Posted in November 2015

Finding Their Inner Cathy, or Kate

This is absolutely gloriously mad. 300 Kate Bush impersonators from toddlers upwards, of varying genders, all dancing to the bonkers song ‘Wuthering Heights’ that launched Bush’s dazzling career. Try to sit still while watching this. I love it. The power of music! Can I hear the sound of Bronte spinning in her grave in the … Continue reading

Birmingham Improvements

The Victorians often produced uncontrolled, unplanned towns in their rush towards industrialisation, which it took some time to remedy. In Georgian towns, they often just cleared a way through the slums and built fine new houses, or an indoor market. Where did the poor go? No idea, nor did they care. This is some more … Continue reading

Mixed Motives

People are complicated and I sometimes find people doing good for what seem like dubious reasons, as I recently stumbled upon an article in a newspaper describing a meeting of prominent campaigners soon after the slave trade was abolished. They were all businessmen who proposed ‘compensating’ African countries for having been preyed upon by slavery, … Continue reading

Carrots not Sticks for Drinkers

Victorian towns and cities often had odd combinations of buildings in close proximity in city centres, with a gin palace, or pub facing and competing with a music hall and a church. They were openly in combination for the hearts and minds of working class people. The temperance movement was not just about opposing people … Continue reading

Loneliness Kills

This is from yesterday’s i newspaper: “Loneliness weakens he immune system, according to a study that could help to explain why lonely people are 14% more likely to suffer an early death. Scientists have fount that the white blood cells of people who feel lonely are geared more towards causing inflammation than fighting infections. Researchers … Continue reading

Canal On Fire & Beautiful Smoke

The rapid and largely unregulated expansion of English towns in the 18th and 19th centuries led to some pretty horrific environmental conditions, most famously the ‘Great Stink’ of London’s Thames that led to the closure of parliament in  1858. But the great northern cities were pretty bad too. This is about the Bradford Canal, in … Continue reading

Tories of Birmingham

Birmingham, England, had an impressive track record for progressive civic behaviour, mostly by non Conformists such as the Congregationalists & Unitarians. Anglicans tended to concentrate on missionary work rather than town improvements education etc. In 1858 the Liberals celebrated the premature death of the Tories by circulating a card: “A man that is born a … Continue reading