Thursday, 28 July 2011


I feel my real "welcome to your new home" moment will be seeing the Specials play at the Ricoh Arena in October, but in the meantime, I was diverted by Home of Metal, a summer-long project with tentacles all over the Black Country radiating from an enthralling exhibition at the Museum of Birmingham.  
Even if you're not especially Metal, it's exciting to see Rob Halford's rhinestone-studded leather suit and Black Sabbath's massive light-up cross, and the inclusion of big looming chunks of 1960s industrial machinery to give things a bit of context.  
In fact, context is what this exhibition does best, I could have stayed in the mockup of Ozzy Osbourne's mum's front room all day looking at ye olde newspapers (favourite line: "the free-love pads of Edgbaston").  
It's also fascinating to see, via old records and posters, the divergence of the early "scene" into prog, pop, metal and beyond into NWOBHM, thrash, industrial, goth and who knows what's next.  So much of the exhibition relies on keepsake and souvenirs from those who went to the gigs and bought the records that the "fan days" on which anyone can book a table to exhibit their collection is a stroke of genius, and I find myself wishing all museums did this.
For six quid (and I am fully aware that you'd be lucky to pay double that for a comparable exhibition in London), it was a fantastic insight into metal, the Midlands, and the relationship between them.
Things learned: Bolt Thrower were signed to the record label of fantasy wargame company Games Workshop.  There is a Walsall Museum of Leather.
Favourite exhibit: Napalm Death KitKats and sweets made by Japanese fans.

Gardening Leave

We were recently forced to confront the surprising fact that pea seeds are, in fact peas.  Also, pumpkin seeds are the same thing as those seeds you get inside pumpkins.  Both appear to be growing.  The "spicy salad mix" is hurtling skywards faster than we, or even the caterpillars, can eat it, getting spicier by the second.  I find myself running at butterflies swearing and shouting "get off my land".
Yesterday, we had for lunch: bread that I baked that morning and radishes from the garden.  If the house had been a bit cleaner, I'd have felt rather smug.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Not moving from - moving to.

I'm just going upstairs.  I do this all the time, with an enthusiasm I don't normally have for exercise.  Sometimes I even skip.  It's still an exciting novelty for me - I've never owned a flight of stairs before.  Or a roof, or a garden, or a bit of the actual Earth with a building on it.  This could never have happened in London, where people lived above and below me, and a "management company" reluctantly maintained the building out of which my flat was hollowed.

Now I have a vegetable patch and three bedrooms, one of which contains the Lovely Paul.  I can be in London in just over an hour, including the taxi to the station.  I have a place on the Warwick University MA course in Writing.  I am a very lucky girl indeed.
It would be nice not to be sodding unemployable of course, but at least I don't have to get up too early in the mornings.

Before I left London, I had a suspicion that it might be possible to go out more, do more things and see more people from a Midlands base than the capital, and this seems to be the case - for a start, it takes less time to get from Coventry to Euston than my daily commute did when I lived in Zone 2.

In the eight weeks since I moved, I've been to three festivals, two museum exhibitions, several nice restaurants, a site of historic interest, some pubs and Ikea.  Many many trips to Ikea.  

I'll try to only tell you about the interesting stuff.