CITY SLICKER SHEFFIELD

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The Independent Culture
Vernacular: Like the terrain, can be precipitous and for the sure- footed only. For example, "us" means "our", "while" means "until". And beware, people call one another "love". It's generic, not sexist. Men call men "love", or even "flower". Equally enduring are "thee" and "thou", local pronunciation of which explains why Sheffielders are known as Dee- das.

Emblematic Dee-da costume: A white stiletto conservation area, Sheffield has a heavy metal population that's still breeding vigo-rously, and estates like Parson Cross sustain a C&W habitat as denim-rich as anywhere east of Sheffield, Texas.

Dee-da recreation: The best in wholesome low-life. The most working- class, least cosmopolitan big city in Britain, it has so far resisted the ersatz bistro-and-rip-off-bar homogeneity that has so damaged "refurbished" Leeds and Manchester. But the place took a much harder knock from de-industrialisation and has only recently begun to get its breath back. Clubs like the Music Factory and Capitol have added an inch to the stride of night life. The city centre has two good theatres (Crucible and Lyceum), the Halle's second home (City Hall), a peerless resident string quartet (the Lindsay), an outstanding new indie cinema (Showroom), and boundless opportunity for raucous Dee-da drinking.

Roots: Quintessential. People don't move much out of the Barnsley-Rotherham- Sheffield triangle. All that community-values spiel from the likes of Roy Hattersley and David Blunkett is accurate. Try the Hattersley heritage trail around Walkley, with its switchback, stone terraced streets, handsome chapels, and pubs-cum-parlours such as the Royal, the Firwood, the Blake or the Palm. Not Viennese caf society, but society all the same (and a much better pint).

Latest vox pop: Maybe the new tram system, construction of which has gridlocked the city for an eternity, is not such a bad thing, now it's running. Trevor Francis, manager of Sheffield Wednesday FC, could be the next boss to get a bomb down his chimney. More quarrels brewing within Yorkshire cricket, founded in Sheffield - South Yorkshire feels neglected.

Some decent bands: RAC and Blameless.

Food (Dee-da): Black pudding, pork pies and sausages from indie pork butchers around town.

Food and drink (dead posh): Sheffield grew inwards from the hills (all to do with water-power), and the bourgeoisie tend to look out to the Peak District, which touches the south-west suburbs, for eating out. Among the best are Fischer's and the Cavendish at Baslow. Ecclesall Road has plenty of decent restaurants, and an outstanding wine merchant (Michael Menzel).

Meeting places: Fagan's, a no-frills boozer, has an erudite landlord, and beer like nectar. Good for "early doors" (opening time). The Forum and Henry's are a bit imported-lager, but fine for a pose. Or try the Punch Bowl in Crookes, cradle of Joe Cocker. On the singer's return from the US, the landlord barred Cocker from the best room because of his footwear. They may have been covered in sequins.

A slice of history: Sport and socialism. Stand in Georgian Paradise Square and imagine the riots (the lads used to meet there). Visit the field at Orgreave where the forces of the state were mobilised against the miners. Nowhere has a richer history of bombing bosses' homes. Picasso came to address the Communist-led Peace Congress, and the labour archives are worth browsing (Central Library). Hallam FC play at the world's oldest football ground and sometimes come up against Sheffield FC, the world's oldest club, to play the world's oldest fixture. Organised football began here, but Sheffield play now at the Don Valley stadium, part of the sports facilities provided for the World Student Games. They may yet prove a prudent investment; the indoor Sheffield Arena, which gets the biggest gigs, has also turned ice hockey into a sell-out spectator sport.

Shopping: Boycott Meadowhall, the mall that has overtaken Oxford Street/Regent Street for the UK's highest retail turnover. It's depressingly consumerist, unlike Ecclesall Road (chic-to-bijou) and London and Abbeydale Roads (junk-to-collectible).

Publications/media: The weekly Sheffield Telegraph has a good listings section. The polemical tradition survives, some of it on the racks of The Independent Bookshop (Surrey Street). The Workstation (Brown Street) is an Art Deco pile housing film makers, art gallery, recording studios and other residents of the "cultural industries quarter".

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