This time by the New York Times article extolling the virtues of the second city. Which second city? Birmingingham of course! A quick quote:
IRMINGHAM, England � It has long been fashionable to scorn Birmingham, the second city of Britain.
“One has no great hopes of Birmingham,” comments the snobbish Mrs. Elton in Jane Austen’s “Emma.” “I always say there is something direful in the sound.”
Prince Charles disdained Birmingham’s blighted downtown as having “no charm, no human scale, no character except arrogance.”
The common joke has been that Britain’s much maligned No. 2 city was so unsightly that its downtown tangle of freeways, known as Spaghetti Junction, had more lanes taking you out of the city than in.
“When I was at Oxford and I’d say I was from Birmingham,” said Benedict Fisher, 23, a public relations executive, “people would always have a sarcastic reaction like, `Well, someone has to be,’ or `Isn’t it nice that someone actually lives in that grim, drab, industrial waste?’ ”
Through the centuries the locals, known as “Brummies,” stoically endured their countrymen’s abuse. “Brummies have low expectations,” said Mary Lodge, a retired Birmingham teacher. “They expect to get kicked.”
Her husband, the writer David Lodge, has lived here since coming to teach in 1960, but his novels that are set in Birmingham do not treat the place much better than outsiders do. “Brummies are ruthlessly ironic, laconic and inherently nonchauvinistic,” he said over lunch at their house in the leafy university district. “My satirizing of Birmingham was taken with great good humor by the locals.”
Now the city’s reputation as a rustbelt cripple and its residents’ wry resignation at being the laughingstock of the country may be coming to an end, and other Britons, for a change, are taking positive notice.