Issue 249
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It's 103 days until the next bank hol, and yes, we've used up all our annual leave too. But we're turning that frown upside down with mind-growing, tummy-pleasing, scare-making Brummie festivals that are coming up and are 100% bookable. Autumn's suddenly looking 50 shades of yaaay! ⇦ That's the worst thing we've ever written. 


Get your thinking fix, with novelists, poets, food writers, cartoonists, journalists, philosophers and performers at this year's ten-dayer. We got all shirty and insistent until one of the organiser's agreed to tell us her top pick: a duo of smart, opinionated women — Sali Hughes will be chatting to Lauren Laverne about all things beauty and journalism at The Rep on October 6. Tickets are £12. Also catch the likes of Nigel Slater, Caitlin Moran and this big thinking lot.


**Breaking burger news of the patty-flipping variety** Burger averse Andy Low'n'Slow is creating an actual, real burger at Seasonal Markets' Burger Fest on Oct 6. There'll be 100-day aged Longhorn beef from rarebreed farmer Martin Gilder in Toddington, with a bacon cheese option, and some off-menu items Andy won't be revealing until the day on his Instagram. You'll also find OPM, Patty Freaks and Flying Cows (pictured) doing how they do. Early birders have sold out but you can get a spot for £6.50 here.


As well as appearances from Joanna Lumley and James Acaster types, this year's Birmingham Comedy Festival includes a completely new production from The Rep (pictured in rehearsal), which involved playwright, Leo Butler, joining the world's first medical trials for LSD since the sixties. This first run of All You Need is LSD tracks Butler's journey via meet-ups with everyone from Ronald Reagan, to The Beatles, to Steve Jobs, whose own stories on the psychedelic subject also come out. Expect to question all of the things. Tickets are from £10. 

SEPTEMBER 29 & 30 

As festivals go this one's on the specific side. On the Digbeth site where the Peaky Blinders made their first reported assault, there'll be bootleg bars, Victorian fairground rides, live boxing, caricaturists and over 100 actors and musicians in all the garb. Plus that clever Ben Hanlin off the telly box will also be performing a Victorian magic show created for the festival. Saturday is now sold out but you can still get tickets for the Sunday — they're £29.50. Dress to make Cillian proud.


What do you get if you cross the makers of the largest craft beer festival in the country with the two-time winners of British Street Food's best street food event? TAPS is a collab between Craft Beer Rising and Digbeth Dining Club. At The Custard Factory across two days, get beer from 25 breweries, from Aberdeen's Fierce Beer, to Peckham's Brick Beer, to Dig Brew Co. Norman Jay is confirmed in terms of music, while a combination of Wingmans, Dim Sum Su and OPM are looking after food. Looking after it hard. Tickets are from £12 in advance.


Assuming you hit 'open' the moment this email lands in your inbox, tickets for the first Birmingham Photography Festival just went on sale (8am, Thursday). The one-dayer is open to all levels of lens-gazer and comes courtesy of those clever folk behind Igers Birmingham. Expect talks from top-of-their-game UK snappers and a panel discussion with local photographers, like Verity Milligan, who took this misty sunrise over Fox Hollies Park. All happening at the super central, Birmingham and Midland Institute building, tickets are £11. 


Forget binge-watching boxsets, binge-watching movies is where it’s at. Alien Celebration Day is a triple bill of Xenomorphic excitement followed by Q&A’s with cast members who survived the Star Beast. But if you prefer your chest-bursting scares to come courtesy of a bloke in an ill-fitting bustier, how's about The Rocky Horror Picture Show Party, which starts with a screening, before moving into live band and street food terroir. Get your tickets for the first ever Festival of Terror at Custard Factory, or it's "Game Over, man!"


David Edgar is a big deal. He's the RSC’s most-produced living playwright and he's a Brummie, which for our money makes him a long-overdue Broad Street Walk of Stars star. Get on board the Edgar train by taking in his politically fierce Maydays, which is on at the RSC's The Other Place from September 27. It's got form, this one. First staged at the Barbican back in 1983 — when it won hella awards — the epic edgy-of-seaty drama spans 1956 to the 1980s and the masses' political volte-face from left to the right. It was Edgar's reaction against the Thatcher government and the loss of 1960s ideals. Sound familiar? That's because there's more than a few parallels with right now. Part of the Autumn Mischief Festival it's showing until October 20. Tickets


