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Ha! Tom Hardy IS Joining Peaky Blinders!

Tom Hardy is already rocking a Peaky Blinders Urquhart.

Tom Hardy is already rocking a Peaky Blinders Urquhart.

Do you remember this purely speculative post a few months ago?

Well it seems I’d come over all Mystic Meg because PB creator Steven Knight has got his Christmas wish in regular collaborator Tom Hardy joining his increasingly A-List cast. It will be good to see Mr hardy back on our television screens (I’ve always admired his turn as Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights).

Now, can you just move more filming locations to Brum Mr Knight? Pretty please?

Total Film broke the news just yesterday.

Looking forward to seeing what twists and turns PB will come up with in the new season. Will  Brummed Out commenter Alex also be proven right in their theory that Grace is actually the daughter of Aunt Polly (Queen of Darkness)?





Fight Club, Gun Club and Boom Chicka Wah Wah: Peaky Blinders Episode Five

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What fresh trauma has given Grace the Thousand Yard Stare?

What fresh trauma has given Grace the Thousand Yard Stare?

First rule of Fight Club – don’t talk about Fight Club

Second rule of Fight Club – don’t talk about Fight Club

Third rule of Fight Club – Take the family’s money to open a dodgy casino, then do a runner.*

Here is the link.

Another episode and another Bradford-based location standing for Brum. This week it was the turn of Undercliffe Cemetery which doubled as St Andrews churchyard, and looked like Boot Hill. Did the Beeb’s location scouts even venture to the atmospheric Warstone Lane with its catacombs, or Key Hill? It didn’t remotely resemble the Midlands, but could have worked well in a Bronte adaptation.

Rant over. Back to episode five: Ada is still traumatised that Freddie the Horny Bolshevik is rotting in prison while she and her baby are rotting in a bed-sit, and refusing Aunt Polly-Queen of Darkness’ charity baskets of rotting vegetables. ‘Babies don’t have principles’ sniffs AP – Obviously this is in a time before Stewie Griffin.


Tommy tries to sell the guns back to the IRA while staging a double-cross, which inevitably goes wrong. This is because he uses Grace, the world’s worst secret agent/ singer/ whatever as an accomplice. All she has to do is point a gun, but she shoots one IRA goon while Tommy has to smash in the face of the other WITH A SPITOON!!!! What a disgusting way to depart this mortal coil. Nice one Grace. Still, the Gods take note and Grace’s punishment is to be proposed to by C.I.Campbell; the disgusting nature of this development cancels out all her murders. She refuses, but the mental flashbacks will last forever…

*Meanwhile dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks-Arthur Shelby runs into his dear ole Da in an illegal boxing den. Arthur Snr is a low down loser; drunk and dangerous to know as we see when he challenges his own son to fight club. ‘I don’t want to fight you Dad’ wails Arthur as daddy proceeds to knock seven bells out of him. It reminds me of the Competitive Dad sketch in The Fast Show. Arthur Snr would whip even Tyler Durden in a bout:

Family Fight Club: Arthur has some Daddy and Me Time. Image: BBC

Family Fight Club: Arthur has some Daddy and Me Time. Image: BBC

Yup, the fight was obviously a tactic to part Arthur Junior with his last living brain cell; having stolen £500 from the Shelby kitty (although ‘stolen’ is a bit rich where the Shelbys are concerned), to finance the rotten venture, Arthur Snr runs off with the cash (but not before beating up Arthur Jr again in public – and leaving him heartbroken). In a scene of tragic-comic excellence, Arthur Jr tries and fails to hang himself. Paul Anderson who plays Arthur has been brilliant in Peaky Blinders and I really hope we get to see him in more stuff.

Tommy still doesn’t know Grace told Campbell the where-abouts of Freddie… and the guns. All he knows is that she killed for him and that brought out all his Tom-Cat feelings, especially when he needed a place to lie low from the police. Grace duly sneaks him back to her place.

