OPINION: The Hold Tight Sessions – Nerina Pallot

Ed’s note…

This was first published in Nerina Pallot’s newsletter, issued to her fans on 18.03.20 – we thought it was such a good idea (and such a warm piece of writing) that we asked if we could syndicate it to our readers. With all the fear in the world right now, alongside the damage to the creative and other industries, we loved seeing a silver lining.

The clue’s in the title, but watch out for Nerina Pallot’s online concerts – The Hold Tight Sessions –  streamed every Thursday at 8pm; we’re still safe to make sound, even if it’s a little further away than the traditional front row. For more on this, click here to visit the Facebook event page or click here to visit Nerina Palllot’s YouTube Channel.

And there’s a couple of sneaky peaks of Nerina live at the end of this article, please excuse the picture quality of the first one but we thought it was a good clip/representation (and please excuse Gloria Hunniford’s segue…)

Be safe and be kind to each other; now is the time for community and compassion. With love from all at Birmingham Review x


Words by Nerina Pallot / Pics by Katja Ogrin

Before I sat down to write this newsletter, I looked for a poem with which to begin it. I rifled through the books I already have, thought ‘surely me old mucker Philip Larkin has something to say about all this business. Or Pablo Neruda. Maybe go all high falutin’ and rustle up something by that naughty Mr Marvell. Or a bit of Rilke to make us all pause for thought and look all moody like tortured teenagers.’ I spent a long time leafing. Gave up. Googled – what was I gonna Google? Poems for uncertain times? (The poems in existence didn’t bank on times as uncertain as these.) Poems for a world on lockdown? (Nope. Nada in that larder.) Poems for when we’re up a creek nobody knew existed and you have ten thousand spoons when all you need is a paddle?

Guess what. There are no poems for this, but I suspect many will be born because of it.

Tell me, if even a mere month ago somebody had come to you and said in France, if you want to leave your house, you need papers to explain where you’re going and what you’re doing you would have thought them mad. The whole notion was preposterous; a conspiracy theory cooked up by the sort of people who think juicing cures cancer and love to tell you all about it on Facebook. And yet at midday yesterday, this is what came to pass. In France. Land of la liberté, egalité et fraternité. In Italy, people are singing to each other on balconies because that is all there is to do. The world is shutting its doors to keep out an enemy it cannot see, smell or hear.

Now, some of us have waited our whole lives for state sanctioned introversion. We feel validated. We got this. A legitimate excuse to stay home in our pants and read and listen to music and draw and never have to see people? Yes please thank you very much. But now that the option to come out of ourselves has been removed it doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel very good at all. Perhaps we have more in common with those folk who move through the world as if it were an amusement arcade. We’re just not very good at parties. But now there aren’t any parties to go to anyway.

And suddenly, I dunno about you, but I could do with a bloody good party.

None of us have any real idea of what is about to unfold, or how long this unfolding will take. Some of us are living week to week, pay cheque to pay cheque. We may be working from home, but only for as long as the companies we work for can keep going. We may run businesses that are trickling away before our very eyes. Some of us may have seen our pensions – everything all those years of slog and sacrifice were meant to be worth it for – slip like sand through an hourglass in just a fortnight. Some of us may be ok. But if we don’t know what it is to come, how can we know for sure?

Here’s the thing. It’s a WE thing. Because for once in human history, every single one of us is affected and we are all in this together. And not in the way David Cameron meant either.

And that is a wonderful thing. I don’t mean this flippantly. Not a single one of us can come away untouched from this – not even Jeff Bezos or Vladimir Putin or Kay Burley’s hairdo. And for all the crappiness in the world – the war, the sickness, the terrorism, the poverty – we also live in a time of extraordinary progress. At the peak of scientific discovery, where right now, at this very minute, all over the planet, there are amazing men and women in white lab coats straining over microscopes and working at lightening speed to find a way to despatch this pesky virus into the biohazard dustbin of time. They will do it. They always do.

We are humans. We do some shitty things, but we also put men on the moon (like in my song sort of) and figure out that as well as making some excellent cheeses, mould can make life saving drugs. We also like to dress our cats in unicorn costumes.

