When I was driving to Birmingham last night I realised it was only the sixth time I had ever been to Britain's second city - two of those visits were to Villa Park, one to the Eurovision Song Contest, one was to attend an interview at Aston University and another with David Davis during the Tory leadership contest.
Birmingham just doesn't come across as Britain's second city. It has none of the self confidence of Manchester or Liverpool, and no one singing its praises. I asked a few friends to name me one famous person from Birmingham. Jasper Carrot was the name most mentioned, Deadly Doug Ellis came second, and Meg Mortimer from the late lamented Crossroads Motel even got a mention. Not exactly top notch names.
The event I was speaking at was organised by Harvey Ingram, a Leicester based law firm which has recently opened a new office in Birmingham. They've built up a thriving practice in a very short time and obviously see Birmingham as the place to be. For those of us who live and work in London we just don't notice what is going on in Birmingham in the way that we seem to know what's happening in other cities around Britain. I'm sure I am not alone in thinking that.
I suggested to the audience that they needed a high profile champion to shout about Birmingham's achievements and oppotunities from the rooftops. Maybe they need a proper mayor. Much of the audience (made up of lawyers and business people) seemed to agree. And the name they suggested was Digby Jones.
Lord Jones may well be looking for a new job soon. Birmingham could certainly do worse than invite him to become Birmingham's ambassador to the rest of the country and the world.
Footnote: When I arrived last night I was horrified to discover the dinner was a black tie event. No one had told me. Cue a quick jaunt to the local House of Fraser. Thank God for late night opening!