If you know who Dr Carl Chinn is, went on holiday to Barmouth as a kid, and wouldn't be seen dead eating a balti with cutlery - it can only mean one thing - you're a Brummie!
1. You’ve danced to Animal Magnet’s Welcome to the Monkey House…
It didn’t matter if you were a goth, punk, casual, or a rocker – if you went clubbing in Birmingham in the 80s, we guarantee the DJ will have played this! While the band Animal Magnet were actually from London, the irritatingly catchy Welcome to the Monkey House somehow became a monster Brummie anthem, and still is to this day (well, amongst us oldies anyway!). And talking of Brummie anthems…
2. …And drunkenly snogged along to Tin Tin’s Kiss Me
Either that, or you and your bestie did that weird dance where you both held hands then swung towards one another and lifted your knees in the air (this was a New Romantic thing… apparently!)
3. You listened to the Les Ross Breakfast Show on BRMB…
Les Ross was a total Brummie legend. Forget Ed Doolan and Radio WM – that was for grandma! BRMB was the only station to listen to in the morning purely because Les was so funny! Highlights were Les cracking the same old joke about his Uncle Albert whenever he played Albatross by Fleetwood Mac, and the ludicrous soap opera Yesterday Never Comes starring Miss Take (nim nim nim!). As Les’ jingle went – Who’s the boss? Les Ross!
4. …And Romantica with Charlie on a Saturday night
Ah Romantica, the Saturday night radio show where lovers would dedicate slushy ‘erection section’ songs to one another. There you’d be, a never-been-kissed spotty teen, tuned in desperately hoping someone had dedicated Move Closer by Phyllis Nelson to you. But they never did, the swines!
5. You laughed at the Fonz mural in Digbeth… then blubbed when it was taken down
Back in the 80s, outside the warehouse of legendary Birmingham leather emporium Fonz Leather Styles, there was an enormous mural of the Fonz – thumbs aloft and hair quiffed, looking resplendant in the kind of leather jacket you could no doubt buy inside. The only problem was, whoever painted Fonzarelli’s face had clearly never actually seen Happy Days, or held a paintbrush for that matter, as the mural looked absolutely nothing like the Fonz. In fact, it looked so little like the Fonz that a generation of Brummies would guffaw mercilessly as they whizzed past said mural on the 35 bus into town. Those very same people later wept when the iconically crap Fonz mural was finally removed in the early 90s after a heartless hoodlum graffitied something a tad insulting on it!
6. You remember the Kingfisher Shopping Centre in Redditch being opened…
And thought the fact it had palm trees inside made it dead exotic!
7. You’d always sing along to the Don Amott King of Caravans advert…
8. …And can still remember all the words to the Stechford Tile ad as well!
Although you were always baffled as to why the jingle was sung in a mockney accent ‘cos, well bab, they don’t talk like that in Stechford!
9. You thought the Spot the Ball competition in the Birmingham Evening Mail was impossible to win
It didn’t stop your mom from entering each week though, just in case!
10. And The Night Out Theatre Restaurant seemed the height of sophistication
Well, your mom and dad did see the Barron Knights there, and had a scampi in a basket. If you remember correctly, your dad really pushed the boat out and wore his purple velour dickie bow and matching ruffly shirt too (or was that just our dads?!)
11. You’ve been on holiday to Barmouth at least once in your life
Sat pretty much bang in the middle of the country, Birmingham is flaming miles away from the sea. But if you put your foot down, you can be in the picturesque Welsh seaside town of Barmouth in under three hours. And that’s what hordes of Brummies have been doing pretty much since the invention of the wheel. Hence the resort’s nickname of ‘Brum on Sea’.
12. You were enraged by Barry from Auf Weidersehn Pet’s ludicrous ‘Brummie’ accent
No one in Birmingham has EVER pronounced the name Barry – ‘Barrayyyy’, like NO ONE!! Clearly, this one cut deep and still rankles to this day. *Ahem*
13. Then again, there’s always Dr Carl Chinn…
Ah yes, Dr Carl Chinn, or ‘Chinny’ to his fans. Adored by nans across the city, this local historian and one-time Professor of Community History at Birmingham University is famous for his passionate defence of all things Brum, and for having a Brummie accent that could strip paint at 40 paces. So in fairness, if anyone is likely to say ‘Barrayyy’, Chinny is. And while we’re talking of chins…
14. If someone made a fool of themselves at school you’d start rubbing your chin frantically…
This frenzied chin rubbing action would be accompanied by shrieks of ‘Brassings!’ or ‘Feel the brass!’ and generally continue until someone ended up losing their rag and a brawl would break out. Parents hated it, especially if they made an arse of themselves and you did it to them!
15. You were slightly terrified of the Barbra Streisand look-alike who sold China ornaments in the Rag Market…
No matter where you were in the Rag Market, you could never escape the sound of her witchy tones commanding you to buy a porcelain Pierrot or ceramic ferret.
16. …but comforted by the reggae booming out of Don Christie’s next door
The really old among us will even remember Don Christie’s in its pre-Rag Market days, when it was situated on the Ladypool Road.
17. You remember the original Oasis market
Back when it was full of punks smoking rather strange-smelling cigarettes in the cafe, and when the basement seemed like a deeply exotic and slightly frightening maze of weird clothes hanging from the ceiling, weird music blasting and weird people wafting about… weirdly.
18. You were a goth
It was practically compulsory for teens in 80s Brum to be a goth for at least one weekend of their life. Goth pastimes included wafting weirdly round the Oasis market, drinking Snakebite in the Barrel Organ, flailing to the latest goth hits at Zig Zags or the Powerhouse, and hanging with the punks, goths and other weirdos outside Birmingham Cathedral on a Saturday morning.
19. Either that, or you were a Shaz/Kev
For the lads, moustaches and liberal splashings of Kouros aftershave were compulsory, for the girls it was Sam Fox chic all the way – blonde perms, white stillies and loads of diamante encrusted denim. You were most likely to be found dancing at Pagoda Park, Boogies, Maximillians or if you were a bit fancy, at Faces. While not natural allies of the goths, you were on occasion known to bond over an egg bap at the legendary place we’re about to mention….
20. You’ve very fond (albeit drunken!) memories of Mr Egg!
What 40-something Brummie club goer didn’t stumble into the legendary Mr Egg at 4am and drunkenly order egg, chips and a nice cup of tea? Well, apart from your vegan mates of course! With it’s enticing slogan ‘Eat like a king for £1’ (this bargain price went up with inflation) and somewhat bizarre cloth egg pinned to the ceiling, Mr Egg (at least, the 90s incarnation of of Mr Egg) remains l-egg-endary!
21. The balti was invented in your lifetime
Never mind the wheel, the world’s greatest invention occurred in your city, in your lifetime, and try as they might, no other city has come close to replicating the culinary glory that is a true Brummie balti! As a 40-something Brummie, memories of your first ever balti are cherished to this day, along with memories of the days when menus were found not on the table but beneath the glass table-top and you could order a balti and naan and still get change from a fiver. If you want to offend a 40-something Brummie, offer them cutlery with their balti and see what happens!