When the cat - city leader Mike Whitby is away (in China) - the mice will play...

An extraordinary past few days.

We had a survey saying Birmingham was one of the best places on earth to do business at the same time as Manchester was walking all over us at the Labour Party conference.

We had the Chamber's Jerry "The Enforcer" Blackett - in his dreams - telling the critics to 'shut it'.

When is it going to dawn on Jerry that democracy is about open debate and involving the people not trying to tie up cosy deals behind closed doors.

Didn't we learn anything from the Capital of Culture debacle?

Apparently not - just look at the crass stupid name for the city region and a palliative of a station remodel which amounts to the same basket case with a spot of lipstick.

We even had Birmingham Forward emerging from hibernation - two letters to this paper and a push to get a permanent High Court presence in the city.

Word on the street is that Forward's play-the-wimp policy of 'keep quiet and the city council will give us lots of confidential briefings' hasn't worked because Whitby has simply ignored them.

So now they are putting a toe above the parapet - and not before time.

But what took the biscuit for me was Marketing Birmingham which didn't bother pitching for Labour Party conferences on the grounds that it might cost us money.

Excuse me, but what planet is this organisation on?

Of all the hopelessly weak bodies in this city - and this city specialises in hopelessly weak bodies - Marketing Birmingham must be one of the worst.

The council's production of Wilbur the American, with precious little if any Marketing Birmingham imput, just about says it all.

And what is Marketing Birmingham doing? It gives us food and fashion shows.

All very laudable. But are we really going to put Birmingham on the map for our fashion and food expertise?

Not a hope. These are what I call "easy" campaigns.

But they don't even begin to tackle the issue of how we get Birmingham more prominent as a world brand.

One of the few things that I can agree on with Wilbur is that he has at least put a few noses out of joint.

He has upset people, which means he has actually been noticed.

Half the battle.

I go on and on about this, but we don't promote this region's icons.

Persuade the airport to change the name to Shakespeare International - in American terms Stratford-upon-Avon is a Birmingham suburb. Everyone across the globe has heard of Shakespeare, very few could tell you where Birmingham, England is.

One of the most read books after the Bible and the Koran is the Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, but do we market its associations with Birmingham? No we don't.

Why doesn't Coventry push Lady Godiver, which the Yanks love? Because of political correctness.

Thank goodness for Martin O'Neil down at the Villa. He is doing more than anyone to get us known.