Issue 295
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If Birmingham Literature Festival were a bar — and bear with us because it's definitely not — it would be the kind where you could acquire whatever drink your filthy thirst can concoct. Non-fiction Negronis? Sluuurp. Sangria-style Sunday Times Bestsellers? Glug-glug. Peaty poetry Laphroaig? Ssslàinte. Ram-flippin'-well-packed with its most diverse edition to date, from historical to political to plain old page-turningly perfect, with the finest of literary liquors to drunken your bookish bones. God only knows what we're on about in this intro. Fingers crossed things improve...
How To Fail, Elizabeth Day
Exploring failure — it's just not British and it's rarely comfortable but we've got to admit that learning from mistakes seems like a pretty strong idea, and an idea that writer and journalist, Elizabeth Day nails in her massively popular podcast, How to Fail. Interviewing everyone from the perfectly imperfect Phoebe "Fleabag" Waller-Bridge, to Tony Blair's former spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, on their biggest eff ups, the funny, painful, surprising concept is now a book of the same name. Covering off work, dating, friendship and everything in between, the memoir-slash-manifesto is ultimately about how failure can make us stronger. Catch Day in conversation with last year’s Birmingham Lit Fest guest curator Sathnam Sanghera on Oct 5 at the Conservatoire. Tickets (£12)
This Is Going to Hurt, Adam Kay
“Tuesday, 5 July 2005.
Trying to work out a seventy-year-old lady’s alcohol consumption to record in the notes. I’ve established that wine is her poison. Me: ‘And how much wine do you drink per day, would you say?’ Patient: ‘About three bottles on a good day.’ Me: ‘OK . . . And on a bad day?’ Patient: ‘On a bad day I only manage one.” Gold dust! For those of you that polished off This Is Going To Hurt in frightening pace (so, everyone then) junior quack-turned-author, Adam Kay, will be talking about the stupendous book penned in secret diary form at the end of hospital shifts. And we'll be there — guaranteed — armed with endless questions about that moment he noticed that every patient on the ward had a pulse of 60 recorded in their observation chart. He then surreptitiously inspected his colleague's heartbeat-monitoring technique; watching on as he felt the patient's pulse, looked at his watch and meticulously counted the number of seconds in a minute. Like we said, pure, pure gold dust. On Oct 10 at UoB's Elgar Concert Hall. Tickets (£15)
Truth To Power, Jess Phillips
"I thought I'd met posh people before I came here but I'd actually just met people who eat olives" says Labour MP for Yardley, Jess Phillips, to the House of Commons no less. She stands on the tube with her back to the wall in case anyone wants to kill her. She receives rape threats on a regular basis. Still, Phillips remains prolific, often funny and never afraid to split opinion, shooting from the hip in interviews and on Twitter. Her second book Truth to Power: 7 ways to call time on B.S. is about finding the courage to fight back. Drawing on her own experience, as well as talking to high-profile people who have taken big risks to speak up, the book is designed to be practical as well as rallying. See Phillips on Oct 6 at the Conservatoire. Tickets (£12)
Politics, poetry and promise: four more to book
Understanding the Past, Building Our Future
Join a superhero panel for a discussion on economies of the past, present and future, which will fix everything, presumably. Saving the world: Billy Bragg wrote The Three Dimensions of Freedom — an ethical guidebook to being a super citizen, Paul Mason is a Marxist whose kryptonite is tech’s potential to de-humanise the world and Wonder Woman, Selina Todd, is a historian on a mission to disprove false ideas of social mobility. No capes required. On Oct 13, tickets (£15)
Muses and Furies: National Poetry Day
For those who like spoken word, National Poetry Day is the biggest of deals in the prose calendar. On the day itself (October 3), join five of the most exciting female poets in the country, performing their latest work. Get impassioned with Brum's own Sue Brown (from the BBC’s The First Black Brummies) and Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, who's been a big deal since her Poetry Slam performance at The Last Word Festival went viral. At the Conservatoire, tickets (£10)
Luke Wright: Poet Laureate
Don’t get caught out at any pub quizzes because of us. Contrary to what the title of this one-man performance suggests, Simon Armitage recently succeeded Carol-Ann Duffy as the UK’s Poet Laureate, and you’ll find both at the Literature Festival. And you'll find Luke Wright (pictured), who, despite missing out on the royal nod, is on a mission to write and perform poems to unite a nation divided by Br*xit. On Oct 9, tickets (£12)
Queer Intentions
How much have advances in LGBTQ+ rights and representation really changed cultures outside the West? Join journo and writer, Amelia Abraham, performer, drag queen and all-round trailblazer, Amrou Al-Kadhi and Michael Amherst, who rebelliously returned his degree from Oxford and wrote Go The Way Your Blood Beats for a discussion on what's really changed and who is being left behind. On Oct 4, tickets (£8)


Hard to argue with the line-up at this year's Burger Fest. It reads like an Escape To Victory football team of only the best beef slangers in the business. Our starting XI: Patty Freaks, Original Patty Men, Andy Low 'N' Slow, Flying Cows, Libertine Burger, The Meatshack, Homeboys, Baked in Brick, Yardbirds, Bun Club and all the way from The London, Nanny Bills. The latter — if there is a God — will be bringing with them the world-famous Dalston Dip, pictured. Think hand-pressed beef patty, mustard glaze, US cheese, caramelised onions, burger sauce in a seeded brioche, with a pot of Nanny Bill’s gravy poured thick across the whole shebang. This miracle happens at The Bond on October 12, tickets are £5.


