The Perry Barr Film and Music Festival - Why Not?
Posted on the 31st Mar 2014 in the category sport

It has been two weeks since the three way handshake was made.

The skinny white hand is mine.

The big one on the left is the hand of Denton Thomas - Britain's first black tax inspector and founder of the Birmingham Bulls.

The other is of Alderman Don Brown - former councillor and landlord of the Crown and Cushion - where the shake was made.

It was the moment the Perry Barr Film and Music Festival became a reality. Of course the details are for down the road but it will happen - and whatever happens it will be better than last year.

Why are we doing it? Many reasons but here is one of them. We all love Perry Barr.

I get the bus to work by Tucker Fasteners, the giant flange and metal bashing factory which has been there since the 1930s but closed down last year. The bus then passes the huge Birmingham City University site which is being shut down block by block as BCU abandons Perry Barr for Eastside.

The exodus of BCU makes all those detailed (and now shelved) plans to build the “Varsity” Metro link into Perry Barr even more laughable. Just down the Aldridge Road is former Avonmore Dairies site which was meant to be a new college campus called Riverside which is also not happening as B-Met College's take over of Sutton College ensured another Perry Barr plan was dead in the water.

Across the road from the university is the vast former IMI site which was supposed to be full of businesses employing 4,000 people but is now a wasteland stretching as far as the eye can see.

Back on the bus we go past the site of the former Birchfield Library on Perry Barr island. The listed 19th Century centre of learning was pulled down eight years ago to make way for a “landmark” education centre and library. This fantastic scheme was axed by Conservative and Liberal politicians and now Birmingham City Council's Labour administration is not reviving it either.

The weeds on the site have now grown into trees and are taller than the “Star in Perry Barr” fences. So as tourists a few miles away marvel at the £180m Library of Birmingham back in Perry Barr local kids pass a political crime scene every day.

100metres from the old library site are the footprints of Tweed, Birchfield and Calder Towers which were meant to replaced by a Govt pathfinder housing scheme, which, you've guessed it - has been scrapped.

All that abandonment within a mile, a bit like my love life concentrated in one place.

So I am pissed off Perry Barr keeps getting f**ked, by everyone. As are Denton and Don who remember the glory days of this inner-city paradise. So we doing something to try and put Perry Barr on the map in a positive way.

The idea came about as I was at the bar moaning the Steve Zacharanda Story documentary would not make it into the Flatpack Film Festival despite me being able to ram a cinema.

But I knew it wouldn't get in - and I was right as it was not deemed "worthy" enough. So we talked about screening it at the pub, it would have been a great night for me but ultimately forgettable in the long run.

But when I brought up the first ever Odeon was in Perry Barr - now the Royale Suite - the idea for a film festival took hold. Perry Barr has a place in world cinema history, so lets exploit that.

With our musical heritage and the Crown tailor made for live music then it did not take long for it to go from a film festival to a film and music festival.

My mom's church - Perry Barr Methodist Church - then came into play, one chat later and it looks it will be another venue we have for Christian films and musical performance.

Despite being shafted by local and central government there are still thriving smaller businesses in Perry Barr which will be invited to host events during the festival.

The possibilities are endless African restaurants can show Nollywood and African films and curry houses and corner shops can screen Bollywood classics. The Seventh Trap have already agreed to show a Hindi gangster flick night, the Villa's 57, 82, 94 and 96 cup final wins as well as Taxi Driver for local taximen.

Talking Waffles have agreed to show a few films as has the Bedouin Sheesha Bar.

And when we have a full list of smaller venues then we shall approach Perry Barr's big dogs to get involved – the Uni, One Stop, Royale Suite and the Greyhound track – it will happen with or without them so I hope they will agree to give something back.

I have already started asking people to join in and the response has been fantastic – our organising committee already has conceptual artists, film lecturers, musicians and an ethical advisor as well as me, Don and Denton.

I do admit we are a bit cock heavy at the moment so I am trying to recruit an incredible 20-something lady who is a great musical PR and will be a wonderful face for PBFM – I just hope she says yes!

The festival will be held in the last week of August so we have got a lot of organising to do before then, but it can happen and it will happen.

So if you are a local film maker or musician then get in touch – or even if you just have an idea that you think we would like – get involved – just email info@stevezacharanda.com

We will always be open to ideas, worthy or not worthy, hell we'll be open to scandalous ideas. We will be unashamedly inner-city so will reflect the area which the festival bares its name.

Together in Electric Dreams we can put Perry Barr on the map for the right reasons.

Over and Out.

Steve Zacharanda – journalist, social justice campaigner and founder of PBFM. 


A Perry Barr love story - the marriage of Adam and Steve
Posted on the 30th Mar 2014 in the category sport


As the UK media clamour for a couple called Adam and Steve to tie the knot an unlikely love story has emerged in Perry Barr.

