City slicker: Stoke-on-Trent - Arts and Entertainment - The Independent

City slicker: Stoke-on-Trent

The atmosphere is sweaty, locker-room. The insults are crass, the conversation is crude. Yet, says Helen Johnstone, more and more women are surfing the Internet, and enjoying what they find

An exhibition paying tribute to "The Father of all Potters" opens at Stoke's City Museum this weekend to mark the 200th anniversary of the death of

Josiah Wedgwood. Here's a guide to the town's other attractions

What they say: Stoke-on-Trent has variously been described as "A sudden eruption of smoke and brick like a patch of eczema" (John Wain); "The biggest village in the world" (Arnold Bennett) and "Stoke-on-Bent" (some Crewe fans I once met at a party).

Tourist information (official): Visit the potteries of Wedgwood and Doulton, the Victoria Theatre in Basford and pay homage to Stanley Matthews (right) and his statue. Eat oatcakes and Wright's pies and wonder at the interesting, derelict land reclamation schemes.

Tourist information (unofficial):

There are exactly 900 pages in the Stoke-on-Trent 1995/1996 Yellow Pages.

Best curry house: Although blessed with many fine Balti houses, Stoke's best curry house for comedy value has always been The Monzil in Broad St, Hanley. Famous for sending Christmas cards to its customers, serving until sun-up and making you pay before you eat. The Monzil is a monument to the days before curry houses got all poncey.

Best taxis: Stoke-on-Trent has a plethora of luxury chauffeured limousine hire establishments ready to satisfy your every whim. Roseville, Lucky 7, A1, Scraggs, the list is endless. See the city in style from the seat of a 14-seat minibus or an Austin Allegro. Most common reply to the question, "How long will I have to wait for a cab?" is "I dunna bloody know, a fortnight".

Best pub for a fight: Stoke's strong suit. It is possible to get a fight in most of the city's hostelries without trying too hard. A word out of place, the wrong accent or a particularly loud piece of knitwear will usually do the trick. If you fancy a challenge you'd do well to kick off in the following more reserved establishments: The Poacher's Cottage (Trentham), The Mainwaring (Whitmore) or The Harecastle (Talke).

Best shed: In Fenton why not visit the ruins of Mark Brammer's shed in Cowper Street? This is one of Stoke's few listed buildings, although sadly the list it's on is headed, "man-made disasters".

Best chat-up line: Alright?

Best lighting shop: Although not famous for lighting, Stoke is able to satisfy a range of lighting tastes. From a humble 40w light-bulb to an imperious chandelier - someone, somewhere in Stoke will be able to help. Top tip: P and R Lighting, Hartshill.

Things for teenagers to do on a Saturday afternoon when Stoke aren't playing: Hang about in Fountain Square, Hanley. Go to Fenton Park with two bottles of Merrydown cider. Try and land some gob on a car as it goes under Holden Bridge. Go to the the Stoke ground anyway and hang about.

Nightspots: For the very young there's Club Kinetic in Longton on Fridays - barmy hard house and techno with a clientele so young they look disappointed they're not given going-home presents. Golden on Saturday in Hanley is a great club with a nationwide reputation for house music, although there's a disconcerting amount of chat about GCSE syllabuses. So why not admit defeat and go to Maxim's in Newcastle, the second-time-around club with wall-to-wall thirtysomething divorcees of both sexes. If you're old, grab- a-granny night is at The Queen's in Basford on a Thursday.

NICK HANCOCK

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