Issue 255
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Like Big Jack Nicholson barking at Tom Cruise across a courtroom in a Few Good Men, we want to scream Brummie trivia at you while calling you 'son' a lot. Why? Because we've just spent an enlightening hour with photographer-turned-tour-guide, Kevin Thomas. He's created a series of walking tours covering the lost history of Brum through pubs, architecture and even a bus route. And because nobody learned anything when they were being screamed at, here in non-shouty form is just a mere whisper of what we found out from each tour.
Found on: Jewellery Quarter Tour

The Georgian style two tier crescent catacombs are minutes from the Rose Villa Tavern, behind the section of the cemetery you can see from Warstone Lane. The unhealthy vapours coming from the gallery of tombs led to the Birmingham Cemeteries Act of 1846, requiring non-interred coffins to be sealed with lead for evermore. And while we're talking graves, just down the road at Key Hill Cemetery you'll find the great and the good of 19th century Birmingham, like Joseph Chamberlain, and Alfie Bird, inventor of egg-free custard.
Found on: Art Deco Tour

Built in the fifties, the corner property at the bottom of Bennetts Hill replaced an Art Deco shoe shop, destroyed in the bombing raids of WW2. Though predominantly Brutalist in style, the now-office space actually has all sorts of nods to its predecessor, with overhanging cornices, angular ironwork jutting out and a chequered pattern all pointing towards its Art Deco history. The Grovesnor House mish-mash is all the more unusual because it's surrounded by traditional red brick buildings — its more European feel is put down to the Viennese architect's assistant.
Found on: Historic Pubs Tour

This boozer used to be a fire station, but a bit like RAC cover, you had to pay a subscription in order to get the station's help should your house actually ignite. The Trocadero was also one of Birmingham's first gay bars, then known as The Bodega, a wine bar. Outside the city centre, the Jewellery Quarter's rife with old and interesting pubs that pretty much encapsulate the history of the area. The Gothic (on Great Hampton Street) started off life as P Vaughton and Sons — a gold and silver manufacturer — went on to be a pub with its own branded currency, closed down in line with the decline of manufacturing in the JQ, became a sex shop, and will shortly become flats. Of course it will.
Found on: History from the No 50 Tour

Alleged to have been built by Joseph Chamberlain around the year 1900, the Angry Wall is in Moseley's Highbury Park. It's made out of empty concrete artillery shell casings, and was positioned, it is said, to annoy Chamberlain's pacifist neighbour George Cadbury, who would have been able to see it from his house. Again, allegedly. Accessible from Queen's Bridge Road, the wall was hidden behind foliage until eleven years ago.
Catch more of Kevin's photography at Moseley Arts Market this Saturday, or book on to one of his walking tours. Art Deco on November 17 is his next. Tickets are £10.


"My name is Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered." As opening lines go, The Lovely Bones doesn't have a start you'll forget. But if you somehow got past your angsty teenage years without tearing your way through Alice Sebold's brutal, beautiful global bestseller (with a 'borrowed' copy, in a corner of Waterstones, or was that just us?) it's coming to the stage for the first time. The plot — piecing together the story of Susie's end and the fallout — might sound like it would make for fairly horrendous theatre going, but quite apart from being a compelling mystery murder (for everyone except Susie), the cast, set and design behind the new production looks as clever as it is acclaimed. With recent credits from the National Theatre, RSC and Olivier nominations going to both cast and directorial team. At The Rep from October 30. Tickets are from £10.


There aren't enough independent restaurants in Birmingham. It's a fact. Sure, things are better than they were ten years ago, but indy set-ups still struggle to get the sort of breaks they need to get open, particularly in the city centre. Street food and open fire chef Andy Low N Slow has found a spot he likes. It's a stone's throw from town and he needs £50,000 to add to the £100,000 he's already raised (half of which is his hard-earned coin) to open a barbecue restaurant we can all be extremely proud of. Andy's story is an incredible one. And if you've eaten his food you'll know of his commitment to only the best, ethically sourced meat, cooked with influences of Mexico and Texas. Read how he quit his factory job to follow a dream, here, and dig deep to help Andy open his own restaurant through his crowdfunder. If you can afford it, this is your chance to make our city's food scene better.


