Come friendly bombs …Posted: March 1, 2011
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