(Issue 100)
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Admit it, in this Instagram age we all fancy ourselves as photographers. But it's not until the truly talented shutterbugs showcase their work that you realise how a simple tap of a filter when you're photographing your flat white won't cut it. From now until October 3 the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists are showing stunning snaps entered into their Urban Life competition, the first photographic prize in their 200 year history. Here's our pick of the pics.
It may look like something out of last night's harrowing nightmare in which you forgot to put on your swimmers before entering the pool area, but this is actually the winner of first prize. Taken by Birmingham-based, Italian-born photographer Attilio Fiumarella it was captured at Moseley Road Baths and was inspired by the ancient Chinese sculpture the Terracotta Army. Attilio wanted to raise awareness of the loss of this piece of heritage, which faces an extremely bleak future.  
Standing beneath Digbeth’s railway arches behind shards of broken glass, this beastie was snapped by art teacher, Carl Seebode. The Triceratops lives at Boxxed, the home of Magic Door. Carl, who studied at Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, said: "It was a Sunday morning with the aftermath of the night before and there was a bunch of these fibreglass dinosaurs, some missing heads, some missing tails. I wanted a different perspective through the barbed wire in the foreground."
Birmingham photographer Tom grabbed this shot late one night in June when he spotted the tunnel was closed for maintenance. “Loads of traffic passes through this tunnel, but people don’t ever get to stop and think about its shape and structure," he said, completely overlooking how dangerous it would be to just stop mid-journey. "I like the lights above mirroring the road markings below.” This is one of two images from Tom’s Infinity Project to feature in the exhibition, the other being this shot.
Erdington-based freelance cameraman Eugene made it his mission to capture John Madin’s Brutalist architecture at the Central Library before the bulldozers rolled in. Falling in love with the city icon and its inverted concrete ziggurat while studying there as a Bournville College student, he told us: “People either love or hate the building – but that makes it good architecture in my opinion. It’s a sculpture really. The whole building, I mean.” See more of Eugene’s library pictures here  
Graphic designer Ian Jones reckons living in a high-rise flat gives him a unique perspective of the urban landscape of Birmingham. This image - both a portrait of Ian’s girlfriend, Siuzana, and a landscape shot of three neighbouring blocks taken from their ninth-floor flat off Pershore Road – is the result of experimenting with double exposures on negative film. Rather than merging the images digitally, Ian left the film from the first picture in place while he took the second so the two overlap.   


Moderately interesting piece of trivia - Oktoberfest kicks off in September. Has done ever since the 19th Century when shrewd Bavarians decided to launch it early to make the most of warmer nights. So now you know. Purecraft Bar & Kitchen is celebrating, September 24, with a night of eating, drinking, stein-clinking and thigh-slapping. For £23.50 you'll score a plate of traditional bratwurst served with sauerkraut, mustard and pickles, plus your pick of two German beers (Veltins Pilsner, Maisels Weiss, Sunner Kolsch or Aktien Festibier - make sure you try the latter) as well as Oompah provided by Billy's Big Bavarian Brass Band. There may only be three of them but they'll cover trumpet, horn, trombone, baritone and sousaphone, which we're pretty sure is an instrument they've made up. Call 0121 237 5666 or email info@purecraftbars.com. 


Any instance where Birmingham gets one over London piques our interest and that's why we're all over the launch of a new eco-friendly cosmetics store in the North Western Arcade (not to be confused with neighbouring Great Western Arcade). Organique is a hugely successful Polish brand that refuses to allow any junk into their products (no parabens, SLS, PEG-S, vaseline or silicon - all of which sound bad and are bad) and their first foray into the UK market brings them to Birmingham, which makes them pretty smart people in our book. A maturer offering than Lush they have, for 14 years, produced natural, healthy and environmentally friendly products for body, hair and face, expanding out of Poland and into Norway, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, the USA, Hungary, Italy and Australia, before landing in Brum. Not London. Hah!


