The Automatic Vending Association and a mariachi band

To the NEC in Birmingham.  Coming out of the station into the Centre, the first thing I see is a spaniel dancing around a heap of handbags,  surrounded by admiring women.  Think this must be some sort of dog act (as seen on TV) but turns out to be a random bag search – presumably sniffing out drugs and explosives.  After that – what else?  – a Mariachi band.

Asked by one of the greeters if I’m looking for the AVEX exhibition : this turns out to be the International Vending and Water Exhibition, organised by the Automatic Vending Association.  Do I look like someone interested in automatic vending, I wonder?  Are automatic vending executives particularly prone to carrying drugs and explosives in their handbags?

Like other buildings in Birmingham (the new Bullring shopping centre, the Town Hall, the yet-to-be-built Central Library, New Street Station) the NEC is built on a gargantuan scale : when you’re the second city you have to try harder? 

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