city slicker Newcastle

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The Independent Culture
As Newcastle gears up for its annual Comedy Festival - kick-off 1 November - farmer David Cannon, arguably one of the city's more colourful comedians, prepares to go to court. Cannon's crime: expressing dissatisfaction with his branch of the National Westminster Bank by spraying it with cow dung

"Get ya coat off!": There is a big difference between male and female fashion sense in Newcastle. As far as the lads go, the more expensive the better, bought or liberated from the trendy shops on High Bridge: the ubiquitous checky shirts and gazelles are gradually being replaced by 1970s-style tailored shirts and wannabe wannabes. The girls blaze a fashion trail for the rest of Britain as the high-street chains use their Newcastle stores as style barometers. Here, crazes can come and go within weeks, while others stubbornly persist, so remember that short is good but shorter is better and wearing a coat brings more strange looks than nudity.

Terry McDermott: Newcastle used to be the only place where to be under 30 and to have a moustache didn't mean that you were either gay or a policeman. Thankfully, these days have passed, and the only hair issue seems to be whether to have a number one or number two.

"Them shoes are casual": Bouncers, doormen, security, hard-big-bald- men-in-jackets, whatever you want to call them, they are everywhere. Pub, club, curry-house or bingo-hall when you hear those fateful words "sorry lads - nee trainers/couples only/private party", give it up and try somewhere else, as rumour has it that these men run the city. The most efficient bouncers of all are the little men who supplement their pension by minding the doors of CIU working-men's clubs. Ancient and frail they may be, but there is no way past them if you are not affiliated, and women will be told politely but firmly that the bar is for gentlemen, and their place is in the lounge. None shall pass.

"Taalkin propa": It's best to avoid trying your tongue on a Geordie accent as it has been the downfall of some of Britain's finest thespians, especially those involved in Catherine Cookson adaptations. "It's me Da - he's fell doon t' pit!" is more likely to get you hospitalised than accepted as a child of the Tyne. Watch out for "how", which is a universal greeting when followed by "y-alreet", but means "stop" if it prefaces a "man". When meeting a resident of Sunderland (a mackem), take out your keys and wave them in their direction while shouting "wheeze keys are theeze keys?" This is a term of abuse.

"Divvent say it": "I can't wear this. I don't suit stripes." Newcastle United has sold over 500,000 replica shirts, which equates to 70 per cent of the population of Tyneside. Whole families can be seen sweeping through Eldon Square like majestic herds of zebra, pushing their buggies across the Serengeti.

"How pet - fancy a dance?":

Justifiably hailed as one of the world's great nights out, Newcastle has to be experienced before you get too old to appreciate the joys of dancing on tables, snogging in queues and having too much chilli sauce on your large doner. The infamous Bigg Market is as close to August in San Antonio as you can get in January without a passport. Among the liveliest of the endless bars are Yel!, Macey's, President Keegan's (yes, really) and Robinson's. Be prepared to queue, sweat, shout and dance. Remember to leave early to guarantee entry into a nightclub, as there is not enough of them to cater for the number of people who feel the need to carry on dancing. If up to it, try a visit to the Tuxedo Royale, a huge disco-boat moored underneath the Tyne Bridge where fake-tanned girls have orange legs and ginger faces. Try Planet Earth for rave, Julie's for meeting footballers and the sticky- carpeted Stage Door for interesting times with students (ie the last resort).

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