Where is “The Black country”? Even those who claim to live within it cannot answer with certainty, because the area itself does not really exist. It was largely invented in the 20th Century by white historians with a tale to tell about heavy industrialism in the century previous, and now it has become a profitable industry within itself to promote an area with no definable boundaries. The history of the area has been overwritten and overstated for many years, but recently a form of what I would term “aggressive patriotism” has reared its ugly head from the tarnished soil and hoisted up a flag pole, where once there protruded bellowing black smoke from sooty chimneys.
Yes, the “Black Country” now has a flag and its own day, July 14th, where the great and the good of the area come together to pretend that the overpopulated multicultural mix have something in common- that is a sense of place that should be celebrated for its historic industrial heritage.
It is difficult to configure this in such an area where “Polski Skleps” stand next to shut down public houses that some developer wants to turn into apartments, and where Methodist churches are converted into mosques. “Heritage” it seems can be used to make people forget the changing canvas of landscapes before their eyes, and this is where I have profound reticence about the purpose that lies behind the nonsense of “Black Country day”.
“Areaism” let’s call it has been invented by politicians to try to paper over their ill founded cracks. The disasters of uncontrolled immigration in the last 20 years combined with over human population has left the country now standing with a head count of over 64 million people, a populace which largely calls their home inside an urban conurbation like “The Black Country”.
This has led to profound housing shortages, whereby the Conservative land owning class are totally unwilling to embrace multiculturalism and put up “the green belt” borders to prevent expansion into their green and pleasant land. Basically they don’t want brown neighbours, everyone knows it but they won’t say it openly, so let’s say it here. Their excitement for house building and racism for keeping out non whites has therefore led to saturation of so called “brown field sites”- former industrial cancer bowls that planners deem fit for the brown people to live in in dense numbers, not far from a former pit site or furnace, and very often built smack bang on top of one. Even once human shite centres are capable of housing 4 bed detached.
Such is the will to keep people out of the green and in the brown, that it seems the new Conservative Government are now not even going to allow people who live in such industrial sprawl any say in how their local communities can be developed- or over developed as is the case with “The Black country”. Fuck the plebs.
This means that any land contaminated by past use is “fit for purpose” for housing. Such lunacy in areas that cannot provide the necessities for urban expansion such as the new schools that will be needed because all the space has gone for housing will not be viewed by such people, because they never live there, and neither do the “environmental consultants” or development facilitator conmen as they should be known, tasked with bypassing already weakened wildlife habitat protection laws. Some species like the fox and badger are now being termed “vermin”, by the same vermin who are pushing for house building on brownfield land.
Last year an area called “Sandwell” celebrated its 4oth year as an invented local authority incorporating 6 towns that once had their own separate identity, and still do to many who remember the former structure of local government.
Sandwell is a bit of an oddity given that it has no postal relevance with some areas incorporating Dudley DY and Birmingham B postcodes, as well as Walsall WS in Wednesbury- confused you should be!
And then for some reason there are the electoral borders of WEST BROMWICH WEST, AND WEST BROMWICH EAST AS WELL AS PART OF THE BOROUGH BEING IN WARLEY. To confuse even more, many of the towns that now regard themselves as “black country” were also formerly part of Staffordshire.
In “Staffordshire” by Vivian Bird Batsford 1974, the area as it stood entering manufacturing industrial decline is well described.
“As in a jungle you cannot see the wood through the trees, so in the black country you cannot see buildings for the bricks… black smoke is rare; gone are the many smoke trails from railway engines. An occasional eruption of sinister orange smoke from a chemical or iron works is the only noxious sign in the overall view today, but one is conscious that down there is that more insidious blanket of petroleum and diesel fumes from vehicles that move about, stop and start and reverse with as little purpose seemingly as the denizens of an ant colony.”
How little has changed in 40 years but just magnified 10 fold.
“Black country day” also appeared to raise its head when people started to talk about devolved local Government powerhouses. There was talk of a “Greater Birmingham” under that name, and so at this point, some local amateur politicians, like football supporting clans decided that they did not want this. And so a plot was hatched with the “business leaders” and with local media on board and a collection of local eccentrics and exhibitionists. The only honest politicians are usually those who are not of the mainstream brand. They also see this joke for what it is, but unfortunately many people are suckered into a concept of area pride.
Another controversy to arise is the symbolism behind the flag. The concept of chains echo slavery to one critic, and the part that the British Empire played in the transportation of millions. I have to say I agree with the point. It is undeniable that the area is connected by links of chain to this end, though there are others. Another purpose to which chain was used is of course industrialisation and spoiling of the land. The term “rattlechain” got its name from a type of winding chain that made a terrible noise when turned. We are all now slaves to the land uses that the Industrialists left behind, and what an ugly legacy it is.
“Am yo a gooin dowen the rattlechairn lagooen?”
The most notable thing about “the black country” is undoubtedly its hindering dialect, which nationally is regarded as being spoken by the thickest of people. Such stereotypes also lump Greater Birmingham into the same pot, though quite clearly there is a different pronunciation at play in that area even though only a few miles apart.
A Birmingham resident will say “grass” as in “arse“, whereas the black country resident says “grass” as in “ass“.
So on Black country day there will be the twanging drawl of disjointed vowel sounds filling the air with how “grairt” “the black country” is and what it did for the world, even though it doesn’t exist on any map but in name.
Don’t get me wrong, I live where I live through choice, and there are some areas of the world I would like to live in far less. But who are these nutters who are “proud” of industrial heritage as though somehow it is the oxygen of life to all who live and breathe in the vapours that exist in “the black country”?
We hear bollocks like “it lit the spark that kindled the flame” etc etc. Mostly the black country area served entrepreneurs from outside the area , like Arthur Albright for example who raped the land for its wealth, to sow it only with polluted seeds. Is this something to be “proud” of?
It is those same individuals who then by choice after their wealth had been made chose NOT to live within this “black country” that they had created. And how wise was that when you look at the infant mortality rate, the life expectancy rate, the illiteracy rate, the depressing scarred landscapes of slag peppered with carcinogenic chemicals of mass destruction.
Much of this remains in the black country. When you take a tour of some of its noted towns such as Tipton and Bilston you find little prosperity. You do find salt of the earth people, mixed with rogues and a creeping wave of multi ethnic diversity whose heritage is far removed from that of those who settled in the area in the period of the industrial revolution, save for the fact that most of them arrived as victims of exploitation at the hands of the industrialists.
“Proud”- no no pride in areas where people flytip waste, claim benefits where work pays less and reproduce like rats gnawing away at the hand that feeds. Green shoots grow in black places, but so does gangrene.