I had the pleasure to visit Birmingham some days ago for the 7th Organic.Lingua project meeting, between Tuesday 14th and Friday 17th of January 2014. Being an avid Black Sabbath fan since my high school days, a trip to Birmingham, where Black Sabbath started playing was always a dream - now to come true. I still remember a discussion I had with Susie, a member of the BCU team, back in the Organic.Lingua kick-off meeting, asking her about the possibility for BCU to host one of the project meetings in Birmingham. I had to wait almost three years and for the last project meeting in order to get my feet there!
Ok, I have to admit that I tried hard to have all my presentations ready before I got to Birmingham, which would allow me to have more free time and spend more time around the city; I managed to do so. I also admit that I had a hard time finding free time during the fully-packed project meeting but feeling the vibes of Birmingham I did not feel tired at all at any time. The time difference between Athens and Birmingham also helped, as I usually went to bed early (based on Greek time) and woke up really early (again due to the Greek time). This allowed me to spend a couple of hours on early Wednesday morning, right after breakfast, walking around the city and taking lots of photos. I have to admit that I was expecting an ugly industrial city; instead, I was amazed by what I actually saw: a lovely canal crossing the center of the city, nice shops, bridges, lovely brick buildings and interesting pubs. On top of that, I loved the classical buildings (reminding me of ancient Greece) and the numerous statues all over the city. All of them well-preserved; no sign of a graffiti or vandalism, a sight commonly seen in Greek monuments (even the most important and historical ones...)
|Ozzy's star at the Birmingham Hall of Stars|
On Thursday evening, an extremely interesting person was kindly asked (and he agreed!) to guide us around Birmingham and let us know of the cultural history (focusing on the music part) of the city. His name was +Jez Collins and he seems to be a Jack of all trades: Research project Manager at the BCU, the founder of the Birmingham Popular Music Archive, Executive Co-Producer for the award winning documentary "Made in Birmingham: Reggae Punk Bhangra" and a contributor to http://popmatters.com, among others.
|UAH team, Jez and his iPad in the Crown pub|
|The Crown pub|
|After a lovely dinner|
Big thanks to +Jez Collins for the amazing guided tour, sharing his time and passion with the rest of us, and of course to our local hosts (mainly Ben and Katharine from the BCU team) who arranged everything so perfectly!
Edit 27/01/2014: Ben Wells (BCU) shared this interesting and well-designed video by BCU featuring Jez Collins and his research; you should definitely take a look at that!