Monday, November 27, 2006

A Brum Do

Friday afternoon, Work Buddy had been sent a text from the Bubbly Blonde who was putting in an appearance at the NEC over the weekend, wondering if we going to swing by and say hi. At last a weekend away from the computers. And God help us, we went to Birmingham.

The National Exhibition Centre is a barn. Or rather a conglomeration of barns surrounded by acres of parking spaces. Various trade shows were taking place which meant that all manner of people were waddling about, loaded down with bulging plastic bags that had become as distressed as their owners.

The collectors fair was bright and shiny and difficult to miss. I’ve always thought that the best way to dispose of disposable income is on hookers and blow. Or books. But I suppose buying a three-foot high plastic Yoda will make do if that’s your thing.

The Bubbly Blonde was signing along with a whole bunch of other showbiz sorts. Checking the bill we had discovered another good dozen people we knew from corporate work, other assorted projects, or had simply met through friends. As it turned out, most were pleased to see us as well.

Maybe it’s a sign of how far we’ve come already in the business but there were also a selection of poltroons, mountebanks and slubberdegullion druggels we steadfastly wanted to avoid. And on the whole succeeded. The talent wasn’t as lucky.

While happy to meet civilians, and make some cash on the side, a few of the avid fans they encountered were too obsessive or just downright weird. Some actresses sat with rictus grins in response to bluntly asked inappropriate questions. A few we knew took our appearance as an excuse to break for the bar and sanctuary or simply hid behind us until the coast was clear. Happy to be used (as long as it doesn’t make my eyes water too much) I still preferred the option that involved vodka and cigarettes.

A few more hours after our arrival and the event began to wind down. After the long trek back to the car the Bubbly Blonde suggested we go to the movies. Which was a better idea that what we had planned. So off we went, stopping at her hotel first. Which was a mistake.

This was my second visit to central Birmingham. The first was a few years ago when a comedy writers’ annual conference held at one of the city hotels had a spare ticket going at the last minute. And I almost got there at the last minute.

Birmingham has a unique one-way system that doesn’t seem to go anywhere, traffic lights timed to cause maximum congestion, ring roads circling the very centre of the city that branch into underpasses and overpasses, and, most irritatingly, virtually no direction signs or actually street signage.

Eventually we found the hotel, albeit by the scenic route, that took in a number of bland landmarks, repeatedly. Some I had already seen, repeatedly, the last time as well.

The three of us went to “the pictures” to see Casino Royale because it was the sort of ”boys’ film” that BB’s girl friends wouldn’t want to go and see with her. Thinks were looking up when the cinema turned out to be exactly where we were told it would be. Even more surprising was the ticket price of £5.50. For an inner city cinema? In London, if we had gone to Leicester Square it would have easily been double that.

With some time to spare we ducked into the tiny fast food outlets that littered the street, strategically placed between the bars and nightclubs that lined the strip, like the stalls at a theme park between the rides.

Just as tasteless as theme park food, it ended up stuffed into the waste bins that were just as strategically placed along the pavements. Which meant stocking up on so much popcorn, hotdogs and drinks back at the cinema that people had to open the doors to the auditorium for us.

The price we paid for the cheap ticket was a projectionist who wasn’t bothering to keep the film in sharp focus. While it was never blurred, as the credits rolled I still had to ask if it looked soft to everyone else to check that my eyes weren’t playing up. Or maybe I was still in a daze from discovering they still served Westlers hotdogs. Even with those mild distractions Casino Royale was still skill!

Afterwards we walked BB back to her hotel, scything our way through local nightlife made up of groups of girls still dressed for summer, whose aim appeared to be getting liquored up and ending the night with their legs in the air, and packs of boys being led by their erections towards the nearest available warm hole.

Then, as much as it is impossible to find anywhere in the bloody city, getting out was just as tricky. It reminded me of the Disneyland parking lot at Anaheim. Show us a feckin’ exit sign for Chrissakes! Obviously they don’t want people to find the way out of Brum because the trickle would turn into a raging flood.

Of course, to round off the day, the real icing on the cake didn’t come until we got out to the dual carriageways and eventually found the signs for the M6 (south) and discovered that the M1 – or at least a good portion of it - was now shut for the night. Right.

It took a day to recover so Sunday was wiped out. Come the evening, after the ticks and tremors from going north went south, we trotted off to see The Prestige, which was skill and ace. Two for two, who’d have thunk it?


At 5:28 pm, Blogger potdoll said...

Did you have PMT this weekend?

At 7:10 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...


Nah, popcorn and hotdogs!

I had a read through and I did go off on one. Actually, apart from the few travel glitches, it was a pretty good day.

I guess I didn't want to name drop like crazy and talk about who I had been hanging out with.

At 8:17 pm, Blogger potdoll said...

Oh who? Who? WHO was it? quick tell me while nobody's looking.

At 9:09 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Oh a bunch of fun people. Folk we had got to know over the years through various ventures. It was good that they were altogether in one place, which made it easy for us.

Sorry honey, don't mean to be coy but I can't start naming names.

(So what the cock was I talking about "name dropping" in my previous comment? It has been one of those days).

At 11:09 pm, Blogger potdoll said...

I'd already guessed it was Melinder Messenger anyhow

At 11:09 pm, Blogger potdoll said...


At 12:21 am, Blogger Good Dog said...

Melinder Messenger? huh?

Oh, you mean the Bubbly Blonde? Nah, sorry honeybun but you're way off base.

Not MM but HH.

At 1:06 pm, Blogger potdoll said...

Holly Hunter!

At 1:10 pm, Blogger Riddley Walker said...

"Humpty Hornbag", obviously... ;-)

At 8:17 pm, Blogger potdoll said...

The blonde and bubbly Harry Hill...?

At 9:39 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Holly Hunter... oh, I wish.

Honeybun, still not there yet, but you get a B+ for effort.

I guess it would help to know what was on at the NEC and the guest list.

At 9:47 pm, Blogger potdoll said...

The NEC Construction and Recruitment show?

The Golf Show....

That gives me zero clues. sulk.

At 10:45 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Someone Haired at Eighty.

And that's the last clue.

At 11:01 pm, Blogger potdoll said...

Stinge. off to contemplate

At 3:54 pm, Blogger potdoll said...

Last night I dreamt I had it - Hilary Hamilton, sister of Christine, and Prime Minister...

At 12:25 am, Blogger Good Dog said...


"Haired at Eighty" is an anagram.

At 5:52 pm, Blogger potdoll said...

A little bird has put me out of my misery...



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