Right now, as I see it, we can only control ourselves. Everything else is out of our jurisdiction – but isn’t it always that way, much as we like to convince ourselves otherwise? So with that in mind, we have to sit this out. Take care of ourselves and each other as best we can. Eat well. Brush our teeth. Get some rest. Watch the bare minimum of news. Concentrate on only each day as it comes. Add gin where necessary.

Do what we can.

What I can do is sing and play music and chat nonsense. And so that is what I’m gonna do for you in coming weeks. Every Thursday at 8PM UK time I’m going to do a little concert from my living room for you. I will happily take requests – although I may need them a day or two in advance to avoid disappointment because I have written A LOT of songs now as I’m old. If glitch free technology allows, I might be able to get some musical friends to join me from their living rooms too. We’re looking into it.

Feel free to dress up and share your photos of sartorial elegance. THIS MEANS PLEASE WEAR CLOTHING. The fancier, the better. I refuse to let you slip into the slovenly ways of the couch potato. We are going to get up every day and make an effort and put lipstick on even if the only person there to witness it is the cat.

‘Stay Lucky’ – Nerina Pallot (live from the Trades Club, Hebden Bridge)


‘Sophia’ – Nerina Pallot (performed live on Heaven and Earth / BBC)

Nerina Pallot will be hosting a living room concert every Thursday from 8pm GMT – The Hold Tight Sessions. For more on this, click here to visit the Facebook event page – or click here to visit Nerina Pallot’s YouTube channel.

For more on Nerina Pallot, visit www.nerinapallot.com


NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual aggression in the music industry and beyond – from dance floor to dressing room, everyone deserves a safe place to play.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.

OPINION: When someone says rape…

Words by Ed King / Lead image provided by Getty Images

I want you to remember your best sexual experience. I want you to relive it, in every detail, the most pleasurable and safe experience you’ve ever had with a lover.

I want you to remember where you were, what you wore, what you had to eat and to drink. I want you to remember what they wore, until they wore nothing. I want you to remember what they ate and they drank.

I want you to remember every step of the sex itself – every physical touch and every emotion that went with it. I want you to remember what they did first, what they did last. I want you to establish a timeline. I want you to remember the strength of their body, if their skin was hot, cold, rough, or smooth. I want you to remember if, at any point, you smiled. Or laughed, even if you didn’t mean to. I want you to remember them entangled with you. I want you to paint a vivid picture of the flesh and the thoughts and the sweat and the noise.

Now I want you to go into the street and tell the first person you meet, a stranger. Tell them everything.

Now I want you to do the same for your worst sexual experience.


This is an exercise in empathy I saw the Birmingham based Rape & Sexual Violence (RSVP) organisation deliver, to a group of venue operators and licensees at a South Side Pub Watch meeting. It was a ‘tough crowd’, fidgeting through a hot afternoon and a meeting they were obligated to attend. But this stopped the room. This made us think. Can you imagine actually doing that…?

The idea is to put yourself in the position of a victim of sexual assault, to help you to respond to any cases of sexual violence that might happen around you. To better understand what a victim of sexual assault would have to go through just to report what had happened to them – just to start a criminal investigation, to hold a rapist to account, to get justice. To stop it happening again.

It gets worse for the victim too, this is only the first step – the next is a line of cross examination to see if they would be a viable voice in court, with all the clichés and rebuttals that circle cases of sexual violence like patriarchal vultures. Did you lead them on? Did you know them? Did you act like you wanted sex? Were you drinking? Were you high? Was your clothing too sexy? Did you laugh at their jokes? Did you actually say the word ‘no’…?

But the RSVP exercise has stuck with me as a powerful way to put yourself in this terrible situation, even by proxy, and to allow even only a thin line of understanding for the process a victim of sexual violence will have to go through when they report what happened to them. Just the process of reporting it. Not the violence. Just the admin around it.

This pub watch meeting was over a year ago, but it came back into my head the other day when a social media post about sexual violence in Birmingham’s music scene got challenged – in a rather immediate and short sighted response, ‘evidence’ was asked for. Now this is not an attack on anyone for being involved in this conversation, debate and open discussion is healthy. And there is a side of me that says fair enough, evidence is important. Crucial in a courtroom. As a journalist reporting on anything, not just cases of sexual violence, I would be screaming “facts, figures, and cross referencing,” into my laptop.

Also, to be falsely accused of sexual violence must be a terrible experience – it does happen, you can’t and shouldn’t say it doesn’t. People of all genders and identification, of all ages, of all strata in society, are capable of lies.