If you’re not big into your dance, then you sometimes need to know it’s been choreographed by a boss before you confirm that Uber. Enter, stage left, Rosie Kay, of Commonwealth Games Handover Ceremony fame. In her new production, Fantasia, Kay mixes up dance and neurological science (yep!) to explore what makes the brain want to get down and get grooving. In development with neuroscientists from the UK and Denmark, the piece is Kay’s passion project to manifest pure joy and emotion, as well as the brain’s response to it, in the movement of her three lead dancers. Better still, it’s all soundtracked by fellow bosses, Beethoven and Bach. Two tickets, please. At the Hippodrome's Patrick Studio on Sept 25 and 26. Book (£10)
Venue: Marmalade at The Rep, Centenary Square, B1 2EP; website
Choice: Veggie Thai curry (£13.50)  Chooser: Chef

It's hard to spot a person that isn't cracking a beam around Centenary Square's new reflective pool and — must-remember-to-avoid-when-drunk — water jets. Thinking there might be something in this, Marmalade, the bar, restaurant and cafe attached to The Rep, has given its terrace area and menu a joosh. To tempt you through the Paradise development, the bar is banging out really rather quaffable cocktails for £5 from 5pm 'til 9pm every single day and all day on Saturdays. It was all about the Brum Punch for us, which the team made a slightly sharper version of, to cater for our not-so-sweet palate. On scran, the menu is full of that hard-to-find mid-range sort of fare — think pâtés, patties and platters on starters, at around the £6 mark. Moving on to mains there are a number of refreshingly light options — like the sea bass fillets with crushed potatoes, salty-nice baby capers and a herby vigere sauce (£14.50). Here, the fish was cooked for a minute too long for us but the flavour combo was rather lovely. As it was in the team's veggie Thai curry — one of the freshest, good-for-you feeling dishes we've been served up in the esteemed history of "You Choose". The sweet potato and shiitake mushrooms were just right — soft but without the least hint of moosh, while the mangetout, bok choi and coconut crisp offered bags of bite. A solid spot for a lighter nibble, with a crowd-pleaser of a wider
menu and the happiest of people watching.


Remember wallets? Big chunky things, spilling over with receipts, loyalty cards, membership cards and maybe even a legit bank card or two? Now mobile phones do everything ever, we have no idea where our wallet might be and can't remember the last time we had the correct card at the crucial moment. So thank all the Gods that Independent Birmingham has launched an app to ultimately replace their physical card. The intuitively-titled IB App gets subscribers bespoke discounts and deals at over 110 of Brum’s top indies, including ICB faves Carters, Laghi's, Gaijin Sushi and Harborne Kitchen — it's always been too long since we hit up these puppies. Costing £2 a month, the app allows you to search deals by day and by location, with an interactive map. Plus, users get access to exclusive flash sales. For Apple (fancy). For Android (good for you).


As a kid, hosepipe bans were ten a penny, yet we can go through two of the hottest days on record in the space of weeks and not a single mention of water rationing. Back in 1976, hosepipe bans were de rigueur. Somewhat more menacingly, so was the National Front. Where the hell are we going with this? We're going to Rebel Music, which lands at The Rep on September 19, and tells of one of the hottest summers on record. Far-right dickwads are on the march and in retaliation, a festival called Rock Against Racism — which put white punk bands and black reggae bands on the same bill – was organised. Meanwhile, three teenage music fans join the fight for the soul of working-class Britain, trying to navigate racial politics in Brum, in a barnstorming celebration of the music of the Midlands. Punk ✓ Reggae ✓ Racism ✗. Tickets (£14)


Settle down, hipsters. Portraits were a thing long before bunny ears and beauty filters had anything to do with it and a new exhibition at BMAG is a lunch break-long look at different stylistic takes on the form. Amongst the thickly textured self-portrait of Brummie-born artist David Bomberg, brooding modernism of Francis Newton Souza and some hack called Picasso, it’s the ‘Man and His Sheep’ installation (pictured) by Ana Maria Pacheco which ties the room together. Created to cajole contemplation of our relationships with animals, authority figures and our own urges, the eight limewood-sculpted figures are uncanny in their appearance. Forget the cliché of eyes following you around the room: these funny fellas catch you looking over someone’s shoulder, eye each other up unnervingly and pop up in your peripheral vision. Perfect for your Snapchat story. Thoughts on Portraiture runs 'til Nov 18. In Gallery 13, entry is free.
This week's Any Other Business is an Edgbaston Village takeover
ON DRINKS: Loki's doing a wine tasting with a twist — it's a quiz. With a focus on German vin, you'll master Rieslings while, presumably, gaining points for the best plonk pun team name. You Had Me At Merlot, anyone? It's £20.
ON MUSIC: South-East Asian masters the Blue Piano host jazz legend Chris Bowden on Sept 5. Chris has in turn invited one of his genre's finest drummers, Mitch Perrins to join him and tickets are a snip at £8 for these two global names.
ON MAINS: Tapas devotees El Borracho De Oro are cooking whole suckling pigs and serving them with grilled scallop, black pudding, padron peppers and more. One day only, Sept 20, it's £32.50 per person. Details
ON DESSERT: The High Field are hosting a Pudding Party on Sept 27. And if you can't wait that long for your sweet fix, LA Pop has opened just along from Laghi's and the team is doing outrageous things to ice-cream.
ON THE FUTURE: Aktar Islam appears to be adding to his food-fam (we see you Opheem and Legna) with two Argentine-inspired venues. A new Instagram account suggests 'Pulperia Asado' is heading for the city, while 'Pulperia Estancia' is Edgy-bound.

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read."

Groucho Marx

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WORDS: Robb Sheppard (joyeux anniversaire), Cilene TanakaTom Cullen, Katy Drohan

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