From dance shows in car parks to roaming musicians, ballerinas and lost luggage porters (yes really), Birmingham Weekender is taking the city, all of it, from September 25 to 27 and we're struggling to work out what acts to prioritise. Okay, we're totally not. Transe Express will be filling a musical chandelier (pictured) suspended 55 metres above Centenary Square with trapezists, acrobats, musicians and, essentially, creepy clowns. It promises to be one of the visual spectacles of Birmingham's year, nay, decade. Also taking to the skies will be the significantly less petrifying, but no less cool Urban Astronaut (check him out here) while Imagineer’s six-metre tall Lady Godiva will be strolling through Birmingham, all conspicuous like. Plus there will be a mass of street food traders, filling tums and, probably, high-fiving diners. If you ask. With some exceptions, all Weekender events are free. Full details


Next week is G&B week. Chances are it's not in your diary because we're announcing it exclusively. The brainchild of Brum's finest maker of luxury gin, Langley's No.8, it's a week of celebrating not just G&T, but 'G&B', their new serve: Langley's with pink grapefruit (G) and basil (B), get it? Langley's say it also stands for Gin & Birmingham, a nod to the city in which they distill, but that's just plain greedy. Bottom line is they'll be hosting a week's worth of celebrations including bringing free G&B to your office throughout Monday (September 21) if you tweet @LangleysNo8 with the hashtag #FreeGandB. And if your boss doesn't mind. Actually, screw your boss. A full rundown of events can be found here but, bar free gin, we're most excited about a full Langley's No.8 cocktail bar popping up next Saturday and Sunday (September 26 and 27) at the new Harvey Nics, serving fashion-led cocktails


Some films look like they were a blast to make, shot on Hawaiian beaches or in some Tuscan village. Not so Everest, whose cast shiver their way through locations, shooting atop mountains in Nepal and Italy. They look so miserable, you wish you could offer them a cup of tea. The film they’ve suffered to bring you is a dramatisation of the 1996 disaster up the eponymous hill, where eight climbers died when an unexpected storm brought visibility down to zero. Surprisingly, it refuses to Hollywood-up the bleaker elements of the real-life story making this pretty bracing stuff for a Friday night. Compensating for such downer material is the totally convincing depiction of an environment most of us can only imagine – at no point do you not believe Jake Gyllenhaal and co are actually up Mount Everest, and both the exhilaration and danger of hardcore climbing are captured perfectly.
Trailer & Times
Venue: The Old Moseley Arms, Tindal Street, B12 9RE, website
Choice: Masala fish (£4.50) Chooser: Sukhi Rai, landlord

Keep your gravy-drenched pie and mash. This backstreet boozer does pub grub differently, serving samosas as bar snacks and an almost unsteadying array of curries and mixed grills from a seven-day tandoori menu. It’s a winning recipe, landing the Old Mo the title of Birmingham’s CAMRA Pub of the Year for the last two years and recently earning it a place in the Good Beer Guide for 2016. The welcome is so warm it makes you feel like Norm in Cheers and their next quarterly beer festival runs from September 24 to 27 if you’re looking for an excuse to pull up a pew. Veggies should go for the sweet and sour spinach, paneer (homemade, no less) and chickpea dhansak (£6.75) but king of the menu is the masala fish (a fried Bangladeshi Pangas catfish). Drizzle it with chilli sauce and raita, squeeze over lemon, wrap it up with salad in a naan (comes in the £4.50 price) and feel smug about scoffing what is probably Birmingham’s best value meal.
  • For all of your chilli-based needs, head to Brindleyplace for the fifth Birmingham Chilli Festival. From 11am on Saturday (with a produce market the day before), the chilli eating contest is at 3pm
  • Choose from 300 different drams at the Midlands Whisky Festival by independent merchants Nickolls and Perks at Stourbridge Town Hall on September 18 and 19
  • Never heard a brass ensemble blast out Prodigy hits? Get yourself to the Hare and Hounds on September 27 for Hackney Colliery Band
  • Bearwood Food Festival is back with Asian, Mediterranean and Eastern European specialities alongside traditional Black Country grub at Bearwood Baptist Church Hall on September 19
  • Observer food critic Jay Rayner is speaking at an open event at the University of Birmingham on October 9 from 12-2pm, when you can also sample the university’s award-winning catering
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"If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go."
- George Mallory, 'Climbing Everest'
WORDS: Mary GriffinAndrew LowryTom Cullen
IMAGES: Louise Bilodeau (Transe Express Company)

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