So obviously, Tommy and Grace proceed to make the two-backed-beast in highly stylised fashion. I’m not sure what it is about modern period dramas and sex; obviously it happened, but programme makers seem to treat it as recreationally as modern-day film sex, i.e. no thought for protection or consequences in a society way more conservative than today’s (yes, sorry to burst anyone’s liberal bubble but hardly anyone was living like a libertine back then), multiple positions, ridiculously clean and pampered bodies in industrial-England, where you’d have a bath a week if you were lucky.  Tinkling piano music stood in for the Boom-Chicka-Wah-Wah, because they didn’t have sexy music in those days. Oh wait, they did – it’s called jazz and it literally was the soundtrack to post WW1 bordellos.

FUN FACT – Watching the sex scene was made slightly more annoying by the presence of my husband, now returned from the States, who hadn’t seen PB before, but made up for his unfamiliarity by doing what he always does; namely, tapping into his inner Beastie Boy and chanting ‘GETTIN-IT-AWN-TILL-THE-BRIKKA-BREAKA-DAAAAAAAWN’ in strangulated Brooklyn tones throughout the whole scene (and doing a highly suggestive, crap dance). I swear to God, he wishes he was from Brooklyn instead of Detroit. The accent is slightly more obnoxious which suits him to a tee.

Anyway, if the viewers at home were finding it a little hard to stomach, then C.I. Campbell certainly was and called off the search because he couldn’t handle the idea of finding Grace in flagrante. It still looks like he’ll try to get his revenge though, as he promised to clean up ‘one last thing’ before leaving town, like some sort of Belfast Columbo. Let’s hope Tommy can lay his hands on the remaining missing gun. The final episode should be good.

The last laugh: C.I. Campbell is out for revenge.

The last laugh: C.I. Campbell is out for revenge.

Quick, Fat Gypsy Wedding: Peaky Blinders Episode Four

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There's an elephant in the room: The Shelby's can't look John in the eye.

There’s an elephant in the room: The Shelby’s can’t look John in the eye.

First off, here’s the link.

There was an awful lot going on in this week’s episode of the Small Heath saga; Freddie the Horny Bolshevik was ploughing ahead with his plans for a Marxist revolution (quick, someone alert the Daily Mail), bringing money from London to Stanley Chapman by barge (of course).

His increasingly up-the-duff wife Ada highlighted just how unsuited they are to each other when she complained: “How come you do all the work and Stanley Chapman gets all the money?”  Ada (bless her) was obviously too fixated on the tragedy of Freddie’s ‘urquhart’ to listen to his canon of socialist rants, or she might have noticed it is veeery unlike capitalism.

Looking shifty: Freddie waits for the revolution...conspicuously.

Looking shifty: Freddie waits for the revolution…conspicuously.

Something had to give, and for Ada that someone was Stanley Chapman who she promptly dobbed in to Aunt Polly (Queen of Darkness), who promptly dobbed to Tom Shelby, who promptly dobbed to C.I. Campbell who promptly ambushed Stanley, who promptly said he knew nothing (which was true – bless him) to the reluctant policeman, who promptly beat Stanley, who promptly had a seizure and died. Freddie was promptly declared public enemy number one in Stanley’s wake (not his actual wake, I doubt he got a wake – bless him).  Adda-girl Ada.

Apart from this, C.I. Campbell revealed the depths of his ruthlessness (and they were pretty disturbing); Tom hired Grace to be the ‘classy’ face of his legitimate bookmaking operation; Ada gave birth and Freddie got arrested, blah blah blah.

Anyway enough of that rubbish, the best plot-line this week involved Tom Shelby combining a peace treaty with his brother’s love life. The war between the Shelbys and Lees reached new heights this week when the gypsies planted a hand-grenade in Tom’s car and almost blew up his cute little brother Finn. Meanwhile widowed brother John (he of the WORST ‘urquhart’ and the quizzical Stan-Laurel expression) sought Tom’s permission to marry the local prostitute Lizzie Stark to be a good mother to his four children – how long did he look, five seconds?  Inconveniently for Tommy, Lizzie had hitherto been his regular prozzie. He tested her loyalty by offering her money for ‘bonus night’ which she took (bless her). This revelation broke John’s heart.

