July 2007
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Charley says

With the twins in Big Brother putting Stoke-on-Trent on the map in their very own, very pink way, Charley and Laura had this to say about their hometown:

I finally figured out how to do this YouTube thing all the cool kids are doing, and I made the clip especially short so there’s a chance somebody will actually watch it.  But still, even though it’s only a 25 second clip, I know you probably didn’t brother pressing play.  So here’s what you need to know.

Charley: Where they born, Stoke-on-Trent?
Laura: Yeah.
Charley: Maybe they’re a bit behind time.
Laura: Could be.
Charley:  By about ten years?
Laura: Yeah, ten I’d say.  Yeah.

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be shopping in Hanley and noticed that there was a new Costa Coffee at the entrance to the Potteries Shopping Centre.  Pretty unremarkable you might think if you come from anywhere that lives in the twenty first century.  But this is actually Stoke’s first franchise coffee house.

OK, there was a tiny Costa inside a branch of a building society for a while, but it didn’t last long, and that doesn’t really count.  This is the first genuine, stand-alone chain coffee joint in town.

Not only that, but I saw a Millies Cookies that wasn’t there before and some kind of new chain juice bar I could care less about (cookies, on the other hand…) – they must have popped up about the same time.  It’s almost as if Hanley suddenly became a modern town overnight.

Still, Stoke must still be the only place in the universe that doesn’t have a Starbucks.  It must have been passed over so many times already, when other nearby cities of similar sizes have multiple franchies.  Nottingham, for example, has three Starbucks and Derby has two.  With over 500 stores in the UK, and a new stores opening every two weeks in London alone, you would think that England’s 12th largest city might get a look in.

So I had to check just when the almost-nationwide infestation of such places began.  Starbucks first set up shop in the UK in May 1998 – just over 9 years ago.

Charley, you were so close.