Slow Travel EuropeMaking conscious choices

Birmingham Silences

Head out along the Bristol Road and you get an eyeful of Birmingham's suburbs. Leaky ipods and restive mobiles mix with discarded newspapers and chip wrappers on the upper deck of Bus 61 that runs all the way out to Frankley. An empty Red Bull can dances beneath the seats, rolling back and forth as the bus brakes and accelerates. "Teeth whitening while you wait" shouts an ad as the bus cruises south past nail bars, curry houses and yoga institutes. There is the University of Birmingham on the right, its striking red brick clock tower a dominant landmark in this part of the city. And Selly Oak railway bridge - "built circa 1931" says the sign as if the engineers really had no idea what year it was when they bridged the Bristol Road.