Papa Lazarou: Should he really be a role model for marriage brokering?

Papa Lazarou: Should he really be a role model for marriage brokering?

Tommy remedied this state of affairs by selling John to the gypsies!  After a parlay with the head gypsy momma in perfect Romany dialect (although I thought Irish travellers spoke Shelta, but a little research definitely points to Romani being used here), Tommy ended the war by arranging a marriage old style – under the shotgun. He basically got John to show up under false pretenses and the dumb schmuck looked like deer in the headlights (bless him). This was Papa Lazarou stuff – “aw, youuu’rrre myyyyy Brummie nooooooow!”  This made Patty Stanger’s match-making approach look positively subtle. Luckily, the bride was easy on the eye, but she’s played by Aimee-Ffion Edwards who specialises in deranged characters, if you’ve ever seen Luther or Skins. What has John let himself in for? As in Big, Fat, Gypsy Weddings tradition, there was lots of drunkenness (mostly by Ada, who also supplied the ‘fat’) and dancing (luckily this show predates the cringey moves contemporary travelling girls favour). It seems the Lees and the Shelbys might be a match made in heaven after all, and that spells bad news for C.I.Campbell and Grace.

Peaky Blinders’ Awards

Quote of the week: “Men and their cocks never cease to amaze me.” (Aunt Polly)

Boo-hiss moment of the week: C.I. Campbell threatening to put sweet little Finn Shelby in prison with the very bad men.

Delusional statement of the week: “London is crackling with revolution” (Freddie the Horny Bolshevik.)

Wrong end of the stick award: Tom Shelby for saying “Aunt Poll – give ‘em some new shoes” to lovelorn single parent John Shelby.

Biggest cause for celebration: Grace didn’t sing – not once!

My sincere apologies to regular readers for being tardy with this week’s PB post; there should never be an excuse but this week I was working out of a skeezy Docklands hotel after my husband returned from a business trip to New York for two months (ooo la dee dah!). Rest assured, I was watching on Thursday night, while trying to finish up a spot of freelance work, and praying the cockroaches didn’t eat me. I think I’m ready for my first National Geographic assignment now…


Pardys & Poker Faces: Peaky Blinders Episode Three

Peaky-Blinders dance

Here’s the link to episode three in case you missed it.

It’s three weeks in for Peaky Blinders now, and tonight’s episode was slightly disappointing. Not just because the promised “good ‘urquharts” (good haircuts) didn’t materialise during Tom’s trip to the gee-gees at Cheltenham, but because the episode mainly centred on Grace, who is by far the weakest link in the show.

Dublin’s answer to Mata Hari was here there and everywhere this week. If she wasn’t eavesdropping through walls, she was shooting an IRA man up the scrotum, if she wasn’t flirting with Tom then she was wandering around the art gallery with C.I. Campbell (who made it very clear he’s pimping her out, albeit in an avuncular way), if she wasn’t dancing with Tommy she was pimped out to Billy Kimber, if she wasn’t – oh you get the picture I’m sure.

“If you wanna be part of my organisation, you have to make sacrifices,” Tom tells Grace. She’s been sacrificing all through the episode mate, you don’t need to tell her now! Still, at least she wasn’t singing.

Smart and smarterer: Grace attempts to seduce Tommy who is already duping Grace who is...

Smart and smarterer: Grace attempts to seduce Tommy who is already duping Grace who is…

Grace did think all her hard work was paying off when she got to dance in her new red dress with Tom at the races. Suddenly they were in the Jazz Age of Downton Abbey and Brideshead Revisited – all marcel waves, flapper gowns and, dare-I-say-it, proper haircuts.  He called her ‘Lady Sarah’ playfully, whirled her around the ballroom, gazed into her eyes and almost entrapped her before she could entrap him – then he used her as cover to escape with loot at the most romantic moment between them thus far. Oy gavalt! Grace is the worst operative in the world as she appears to have fallen in love with her mark and can’t work out that he’d throw her over in a nanosecond, or in this case just bail from a decent party.  ‘Lady Sarah’ looked momentarily despondent as she gazed at the amorous couple in the space he had left behind, both wearing elegant attire and sporting really good haircuts.

