A Brummie abroad – and the way people react

I spent the first six months of 2016 travelling the world, backpacking through New Zealand, Fiji, Australia and South-East Asia. It was awesome (obviously). I met a lot of people and invariably they ended up asking “where are you from?” When I replied Birmingham, this is what tended to happen…

1.Y’owm alright, bab, am yow?”

This is the classic. Easily the most common response. With a cheeky grin on their face – as if they are about to say something mind-blowingly funny – they attempt (very badly) a Brummie accent. They come out with a phrase along the lines of:

“Oh, y’owm a Brummie, am yow. Let’s go down the Bullring in Burminham”

I usually reply: “So original – I’ve never heard that one before.”

2. This one time in Birmingham…

Another common response is the tenuous anecdote. They recall a time they visited or passed through Brum years ago – and, nine times of out 10, it is super-boring. It generally goes like this. “Oh, I went there to visit Cadbury World last summer” or “er, my train from London to the north connected at Birmingham New Street once” or “my friend Bob, who I went to Uni with, is from Birmingham”. Thanks for that. So interesting.

3. Erm, erm, erm…

This one is quite funny. A blank, dazed look descends over them and they don’t know what to say. Awkward silences follow. Sometimes I think I can see a deep sense of pity in their eyes – but maybe I’m wrong. The stalemate usually ends when they swiftly switch the conversation to a different topic.

4. How rude

Some people proceed to categorically slag off the city. They say something like “unlucky”, “you can’t win ‘em all” or “what a shithole”. Or, on occasion, something horrifically racist about the ethnic makeup of the city. I respond by commenting on how ugly their wife/baby/face is (I don’t really, I’m not that brave, but it’s what I’m thinking).