There’s been a lot written about how this is a milestone in Asian representation, and in its sprawling cast of actors from the Far East and its diaspora, it sure is refreshing. But more importantly, this is just a damn entertaining film, and the best romcom in ages. Constance Wu from Fresh off the Boat stars as an economics professor who’s surprised to discover her boyfriend is from the top 1% of the 1% when she joins him for a wedding in Singapore. It’s easy to pick apart this Cinderella fantasy’s raptures around extreme wealth as undermining its progressive credentials, or how it’s really about American attitudes to 'Asia' more than any specific society or culture, but who cares? It’s funny, the cast is winning, and it’s a fantastic date movie. Times & trailer


There are two kinds of people in this world: those who look at the picture above and want to dive headlong into it, and those who want to put clear blue water between them and it as soon as if humanly possible. The Monster is 300 metres of inflatable obstacle coursing, coming to the NEC. Claiming to be the world's largest of its kind (we can't verify there's much in the way of direct competition), tackle 42 entirely ridiculous looking obstacles, including the 18 metre Mega Slide and the optimistic-sounding Bouncy Cage of Doom. There'll be giant flamingos, unicorn ball pits, street food, live DJs and (save for the booze-free 10am slot), an under 16 count of zero. This is something like soft play for grown-ups, but on the very grandest of scales. The Monster is in town from September 21 to 23. Tickets are £23. And we'll be going twice. Or not going at all. Depending on which member of staff you speak to. 
Venue: 18/81, Thorp Street, B5 4AT; Website
Choice: Five Card Charlie (£9); Chooser: The Owners

We can't say where 18/81 is because it's secret squirrels. What we can tell you is that 23 years ago the venue was a nightclub we frequented aged 15 because the door men were, shall we say, flexible about the over 18s policy. These days the drinks offering has improved by six trillion percent, going from Red Stripe (canned) or Red Stripe (bottled), to hands-down the best pre-batched cocktails in the city. The thinking behind 18/81, and we're struggling to fault the logic, is that we spend mind-numbing amounts of time waiting for freshly made but bang-average cocktails in carbon-copy chain bars, when a short stroll from New Street Station you can get significantly better, indy-owned, almost entirely readymade drinks (save for a last minute zhoosh), inside a minute. The Five Card Charlie, pictured (aged rum, fig, walnut and dark choc) was appallingly good. Bite the block and coat your mouth with cocoa before allowing the rich, warming liquor to wash the treat down. Immediately one of the best cocktails in Brum, readymade or not. For precision, 18/81 measures its combos on scales not in jiggers, and the results are almost universally kickass. Bankers Punch was another hit, while Viva Cereza, quite brilliantly showed the difference in a drink when taken through a straw or sipped. Goodbye forever, The Alchemist.


The Mill ain't in the market for grinding flour. The fancy Digbo warehouse and event space — next to the Victorian railway arches at 29 Lower Trinity Street — is all about live music (they've already confirmed Gentleman’s Dub Club, Napalm Death and Fun Lovin’ Criminals to name a few) and did we mention they've got a rooftop garden? Get eyes and ears on the new venue before the masses, at its launch party on September 27. Find a ticket (like the "M" pictured) in one of eleven super secret Digbeth locales and you (plus one) get a night of live music from special guests and DJs, drinks, and canapes care of The Mill. Clues will be released over the next three days across the team’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram


Your mission, should you choose to accept it — find this taxi, get a picture with it, and get busy on social. To get you all geed up for their shiny, happy production of the English classic, La Fille mal Gardée, (or The Wayward Daughter), Birmingham Royal Ballet is giving away tickets and macarons. You'll need to find that not-at-all-black, 'black' cab if tickets are what you're after and post a selfie tagging BRB in it, but to get your free macaron, all you need do is show this email at Miss Macaroon in the Great Western Arcade (while stocks last). The ballet, which includes a real-life Shetland pony, is one of those can't fail to make you grin sort of deals, and being performed at Birmingham Hippodrome from Sept 26 to 29. Tickets (from £11)
Do your bestest dancing at BMAG's silent disco. Happenin' November 24, this one will sell out, hence the huge amounts of notice. Tickets are a tenner.
Nights at the Roundtable is a brillsome sounding supper club, making its B-ham debut at Grace + James on October 1. It's £25 for three-courses. Tickets and menu
If you're wondering why in the funk there were so many Bollywood dancers at New Street on Monday, the correct answer is new musical Taj Express, at the Hippodrome til Saturday.
The Thinking Drinkers: Pub Crawl is a bar hop through history and a comedy you can see at The Old Rep on October 8. It sold out at Edinburgh Fringe, oh and your £16 ticket includes five drinks.

“Owing to the difficulty of distinguishing the letter 'S' by telephone, the international distress signal S.O.S will give place to the word Mayday, the phonetic equivalent of M'aidez, the French for Help Me.”
The Times of London, February 1923

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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Tom Cullen, Andrew Lowry
PICTURES: Verity Milligan (Fox Hollies tree)

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