I’ve noticed the girls in Peaky Blinders (apart from Aunt Polly – Queen of Darkness, of course) seem to have very white stockings and collars. Not just Ada (who managed to stay pristine on her shotgun wedding day to Freddie the Horny Bolshevik) but whiter-than-white Grace. But how, with all that smoke and coal smote flying everywhere do they stay clean? I wouldn’t even bother trying. It’s like that ginger kid on the washing powder ad – she just accepts people are going to throw stuff at her and gets on with life; that’s character. I don’t know if Grace and Ada are dumb or just overly optimistic.

The Black Swan in Sparkbrook came in for a bit of a roasting tonight. A place for inept, wannabe IRA rebels to hang out apparently. Later in the episode, the man Grace kills is shown coming out of The Black Swan, a rough building either caked in dirt or painted in tar – it’s hard to tell, and the moniker hastily written straight on the wall in chalk. It looked characterful, damp, smelly, a real dive. I wanted to drink there, or just be a fly on the spittoon. I had a look to see if it still exists but could find no mention of it anywhere. However, there is a White Swan in nearby Deritend on the Bradford Road. Maybe a power-hose was all it took for the name to change (maybe not, as the WS is a big old brown stone Victorian boozer).

The White Swan on Bradford Street. Photo from

The White Swan on Bradford Street. Photo from

A lot of people have read these Peaky Blinders posts in search of either the filming locations (disappointingly, a lot was filmed at the Black Country Museum rather than in the neighbourhoods themselves) or historical accuracy. Hmmm, this is a programme that routinely uses The White Stripes instead of meaningful dialogue so I’m thinking it’s a good 80 percent fictional. I’m not saying The White Stripes aren’t a pleasure to listen to (and being from the grittier bits of failing car town Detroit, they oddly fit the bill to draw parallels with industrial/ criminal Brum), but I don’t think we’re going to be seeing any ‘making of’ documentaries that are heavy on the Historical Advisor talking heads or vox pops. Otto Bathurst, the director has said: “Once I took off the shackles of historical accuracy, then we could make a really cool show.” I will start researching posts on the real Peaky Blinders gang, but just try to enjoy the show for what it is: an inventively entertaining Thursday night gangster-fest.

Gypsy Curses, Knitting Needles and Afternoon Tea: Peaky Blinders Episode 2

Peaky Blinders

The Spaghetti-Western tones of Nick Cave’s  ‘Red Right Hand’ are kicking in on a Thursday night, and that can mean only one thing – it’s ‘Paykey Bloinders’ episode two,  y’all! Here’s a handy link to last week’s review.

The haircuts are still so terrible that it’s impossible to fancy any of the male characters, the accents are still all over the place (brother Arthur’s is straight up Brummie, Aunt Polly’s is apparently ‘historically accurate’ Brummie and Tom Shelby’s just sounds Scouse), Tom’s sister Ada is still managing not to let the Horny Bolshevik’s (HB) mop-crop get in the way of lust in the back-to-backs, Aunt Polly is still wandering around churches like Patricia Morrison possessed by Mama Fratelli, C.I. Campbell is still making his presence felt in between afternoon teas, and undercover spy Grace is still insisting on singing her maudlin songs, weakly, at every opportunity. This is what happened before X-Factor, people; we just let them carry on with their ‘dreams’. In public.

Add the looks of Patricia Morrison...

Add the looks of Patricia Morrison…

Now, it appears that the gang has run up a spot of enmity with a family of gypsies, who proceed to curse Tom’s beloved white horse, making it lame, and forcing him to shoot it. Where did these gypsies come from all of a sudden? I have no idea. Anyway it did give the director an excuse to shoot the most self-consciously cinematic fight I’ve seen on TV this year. In ultra-pretentious slow-mo, Tom and co proceed to show the world the meaning behind their not so scary name. Hair mops were a’flyin, coat tails a’billowin’ and peaky blinders were a blindin’. That’s right, we saw gypsies getting slashed in slow-motion. I hope someone from Big Fat Gypsy Weddings writes in to Points of View.

