Write Brummie, the BBC Radio 4 documentary by Rosie Boulton that I’m featured in, aired this week and you can catch it on the BBC Sounds app. If you can find your way around that rather confusing app, that is, or if you cheat and just follow this link.
In it, I mention how it feels as if the world expands outwards during the morning. If you get up to work at 5am, it’s just you and a sense of no-one else going on, then slowly you become aware of movement around the city. I mentioned traffic and the bins and kids, but I think it’s also just plumbing.
I like that sense at 5am that the air is different, that it’s waiting. Air and wind have a long day ahead of them and they’re just taking a minute, eating some toast, before they have to get going.
And I’m obviously telling you this because of the documentary, but actually as I write to you now it’s a little before 7am and for once, it all feels the same. I’ve put the bins out, I’ve waved to a neighbour, if I stop typing I can hear traffic. And that very second I said this, I just heard a sound from next door’s pipes.
But mostly, it’s as still now as I’m used to earlier. Maybe Birmingham is having a lie-in.
It’s funny how a city has a personality, and possibly not funny how it doesn’t, it just has what we project onto it. Maybe we do this with people too, maybe nobody has a personality other than that we expect of them.
I’m simply conscious this week of how I would like to live in the Birmingham that is portrayed in the Write Brummie documentary and yet obviously I do. I know some of the other writers featured, I know the work of more of them, I certainly know and like every single place they mention.
Maybe it’s that when you string them together as Boulton did, it makes you reconsider what you know. Or maybe it makes you conscious of we all know so much, we hold so many thoughts and facts and feelings, that we see one whole mass of sensations and miss the the detail.
It’s possible that I’ve just found a long way around to say something about wood and trees.
Still, I want to be part of that documentary’s portrayal of my city, and yet I am.
I do also now want to be every one of the other writers in the show, and I especially want all their kitchen tables and crackling fires, but I’ll work on that.