Page 1

1 | Smoke&Mirrors

Possesed Jackson

Page 3

Back in my day...

Page 5

Memoirs of a Bouncer

Page 9

Crime Rates

Page 11

Meet the Team

Page 13

Smoke&Mirrors | 2


irmingham is a place full of interesting, challenging, unique, witty and passionate characters. This idea of passion and interest hit me like never before when I came into contact with a guy on the streets of Erdington, in the same area I have lived for the last 16 years or so, claiming to possess the spirit of Michael jackson! “Yes Michael jackson�. It was very strange and intriguing to see a black man believing with such conviction that he contained with in a piece of Michael jackson someone so iconic and known, it was obviously a crazy and bold statement to make. His appearance however had Michael jackson written all over it. to his suit socks and shoes. he also tried to kind of style his hair like michael jackson but did not really pull it off. Me and a friend confronted him as he was attempting to make a drink can move on his own when it was just the wind blowing it. he had a piece of paper that was curled over which acted like a ramp for the can to roll up and down on. after asking him what he was attempting he showed us his love for the jackson legacy and how deeply programmed into his brain it was.

OSSESSED 3 | Smoke&Mirrors

“To liv e is to be dancing musical, in your starting veins. E w i v t e r y t h Do you ing livin h the blood feel yo g ur Mus has a rhyth ic?” m. - Mic


Jacks o


JACKSO His behavior was unsettling as he had these faces which indicated at times happiness then sudden sadness then abrupt frustration or anger, like he wanted to go from greeting us and a normal conversation to attacking us. He told us at one point to “leave, your upsetting me and my spirit its my spirit nobody knows but me; I don’t really know what to say; I don’t wanna talk about it as I’m not sure; I’m just around”. He was half oblivious and half aware. he would shout loud sounds, mostly out of annoyance or irritation and would always have white headphones in dancing incredibly accurate to his predecessor michael. reminded me of someone biblical with a spirit problem, tormented and happy, uneasy and yet entertaining. A social poltergeist! In one picture is him dancing in the recently renovated part of the New Street station in birmingham city centre. this man would sit at day and then dance and get more freak like as it drew closer to evening. does that mean birmingham from day to night is like the flipping of a coin, from heads to tails, we cant really say. But it shows, however with certain individuals.

Smoke&Mirrors | 4

Back in my day...


ow would you feel asking a stranger for help?

We don’t live in a community where you can ask strangers for help anymore. someone could be knocking my door for help because perhaps their cars broke down outside... would I feel safe enough to answer it? not at all. And this got me thinking about the older generations who even find it hard to leave their homes after a certain time of day, how does this “modern society” affect them?. So I’ve spoken to a couple of elderly woman in the central Birmingham area on their views about youth and the society of today.


o you feel the younger generation has an affect on your general well being?

Yes because the younger generation are totally unpredictable. You never know what they’re going to do next. Some youths shout abuse at people and nowadays you can’t even understand the slang coming out of their mouths, it is really intimidating.

Yes, there’s too many youths on the streets nowadays and I always have problems with inexperienced drivers. I often wonder how they even got their licence because they’re lunatics on the roads and it does cause a big problem in today’s community. Everyone has to be 100% alert when they’re out lately and it shouldn’t be that way, we should feel free and safe in our own country but no body does.

5 | Smoke&Mirrors


ould you feel safe leaving your doors unlocked?

No! Definitely not. I’ve been burgled once before due to thinking I was safe in my area and I never want to experience that again. It was horrible. When I was younger I was so carefree, as were my parents, but as I’ve got older and have my own possessions I wouldn’t at all feel safe leaving my house unlocked. If I wanted my stuff to be taken I’d leave them out on my doorstep and they’d be gone within a flash.

No way. I never used to mind when I was younger, no one in our community would be afraid to leave their doors unlocked.. Mainly because no one had anything worth taking (laughs), but nowadays there’s a lot of drugs and crime on the streets and due to the recession people are always looking for ways to get money. Some people just want what other people have, and don’t feel any way about ruining someone’s life to make themselves feel better.

Smoke&Mirrors | 6

7 | Smoke&Mirrors

Smoke&Mirrors | 8

EMOIRS OF A OUNCER T his is an in-depth look into the workings of the Birmingham bouncer. Known by many names, some a lot more explicit then others but by all means the “man on the door”.

Obviously being a bouncer is quite a difficult job in any part of the country, but with such social stigma that surrounds Birmingham, this area happens to be one of the harder. With a total of six daylight stabbings having already occured this year in Birmingham, it’s easy to imagine what sort of horrors happen in the cover of the night along with the aid of dutch courage and it is up to our humble men of the door to keeps these happenings in check.

Recently I spoke to a few bouncers working on the prolific Broad Street about their daily troubles with patrons but also some of the perks to being men of the night. A couple bouncers on the doors of one the most buzzing nightclub mentioned that they enjoyed the job and obviously have the chance to speak and meet a number of women, but that as they’ve been in the business for nearly 20 years now, they’ve started to see how much worse people’s attitude seems to be compared to back in the day. One of the guys said that when he first started out, people seemed to have a bit more respect for bouncers because of the line of work they do, but nowadays people generally drink more and have less regard to those around them. He carries on with that because of this, sometimes there are moments where you begin to really fear for your own safety as you never know if someone might be carrying or what they are capable of and that many times he’s been both

9 | Smoke&Mirrors

verbally and physically threatened by customers with the threat of a weapon. Sometimes he has found himself stuck between a hard place of having to protect the other customers, but also having to protect himself and obviously fighting his own desire to crack some more then deserving skulls. But then he goes on to say that with all that, you also have the odd people who you tend to see around a lot and become the “regulars” and that they sort of people mates and people to chat to whilst your “freezing your arse off all night” and customers like that can really change your mood and how your night goes from then on. Quite clearly, the life of a bouncer does have the odd perks, the pays good as are the “sights” and even some of the customers add a nice feel to the job, but it also carries the very real and very dangerous truth of having to be the frontline defence against that of what can be drunken and thugish behaviour from the nighttime patrons of Birmingham city. From some of the accounts I’ve heard from these bouncers, it really does give quite a truthful look into what Birmingham really looks like from behind the dissolution of night.