To the personality of Mama Fratelli...

To the personality of Mama Fratelli…

Back in Brum, little Ada finds out she’s preggers while HB is on the run.  Tom and Aunt Polly are appalled. Tom orders everyone out of the cinema where Ada has sought refuge (it’s all getting a bit Catherine Cookson by now, will Ada bring up her child in the projection booth?). Later he orders everyone out of the pub too – if I were living in the Brum of Peaky Blinders, I’d just throw house parties, any other night out would just be a big gangster-thwarted anti-climax. Ada and Aunt Polly have a heart to heart during which AP extols the virtues of the backstreet abortion.

And you have something approaching Aunt Polly.

And you have something approaching Aunt Polly.

“I did it to myself” she boasts to the increasingly scared Ada. That really puts all my Dad’s rugby stories about swallowing a bottle of Vaseline before each match to shame.  Yep, to Aunt Polly, feminism is a bleached knitting needle. And soon she is marching the reluctant Ada to the train station to meet a lady-who-does, only to find that Freddie the Bolshevik is waiting at the platform with an underwhelming ring and orders to get-the-hell-out-of-town-with-my-sis from Tom. What chivalry.

The smile that lights up Ada’s face as she dreams of running away to a land where barbers offer haircuts that appeal to women’s loins and never having to imagine another haircut whilst doin’ the do with Freddie is genuinely endearing. Then he promptly smashes her fantasy by declaring they will be going nowhere, and Ada will have to live in Bad Barnet Brum for evermore.

Ada and the Horny Bolshevik reach a compromise that she'll stay in Brum if he keeps his hat on.

Ada and the Horny Bolshevik reach a compromise that she’ll stay in Brum if he keeps his hat on.

Suddenly, another gangster (this time of the East End persuasion) has turned up and declared war on the Shelbys, but silver-tongued Tom twists this into a collaborative plot against the gypsies. And then he lands the biggest surprise of the series so far on his brother:

“Get yerself a good ‘aircut – we’re goin’ to the races.” YES! AT LAST!! That prospect alone has ensured I’ll tune in next week.

Pub Crawling towards The World’s End: Brum’s Best Drinking Pubs

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Drinking like there's no tomorrow: Paddy Considine, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost on their Newton Haven pub crawl. NB drinking 12 pints in one evening is probably not advised outside of your dreams.

Drinking like there’s no tomorrow: Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Eddie Marsan on their Newton Haven pub crawl. NB: drinking 12 pints in one evening is probably not advised outside of your dreams.

After watching The World’s End last Saturday, my first thought was ‘Quick! Let’s find that old Sisters of Mercy album and dance around to “Lucretia My Reflection.”’

My second (slightly more productive) thought was ‘If I had to visit twelve pubs in Birmingham and drink a pint in each before a robotic apocalypse, which ones would I choose?’

So I made my list, and in the event of said robotic apocalypse, I’m all sorted. Would these pubs make your list? If not, which ones would?

1 The Pub: The Hare and Hounds, High Street, Kings Heath, The Drink: Purity’s Ubu  Why? The Hare and Hounds is always a hive of activity, usually involving some live music, and this coupled with Purity brewery’s presence at the Moseley Folk/ Jazz Festivals make this combination a no-brainer.

2 The Pub: The Prince of Wales, Alcester Road, Moseley The Drink: Oakham’s Bishop’s Farewell Why? If J.R.R. Tolkien likes a pub, there’s good drinking to be had. Although I’ve blogged on its epic beer garden before, The Prince is first and foremost a drinker’s pub. The front is a model Victorian boozer almost puritan in its restraint, while the back is just drinking-Disneyland. I chose Bishop’s Farewell purely because I thought the name would be apposite (damn those evil-natured robots –damn them all to hell!) But I have confidence in the beers on tap at this place, which I certainly can’t say about all the pubs I’ve visited over the years.