But the bigger problem – the much more serious, pressing, and pertinent issue – are all the cases of rape, sexual assault, violence, coercion, abuse, and manipulation that never get reported. With all the sexual aggressors that continue to normalise their heinous actions because the victim is too scared, too wounded, too vulnerable or unsupported to go through the reporting process. Because people of all genders and identification, of all ages, of all strata in society, are capable of causing pain.

So, what do we do? Being involved in the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign has been, and remains to be, a significant learning curve for me – there was a point when I may have been the one calling for something to back up someone’s claim. Although I would like to think I would have done this at a later stage, off social media, and only if it was relevant for me to do so (i.e. not challenging someone who I didn’t know about something I was not privy to). And we are all fallible.

Plus, working with RSVP and the sexual violence and modern slavery team at West Midlands Police has helped me shape my understanding – something not everyone gets the chance to experience. But the first step to take around cases of sexual violence is relatively simple.

You listen.

Start there. Listening helps. Listening empowers people to recall and recant the most hideous of experiences, and to find strength to do it clearly – explaining the facts, figures and ‘evidence’ that someone at the appropriate stage will be looking for.

But the point of right and wrong, of truth and lies, is a few steps down the line. And we’re only at the first – you rarely know the veracity of what anybody is telling you, about anything, from an opening statement. You certainly don’t know it from a post on social media. Walking into this conversation immediately asking for proof will not help someone to deliver information, to explain the situation – it will only help silence them and countless other victims who need support and who need to be heard.

So, listen. Again, start there. Don’t shut someone down because you don’t want to hear what they have to say, or because you hold crossed fingers that it will turn out to be untrue. We’re not there yet, there’s a challenging and difficult process to go through until we reach a point of cross examination – one that is designed, in essence, to begin addressing what is true and to hold people to account.

And if it helps, use the RSVP exercise – put yourself in the position of someone who has experienced sexual violence and has found the strength to talk about. To speak out. To challenge it. To seek help and to seek help for others.

There is an old and troubling adage that if you’re being raped then you should shout “fire”, because people would be more likely to come to your aid.

What would you want the first response to be?

Ed King is the campaign lead for NOT NORMAL NOT OK, challenging sexual violence in the music industry and beyond – from dance floor to dressing room, everyone deserves a safe place to play. For more on NOT NORMAL NOT OK, visit www.notnormalnotok.com

If you have been affected by any issues surrounding sexual violence and want to seek advice or support, visit www.notnormalnotok.com/category/support-advice or email info@notnormalnotok.com

OPINION: A team effort (…we are greater than the sum of our parts)

Words by Ed King / Pic by Aatish Ramchurm

Whilst promoting the next NOT NORMAL NOT OK live gig fundraiser, being held at Centrala on 25th October, I was messaged by someone who’d just got their tickets saying: ‘thank you for making a positive difference’. Simple enough, but something in me was uncomfortable – from well planned birthday presents to professional praise I’ve been waiting too long to hear, I can feel awkward from adulation. This was different though.

NOT NORMAL NOT OK was launched just over a year ago in response to a deluge of stories we heard about sexual violence in the local live music scene. And it started where most things do, for me, as a piece of writing. Namely an op-ed featured on Birmingham Review, which originally ended on a general call to arms to tackle sexual violence – ‘we should join together and form a campaign…’ that sort of thing.

Then we thought, why not just put a campaign together and use that drum banging energy to get people to join in – the call to arms became a social media drive, with our sticker campaign as the initial outreach activity. And it went well; venues reached out in support, promoters and artists invited us to their gigs to hand out stickers, and a reasonable chunk of both the music and mainstream media got solidly behind the campaign.

We had achieved our aim of bringing the issue out of the shadows – our logo was appearing on t-shirts, guitars, drum kits, and the occasional toilet room door at venues across the city. Our social media spiked with sign ups, the mailing list gained traction, whilst countless people asked how they could get more involved. Plus, after a relatively short time, we had already started helping victims of sexual violence get the help they needed – linking them to our campaign partners at RSVP and West Midlands Police. We had even had a few curious phone calls, such as people asking “…should I be worried?” A question that answers itself if you stop and think about it.

