Come friendly bombs …

John Betjeman wrote a poem that begins, “Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough …”

I often think of that poem when I’m travelling on the ring road around Watford.

Many people – if they’re lucky – never get to Watford. They just travel round and round on the ring road forever.

The shopping mall – as in so many similar towns across the country – has destroyed any life there was in the high street.   A number of shops are boarded up. The paving stones are so speckled with chewing gum that it looks as if they were designed that way.

On a Saturday night the streets are a no go zone for anyone over 25.  People walk with their heads down, scared to make eye contact.

I wrote this poem in 1984, the year Betjeman died.


I never did like Watford

Even before I came here

it was a name that drew laughs

And now fighting my way

through the one way system

I seldom feel like laughing.



At least we’ve managed

to keep our theatre open

while everything else around us dies

or is demolished

The better the building

the quicker it is to go.


Out of the ashes of condemned cottages

rise the gaunt, glass office blocks

banks, building societies

and concrete car parks

for all those who wish to view

our super supermarkets

and lovely littered streets.



you can turn a corner

and catch a glimpse

of how things used to be.


© Andrea Neidle. My Life in Poems

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