This post reaches you as I prepare to board a sleeper train from Crewe to Inverness after a couple of day’s work in Birmingham. My experience of the place up until now was limited to sitting on the M6 wondering why the traffic wasn’t moving, however I have now scratched below the surface to find the ‘true’ Birmingham and I didn’t like what I found. Last night I took a stroll down beside the redeveloped canalside at Brindley Place and the Mailbox in search of something to eat. My original goal was something expensive but I couldn’t hold off until the Michelin starred place opened at 1900 so I chose a thai place instead, a decision which I was to come to regret. The menu was excellent and nostalgia for moped riding round Pai in northern Thailand made me order up a green papaya salad to start with pad thai as a main. The papaya salad was very hot and even as I ate it I started to become concerned at the potential for ring damage. It is perhaps fortunate that the pad thai that followed was sufficiently flavourless and greasy that eating about a third of it meant that the papaya salad never made it anywhere near my delicate ring piece, instead it was vomited into a waste paper bin in my hotel room. There then followed a thoroughly unpleasant night of sweating, shivering and generally feeling very ill indeed. Thankfully I am now fit enough to leave the black country and head for home.