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Roosevelt at Aston University, Birmingham

Me and England’s second city have ishoos.

The traffic is one. Always getting lost in and around its environs is another.

Yet, I took it upon myself to visit last week, on business. I left early and fairly zipped round the M25 to the M1. There the traffic was light until we entered a zone of road widening or some such, which involves miles upon miles of motorway being narrowed into tight little lanes that make my teeth sweat.

After that experience, the M6 was, for once, unbounded joy. And then, 10 minutes from my destination, I went wrong and the sat nav added a vicious little half an hour extra to my ETA. There is nothing to be said about that lost time, except that there was congestion, slow-moving traffic, and air quality to rival that of Beijing.

Aston University is a pleasant city centre campus. After visiting a number of their car parks and having an unscheduled wander around their science department, notable for discovering that copper kills bacteria, I’ve nevertheless asked my girls to cross it off their future UCCA lists. I would, however, commend to anyone their rather marvellous 1950s buildings. They are like the old grammar schools on steroids – think acres of parquet and Philip Larkin windows.

This photo was taken in the modern Business School,which doubles as a hotel and conference centre. Lunch was good, but as if to offset the soaring grandeur of the older campus buildings, the ceilings in this gaff scraped my cranium.