20 October 2014

Handsworth

Saturday night in Birmingham with beloved daughter. Wonderful authentic curry at "The Viceroy" in Brookfields on the edge of The Jewellery Quarter. How white and sweet the basmati rice, how tender the fillet beef in the nawabi bhuna gosht, how tasty the Indian pickles that accompanied our poppadoms. Then back to beloved daughter's flat for TV torture - "Celebrity Come Dancing", "The X Factor" - mind-numbing pap. I would much rather watch a documentary about the paper clip or ferret breeding but both Frances and Shirley are like pigs in muck when the glitter ball turns or when Cheryl Cole displays her manicured ignorance.

Sunday to Handsworth Park. I wanted to get inside St Mary's Church which houses memorials to three industrial giants - James Watt of steam engine fame, Matthew Boulton the eighteenth century industrial trailblazer and William Murdoch - who cleverly brought gas lighting to dark city streets across the world. Sadly the church door was locked. Sitting by the gate was a group of furtive looking fellows in day-glo jerkins. I realised later that they were guilty men doing their "community service" - clearing vegetation from the Victorian graveyard. On their battered white minibus the legend  - "Community Payback".
St Mary's Church, Handsworth
It was a lovely autumnal afternoon. Sunshine pierced the lime trees and parchment dry leaves tumbled across the paths. We walked into Handsworth Park - a pleasant Victorian gem - once a beautiful pleasure ground for the wealthy founders of Birmingham's industry to stroll through but now at the heart of a multi-ethnic suburb with saris, turbans and woolly Jamaican hats in view.

We saw an odd white stone pillar in a little valley garden. Later research told me that it was once the focal point of the Birmingham Civic Society's "Sunk Garden" that had been officially opened in 1937. It was merely the base for a statue of a boy with a lamb but sadly this was stolen in 1988 and has not been rediscovered or replaced. The statue harked back to pastoral times, long before the industrial revolution took hold or anti-social yobs and crooks perfected their miserable habits.





The bandstand in Handsworth Park - yesterday afternoon

18 comments:

  1. A church locked on a Sunday of all days? After the curry you would probably be forgiven for doing the snoring Yorkshire pudding thing in front of the telly.

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    1. It had been open for the 11am service and would be open again in the evening. What is this Yorkshire pudding snoring thing you refer to? Of such matters I have no knowledge whatsoever.

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  2. I trust you managed your fair share of Cobras before having to watch that rubbish.

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    1. Oh my dear fellow you underestimate me for I am a sophisticated socialite and would not deign to wet my lips with cheap Asian beers. Instead I quaffed a glass or two of delightful sauvignon blanc from the family vineyard in Languedoc - 2009 vintage. To avoid the televisual rubbish I moped at the table playing with lovely daughter's i-pad.

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    2. She must be lovely to let you near anything so expensive. I hope you didn't bang it on the table when it misbehaved. I get in a terrible muddle with iPads.

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    3. I thought that i-pads were sanitary aids for ladies until Frances showed me her Apple tablet.

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  3. Did you mean in the days when anti-social yobs and crooks were shipped out to Australia by any chance?

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    1. Shhhh Graham. Some of our Australian cousins visit this blog. I wouldn't wish to cause them any offence.

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  4. Autumnal strolling in a Victorian park is ever so much more pleasant than watching celebrity dancing or, G-d help us, The X Factor.

    We bought a bag of basmati rice just a few days ago for the first time ever. I would ask you to tell us what to do with it, but I fear that you would tell us.

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    1. Basmati rice...I would put a layer in a large saucepan - about 1cm deep with a little salt. Then pour boiling water over it so that the water stands about 2.5cm from the bottom of the pan. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat right down. Put a lid on and simmer for approximately 13 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the lid on. The rice will absorb most of the water but after five minutes you may need to drain off excess water. Then fluff up the basmati rice with a fork. I hope this helps as I realise that most Americans have a diet of fast food and coke and are not used to cooking.

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  5. What an eloquent soliloquy! I confess to not knowing the meaning of half the words you used, but sounded like a fabulous Fall excursion, nonetheless! I was tempted to take offense at the 'most Americans' remark, but unfortunately I think it's true. We in Doylesville are an oddity in that we cook everyday (else how would we eat?). Basmati is often on the menu and once you've eaten it, you simply cannot purchase 'white' rice ever again. I did get a jolt from your last pic - It is a dead ringer for our own park & gazebo at the library in downtown Centralia WA!

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    1. Don't worry about the junk food reference Hilly.I like to wind up Mr Brague like a zoo keeper with a pointed stick! By the way - in June my wife and I drove by Centralia on Highway 5 - heading from Olympia to Portland. Why didn't you wave?

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  6. Now I feel like having a good curry! Thanks...you've sorted out my lunch for me, Yorky. :)

    I enjoy watching the mindless "pap"....it takes my mind off all the stupidity and horror that goes on in the world. Give me mind-numbing pap any day...and more and more of it! :)

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  7. It's a shame the church was closed. Maybe you could have asked one of the men in day-glo outfits to open the door for you, I am sure something like a lock doesn't present much of a problem to any of them.

    The park looks very inviting for a stroll, and no rubbish on the paths and grass.

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    1. I thought of asking one of those men to provide me with some "community service" but I didn't want to lose my wallet. None of them looked like vicars. And yes the park was neat and tidy - quite surprising for a deprived and multi-ethnic area of the city.

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    2. I feel that I must add YP that not all people doing community service have been raping and pillaging. In New Zealand we had one chap who was a painter by trade who was given the job of painting the roof of the Croquet Club (we benefitted a great deal from CS people). He couldn't do it all in the time of his sentence. So he finished it off in his own time.

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    3. I suspect that fellow had been having relations with merinos. He probably finished painting the roof because he was frightened of how the notorious croquet club members might react if the job was not completed. It is well known that croquet breeds very aggressive tendencies.

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