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Laurence Inman’s Blog

JUST LIKE LIVING IN BEIRUT, 1978

21-02-2009

Nationwide Kings Heath

Kings Heath’s favourite son is in prolific form at the moment. Look out for his definition of what food is.

Walking up and down Kings Heath High Street these days is to negotiate a peculiarly modern obstacle course.

Most mornings you’re lucky not to be tangled up in that blue and white crime-scene tape and told by some burly part-time plod that you can only reach Homebase by going via Stirchley.

Then there’s the mounds of decomposing flowers on the pavements every fifty yards. And the mounds of people reading the cards on them.

Just lately we’ve also had to put up with camera crews from every local TV outfit. The story seems to be that Kings Heath is at the centre of an ever-accelerating global break-down of civilization, which began with the demise of Adams.

The pictures are convincing. Half the road is boarded up. Then again, a good editor can make Nechells look like Dubai; making Kings Heath look like Beirut in 1978 is a piece of cake.

I don’t mind. The recent Darwin celebrations prompt an unavoidable conclusion: mammals have evolved who are curious, inventive and enthusiastic. They are also impatient, lazy and selfish. The rest is history.

I’m looking forward to there being only two shops on the High Street.

As far as I’m concerned we’re nearly there already.

At weekends I get my papers from W H Smith. I use the Post Office three times a year: tax disc, euros, more euros.

I get food from one of the two big food distribution centres (FDC’s): Sainsbury’s when I need something approaching proper food and a cheery welcome from the staff, and Safeway when I’m in a rush. I never use Iceland. I once bought a jam roly-poly there, but there was no jam in it.

I use the nice vegetable shop opposite Sainsbury’s when I need fresh coriander; I refuse to pay 75p for a tiny plastic-wrapped packet when it’s a pound for a huge bunch over the road. The fact that I only use as much as I would have bought in Sainsbury’s anyway, then put the rest in the fridge to go mushy is beside the point.

I buy the same fifty or sixty items in the FDC every week. I’m looking forward to the day when I can log-on my weekly intake in some central computer and they send me a small ampoule which I can attach to an IV catheter, like putting a cartridge in a pen, and which will give me everything I need. I’ll pay through the internet. Food is, after all, just shit waiting to happen.

Finally, congratulations to the good people of All Saints’ Road, who parked their cars to block off buses going down their road. These were buses full of shifty-looking strangers (see link here).

When I discussed doing the same thing on my road in 1996 the police said it would be illegal. Any car parked on the road, they said, is causing an obstruction; they use their ‘discretion’ to decide whether or not to nick you. Cars parked on the pavement are also illegal, but in the case of Poplar Road they ‘turn a blind eye.’ These are actual quotes.

So now we know. The terms ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ only have a meaning if a copper either likes your face or, more often, not.

Evening all.

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