Welcome to birmingham.gov.uk

Welcome to birmingham.gov.uk


What do you make of a city, now and then?


In half an hour Hancock cheered a nation

With bright yellow custard and purple wrapped chocolate - we sweetened the world

From India, with love and Balti, we set fire to the nations taste buds

In mini car dreams we drove the world forward

From Ozzy’s restless Black Sabbath to Bhangra beats, Steel Pulse and hip hop

We rocked this city and shook the world - by its ear.

From Spitfires at war and Jaguars in peace

From industrial skill, metal and magic

with Irish shovels and picks we cut and made canals

made this place better.

Baskerville, he knew the type

and made a world of ideas more legible

Rattle, he rolled into town, tapped his baton and made the air musical

William Murdoch walked 300 miles south to be at the centre of it all

Burned with industrial ambition, coal and piped gas

through a gun barrel - took pot shots at darkness

and lit up the world – for us - with gas light and magic

The workshop of the world carries on, today

with drama, music, dance and stories - close to home and in the centre.

We minted, sweetened, spiced up and lit up the world – for you

We built up and made up this city today, with imagination

And check this out, it doesn’t stop - soon - a new city library

and academy for ideas -

squeeze sun light out of cucumbers in Digbeth? Maybe.

Walk round a new city park and play, be human, in Birminghum,

Run it with Denise Lewis, boot it -Trevor Francis!

Rap it with Zephaniah and Moqapi - have it your way.

Listen, hear, today, make this city young, like they always did

with industry, imagination and small, brilliant, you

in the middle lands with bright light of Birminghum

“oh, say you’ll come?”

“Bab, you’re welcome,”

make a life

a city

a contribution.

by Adrian Johnson

Birmingham Poet Laureate 2009/2010

2 December, 2009

Pleasenote- this poem was originally set in Baskerville font, created by John Baskerville in Birmingham