Ok, I’m back.
This time prompted by sheer enthusiasm, which I have promised myself is the only way I will blog in future.
In his column for The Times, Matthew mulls over a new motto for the UK (it was mooted some time back that Gordy was looking for one). Inspiration came during his speech at Birmingham Foward’s annual dinner:
The perfect national motto. It came to me while addressing a dinner given by the Birmingham Forward association of regional businesses. Birmingham is looking great these days, and I said how much nicer it was to encounter a city where people undersold themselves, than places (but let’s leave Manchester out of this) that were up their own bottoms.
An MP and archetypal young thruster of a Government minister, Liam Byrne, had recently bewailed what he called the West Midlands’ “malaise of modesty”. Modesty a malaise! How very new Labour. A pleasantly low-key attitude to themselves is one of the great assets of West Midlanders. So I suggested a new motto for Birmingham, which the audience seemed to like.
Philip Howard, the classicist of The Times, has helped me to translate it into Latin, and the five-word motto would be splendid, in fact, for Britain itself – except that it undermines the whole Brownite constitutional project.
Ne nostra in fundamenta subeamus: “Let us not climb up our own bottoms.”
It’s true that, in many ways, Birmingham has undersold itself through modesty. Trevor Beattie suggested that if we could temporarily adopt the arrogance of the Mancunians, then we might raise our profile a bit.
But I think perhaps it isn’t arrogance we need. I think it’s confidence and a little bit of self belief.
We’ve taken the knocks because there are some idiots that insist on judging the city using anachronistic stereotypes. And, perhaps, that’s made us play safe on some issues.
Yet, in my experience, Birmingham has masses of talent, passion and creativity. Perhaps we just need to be a little braver and give less of a stuff what everyone else thinks.
With a bit of self belief we could use our modesty to our advantage. After all, being great isn’t about shouting the loudest, it’s about doing things better than everyone else!
From (the rather appropriately named) upyerbrum