It is a quiet afternoon at Real Man with a nice couple sitting here having a glass of wine or four… They tell me they have travelled 300 miles to come to Real Man Pizza in Clerkenwell. And who can blame them with our great new cook Leo earning rave reviews. So where are you from? I asked. Stoke on Trent they say.
I say that I have correspondents (Messrs Green & Rowley) who try to educate me to the delights of the Cultural Quarter of lovely Stoke. I say “yes you have some sort of pies don’t you.” They explain about Wrights pies but say that the famous oat cakes are even better and that Stoke’s third culinary delight is a Picklet (pronounced Pike-let) which is a bit like a muffin. Whatever…
I have now learned two new “facts”.
1. Stoke is not as I thought in the Grim North. Everything north of the cultural quarter is the North, everything south of it is the south. The cultural quarter is the centre of the universe.
2. If you stick a compass in the cultural quarter and draw a 70 mile radius circle around it you go as far south as Stratford and 70 miles further into the Grim North. Apparently it is a fact that this circle contains the birthplaces or more men and women who changed the world than any other such circle anywhere on the planet.
I sense that correspondents Green & Rowley have been underselling the cultural quarter and I feel like a moth to the flame, increasingly drawn to make a pilgrimage.