(On that note, we would rather see someone get help to address and change their negative behaviour than burn them at the stake. If you need help, whatever your problems with sexual violence, be honest and reach out.)

But from my days evaluating consumer based PR campaigns, NOT NORMAL NOT OK launched with aplomb. We had reached our audience; the singular idea had grown into a force of its own, propelled and shaped by the ongoing support of people across the city. And right there… that’s why ‘thank you’ makes me uncomfortable.

There are a team of amazing volunteers who have supported NOT NORMAL NOT OK from day one – pushing the message at gigs and handing out stickers wherever they go. There are the people who take the time to read and share our social media activity – which encourages new people to learn about the campaign and seek help if they need it. There are the venue managers and promoters that have been so embracing – allowing us into their premises and supporting our campaign teams. There’s everyone who’s bought a badge, worn a sticker, or turned up to our events. And there are our campaign partners at RSVP and West Midlands Police – who have made this into something more than just a paper tiger, helping us get the right support to those who have suffered abuse.

I waited for a few minutes before responding to the message I mentioned at the start of this article, offering: ‘Team effort – thanks to you too’, as my reply. I hope it didn’t sound ungrateful. It certainly wasn’t meant to. But the absolute truth is that the successes of the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign comes when we make that team effort, when we are greater than the sum of our parts.

I love the picture at the top of this post. It was a great gig, with everyone on stage and off sharing in a sense of real group achievement.

And we’re asking you now, as we asked when we launched this campaign, please continue to help – come to the Centrala fundraiser on 25th October, be part of the next group photo we’re planning to take. Buy a pen, buy a fridge magnet. Help us hand out more stickers at more gigs and help us reach more people via social media. Get involved.

NOT NORMAL NOT OK has made some great progress in the past year and we’re about to embark on a new outreach activity that will help us make even more – click here for more info. But this only works, really works, if we don’t do it alone. And whatever ‘thank you’s are left hanging in the air can be more deservedly shared by all of us.

NOT NORMAL NOT OK is hosting a live gig fundraiser on Friday 25th October at Centrala – with Flight Brigade, Hannah Brown and Lycio all performing live. All money raised will be used to support the venue ‘tool kit’ and staff training programme, for more info visit www.notnormalnotok.com/venue-tool-kit-staff-training-programme

Tickets are priced at £5 Early bird / £7 standard advance, then more on the door – for direct event info and links to online ticket sales, click here to visit the Facebook event page.


NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any of the issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.

OPINON: Spotify could be the saviour of independent music, instead it chose to help the big boys

Mark Roberts – The Mothers Earth Experiment @ The Dark Horse 13.07.18 / Ed King

Words by Mark Roberts – from The Mothers Earth Experiment

£9.99. That’s all it costs for you to rent all the music you could ever want every month. A steal you say, an absolute bargain, slap me silly and call me Brenda, it’s magnificent. This is all very true; at no point in music history has music been more accessible or cheap. This is the nirvana of the music listener, an endless supply of different bands and different styles, but is it the nirvana of the music creator? Is streaming the best delivery system for artists and listeners? 

You see, there’s an underlying inequality with streaming services and that is based in how they pay their artists. I’m going to use Spotify as an example because it’s the largest and because I know Spotify in and out, but this is symptomatic of all streaming services and isn’t meant to attack one business.

To calculate royalties, Spotify take all the money from all the subscribers in the world and divide it up based on individual plays on the service – ergo, the more listens an artist gets, the more money they get. You may be sitting there thinking “seems fair enough, what’s the problem?” but let me show you why it isn’t necessarily fair.

Imagine I’m running a massage parlour (the normal kind you dirty bastard) and I put a relaxing meditation album on… twelve hours a day, five days a week. Each song is three minutes long, that’s twenty songs an hour for twelve hours, 240 plays a day, 1200 plays a week, 62,400 plays a year. One single account can play 62,400 songs in a year for £120. The chances of a regular listener ever playing this much music is nigh impossible (if anyone has listened to this much music in the last year I’d love you to get in contact cause I think I’d like to give you a medal). This essentially means that business accounts, and what they listen to, are worth more than the average listener. Is it necessarily fair to base the money given to this meditation album on how many listens it gets when they’re all coming from one person, me?

