Saturday, November 13, 2004


This afternoon I went to Birmingham, but more precisely to the northern suburb of Kingstanding, where son Pete lives, sharing a house with Sam. If you know Kingstanding then you will know that they live in an inter-war semi-detached house, one of tens of thousands. It is possible that Kingstanding is the largest single development of "semis" anywhere. The only relief to the monotony are the roundabouts (circles) and the various shops, pubs and cinemas that surround them. The other relief, literally, is the topography, for Kingstanding is a hilly area.

Until Pete moved there a year or so ago I had forgotten about Kingstanding. My maternal grandmother lived there until she died in 1957 and we used to take a bus to visit her from time to time. Other family members lived not far away in Walsall Road, Perry Barr and Newton Road, Great Barr and my roots appear to be all over the place - Birmingham, Aston and Handsworth - as well as one who moved to upscale Edgbaston (this was my "aunt" Lizzie who was, we think, my father's second cousin and who was a spinster teacher and lifelong supporter of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, a strange pastime for someone who lived as far from the sea as you can in England!)

I am sure my ancestors thought the modern semis of Kingstanding were a great improvement on the back to backs they came from, but today this area lacks any sense of charm. It is simply a place to live, a place to park your car or van on the grass, a place that is relatively convenient for work and play. A place to plan to move out of, perhaps.

Pete has loaned me a framed picture he found of a print of "Bermingham", dated 1640. I plan to undo the frame and scan the image because the print has significant historical merit and should be shared.