Let's move to a blighted post-industrial Midlands city! This week: Stoke-on-Trent

WHAT’S it about? 

Decline, both physical and moral. A byword for British mediocrity, Stoke-on-Trent is a city made of six towns, all of which are shit individually before they form together to be shit collectively, like a shit Voltron. It used to make pottery but hasn’t really for half a century and hasn’t come up with any other reason to exist either.

Any good points? 

It’s very handy for other places, which is why its landscape has been blighted by massive distribution warehouses staffed by workers on minimum wage. Football fans mainly know it as a place that will break fancy skilled foreign players, hence the catchphrase ‘yes, but can he handle it on a wet Tuesday night in Stoke?’ To which the real answer is ‘can anyone?’

Arguably it’s the last stop of the Midlands before the North; arguably it’s the first of the Northern cities. The reason both those points are arguable is neither the Midland nor the North want Stoke on their team, and these are regions that contain Nuneaton and Bradford.

In the halcyon days when Brexit was the major issue facing the nation the BBC based a team here to get the bigoted-man-in-the-street vox pops they relied so heavily on. Have they been since? Have they fuck. Who’d blame them?

Wonderful landscape? 

Post-industrial is the kind way to put it. Fucking horrible is more accurate. There are nice buildings, but they’re in the middle of blighted town centres with failing charity shops and chemists that supply methadone to smackheads. One road has so much fly-tipped shit on either side driving down it is like a theme ride through the end of capitalism.

Johnson’s levelling-up cash is being spent on a whole load of massive hotels in the city’s leading shopping town Hanley, as if the only reason Britons aren’t saying ‘You know what? I think we’ll treat ourselves to a fortnight in Stoke this year’ is a lack of accommodation.

Hang out at… 

When Stokies want a night out they go to Newcastle-under-Lyme, a town which is right next to Stoke but pointedly not part of it. It’s a bang average small-town Wetherspoons-Yates-Revolution Friday-night circuit, and it’s way better than anywhere in Stoke.

Otherwise there’s the Sugarmill in Hanley, an indie venue that hosts indie bands that can’t do any better with a floor so sticky you have to pull your foot up with both hands to take a step. Pete Doherty used to love playing here in his most flagrantly addicted days which speaks well for the availability of hard drugs.

Where to buy? 

One of those cities that habitually offers up terraced houses for £1 as long as you live in them for five years, turning getting on the property ladder into a survival challenge. Perfect if your idea of local amenities includes hard drugs, the sale of sexual services and race-based violence. Though non-race-based violence is also available.

From the streets: 

Anna aged 29: “Loads of famous people were born here: Lemmy, Slash, Phil Wang. What they all have in common is they got out of Stoke as soon as they fucking could and never came back.”

Alan, aged 42: “We Stokies consider ourselves to be very friendly, but that’s because we’ve never met anyone from outside Stoke. When we encounter someone from an exotic location like Rochdale we’re wary, distrustful and hostile. And proud of it.”

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Your astrological week ahead, with Psychic Bob

Aries, March 21st–April 19th

Feeling down? It might be time to put down that bourbon, wipe your stubbled face with the back of your hand and think outside the box of Polaroids you keep of your sexy ex-wife who died in mysterious circumstances.

Taurus, April 20th–May 20th

This week you decide to cut out the middleman, put glasses, a moustache and a little hat on your cock, and set that as your Tinder profile picture.

Gemini, May 21st–June 21st

The index of your autobiography begins: anal intrusions 158-192, 205-280, anal operations 281-365, anal probes 402-598, anal prolapse 374-390, anal warts 120. And you expect people to read the whole thing?

Cancer, June 22nd–July 22nd

It’s time to come out of your shell this week. Because people are starting to talk about the fact you live in a shell.

Leo, July 23rd–August 22nd

Mercury is in retrograde. Mars is in negative arrears. Saturn is in the BNP.

Virgo, August 23rd–September 22nd

Thank you for submitting your craft ale. We regret that craft ale is not just normal ale with glitter in and lollipop sticks glued on the glass.

Libra, September 23rd–October 22nd

You’re romantically incompatible with emotional water signs like Pisces. That’s simple fact. So supporting her through the pregnancy would be wasting everyone’s time.

Scorpio, October 23rd–November 22nd

You realise something crucial is missing in your life this week when you find yourself actually seriously reading your fucking horoscope.

Sagittarius, November 22nd–December 21st

This week you’ll really drop the ball and end up looking like a f**king idiot in front of all your competitors at the Annual Testicle Cupping Championship.

Capricorn, December 22nd–January 19th

Disappointment this week when you realise we’re all made out of stardust, not Starbursts.

Aquarius, January 20th–February 18th

What goes around comes around, so if you’ve missed your exit on the M25, just keep going until you start seeing signs for Watford again.

Pisces, February 19th–March 20th

Panic ensues on Wednesday when you wake up transformed into a monstrous insect, like in Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Calm returns when you remember that you have always, in fact, been a huge insect. Dust for breakfast again.