This means that the reach and scope of your music is irrelevant it’s all about how many times it gets clicked on. It also means that the shorter your song, the more streams it can get in a year. This rewards short songs and penalises epic songs purely for being what they are.

One of my favourite people in the world, Jack Stratton of Vulfpeck, realised this incredibly early on. Vulfpeck decided to make Spotify their bitch and released an album they called Sleepify. It contains ten songs at 31-32 seconds each, all of which are… absolute silence. They asked fans to play Sleepify whilst they slept; with the songs being such a short length, over one eight hour sleep one person could rack up just under 960 plays a night. If you really loved Vulfpeck you could just keep it playing all day, which would equate to roughly 2880 plays. Sleepify was, you guessed it, pulled by Spotify for breaching terms and conditions, which term or condition however is still unknown today. Jack said, “it was removed under the terms violation that the artist shan’t make money” (basically they realised they’d gamed the system). Sleepify was estimated to have earned Vulfpeck about “$20000 in royalties” before it got taken down, which they used to fund a tour to the places that played Sleepify the most.

As you can see, Spotify and streaming services like it reward short content as well as content that’s played on repeat. They also reward bigger acts with bespoke deals, meaning acts like Pink Floyd – who wouldn’t join Spotify for years – get more than say The Orielles per play. I don’t think that’s fair, but unfortunately that’s capitalism in a nutshell (don’t get me started on capitalism).

You may at this point be wondering how the hell anything can be done about it; what can we do to avoid the pitfalls of streaming music and the way it affects smaller bands and larger songs? Well it’s actually rather simple. Right now Spotify takes all those £10 subscriptions, adds them together, and divides them between every play on the service. What if it was done the opposite way around though? What if Spotify took each person’s £10 subscription, calculated which bands and artists they listened to, and distributed their £10 out by the percentage of time they listened to each artist over a month? For example, if I listened to Radiohead for 30% of my listening time, The Grateful Dead for 30%, and Portishead for 40%, then Radiohead and The Grateful Dead would get £3 each and Portishead would get £4. Obviously Spotify would need to take a cut of that ten pounds to make a profit, but you get the point with the simple use of numbers.

Firstly, the fact that you would be calculating actual listening time and not ‘plays’ would mean that whether a song be long or short it wouldn’t matter; each second of music would be as valuable as the next. Secondly, by taking your £10 subscription fee and dividing it by what you listen to, it means your money is going directly to your favourite artists rather than going to artists that other people streamed a lot that year. It also means that if my massage parlour is listening to that meditation album all day every day, the meditation album will only get the full £10 a month subscription fee I pay, not some ridiculous amount of money.

If it’s so simple, why don’t they do it? The answer, I suspect, is money and influence. Can you imagine artists like Beyoncé or Arctic Monkeys to be over the moon about losing some revenue? They would most likely just say no to the new terms and leave the service. Spotify fears that above all else. However I fear that if Spotify could just play the game, hold its nerve and grit its teeth, eventually the big artists would blink first and come back, realising the mistake they’d made by leaving.

Maybe revolution is just around the corner; maybe we just need a new service for smaller acts, maybe we don’t. All I know is that currently small acts are getting shafted and it’s the fault of the streaming services. If you want to support a small band you could game Spotify to try and give them more revenue, but I’d say just go out and see their shows and buy their merch for now. Maybe one day we can bring egalitarianism to streaming, but for now it looks like nothing will change soon.

Mark Roberts is the lead guitarist/vocalist for The Mothers Earth Experiment. For more on The Mothers Earth Experiment, visit www.themothersearthexperiment.wordpress.com


NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To sign up to NOT NORMAL – NOT OK, click here. To know more about the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK sticker campaign, click here.


Words by Ed King

Ed’s note…

I first wrote this back in March, a few days after Shrove Tuesday, in response to stories of sexual assault and misconduct that I had heard about that week. It was born out of frustration – I write to clear my head.

Then more stories came my way, and more, until there were so many that these words weren’t enough. Something needed to happen. So we talked to each other at Birmingham Review, we talked to local musicians and promoters. Then we talked to West Midlands Police, the Rape & Sexual Violence project (RSVP), and some local venues that could help us formulate a plan of action.

NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is our joint response, ‘a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.’

To join the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK campaign, click here.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK sticker campaign, click here.

