Warwickshire: First among losers

‘Always the bridesmaid but never the bride, Warwickshire has a long and proud history of being the best at not quite being the best.’

Counting the birth of heavy metal, Cadbury’s chocolate, gas lighting, custard powder and Brylcreem amongst its achievements, Warwickshire has much to be proud of. But despite offering Britain’s second city, numerous industrial innovations and some of the country’s most important social figures, the county has been forced to gradually reconcile itself to never claiming more than the silver medal.

In a fit of post-war depression, much of Warwickshire attempted to cast off its mediocre nearly-man reputation by making a concerted effort towards achieving an honourable last place in measures like racial harmony, council competence and smiles per capita. Sadly, even when aiming as low as it could go, it found itself out-crapped by other, more genuinely unsatisfactory areas.

With first place continuing to elude the region despite redoubled 21st Century efforts, Warwickshire’s self-confidence and conviction has been badly hit, and challenges from upstart rivals to both the north and south have threatened to knock the county into an even more meaningless third-place playoff limbo. As a last-ditch attempt to invigorate its reputation, Warwickshire has banned the phrases ‘other than London’ and ‘in the 19th Century’, as they often remove the gloss from the few winning achievements it can still claim.

Facts

  • FAVOURITE FILMS – Back to the Future II, Airplane II, Two’s Company
  • CLIMATE – Grey, with occasional spells of light grey
  • LIKELIHOOD OF BEING PUNCHED IN THE FACE AT THE PUB – Moderate
  • RACIAL TENSION – Cooled by application of raita
  • THINGS GOT SO BAD THAT – Even Ozzy Osborne moved away
  • ECONOMY – Museums telling story of economy they used to have

History

1016 – Coventry’s Saxon nunnery, founded around 700 AD by St Osburga, is burnt down and replaced by King Canute’s invading Danish army. Many residents complain that the replacement Coventry Cathedral is ‘too modern’ and not a patch on the previous hut.

1068 – William the Conquerer founds Warwick Castle on his way up to Yorkshire to deal with the rebellious north, where at the he was known as Just William.

11th Century – Lady Godiva rides through Coventry naked on horseback in protest at high taxes being levied on the city by her husband. The city’s menfolk immediately feel more relaxed about the prospect of future injustice.

1694 – Much of Warwick’s medieval town is destroyed in a great fire started from a spark from a torch that was being carried up High Street, leading to a ban on Olympic parades.

1760 − 1850 – Birmingham sees an unprecedented flurry of invention, with residents registering over three times as many patents as any other British town or city. Many of these are for faster and more efficient methods of leaving the city.

1993 – In a mocking parody of Manchester’s Olympic Games bid, Birmingham announces its intention to compete for the privilege of holding the 1998 Asian Games.

2011 – Birmingham is ranked as a beta minus city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, ranking it alongside Cyprus’ Nicosia, Australia’s Brisbane, and Mauritania’s Pffffft.

Did You Know?

Renato of Renee and Renato ‘fame’ lived in Sutton Coldfield. Renato was a fan of Aston Villa and was asked by manager Ron Atkinson to sing “Nessun Dorma” at half time following a particularly poor first half team performance as punishment.

Sutton Coldfield is the birthplace of successful television presenter Cat Deeley, a woman so unremittingly positive she actually farts glitter.

Richard Curtis, writer of numerous successful sitcoms and films, spends much of his time in Warwickshire. He is currently working on a verdict of which his own pieces he is most pleased with, provisionally titled It’s Actually Love Actually Actually.

Birmingham has had a huge influence on modern popular music, as the crucible of pioneering metal bands from the late 1960s and 1970s such as Black Sabbath, the rise of politically-driven reggae and ska with UB40 and The Beat, and preening twattery with 1980s pop band Duran Duran.

Birmingham New Street station is the busiest in the United Kingdom outside London, depressing over 40 million passengers every year.

Hostile attitudes of the Coventry’s cityfolk towards Royalist prisoners during the English Civil War are believed to have been the origin of the phrase “to be sent to Coventry”, as although their physical needs were catered for, the Royalist prisoners were literally never spoken to by anybody. Council officials have complained that the phrase has no truth today, and should be updated as ‘to be sent to Islington’.

Warwickshire residents have had a huge influence over modern sport. The world’s first league football competition – was founded by Birmingham resident and Aston Villa director William McGregor, who wrote to fellow club directors proposing “that ten or twelve of the most prominent clubs in England combine to arrange home-and-away fixtures each season, with the most excellent of such fixtures to be played on a ‘Super Sabbath’”. The modern game of tennis was invented by Harry Gem, with the dangerous early version he developed still played at the Edgbaston Archery and Lawn Tennis Society. And formed in 1888, the Birmingham and District is the longest-running cricket league in the world, with almost four matches completed.

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