All together now: ‘Always look on the bright side of life!’

While COVID-19 shenanigans threaten to get us all down, Mike Olley, general manager of Westside BID, reminds us that there’s plenty of positive local things going on that should be making us all smile.

“When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble, give a whistle,” so that favourite old ditty goes.

It’s true, there’s so much to be down-in-the-mouth over with Birmingham in a Tier Two of lockdown restrictions. From knee-jerk politicians listening to dramatic outbursts of scary cat, to overtly cautious professionals who are frankly thriving in their newfound fame. You could be getting a little too pessimistic about all this.

Therefore, let’s “Forget about your sin, (and) give the audience a grin.” Or, in other words, we should think about all the things there are to still keep smiling about.

Love ’em or loathe ’em, the Villa haven’t lost a game or conceded a point so far, an amazing achievement not seen since the 1930-31 season. Even the biggest Blue-noses on the planet must accept that’s good for the profile of our region. Indeed, as a firm Saddler, I can also proudly mention that we (Walsall FC) haven’t lost a game this season either.

Yes, there’s a lot out there which is bad, but hey, there’s lots of good things around too.

I had a bet with one of our club owners last week, over footfall. Do you know we had 81,100 visitors to Westside last week? On Saturday alone, 19,202 popped over to the area. Brilliant. And just in case you doubt our figures, we use the latest technology to count every one of us.

Let me add to this positivity by reminding you that Westside is currently at the epicentre of the UK’s only live music festival. That being the 36th Birmingham, Sandwell and Westside Jazz Festival. This includes lots of virtual acts but real-life gigs are being staged too, safely performing in front of real people in live venues. I’m told the programme is shot full of holes with numerous changes, but it’s still soldiering on until Sunday. Wonderful!

Meanwhile, here at the BID we have just undertaken a survey of the area so we can offer a handy guide to where you can still socialise outside with friends (no more than six unless special circumstances apply). Check out all our venues that can accommodate you here: https://youtu.be/_nqDFSB7Ei4

There’s more good news. The Metro tram should be up and running along Broad Street by early 2021. This extension has been painful at times. But come to have a look, and you’ll see all the important bits are in, with just a few finishing touches needed before we’re ready to go. Sweet!

On top of all this good news, Prysm on Broad Street – one of the best clubs in the UK – is reopening. What a glorious manifestation. Arguably one of the nation’s most stylish venues, it has terrific pulling power with the massive student population in Birmingham. I know the management personally and they will be working hard to keep to the letter of all current guidelines. Outstanding!

Whatever our woes, there’s simply so much good stuff still going on. As that same old song goes: “Always look on the bright side of life.” Don’t you just love Monty Python?

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