Where do we start?
1. The footballers
Flickr: Elliott Brown
If we were designing a city centre, we’d design a specific district for footballers to hang out in so that they could letch onto orange-skinned teenagers, start pointless fist-fights and talk about themselves to their hearts’ content without bothering normal people. And it seems Brum City Council had the same idea. It’s called Broad Street.
Hang around outside Gatecrasher and you might catch a stray punch from fist-fighting Blues B-teamers. Stroll past Bliss and you might get kicked in the head by a Watford FC striker. Hang around outside Sugar Suite and … actually, don’t. Just don’t.
2. The air
Flickr: Elliott Brown
There’s plenty about Broad Street that stinks, but also: it literally stinks. In August 2014, Birmingham Friends of The Earth published research (based on the Birmingham Council’s own data) that showed that the O’Neill’s pavement was one of the top five most air-polluted places in Brum.
Presumably, this is more to do with all the cars that chug down the road than it is all the outdoor smokers puffing away between pints and people farting off the effects of their late-night kebabs, but either way, it verifies something we’ve been saying for years. Broad Street is definitely not a breath of fresh air.
3. The insane clothes
Flickr: Anya Garienchick
Or should we say ‘lack of clothes’? (We should). Apparently, having become confused by the fact that Broad Street is the 'Shagaluf of the West Midlands', the dress code for women seems to operate along the lines of ‘scorching summer holiday garb’.
Partly, this consists of a skin-tone that doesn’t say ‘tan’ so much as it does ‘nuclear holocaust victim’, amd mainly of weather-defyingly microscopic skirts designed to attractively flash your knickers when you’re sprawled on a pavement at 3am, crying into donner meat.
Ladies, you know the phrase ‘less is more’? Yeah, it doesn’t refer to the amount of material on your bumcheeks. Please cover yourselves up before you freeze!
4. The daytime
Some people have no choice but to hit Broad Street during the hours of daylight. Litter collectors, street sweepers, poor sods whose office is based there. But if you have a choice in the matter, why would you? Who on earth visits that Natwest? Is there anything more depressing than buying food from a Sainsbury’s that only hours before probably had someone’s buttocks pressed against its window as they had a cheeky Jager-fuelled grope?
Still, that said: hats off to Lee Longlands. How does it continue to attract people to browse high-class home furnishings when they have to journey there via a pavement that was recently stained with half-digested kebab? Not a clue. Not the slightest clue.
5. Feeling like you’re in the past
Brum is changing. Ace new bars are opening all the time, as are wicked new street food markets and sweet new clubnights that’ll leave you smiling all the way to the nightbus. The one thing they all have in common? None of them are on Broad Street: a place whose ethos of ‘get ‘em bladdered and they won’t notice how crap it is’ has remained unchanged from some point in 1995.
All well and good if you like that sort of thing, of course. But every time you head there, you’re not trying out something new and exciting. You’re taking a trip to Birmingham’s past, and damn is it hard to shake off that feeling when you do so.
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