Birmingham: My Southside Comeback!

Birmingham hasn't been part of my life for some time due to being in Wuhan, China. Time away from my student city has always been good for me, the longer time passes since my university days the more I feel immensely appreciative for the journey. With some time on my hands I wanted to hop back to my past student home. I only had Southside in my sights! 好想你,中国! 

Chinese food and culture has been part of my life for the last two years, before I moved to the Middle Kingdom I was eased into things during my students days within Birmingham's Chinese Quarter. My dear friend Kelly schooled me well. Fresh off the West Midland Metro, I bypassed Grand Central for the moment because I had China Town set in my sights. You know, I was hungry for a late dinnertime treat at Peach Garden. It didn't take me long for some East Asian talent to cross my path as I grew closer to Birmingham's Chinese Quarter. Damn, those East Asian brothers were looking 太帅了! Over the years Birmingham has brought me back together with myself, since finishing university it was bitter pill to swallow not living in Birmingham full time but as the years have past and I've been living my real life Chinese life it was humbling to be back for that one time. One thing I couldn't deny was the view, pure gorgeousness from every angle! Of course, Birmingham had me in my feelings! 伯明翰中国城, I wasn't mad about that, B!

The late Summertime sunshine in the Arcadian shone bright, the atmosphere during that Friday was perfect. With a certain tea in mind, I made my way to Day In Oriental Supermarket. Transported back to my Oolong Tea hunting time, I wasn't looking for that brew! No, it was all about the curry paste that I had used during my China days first time around. The air may have felt fresh but it was filled with the familiar tones of the Cantonese language, that Hong Kong and Guangdong chat took me back to my time in Hong Kong and also in Guangzhou. Content with my curry mix, I was hungry for some sweet and sour from Peach Garden on Ladywell Walk. Ready with my chopsticks I loved my late dinnertime treat, accompanied by some mixed 炒面  with a cup of hot water for good measure. I knew my return to China wouldn't take an age to happen, but that Oriental moment gave me life! Did I want a post-dinner Bubble Tea? Yes, please! Ordering my milky tea in pure Mandarin Chinese gave me life! 珍珠奶茶? 是的, 大而冷!

Rewinding slightly, I did things differently as my tram passed by the all new Snow Hill development. I stayed on the metro past the new 'St. Chads' and 'Bull Street' stops, that was something of a revelation for me! Passing by the shops along Corporation Street before pulling into the all new and finally open Grand Central terminus, it was a full circle moment! After checking into my hotel and having my Cantonese dinner I took a walk through the new Grand Central and New Street Station complex which amazed me, the wide and airy environment oozed modernity and light. The smaller parts of the new station were so cramped during my final term at University College Birmingham and the Metro extension took such a long time the whole project seemed more like a hindrance rather than a help during that concluding part of my Birmingham life. Redeeming itself in the present day, I saw a streamlined view for Birmingham's main railway interchange. It resembled 武汉站 but with all those shops! Oh BHM!

In a strange way I felt a slight detachment from Birmingham but in a healthy way. Casting my mind back to the last full day I spent in Birmingham, I had felt gutted to leave the city because essentially I wasn't happy with my life before my move to China. Working in a place in the West Midlands that didn't give me life had me running to Birmingham to seek some solace. I remember my first 'Back To Birmingham' post during August 2015, it was a time when I craved the city that took me away from Bilston and that gave me independence. 2017's Birmingham had me looking at a whole new city that still had the same quirks that it had before but my life evolved vastly from that point of leaving the Maltings before summer 2014. All in all the progress that I and Birmingham both made stands to be remarkable! Birmingham, if I don't mind saying so myself! In that moment Birmingham's new station looked just right from my view. Going back to the hotel I decided it was time to relax and get ready before the nighttime.

Even before I came back from China, me and my younger Brother had already decided we would be hitting the town after I had returned from Wuhan, China! Keeping to our word we met at Grand Central along with his lovely girlfriend, Alice. Beginning the night with our first drink at Grand Central's very own All Bar One set the pace for the night ahead. We decided a bar crawl would be the perfect thing to do, moving onto Lost & Found along Bennett's Hill for a mixed gin cocktail. We rambled on about anything and everything, I've met Alice a few times since coming back from China, so the night out gave me a chance to get to know her better. Leaving that gin infused lounge for the Wetherspoon's at the Briar Rose shocked us as two double mixed drinks and a pint of Strongbow Dark Fruit only cost us £9.99! Winning with that price we stayed for three more rounds to make the best of those hangover inducing prices! It was turning out great! The last two years had seen us apart at a distance, it was golden to have that night out! 喝酒啊!

I had only found two cities in China during my two years that served me with fabulous venues, holding onto those experiences in Chengdu and Jinan. I had waited very patiently for my chance to slay at the Village Inn within Birmingham's Southside. Making our way to the Village for the midnight Friday night cabaret was our plan, Sandra London's performance was one of the reasons why I had called the night out on the 25th of August 2017! Being on the dance floor felt truly freeing, with the music right and Sandra slightly behind schedule I lost myself in the music! They played some RuPaul and after being starved of that type of music had me going crazy! Sandra was amazing as per usual, the drinks free flowed and the night just felt so lovely, we don't always see eye to eye but as we get older as Brothers we will always have each others back no matter what! Bidding a rather drunken farewell to Lewis and Alice, I carried on the party at the Village Inn. Waking up the next day with fried chicken for my breakfast, it was time to go home.  

伯明翰, 你疯了吗? 

Joseph Harrison 


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