Stockton is a meat market
Today I wandered around Stockton, the next town over from Billingham. Historically, it's pretty important: the friction match was invented there, the first passenger steam train ran between Stockton and Darlington, and the high street is the widest in England. Oh, but also Tony Scott was born there.
When I was a kid, Stockton had two main reasons to exist for me: the Odeon movie theater, where I saw dozens of Disney classics, and the WH Smith, where I exchanged annual Christmas gift certificates for books (always books).
As a teen, it was place to hang out at the first- and second-hand record stores. In my late teens, it was the destination for Saturday nights out (when the Odeon had devolved into a nightclub).
Now the high street has been narrowed, to control traffic congestion; there's a drive-through KFC--something I'd never have imagined 20 years ago--and the Odeon has been through many incarnations, each a club more sleazy and drug-infested than the last.
Mainly, though, there are dozens and dozens and dozens of takeout stores. Bakeries, chip shops, cafes, pizzerias, kebab places, pie houses, on and on and on. One would think the people of Stockton never saw a home-cooked meal.
But this isn't to say the place is devoid of culinary treats. Tucked in a corner of the high street is the Castlegate Center, which is lined with butcher shops. Oxtails, lamb's ribs, garlic sausage, tripe. And rabbit.
And pigeon and haggis.
And bacon, bacon, bacon.