Monday, August 29, 2005

Birmingham Hall of Fame

Is the news agenda really so bereft that we have to have this self-publicising waste of time?

No, not John H, but this proposal for a Birmingham Hall of Fame (you only get the real effect if you can switch your reverb on when reading those words). Precisely what is the point? It just seems to be an opportunity for regional navel-gazing rather than looking to what Birmingham can offer the future. I'd rather see us represented on the world stage by our environment - showing off the ICC, the new Bull Ring, our great Victorian city buildings and our new world-class library.

He thinks it will promote Birmingham within the region, but then extends the Hall's reach to cover 'Mercia' - which conveniently ensures that Shakespeare gets in.

Obviously, I don't have a problem with promoting my city and my region, but I'm not convinced that this idea will do any good. On the one hand, there are the obvious candidates - Shakespeare, John Cadbury, Tolkien, Matthew Boulton, Edward Burne-Jones and Joseph Chamberlain all qualify, but there we have the historical perspective to assess their importance.

When it comes to assessing more recent candidates, however, it is more about popularity than anything. I really don't want to descend into a debate about the relative superiority of Ozzy, Duran Duran, Steve Winwood , Toyah or Dexy's Midnight Runners. In literature, do we go for David Lodge or Jonathan Coe? In comedy, Lenny Henry, Jasper Carrott, Tony Hancock or Shazia Mirza? You pays your money and takes your choice. Do we end up inducting the next winner of Fame Academy or Pop Stars into the Hall of Fame?

Rather than an interesting exhibit at Millennium Point, this will end up making us look a laughing stock - the national press don't need much prodding to dig up the old images of Brum. Expect to see Benny from Crossroads nominated sometime soon, an image that we thought was gone.

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