The Black Country

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The Black Coontray
The Black Country
Doesn't include Birmingham
Black Country Flag.svg
Flag
Motto: 'We ay f*?king Brummies'
Anthem: Anything that's popular at the moment and sounds good when we're pissed
Black Country UK locator map
Capital Supposedly Dudley if Wolverhampton is not included
Official language(s) Black Country Spaek (some form of the English language)
Government Huh?! We day vote and they day do anything for us
National hero(es) Aynuk and Ayli
Currency Pound Sterling (official), Supermarket coupons (in Dudley), bartering, stolen goods, booze, tobacco products
Theblackcountry

The Black Country on a good day

The Black Country is located smack-bang in the middle of England along with Birmingham and Wolverhampton. It encompasses the towns of Dudley, Stourbridge, West Bromwich, Wednesbury and Walsall. It is best described as a dystopian post-industrial wasteland that has been ignored by successive Conservative and Labour governments who would rather invest in their core areas such as London and the South East (Conservative) or Scotland, Manchester and Liverpool (Labour).

edit History and toponymy

The area has traditionally been known for coal mining and metal working since before the Industrial Revolution and in its heyday it has been compared to Mordor from the Lord Of The Rings. When the railways came in the 19th Century people from all over the country started to notice the area, here is an early description:

In this Black Country, including West Bromwich, Dudley, Darlaston, Bilston and several minor villages, a perpetual twilight reigns during the day, and during the night fires on all sides light up the dark landscape with a fiery glow. The pleasant green of pastures is almost unknown, the streams, in which no fishes swim, are black and unwholesome; the natural dead flat is often broken by high hills of cinders and spoil from the mines; the few trees are stunted and blasted; no birds are to be seen, except a few smoky sparrows; and for miles on miles a black waste spreads around, where furnaces continually smoke, steam engines thud and hiss, and long chains clank, while blind gin horses walk their doleful round. From time to time you pass a cluster of deserted roofless cottages of dingiest brick, half swallowed up in sinking pits or inclining to every point of the compass , while the timbers point up like the ribs of a half decayed corpse. The majority of the natives of this Tartarian region are in full keeping with the scenery – savages, without the grace of savages, coarsely clad in filthy garments, with no change on weekends or Sundays, they converse in a language belarded with fearful and disgusting oaths, which can scarcely be recognised as the same as that of civilized England.

Honestly, this quotation is true! Check out the Wikipedia page about the Black Country. Here is another quotation which still stands true today:

On certain rare holidays these people wash their faces, clothe themselves in decent garments, and, since the opening of the South Staffordshire Railway, take advantage of cheap excursion trains, go down to Birmingham to amuse themselves and make purchases.

A source of local pride is that the anchors and the chains for the Titanic were made in the area, possibly the only thing on the ship that can't be blamed for its sinking. More recently, the traditional industries have declined and it's seen as an example of an area in need of investment.

edit The present day

Nowadays the area is being swallowed up by the urban sprawl of Birmingham although most of the locals are in denial about it. They profess their disdain for Birmingham and the Brummies but they secretly know it's where they'd prefer to be. For many inhabitants, Birmingham is a day (or night) out and is regarded as a special event. Failing that, there is always Wolverhampton to visit.

edit Local stuff

edit The Black Country Living Museum

A chance to see how the locals used to live. The Bottle and Glass pub inside the museum is worth visiting if you want to try the local beer without the hostile looks from the locals that you'd find in the rest of the area. There is also a mock-up of a coal mine with a recorded narrative that sounds like it was spoken by someone who has the IQ of a line dancer and the waxwork figures look a little bit too familiar. It could be a good trip down memory lane but the modern day looks more or less the same but with the added beaten-up Ford or Vauxhall and the presence of smartphones.

edit Canals

Canals (also known as the cut) are seen everywhere through the Black Country. They were originally built to transport goods across England but are nowadays traversed only by nostalgic eccentrics in rented narrowboats. The local canals are usually caked with scum and are treated like a rubbish tip, they can be strewn with litter such as packaging from McDonalds, stolen bicycles, prams and dead animals. Amazingly enough, people actually try to fish there!

edit Local food and drink

Traditionally, the local food looked and smelled like a dog's dinner such as chitterlings, tripe and pig's trotters. Nowadays it's the usual diet of junk food. As for drink, the beer was known as Mild and looked a weak brown colour but nowadays it's cheap lager like everywhere else.

edit Place names

The Black Country has some amazingly imaginative place names such as Tipton (a bit ironic there), New Invention and Rocket Pool. Unofficial or informal names include Abyssinia and The Lost City. Others could be regarded as bizarre - Myvod, anyone?

edit Transport

M5 blackcountry

The local motorways are primarily on viaducts to avoid prolonged contact with the Black Country

Bus - Yes, there are double-decker buses here but the bottom deck is reserved for old people and teenage mothers and the top deck carries vaguely threatening chavs playing gangsta rap which can be unnerving. Most bus routes seem to meander aimlessly around crappy housing estates and the service is generally regarded as in much need of improvement.

Midland Metro - A multi-million pound white elephant that nobody uses and always seems to lose money. Yet the local transport authority somehow always gets the funding from a reluctant government.

Train - The local rail network is only good if you want to go into Birmingham or to leave the Black Country entirely.

Road - The road network is totally inadequate and is prone to gridlock, especially at rush hour. The M5 and M6 motorways pass through the area but the traffic is heavy and where the motorways meet (M6 Junction 8) can only be described as a practical joke. However, getting around by car is recommended because it's frustratingly difficult to get about by public transport.

edit Sports

It's mainly football around here and many people are avid supporters of Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion, if it's derby day Wolverhampton or West Bromwich will resemble a warzone. As with all clubs from the Midlands they are living, breathing examples of mediocrity and in common with the Black Country in general they have seen better days. No Russian oligarchs nor rich Arabs with more money than sense here!

edit Local media

Most local radio stations tend to play the same bland music repeatedly and are best avoided. The local newspapers (such as the Express And Star and the Black Country Bugle) seem nostalgic for the 'good old days', a bit like the Daily Mail.

edit The flag

It was designed only a few years ago and portrays chains and a glasshouse in red, white and black. As with many Americans from the midwest it's flown in people's gardens.

edit The Black Country dialect

StupidImwith

"Ow b'ist gooin aer kid?"

One of the most noticeable things about the Black Country is the accent. It is a mixture of medieval English, something from out of The Lord Of The Rings and the effects of airborne pollution. To the untrained ear, it sounds as far removed from standard English as Geordie. Here are some examples:

'Ow B'ist? / Ow b'ist gooin? - How are you?

'Bay too bah - I'm not too bad

I ay sid 'er - I haven't seen her

Bostin - Good

Please note that to upset somebody from the Black Country, say that they're a Brummie. Many outsiders confuse the two and people from the Black Country strenuously insist that there is a difference.

edit Middle class self-hatred

Some middle class people, even first and second generation middle class people from the Black Country will try to speak standard English and avoid speaking the local dialect with outsiders. When pushed about where they come from, they will say "near Birmingham". These people can usually be found on the southern and western edge of the area in places like Halesowen, Stourbridge, Kingswinford and parts of Wolverhampton.

edit Controversies

No-one can agree on which towns the Black Country covers, especially when it involves Wolverhampton.

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