Wandering through Birmingham I’m struck, as I was last time I was here I think, by Birmingham feeling edgier, more violence around. I walked past an entrance to Debenhams and there were store security guards, dressed exactly as bouncers do, protecting the doors and looking as if they were waiting for some trouble or had come from trouble. It is a Saturday so a football day and Aston Villa fans are in the town centre which might affect this. Also the way that Bull Ring pulls in everything shiny, literally gleaming which the rest of the town centre is gloomy and drab. This sits violence, perhaps the real in this case, outside.
It becomes, the Bull Ring, a privatised public space. A bubble, capsule in a capsular society (Sloterdijk, Zizek, Zaera Polo). However rather than the idea being that the capsular society produces some sort of permanent provincial state, where we are all living in the province of the capsule, the Bull Ring is the Capital, not of Birmingham or the Midlands but the Capital, a sort of dimension of the Capital which is de-territorialised and manifest in these public-private globes of shopping with their security forces who keep the real from erupting. Inside. Outside the real bubbles away. I saw a woman standing in a door way, her arms looked like they were reduced, as if thalidomide had worked its course. She beckoned with a crooked finger into a doorway and beyond lay something lost in time.
Then there is the mad mixture of peoples in Birmingham town centre. Nothing new there I know. I just strikes me again and again how much it is how it should be. We – the British – got so rich on the labour and materials of the rest of the world. We didn’t do it alone. We could not. We took at first and then we sold back to them what we made. Now the world comes to this little place. This town like many others and it is always already something we all made together.