N.B. If you have been affected by sexual assault, misconduct, or any of the issues raised in this article, you can find details for West Midlands Police and RSVP – a regional support agency trained to deal with sexual violence – by clicking here.

The ‘message from West Midlands Police’ mentioned towards the end of this article can now be found on the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK website, click here.


“Yeah, they’re alright… just be careful if you’re alone with them.”

I was told this in passing, at the tail end of a conversation with a local band about local band stuff. It wasn’t prompted, they weren’t in distress; we weren’t talking about #MeToo, Operation Yewtree or institutionalised abuse in Westminster. We were just talking. And this chilling seed fell into the conversation with an almost as frightening acceptance that it was just ‘one of those things’. That it was normal. Or even worse, that it was OK.

Incredulous, then angry, then curious, I begin to pick at the scab. The story unfolds. It had been at a gig, and after the show the person in question had groped one of the band members – which falls under sexual assault in a court of law. And the feelings left by this situation, to group of friends who just wanted to perform their music on stage, are clear. They felt mistreated, angry and threatened.

This all came at the end of a troubling week too, where a promoter of a popular music venue had posted an absurdly misogynistic comment about the girls that attend their events and pancakes. You can imagine the metaphor. Or hopefully you can’t, because you really don’t want to. But it’s childish, aggressive, potentially incendiary, and beyond sexist at all points on the social spectrum. And now it’s in the public domain as a badge of what this promoter (and this club) feels is either funny or acceptable. Again, of what is normal or OK.

The silver lining from this poorly chosen ‘joke’ was the immediate outcry from many other people via the drum banging platforms of social media. I saw it because someone had reposted it in disgust, asking for some solidarity and shaming of the original author – a backlash that was far more erudite than the disturbed playground rhetoric that spurned it. The promoter in question claimed it was “a joke” that had been “taken out of context”. The public domain told them this wasn’t good enough and everything fell silent.

Then by the end of the week I am hearing about a case of sexual assault. And the more I asked around the more stories came back from our live music scene, in a frightening deluge of stories about sexual harassment, coercion, abuse, and assault happening in venues across Birmingham – from dressing room to dance floor, immediate and widespread.

I know many venue operators and promoters that are committed to the care of everyone in their building – whether they are performing, attending, or working there. And I’d be happier to see support networks in place than a campaign of naming and shaming. But the rules of engagement are quite simple and perhaps some people need a reminder:

No one, of any gender, should ever be objectified, coerced or abused. And no one in a position of power should ever use that power as a bargaining chip for sexual conduct. No one. Ever. At all. Told you it was simple.

So, what do we do? Firstly, I believe we all need to recognise our roles in this – overt and aggressive, or silent and tacit. The fact this problem exists means that none of us are without blame. And that includes me. I don’t want to believe this is a side of people I know, work alongside, or share common interests with. From the fact that it turns my stomach to think it’s happening in Birmingham venues to the cold reality that I need some of these people to support my own endeavours – put quite simply, it would be both personally and professionally easier for me to say nothing at all. I’m not proud of that last sentence but it’s a brutal truth I must own.

I’m not a huge fan of campaigning either, with self-aggrandising so often masquerading as a good cause these days. But maybe here, though, there’s a place for something we can all get behind – a vehicle to promulgate a message and provide support to those who need it, emotional, legal and otherwise. And to educate; to remind people of what is acceptable and what isn’t. A campaign of compassion and care, but also one to redefine what is ‘normal’ or ‘OK’ for those who seem to have forgotten their meanings.

So, this is what we’re doing. Birmingham Review has joined up with West Midlands Police and some key figures in our local entertainment industry to see how we can help shake a little sense into some, and support some others. We will keep you fully updated with this campaign through the Birmingham Review website and social media, and there is a message from West Midlands Police at the bottom of this editorial (this message can now be found on the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK website).

Because after all the bile that’s been seeping into my system after a week of words I never thought I’d be hearing – about a scene and city I love, and the people I love within both – I can land on at least one thing with absolute certainly. I never want to hear them again. Perhaps three things.

This is NOT NORMAL. This is NOT OK.

Ed King is Editor-in-Chief of Review Publishing, which publishes Birmingham Review and other titles.


NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To sign up to NOT NORMAL – NOT OK, click here. To know more about the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK sticker campaign, click here.

To find out more about the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK campaign, visit www.notnormalnotok.com