Friday, 25 September 2015

Of satnavs, Betjeman and Slough

"Come friendly bombs and drop on Slough,"
John Betjeman once wrote.
And oh, I so agree with him,
If he'll excuse the quote.
Last Sunday, when we lost our way
(I'm still not quite sure how)
The satnav played a nasty trick,
And took us home through Slough.

Oh Betjeman, I could add much more
To all those things you said.
Grey faces, traffic, buildings, cars,
But traffic lights - all red.
The roundabouts, the one-way streets -
Which way do we go now?
Oh, friendly bombs, dear friendly bombs,
 Please come and drop on Slough.

Where was the longed-for motorway
We'd sought, but failed to find?
Where was the slip road? Where the signs?
Alas, all far behind.
But citizens of Slough, you know
Your town will win no prizes.
So phone up Pickfords, pack your stuff -
And join us, in Devizes!

(I love Betjeman's poem, but after last Sunday, I really, really hate Slough.)


  1. I love your poem, but not sure about Slough as I've never been. I feel the same about Wolverhampton though and have vowed not to go back until they have made some improvements. I'm going in search of JB's poems now.

    1. I agree about Wolverhampton, Maggie. It's absolutely dire!

  2. Slough is the devil's work. Keep well clear.

  3. Brilliant, Frances! I don't know Slough well, but I love Devizes. xx

  4. There are so many beautiful places in the UK and we are talking about Slough and Wolverhampton ?? Made me smile. I love the poem, Frances. I wish I had talent in that area - but sadly not. When we had poetry homework from school, I used to wash up whilst my mom wrote my poem. They were the best marks I ever got :) All the best.

    1. Nicola, I have no poetic talent. I can only write silly verses. I'd love to write real poetry, like Betjeman. Have you read his Slough poem? It's brilliant, and very funny.

    2. I read it after your post and all about the backlash from Slough residents. Seems JB had to apologise for causing offence. It was a very good poem though.

  5. It's so many decades since I was in Slough (probably before the motorway was even built) that I have absolutely no memory of it. I should add that I was only passing through from Uxbridge to Maidenhead. The chances of me ever having to go near it again are remote but I shall definitely bear your warnings in mind.

    1. Graham, if I'm honest, my opinion was probably coloured by a misbehaving satnav and a truly horrible journey.

  6. Yes, I agree, it never seems to improve, no matter what they do!

    1. I'm glad you agree, Jenny. Thugh it must have some nice bits...somewehre...?