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A TOURIST NIGHT OUT IN BRUM

09-10-2006

Yes, we all know that this is a great place to be, but what do tourists make of Birmingham? Andy Goff can tell us, because his daughter has been tearing up the town.

Last weekend my elder daughter had a revelation. She came from Brighton to Birmingham as a tourist and was amazed by what she found.

Jessica and her mate, Teri, decided to have a girlie weekend away. For Jessica it was a welcome break from two demanding children and a needy partner. For Teri it was a chance to spend some time with a fun pal and have a laugh.

They drove up to Manchester last Friday and stayed in a second rate hotel. They went out on the town and were not impressed. Manchester was, they thought, seedy and disreputable. In spite of the rebuilding following the IRA bombing they found a city bedevilled by a northern introspection and self-congratulation. A place where the locals revel in being, well, northern. Mancs are w***s.

On Saturday morning they braved the disastrous national artery known as the M6 and headed to Brum for a night in the Radisson SAS Hotel. A stay made possible by the discount the hotel had generously given because my wife does the PR for them.

My daughter has travelled far and wide. By the age of 12 she had been round the world, been up and down the west coast of America and ended up working for Thomas Cook. She even helped to train Joanne Lees, whose boyfriend was murdered during an Australian outback adventure. Suffice to say she has stayed in some classy places, yet was knocked out by the 9th floor room at the Radisson. She and Teri were so impressed they had their evening meal in the room, rather than in the chic restaurant, Filini, because they wanted to luxuriate in their sumptuous surroundings.

However, they were there for hedonism and decided to hit the town. What they found was a modern city filled with old-fashioned friendliness.

Taxi drivers, who were well aware they weren't from town, that didn't rip them off. Bouncers on Broad Street were both polite and helpful. People in clubs said ‘hi', as if they were known acquaintances and apologised when they bumped into them on packed dance floors.

What Jessica and Teri liked most of all were the Broad Street guardians - workers dedicated to ‘looking after' revellers who might be in need of help. Jessica said she felt really safe being in the centre of Brum night life - far more so than in Manchester or Brighton. ‘Yow gulls avvin a good toim? Where am yer from?' were the phrases from the ‘really fit bloke' that stuck in the mind when they needed advice on where to get a cab.

The following morning they did the Bull Ring and were well impressed by the range of shops, the architecture and the general friendliness of Brummies.

So it seems that Birmingham has won over two southern gals who didn't expect to find a friendly population and a style that is missing from the deep rich south and manky north.

It looks like we're getting some things right here in the second city.

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