Smoke&Mirrors | 10



11 | Smoke&Mirrors

... where the wild things are.

Smoke&Mirrors | 12


rime Rates

Drug dealer jailed after raid on Birmingham flat

A man has been jailed for seven years after police found a loaded hand gun hidden in a cereal box during a drugs raid at a Birmingham flat. Officers raided the home of Damion Murray, in Tanworth Grove, Balsall Heath, on May 20 after a tip-off. They found the loaded gun wrapped in a bandana and concealed in a multi-grain hoop cereal box on top of the 27-year-old’s fridge. The search also found £2,500 in cash and 16 wraps of heroin and cocaine. Murray, who worked as a painter, was arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm and suspicion of supplying drugs. At Birmingham Crown Court Murray claimed he had no knowledge of the gun or drugs. The jury found him guilty of possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply on November 6. He was jailed for seven years. Murray was not convicted over the firearm charge. “The court saw through his lies and convicted him and we are pleased with the sentencing outcome. The evidence supplied to the court was overwhelming and proved that Murray was connected to drug dealing and had links to a local gang. Getting guns and gangs off our streets is a priority for West Midlands police and this gun has now been destroyed. I would appeal to anyone affected drug crime to have confidence and report criminality to the police where we can act upon your concerns.”

Birmingham businessman Anxiang Du denies family murders A Birmingham businessman murdered a family of four with “ruthless efficiency” in order to “avenge himself ” after a business relationship turned sour, a court has heard. Anxiang Du, 55, is accused of killing Manchester Metropolitan University lecturer Jifeng “Jeff ”’ Ding, his wife, Ge “Helen” Chui, and their two daughters, Xing “Nancy” 18, and Alice, 12. Opening the case for the prosecution at Northampton Crown Court, William Harbage QC told the jury of eight women and four men that Du armed himself with a kitchen knife and stabbed the family to death in their own home on April 29 2011, the day of the royal wedding. Mr Harbage told the court, which contained members of Mrs Ding’s family who had travelled from China to be present for the trial, that each member of the family had sustained many wounds, some of which had penetrated the chest cavity causing fatal damage to the heart and lungs. Du previously ran Natural Care in the Pavilion Shopping Centre in Birmingham with his wife. Du denies four counts of murder.

13 | Smoke&Mirrors

Former Birmingham church deacon jailed for second time over child abuse Alfred Woodhall was sentenced to 12 years last week after a court was told he assaulted his victim, a young girl, in a van after choir practice. In 2000, Woodhall was imprisoned for 15 months for indecently assaulting an 11-year-old while he had been leader of a church summer play scheme. The incident took place in 1990. In the latest case, his victim was targeted between 1986 and 1990. Judge Roderick Henderson said: “You were deacon of that Pentecostal church and by definition of that, parents and children trusted you. You gave her sweets and money to bribe her to be quiet.” He said when the victim had initially complained to her family the matter had been “swept under the carpet”. She then had to live with what happened to her for another 20 years. Trevor Meegan, defending, said Woodhall had been sexually abused when he was a child. He added after Woodhall’s previous conviction, the church had been able to forgive him in the Christian sense. But it was unlikely now they would accept him back.

Birmingham teen knife attack over

jailed £20

for debt

A teenager has been jailed for 11 years after admitting a vicious knife attack on two men during a fight over money outside a Birmingham shop. Nesta McCooty admitted taking a 8in kitchen knife to the Spar shop,in Bristol Road, Edgbaston to settle an argument with two men over a £20 debt owed to his younger brother. The 19-year-old stabbed a man aged 24 in the neck and a 21-year-old in the arm and chest. The older victim suffered life threatening injuries and spent several days in critical condition in hospital. The second victim needed surgery following the attack April 3. McCooty, fled the scene but police arrested him the following day after identifying him on CCTV. He was handed the 11-year sentence at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday. An 18-year-old man stood trial after being charged with wounding and was found not guilty by a jury at the same court. Detective Sergeant Jon Balkham, said: “This was a horrific and targeted attack against two men McCooty knew. He went to the shop that night with a knife described by the judge as ‘fearsome’ and he had the full intention of using it. If it wasn’t for the skill of the doctors who treated one of the victims at hospital, then he may not have survived. That’s how serious this attack was. This investigation just proves the deadly consequences knife attacks can have and is evidence that if you are found to have stabbed someone you will be looking at a long prison sentence. The simple message is never carry a knife - it’s illegal and we will always take action against those found carrying a blade.”

Smoke&Mirrors | 14


Zakri Williams Rebekka Thompson

Georgia Perrin Illustrator

15 | Smoke&Mirrors



Grace Searles Photographer

Sumyin Chan Graphic Designer

e& ok





Smoke&Mirrors | 16

17 | Smoke&Mirrors

Smoke&Mirrors | 18


Smoke and Mirrors  
Smoke and Mirrors  

A magazine looking at the different sides of the great Birmingham city.