Local tramp Adam Smith and international travel journalist Steve Zacharanda have decided to give journalists what they want and have got married. 

Steve has long campaigned for equal marraige in the UK and US as his role as a self styled social justice  campaigner.

He said: "People might think this is a publicity stunt but for me it is the real thing - I love Adam Smith - he's the one. Not one of the ones but the one. He always has been, it was staring me in the face and I didnt realise."

The happy couple pledged their everlasting love for one another at One Stop Shopping Centre in which the two grooms arrived  together down the travelator. 

Steve, aged 38, added: "I wanted to ram homosexuality down the throat of that twat of an MP who used the old line "It's Adam  and Steve, not Adam and Eve" - in Parliament during the debate.

"Well hopefully he is gagging it on it now - let's get this straight homophobia is the new racism and I will not tolerate it."

The reception was held at the Crown and Cushion where the star-crossed couple cut a wedding cake which featured a huge trombone  on top. They both danced to Charlene's I've Never Been To Me as their first song as bar staff threw rice and peas over them.

Chief bridesmaid Gurdip Thandi (pictured walking Steve down the aisle) said: "This is the perfect love match for the modern era Steve loves Adam, and Adam loves Steve.

"I never thought Steve would find anyone to love more than himself but it appears I was wrong."

Mr Thandi refused to pin money on the couple's groin area but is believed to have part financed the big day.

Adam, also aged 38, said: "It all has been a bit sudden, I'm not sure what the old dear will say, she's not even happy about me smoking.

"But then again to snare a minor celebrity like Steve is a dream come true, to be his plus one to half the places he goes to will be honour, he has already taken a £20 deposit off me for a flight."

Tom Watson MP, who appeared on the Steve Zacharanda Radio Show last year in the week he voted for equal marriage last year , said: "This is a great day for the UK. This will go down in history."

However, some of the locals at the Crown and Cushion were unwilling to celebrate the civil rights milestone.

One said: "This is an abomination, is it any wonder the weather is so bad with all this bottymanism going on, I know Adam  hasn't had much luck with the ladies lately but this is taking the piss."


20 years since that super spring day at Wembley
Posted on the 27th Mar 2014 in the category sport

Whoah the Ozzy Bozzy, Whoah the Ozzy Bozzy, knees bent, arms stretched - 
Save Save Save."

After celebrating the night away in the Little Crown, attention turned to getting a
ticket for the final against Man Utd.

I'd never been away for a holiday with my mates before so the first trip to Wembley
would be one I'd never forget.

But first we had to get tickets. Back in them days you had to collecct programme 
vouchers and in the halcyon spring of 1994 – hard to believe it has been 20 years
already – they became gold dust.

Begging, borrowing and blackmailing were just a few tactics used to get the all important vouchers.

I managed to get my hands on 30, my pal Yarnold got about 20 and then it was a nervous waiting
game hoping the number of vouchers needed would come down to ten so our little firm could all go.

When the tickets went on sale for those with ten vouchers, we had to be up early. 
We all piled into the back of Bod's Mike Draper Fruits van and got the Villa for 7am. 
The queue stretched from the ticket office to the Holte. 

Then before I knew it I had a cup final ticket in my hand and finally understood how Charlie felt when
he go to go the chocolate factory. 

We were going to play the mighty United in a cup final none of us will ever forget.

As the big day approached it got more and more exciting.

As usual I was skint, my girlfriend lent me £15, my dad £30 and the rest scrambled from wherever I 

Then we were off, Me, Bod, Eamonn, Kelly, Richard, Nobby, Burnsie, Yarlod and little Bailey for 
good measure.

One of us had the bright idea of going to Oxford for the night because they were favourites to to win
the boat race and we could celebrate with all the students.

Oxford lost the race but the beautiful town was treated to us lot staggering around lost sing the 
“Ozzy Bozzy” and turning off the street lampposts because one of us knew how. 

In the morning we were off to London, those of us who slept in the van were stiff but the aches and 
pains ended when we turned into Wembley Way and saw a sea of claret and blue.

After a few pints in The Torch we got into the ground. Bumping into friends as we struggled to get 
to our seats.

Sit down, sit down,” was the chorus for fools but we had our had our fun tormenting a fan spotted 
in United socks.

Then our hero Dalian Atkinson got put through, it was an amazing moment when he slipped
the ball past Les Sealey, I ended up four rows from my seat, Kelly went sailing down the
aisle and Eamonn launched into midair off Bod's shoulder. 

The game carried on after but we had our moment in the sun, it of course got tense, after 
the Villa fans started singing We'll Never Walk Alone (always bad luck) the triple chasers scored 
and it was heart in mouth time. But we won and the rest is history.

And with memories like that it is no wonder I find it difficult to bother to go down to a middle 
of the table clash against Stoke. 


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