?
It makes me feel so different.
Does my ego look fat in this?
This is a poetic tribute to the Great Birmingham Run. I have taken part in it four times now and it is always a great experience.
We are a small army, held in pens along the road.
We talk and stretch and jump and shake,
impatient, packed with energy,
waiting for the signal to advance.
We soon walk forward as a single mass,
breaking step, moving faster as we cross the starting line.
I knew some weeks before the 2016 Great Birmingham Run that my legs were not up to entering this year's race. Instead I roamed part of the course through Selly Park and Stirchley with my camera, enjoying the atmosphere and the community spirit of the occasion. Some of the photos I took around Christ Church can be viewed on the Christ Church website.
The weather remained mild for the October Stirchley Market but by the evening the outside lights at Stirchley Baths were needed. There were some new stallholders this month alongside occasional and regular attenders.
One of the most evocative features of the classic 1936 film "Night Mail" is the poem written by W. H. Auden whose rhythm "This is the night mail, crossing the Border" is set against the soundtrack of the train clattering along the rails as the dawn breaks. The world of steam trains, postal orders and eager waiting for the postman's knock is no more. Is there any romance in today's network of fibre optic cables that can transmit messages around the world in a fraction of a second? Maybe...
This is the light mail crossing the ocean,
Riding the waves of photons in motion.
Pulses of light by lasers emitted
Circling the earth, through fibres transmitted.
During Birmingham Heritage Week Martin and I went on a Positively Birmingham guided walking tour of the city centre, led by our excellent guides Dawn and Jonathan. It was a great way of getting to know our ever-changing city better. Here are a few of the photos I took en route.
Stirchley Market is now firmly settled in its new home at Stirchley Baths and for the June session more stalls were set up outside as the weather stayed warm and (thankfully) dry. Inside and outside, it's always great to meet the stallholders who are so passionate about what they make and do.
This was the third session of Stirchley Market in its new home at Stirchley Baths. As always the enthusiasm of the stallholders, the interest of the customers and the unique venue made for a great atmosphere. Here's a selection of my photos, non-systematic as usual.
In April 2016 Phoenix Singers Birmingham gave a concert to a full house at St David's Church, Shenley Green. Here are some photos of the event.
A creative writing session at P Café Stirchley brought to mind a time when I stood, along with the rest of a group from Birmingham, at a viewpoint overlooking the city of La Paz in Bolivia. The feelings I had at the time resonated with what we had been discussing and prompted me to write this poem.
Stirchley Market has moved to its new home at Stirchley Baths and held its first session there on 1 March 2016, with several new stallholders and at least 200 visitors enjoying the new facilities and in-house catering. The market will continue there on the first Tuesday of each month from now on. I wasn't organised enough to take photos of each individual stall but here is a selection of images from the day.
During the night of 26/27 February 2016 vandals destroyed the Sleeping Child and other heritage artwork in Stirchley Park, provoking a furious reaction on social media. Despite this setback the environment
of the park has been transformed in recent years, thanks especially to the hard work of the Friends of Stirchley Park. This photo collection is my tribute to their efforts and a celebration of the wonderful community space the park has become.