11-11-11: Handsworth

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11-11-11: Handsworth

(By way of a recap: on 11th November 2008 Clare & I embarked on a public transport-based Kerouacian Carousel around the City of Birmingham. I’m writing up the journey in a series of urban travelblogs that are insterspersed with low humour and the occasional knob gag. Think Bill Bryson meets the late Reg Varney.)

As we make our way out of Winson Green along Handsworth New Road, onto Boulton Road, across Soho Road and up Rookery Road, I notice ubiquitous fly posters advertising a Public Enemy gig at the Custard Factory in December.

Three things come to mind:

  1. I like Public Enemy.
  2. I’d very much like to see Public Enemy at the Custard Factory in December.
  3. How come I didn’t know about this already?

I consider saying to Clare in my wheezy, Old Git Tom voice: “Public Enemy, now that was proper hip hop. Chuck D not only articulated the righteous anger of a generation with his incisive, incendiary lyrics and toe-tapping beats, but you could hear every word he was rapping. Not like this modern rubbish you hear on the radio.”

I decide to keep my mouth shut after Clare shoots me one of her impeccably-timed If you’re going to say what I think you’re going to say then you better not say it-looks. I’m not going to risk it: she’s been right more times than she’s been wrong. Besides, it’s never a good idea to mock your older self. You’ll only end up resenting yourself later.

But still, I want to know why I didn’t know that Public Enemy were playing at the Custard Factory in December. Has this got something to do with the conspicuous lack of fly posters along the route I drive to work? Should I write a letter to the council, or would it be easier to change my travel arrangements?

Maybe, and maybe not. I’ve got a horrible feeling, though, that there’s a lesson to be a learnt from all of this. Worse, it’s one of those deeply ironic lessons that I really hate:

Has it taken a journey along Birmingham’s Outer Ring Road to make me realise that I’m totally out of the loop?


About the Author:

My name is Tom Lennon and I'm a freelance writer who specialises in humour at the geekier end of the pop culture spectrum. I'm based in Birmingham, UK, and my work has recently appeared in BuzzFeed and Time Out.

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