3 The Pub: The Anchor, Bradford Street, Digbeth The Drink: Hobson’s Mild Why? By now my dad would be complaining that he was missing out on a mild (although he’s been missing a particular mild – Ansell’s – for many years now). I don’t know why more pubs don’t keep one on draught permanently, so kudos to The Anchor for making sure they do. A four-time winner of CAMRA’s Local Pub of the Year Award, they really put in the effort to support smaller breweries. Let’s hope the robotic apocalypse doesn’t occur before Digbeth gets further in its regeneration because The Anchor deserves to be visited, and often.

4 The Pub: The Old Contemptibles, Edmund Street The Drink: cloudy cider Why? Although it’s owned by Nicholson’s (which some drinkers object to but in these straightened times it’s hard for free-houses to keep afloat) there is always a decent selection of cask ales, regular festivals and during the summer, usually a fab selection of ciders that transport you out of the city centre and into a fantasy Somerset farm, preferably under an apple tree. Also, I’d be getting hungry by now and it’s always good to eat a pie with a massive lamb shank sticking out of the top!      

5 The Pub:  The Jekyll and Hyde, Steelhouse Lane The Drink: Hendricks Gin and Tonic Why? Although I’ve had great times washing down Bathtub Gin, Lovehearts cocktails and a mixture of Gin, jam and lemon juice served from a teapot in the upstairs Gin Parlour, this is the end, folks. Time to go back to basics. J&H boast that they treat gin like whisky, i.e. there’s one to suit almost every palette. Well for me, it’s got to be Hendricks and Fentiman’s with a lime (or maybe cucumber, no, definitely lime). I hope they have that  DJ there that plays all the MoTown stuff.

6 The Pub: The Rose Villa Tavern, Warstone Lane, Hockley The Drink: Gwynt Y Draig Happy Daze Cider Why? I’m not really a fan of Hoxley/ Jewellery Quarter pubs on the whole. They are not what you’d call down to earth. And drinking should be an easy-going, enjoyable process, not dependent on dodging queue-cutting morons who pretend to wear glasses, eyeing up someone’s thrift-shop purchase quota, or enduring extra-loud house music when I want to conduct a conversation. It’s not really the pubs’ fault (apart from the music volume); it’s more that the clientele can be tricky. But they seem to like it that way and each to their own. But tonight I’m making a couple of exceptions; the Rose Villa Tavern has always been a little different, more tranquil, and I’ve gone for the Welsh cider on tap at last month’s Cider Fest (to appease Dad again, Welsh as he is).

 7 The Pub: The Black Eagle, Factory Road, Hockley The Drink: Ansell’s Mild Why? I just said I wasn’t a fan of Hockley boozers so why am I back here? Well, for one thing I have never been to this pub, but tonight there’s a first (and last) time for everything. It has brilliant reviews and is a multi-award winning CAMRA favourite. Do you remember the advert for Fry’s Turkish Delight back in the day? This One with the Rudolph Valentino lookalike? Well that’s only the landlord! I know – it’s blowing my mind! But best of all it keeps Ansell’s Mild on tap – the mild of my Dad’s dreams. Having found out about this place, I’m going to take him this weekend! He’s old, so why wait?

8 The Pub: The White Horse, York Street, Harborne The Drink: Hanson’s Porter Why? There is plenty of healthy competition among Harborne’s pubs. The Plough won CAMRA’s Rising Star award in 2010 though some locals on well known beer forums accuse it of being a wee bit too expensive on the beer front, as the hub of Harborne’s gentrification. I’ll bow to popular opinion on this one. The White Horse has ten real ales on tap, a beer board just like my final pub choice (plenty more pints to sink yet though) and friendly, slightly incontinent spaniels (obviously we connect on a number of levels).     

