Birmingham Bah Humbug

Just thought I’d let you know, Gentle Readers – it’s CHRISTMAS!! Yeah, same to you, too…

But at least most of us come close to enjoying a smidgen of festive cheer, despite the stress of the period, eh?

Obviously not in Birmingham. But a street trader there tried to, at least. Allan Poole was merrily and honestly plying his trade as a flower seller in the city’s’ market  until the city’s Environmental Health Department wrote to him threatening him with prosecution under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 unless he stopped playing Christmas carols over a loudspeaker on his stall.

I find this to be a bizarre sense of priorities when the full force of environmental law is being used against a street trader playing festive music. Why is this so you say? Well, his stall is next door to a site which religious preachers use to declaim their views to passers-by via microphones and speakers. Something which the town that I live in, Derby, is plagued by, quite aggressively, and which I find offensive and deeply irritating.

The councils’ take on the matter is that preachers are within the law because they are not classified as traders. Mr Poole, on the other hand falls foul of the rules because they ban advertisers from using amplified sound equipment. What, a silent market? No one shouting: “Roll up, roll up, git yuurr two fer a paaand…?” Get reaL

Never mind that it stretches the definition of an “advert” to include a rendition of The Holly And The Ivy; it’s  somewhat odd, especially in the current climate, where religious extremists (of whatever faith) are allowed to drown out public spaces with their absurd tirades while a bit of Christmas music is met with the full force of the law.

It is yet one more example of the misuse of laws, where legislation passed in order to catch major offenders is used as a sledgehammer, and against the wrong people, all in the name of that sacred God, Political Correctness. We can’t be seen to be offending our multi-cultural friends, can we? Even if they offend us.

And the Masters of the Universe at Birmingham? This was the council which nearly 20 years ago invented the festival of Winterval. After much ridicule the council spent the next decade protesting that it hadn’t been trying to ban Christmas as some had claimed – Winterval was just a marketing slogan to encompass Christmas and a few other festivals such as Diwali. Bullshit.

Birmingham had invented Winterval because it was embarrassed by the idea of celebrating Christmas when many of its residents are not Christians and could only mark the festive season in the context of an entirely meaningless, fake festival in its place. They’ve long since dropped the concept but this year it cancelled its Christmas parade altogether, complaining of “budget cuts.” Really? It’s more PC, “we’re shit scared of offending ethnic minorities” bullshit, and I’m completely fucked off with this continuing imposition upon peoples’ lives by a select few.

Especially when said council still seemed to have enough funds – albeit supplemented by sponsorship – to go ahead with a free concert to accompany the switching-on of the Diwali lights in October and a festival in August to celebrate Eid. Cultural equality and diversity in action my ass. Cowardly, snivelling tosspots in suits more like.

As for Allan Poole’s carols, they came at no cost to the city at all. And it gets better. His stall last year raised £400 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Few people would want commercial advertising constantly blasted into public streets via amplified sound systems but surely our Scrooge-like public authorities can make some kind of allowance for Christmas.

Sadly for too many of our public officials ’tis the season to be petty. But it isn’t. It’s now all year round. And I hope every one of them chokes on their organic, gluten-free, ethically sourced, non-GM, hand caught, free-range produced mince pies.

It’s all good, folks.


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