Over the last three decades, Andy Waters has been at the pass at multiple Midlands Michelin-starred restaurants, from Simpsons to Edmunds. For his next trick, he'll be taking over the penthouse of Brum foodism at Resorts World. From January 10, you'll find Chef at the very top of the building, in his new rooftop bar and restaurant, Sky by Waters. Expect the classic cooking with a contemporary twist that has defined his career so far, a dedicated bar with a silly good cocktail menu and a (not-so-secret because we're telling you about it) secret garden: there'll be private covered outdoor pods for afternoon tea, evening drinks, and putting the world to rights, presumably. The move, two-floors up from Andy's current digs, is more than twice as big, comes with private dining, a Chef’s Table and the sort of views of Birmingham you didn't know existed. And having got into the detail of the fit-out for this particular project, may we just say, this is one to get very excited about.


For fans of Queen, this biopic of the band will be a joy. It traces the group’s growth from their days of being largely ignored at student gigs to holding the world in the palm of their hands at Live Aid in 1985, the whole story told with upbeat affection. That affection for the band, and especially Freddie Mercury, is also what keeps this from being a great biopic. There appears a fear of shining too much light on the more hedonistic aspects of Mercury’s life and risking tarnishing his memory. Rami Malek (Mr Robot) is superb as Freddie, a whirlwind of charisma and camp excess, not a second of his screen time wasted. The film particularly comes alive in the stage performance scenes, Malek commanding a crowd as magnificently as Mercury at his best. Just as Freddie did with Queen, Malek fights to make something good into something fabulous. Times & trailer


Nabi artist Édouard Vuillard spent a hefty portion of his artistic career knocking out paint and pastel pictures of his beloved mother — sometimes as the main focus, sometimes as a bit part player, but almost ever present. So much so, that the Barber’s latest expo is the first to feature naught but his depictions of the old dear, and the first UK show to big-up the artist in nearly 15 years. Bare time. This incredible selection from the total 500 mum-pics comes from public and private collections in the UK and France and helped garner Vuillard the reputation of the ‘intimist’ among his French avant-garde chums. Marking his big one-five-oh, the at times humorous showcase (see her hands above? He's messing with you) is also accompanied by a series of talks, a study afternoon and art workshops for all. Maman runs til January 20. Entry is free.
Venue: Buffalo & Rye, 11 Bennetts Hill, B2 5RS; website
Choice: Straight Up Grilled Cheese (£7.50) Chooser: Waitress

Sushi, soup and a burger here or there is where lunchtime tends to take us, and we've got okay with that. But Buffalo & Rye's
Autumn menu had us demolishing three gargantuan bread-encased constructs and feeling really rather wonderful about the whole thing. Try the crispy buttermilk strips of the chicken po'boy, served in French bread with pickles and sriracha mayo for a bit of lunchtime Louisiana (po'boys are a New Orleans staple). If you're ordering one sandwich and there's no sharing opportunity, it has to be the Straight Up Grilled Cheese, a wedge of naughty with exactly as much Cheddar, American and Swiss as you're hoping. For max gooeyness, added to the depth charge of a combo is a little Texan cheese sauce which is all packaged up in thick sourdough. Embrace the gherkin and the tart cabbage on the side, which you will need to cut through this fromage fest. There's also a half sandwich and soup option (£6.50) which makes for a happy entry point if you've still to be convinced on the ways of the sandwich.
Grayson Perry's discussing cultural divisions in the world of Brexit, Trump and whatever else is thrown at us before Sunday at 7.30pm when you'll find the Turner-prize winning artist at Symphony Hall. Tickets are from £18.
BMAG's throwing a dinner party for old St Nick. In the Edwardian Tea Rooms on December 8, it's £45 a spot, which gets you a drink, discoteca, four courses and, presumably, a well-deserved hangover. More
The Rep's spring/summer season looks ruddy bloody brilliant, and includes adaptations of both A Thousand Splendid Suns and Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Lovely stuff.
Dogbeth Dining Club (not a typo) is this Sunday. Four-legged friends are invited to DDC for the first time from 12pm. £2 OTD. Can we borrow a dog, please?

"You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall.
You need me on that wall."

Colonel Jessop, 'A Few Good Men' (1992)

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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Tom CullenRobb Sheppard, Olly Richards
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