9 The Pub: The Tap and Spile, Gas Street The Drink: Doom Bar Why? This was our local for a couple of years, it’s nothing special, but it stays open later than pretty much everywhere else in town, always has Doom bar and Greene King on tap and descends into a reliably cheesy karaoke session during which  everyone at the bar imagines themselves to be Freddie Mercury, Steve Perry or Dave Lee Roth. Fun Fact: The husband almost got into a punch-up here with a 6 ft 4’’ Glaswegian who didn’t like more than one person in the pub to wear a hat. My husband wore one, guess who wore the other?

10 The Pub: The Victoria, John Bright Street The Drink: Brooklyn Lager on draught Why? I’m hoping the world ends on a week night because by Friday night this place is rammed. Also I don’t want to be on the side of the bar with the sticky carpet. And, the barman here looks like my husband’s good friend (and epic drinking companion) Terry, which is comforting.

 11 The Pub: The Post Office Vaults, New Street The Drink: Chimay White Why? By this point in proceedings I really don’t care anymore so let’s up the alcohol content with some of the hoppy Belgian white stuff. I’m so pleased the POV has been a success story, it’s always rammed in the evenings, has over 300 foreign beers available now (including the decadent Deus Brut des Flandres which I would have bought if I hadn’t just spent all my cash at the previous ten pubs) and my dad can even have a third pint of mild! Not bad for the little cellar that could.

12 The Pub: The Wellington, Bennett’s Hill The Drink: Whatever you’re selling the most of today, good sir Why? This is the granddaddy of Brum’s CAMRA pubs, a World’s End if ever there was one*. The adult equivalent of a sweetie store, each pump glistens with promise of flavours yet to come. Again, it gets absolutely rammed on weekends but that’s not when I’ve had my best times here. There have been cosy chats, loud impassioned debates on international policy (oops, that kind of broke the rules on polite pub conversations and almost got some of us chucked out), sightings of Neil Morrissey (in the back alleyway, puffing on a ciggie), a thirty second heart to heart with a barmaid about my late mother, and epic, epic all-day sessions here when I was a student. Always loved that you can bring in food and eat it here (they even supply the cutlery); the scene of many a guilty MacDonald’s meal and Christmas Market bratwurst. But this place has made me happy (and a bit dizzy), so I’d have my last drink here.


*There is. In Camden. Went there last week. But they were accepting cash only. Boooo. 

Review: Black Sabbath @ The Electric Cinema

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blood wall

Now before you start bombarding me with pedantic troll comments, I’m talking about Black Sabbath the 1963 Italian horror anthology film, not Black Sabbath the Birmingham band. Got it? Really got it? Good.

So I went to the last showing of Black Sabbath as part of the Electric Cinema’s Shock and Gore festival yesterday. I took along my film-buff brother, and a friend of my husband’s who I think was left wondering about the cinematic tastes of my family. And so he should haha.

Not for me the torture-porn films so beloved of modern day horror fans. I was looking for a schlocky, Technicolor hoke-fest full of organ music and clashing discordant brass instruments in the score. Black Sabbath did not disappoint.

Setting the scene:

The Electric does a great job decorating for Shock and Gore. On the mirror leading to the upstairs theatre were written quotes from Saw, Hellraiser, The Shining and many more. Fun Fact: In the late 1990s when my brother was ten, we went trick or treating and he dressed as a pint-sized Pinhead from Hellraiser, using my mum’s hair pins and a white swimming cap).

Yo ho ho and a bottle of blood.

Yo ho ho and a bottle of blood.

Upstairs were neat little Rorschach butterflies (for the Silence of the Lambs showing tonight), anatomic sketches of eyeballs (for the Evil Dead double bill), broken wax dolls, bottles of blood and a veeeeerrry creepy sort-of human (but with a tail and flippers) voodoo baby in an antique pram. I was cooing over the unfortunate infant when one of the staff came over.

‘It moves, you know,’ he said. And flipping the baby on its back, he flicked a switch which immediately sent the tot into gurgling convulsions. Awesome.

The guy smirked, hoping he had sufficiently scared me.

‘Aw. I want one…if Kate can have one, so can I!’ I cried out petulantly. The staff member backed away with a disturbed expression. Never underestimate the power of a woman demanding a voodoo baby (or any baby) to freak a bloke out!

