Dudley is a town located in the West Midlands county of England. It is situated ten miles north west of Birmingham and 6 miles south of Wolverhampton. It is often (unofficially) regarded as the capital of the Black Country. Saying that is actually regarded as detrimental to the inhabitants of the rest of the Black Country.
Dudley’s origins lie back in the mists of time but it is commonly believed to have had a Middle Earth origin (please see The Lord Of The Rings, Led Zeppelin and any references to Mordor) and many of its current inhabitants have a somewhat Middle Earthish look about them. By the Industrial Revolution the area was renowned for its metal bashing skills and the local dialect (an odd speech derived from medieval English and the inhalation of smoke, soot and any airborne pollution).
It is strange to believe that it was a thriving market town with a zoo, a library, an ornate town hall and many large shops. However the opening of Merry Hill Shopping Centre has reduced the town itself to its lowest common denominator and now it is currently regarded as a prime example of urban decay.
The town is situated beneath Dudley Castle (partially demolished by Cromwell’s forces during the English Civil War in a seemingly sensible but unsuccessful attempt to get rid of the town) which is currently the site of a zoo. The market area now has no more than a handful of stores, including the ubiquitous one that sells mobile phone accessories. The high street is full of poundstores, betting shops, charity stores and takeaways.
The local inhabitants generally appear to be of several identifiable sub-species including chavs, alcoholics, drug users, bums, shoplifters and the English equivalent of hillbillies. It is regarded as a prime spot for Jehovah’s Witnesses to do missionary work and they are frequently seen near to the Venue restaurant towards the top of the High Street. More recently, multiculturalism has taken hold and the town centre has been known for rallies held by the English Defence League concerning planning applications for a mosque.
A pleasant walk in the grounds of Dudley Castle, but it’s not really a zoo. The town centre is a real zoo and you don’t have to pay for the privilege!
The Black Country Living Museum-
An illuminating look into the local heritage, the history of the Black Country and how the orcs (sorry, locals) used to live.
The Victoria Fountain-
Situated next to the market, it was built to commemorate Queen Victoria. Nowadays the fountain hasn’t worked for years and it’s mainly inhabited by pigeons. There are currently plans to mine it for guano.
Eating and drinking-
This is Dudley, where everyone is on the go! To be more accurate, it’s a fast getaway from Asda with a bottle of vodka or a joint of meat under their arm to be sold in the pub down the road. Most people don’t believe in healthy eating or cooking, they prefer to eat out in the local eating establishments. By and large, the restaurants serve Indian food. Other foreign cuisine is frowned on unless it’s been nuked in the microwave.
There are a plethora of takeaways in the town centre that specialise in kebabs, masala fish, French fries (proper chunky English chips are unheard of in these establishments) and burgers served with a dollop of spicy sauce that will instantly turn your bowels into mush and put you on the bog for a week. Please note that they will have حلال written on the windows in the hope that the local knuckle-draggers won’t notice that they’re eating halal food. If there are anyone who wants non-halal food, their best bet is to try the supermarket.
The local pubs can be distinguished by grey faced middle-aged men chain smoking roll-ups outside the entrance. Occasionally there may be an elderly man screaming obscenities out onto the street. Inside, they are dingy, shabby and either deathly quiet, dance music playing at full volume or there’s a drunken middle-aged lady murdering Meatloaf songs on the karaoke. The regulars will watch newcomers with suspicion and downright hostility – if you think that the locals in the Ozarks or in the Appalachians are odd, try Dudley! After the pubs close there’s not much to choose from. All what’s left is a strip club and a rock club which is hardly ever open.
Forget public transport. The nearest train station is two miles away and the bus service is notoriously bad and it’s overpriced. Most people with any sense drive but the local road network gets horribly clogged up at rush hour. Dudley Bus Station is run down and smells of urine and weed smoke, it can get quite scary when it’s dark.
Russells Hall Hospital exists to patch up the locals on a weekend. It’s a big ugly building located a couple of miles west of the town centre and is well known for its parking charges.
The local West Midlands Police have a station there but you rarely see a copper, usually it’s Police Community Support Officers wandering aimlessly about the town centre but they’re about as capable as a chocolate teapot when it comes to dealing with the local inhabitants.