Friday, 15 August 2008

Birmingham WM or Ala? The Whole World Looks The Same

There's been a great deal of fuss generated over a picture mistake in a Birmingham City Council leaflet. Apparently, the graphics designer responsible opened an online folder of Birmingham West Midlands images and picked one that looked nice but had been misfiled as it was of Birmingham Alabama in the USA. Yet no one up the food chain, with increasing levels of responsibility and pay was able to notice the difference.
So what? I say. Our towns and cities are already becoming clone towns with the same dozen national or international chains of shops, the same anodyne female-friendly malls (why do women go into branches of the same store in different towns to see what they have in stock?: the same stuff!) and the same street furniture (bins, benches, signs and lamp standards) and paving. Towns are all so alike nowadays which is why there are so many "You Are Here" signs. In Birmingham city centre, for example, there are only two fishing tackle and shooting shops and no decent bookshops as Waterstones dominates. No proper delicatessen and a really good stampdealers in Needless Alley closed ten years ago now. So I say you only need one photo for everywhere because everywhere is all the same.


CherryPie said...

I lament the passing of those wonderful independent book shops!

Gallimaufry said...

Agreed. I do not want to drink coffee on comfortable chairs when leafing through the "manager's recommendation" sent down from head office. I want individual bookshops that often don't stock the books I am looking for but will order them and in the meantime I discover other books I otherwise would not have considered. And I also want bookshops that I know will stock the books I like. But coffeeshops and mobile phone shops can pay higher rents and charity shops have nil overheads so the independent bookseller and record dealer is squeezed into cyberspace from both ends. And Amazon and Tescos have such buying power that it's often cheaper for small bookshops to buy their stock of popular titles from them retail instead of direct from the publishers. Changing tack, apparently, in everybody's job description at the Eden Project is a requirement to read 12 books a year that they wouldn't normally choose. It broadens people's outlooks and helps them see things from different perspectives - good for business.