(Issue 110)
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As years go, it's been a bit of a biggie for Brum. And as we move swiftly into the most reflective portion of the calendar, Visit Birmingham and Ikon are pausing to take a look at twelve months of Instameets in the city, by way of an exhibition. Organised across four seasons, the photographic mass meet-ups have resulted in thousands of images being posted to Instagram and scrutinised by the team hosting each Instameet. Here are their winners.
At the centre of civic Brum since the Nineteenth Century, you've probably noticed that Paradise Circus is undergoing something of a nip and tuck. Documenting it in the same month that construction began, the inaugural Instameet was dominated by the iconic tiers of the Central Library. Taking the top spot was Darren Gair's reflective image of Madin's brutalist behemoth, an opportunist snap he captured on his mobile, having grown up knowing the library well. *Collective lamenting sighs all round.*
Graffiti has been making greyish corners of Digbeth a whole heap more attractive since before anyone was allowed to call the practice 'street art'. No surprises then that Instameet number two - with City of Colours playing tour guide - resulted in more than 850 posts. Taking the crown this time was Mexican-born Midlands snapper, Hanny Foxhall and her shot of a friendly looking chap by artist SNUB23. Like it? Catch 35 UK artists painting live in City of Colours' Winter Jam on December 5.
The summer edition of Instameet took place across a number of buildings that you basically have to be MI5 - or on first name terms with the guys from Hidden Spaces - to access. Taking in locations including the city's former mortuary, it was the Municipal Bank which proved to be a particular favourite with Brum's Insta-mafia. Indeed, it was this Sixth Sense-esque shot of the entrance by sixteen-year-old Sarah Ali which, 'for the way it captured the atmosphere of the space' won out.
Being in Birmingham across the final weekend of September was a lot like we imagine waking up in your own version of Donnie Darko might feel. From raves on top of car parks, to dancing swans and mildly angry trapezing Germans (not in the same place), there was photo fodder in abundance, but it's Tim Cornbill's chance shot of the anything but ordinary that we can't stop staring at. The next Instameet is in March. We want to see weirder.

The More Birmingham Instagram Showcase is at Ikon until Sunday. Follow Visit Birmingham for details of future Instameets. 


Observe the three Ps at The Stable, which opens today on John Bright Street. Pizza, pies and ploughman's tells you pretty much everything you need to know about Brum's latest squeeze, which started life in a stable in Bridport. Never ones for the literal then, there are some vigorous nods to the Midlands in the menu, which includes a pizza with marinated lamb and mint called the Perry Barr-Baa. Try The Stable's wares for free this Sunday, November 29 (see here), or with a 50% discount on Monday, November 30 (here).


In a move that's got elves fearing for their livelihoods across the North Pole, clothing brand and lifestyle store, Provide, has bagged itself city centre digs. Bolstering the Great Western Arcade's men's fashion creds by precisely two to the power of three, Provide is in situ until May. Expect books which will make you chuckle (try the one about sheds), tees you'll be proud to wear and cards you actually want to give. The launch party is today (Nov 26) from 6pm and you're invited.


Some things never change. Like the fact we still get a stocking (right, Mum?). Another Christmas ritual which is entirely sacred is Birmingham Royal Ballet's annual run of The Nutcracker. Now in its twenty-fifth year, Sir Peter Wright's splendiferous production will have blinded audiences with sparkles, wonderment and more sparkles 429 times by the end of the season. And we're guaranteeing you an audience with the sugar plumb fairy. Be wholesome and be charmed, from November 27 to December 13. Tickets.


Oh now this is just pure class. Steven Spielberg, one of the great American filmmakers, teaming up with Tom Hanks, one of the last genuine movie stars, and Mark Rylance, don of the British stage – what could go wrong? Not much, it’s a pleasure to report. Rylance is an enigmatic spy in Cold War New York who’s captured on operations, and Hanks is (of course) a decent lawyer fighting to get him a fair day in court – and things turn geopolitical when the Soviets down a spy plane and Rylance becomes a potential bargaining chip in securing the return of its pilot. This is Spielberg, so there's no Tinker Tailor-style focus on the grubbiness of espionage, and in its place an idealistic focus on the importance of equality before the law - but that's no criticism. This is a meaty, juicy film you can sink into and savour. Trailer & Times
Venue: Cairo Express, 110 Digbeth High Street, B5 6DT; website
Choice: Lamb Shawarma (£6) Chooser: Us. They refused to pick. 

Barely five weeks old at the time of writing (the restaurant, not the writer) Cairo Express is that place you've seen near Digbeth coach station, but not been in. GO IN! The brilliantly suspicious staff don't like questions about the place, but the food does all the talking. This isn't so much Egyptian fare, as the name would suggest, but all-out Arabic, including an ocakbasi charcoal grill - a rare thing in these parts - and Lebanese-style shawarmas. A kebab house for the uninebriated, expect tasty, flame-licked hunks of meat matched with fragrant rice and freshly made hummous, tabbouleh, tahini, fattoush and falafel. If you're following us onto the shawarma train (all aboard!) expect crisp shavings of decent lamb - sure, it might not be Aubrey Allen, but it's a million miles from the miscellany elephant's leg you find in kebab houses across the UK. A good addition to an area of Brum desperately lacking in decent diners. Menu
  • Bad news: Waters on the Square, Edgbaston has closed. Good news: Waters Restaurant, Resorts World has opened. And while we too are concerned about the lack of apostrophe, we're taken with the menu
  • This Friday's Magic Door at Boxxed comes complete with a mystical woodland. Final release tickets available
  • The Site Office is opening its reassuringly heavy door for the final time this year on November 28 from 9pm. You'll need to interrogate their Facebook to find out how to gain entry
  • Kings Heath's Winter Fest is this Sunday. There'll be street food, live music and things we could never make, in abundance
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"We have to have the conversations our governments can't."
- James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks), Bridge of Spies
WORDS: Katy DrohanAndrew LowryTom Cullen
I CHOOSE Birmingham, Unit 317, Zellig, Gibb Street, Birmingham, B9 4AA

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