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Foreword by Carl Chinn

Carl Chinn

'Yoh can tek the kid out a Brum, but yoh?ll never tek Brum out a the kid.? That has to be the clarion call of all Brummie exiles - along with the cry of ?Once a Brummie always a Brummie!? Not all those born or reared in Birmingham would agree. There are a very few, like the outspoken theatre critic Kenneth Tynan, who reject our city. But for the great majority of those Brummies whose lives have led them elsewhere, Brum is with them still. It is there in their hearts, their minds and their souls. It is there in their feelings, their actions and their beliefs. It is in everything they are and everything they do. We and Birmingham are indivisible. If we can?t take Brum out of us then neither can we be taken out of Brum - even if physically we are elsewhere. 

What is Birmingham to those of us who love our city? It?s Our Mom and Our Dad. It?s Our Kid and Our Wench. It?s all of our families, our nans and granddads, our aunts and uncles, our cousins and distant relatives. It?s our neighbours and pals. It?s all the people of Brummagem, whoever they are, whatever their class, colour and creed and wherever they have come from and wherever they have gone. It?s the street we come out of, the neighbourhoods to which we belong, the schools we attended, the hucksters shops we bought our rocks in, the recs we played footer in, The Lickies where we went exploring, the baths at which we learned to swim, the dances and discos where we clicked with a chap or a bird, and the flicks we went to for our dream world. It?s the Bull Ring and Hudson?s Bookshop, the Great Western Arcade and the Midland Educational, Father Christmas at Lewis?s and the starlings roosting in Corporation Street. It?s the roar of the crowds at Villa Park and Saint Andrews. It?s us and we are it. Brummagems seared into our souls and it courses through our every being. We made Brummagem. Brummagem made us. 

    And we are forever making and remaking our Birmingham. There are only two constants in the recorded history of Birmingham: the Bull Ring markets which have been with us since 1166 and change. In the 1820s, James Dobbs wrote a song that was popular locally. It was called ?I Can?t Find Brummagem? and told the tale of a Brummie who came back after years away and the change was remarkable. So many of the landmarks and places he knew had gone and the town was so transformed that he couldn?t find his Brummagem. Well, Our Brummagem is always with us but so too is the ever-changing Birmingham and thanks to Peter Gamble and his pals who have put together the virtualbrum website, Brummie exiles can belong now to a pair of Birminghams: their Brummagem, the Brummagem they left, and the Brummagem that is now. Virtual Brum is a bostin website and it?s for Brummies both here and there.

Carl Chinn 29-September-2001


Dr Carl Chinn MBE is a passionate Brummie born and bred. He is a Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Birmingham. He is a Radio Presenter with shows on weekday afternoons and Sunday Lunchtime on BBC Radio WM. Carl also the author of many books about Brum and has a new monthly magazine published called "Brummagem"





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Virtual Brum is an unofficial Birmingham UK website about the city which is also known as Brummagem or Brum.
Views expressed are not those of Birmingham City Council or any of its agencies. The official council website can be found at www.birmingham.gov.uk

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