The poem that defined a town
July 29, 2014 10:54 PM Subscribe
Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn’t fit for humans now,
There isn’t grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death!
John Betjeman's poem Slough
, published in 1937, forever doomed the town to ridicule and infamy
. Slough has repeatedly attempted to redress the poetic balance:
- Attila the Stockbroker, 1987:
- Sir John - oh, what a sense of farce!
A poet of the teacup class.
- Ian McMillan, 2005:
- So, children, husband, partner, wife
Dismiss the poet's rhyming knife.
- Fergus Allen, 2009 [PDF of poem]:
- Betjeman's was a subtle taste
But his derision was misplaced
And such disparagement outfaced
By human self-esteem.
Local children have also contributed:
- Matthew Moore [PDF, poem on p27], 13, winner of the Slough Observer's 1987 "In Praise of Slough" contest :
- Come, friendly bombs and fall on John
'Cause we are glad that poem's gone.
- Joanna Okolotowicz, 11, winner of a 2006 contest celebrating Betjeman's centenary:
- This town's much better, and how
Old poem die a death!
Slough was also infamously cast as the setting of the BBC's The Office
. Brent and Betjeman collide
in one episode: "I don’t think you solve town planning problems by dropping bombs all over the place, he’s embarrassed himself there."
However, Betjeman's friendly bombs live on as a gift to lazy journalists
and as an occasional source of snowclones
: come friendly Poles
; come friendly datacenters