  He gave me the card for Tom Ellis who was responsible of this awful little creation. I recognised him from the Curious Oddities shop front in the Great Western Arcade.

Voodoo Child: Tom Ellis' mechanical demon baby.

Voodoo Child: Tom Ellis’ mechanical demon baby.

The unluckiest cupcake in the world:

Regular readers of Brummed Out will know I have a slight obsession with cupcakes, so I couldn’t resist this gory little  number:

The ill-fated cupcake in its former glory

The ill-fated cupcake in its former glory

I took it upstairs with my G&T and after sucking up the licorice ‘entrails’ I put it down on the step next to me (the cinema was pretty much empty). Then two horrific things happened:

1)      I accidentally stepped on it. Just a little. I decided to eat the other half due to the one second rule.

2)      A lady with a seeing-eye dog came in. The dog took one look at that blameless little cake and swallowed it whole!

 ‘He’s had the whole bloody thing!’ I cried as if alerting the cinema to a murder. I had to laugh. I think this is fate’s way of getting me to stick to my diet.

 The film itself:  

Someone's gettin' a cursed: broken wax dollies upstairs at The Electric.

Someone’s gettin’ a cursed: broken wax dollies upstairs at The Electric.

I recovered enough to settle into the film, which starred Boris Karloff and Mark Damon (sorry if you just clicked on the link – I couldn’t resist – no, I don’t know who Mark Damon is either). I knew going in that we were being shown the version of Black Sabbath that Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler would have seen as hormone-laden teenagers. This would be the US version, complete with bad dubbing, heavily edited stories (there are three stories in the anthology) and less shots of Boris linking the stories.

It really showed.

Black Sabbath poster with the original Italian title The Three Faces of Fear

Black Sabbath poster with the original Italian title The Three Faces of Fear

Having come home and read up on the original version shown in Italy, you could see a ton of plot holes and mistakes in the editing. For instance the running order of the stories is wrong. The scariest story was shown first and the least scary shown last (this was the opposite in the Italian original). Having said that, the beginning story alone is scary enough to recommend this film. If you’ve ever been freaked out by being in the proximity of a corpse (well why wouldn’t you) be prepared to revisit a nasty place.

The dog added accompanying smellorama by farting out my cupcake, just to rub it in.

The middle story ‘The Telephone’ seemed to be about a girl being stalked by a dead lover who she’d turned in to the police. She rings up his ex to come over and protect her (instead of leaving the flat, obviously) and then he kills the other girl and she stabs him. It was crap but my companions enjoyed watching a beautiful woman running around in a see-through nightie.

Rosy the call-girl getting freaked out by one of her many stalkers.

Rosy the call-girl getting freaked out by one of her many stalkers.

Now I read the original synopsis on good old Wikipedia and it says this story was heavily edited for America. The original left out the supernatural element resulting in a more standard Italian Giallo thriller. The girl was meant to be a high-class hooker who had turned in her pimp and was being harassed by her former lesbian lover pretending to be the pimp on the telephone (huh?) who was then killed by the escaped pimp who, in turn was stabbed by the hot hooker. Make sense? Nope, I didn’t think so.

Anyway, I doubt this mattered to Ozzy and co who were probably too stoned to care and were just grateful to have come out of the experience with a good band name.

Buffalo Bill wants his suit back!

Buffalo Bill wants his suit back!

Downstairs in the lobby, the voodoo baby had been moved to pride of place by the front door and was gurgling away, happy as Larry. Awwwww. There was also a fabulous cake version of the lady-skin dress that Buffalo Bill was making in The Silence of the Lambs, courtesy of Annabel de Vetten at Conjurer’s Kitchen. I want her to make my next birthday cake! And off we went to discuss how gorgeous those Italian birds were over drinks at The Victoria. I’ll be back next year – hopefully I get to the all-nighter one of these days.

But until then…

Please, pretty please Shock & Gore, could you show the Italian version of Black Sabbath at next year’s festival? For artistic integrity?

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