Slough – a rebuke

There’s this Poem by John Betjeman , a kind of ode to Slough, but in reverse. So I look up a few readings of the poem on youtube, and all of them seem so… insipid. Muted. “Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough. If you don’t mind terribly, you know, whenever it’s convenient.” If you’re going to rant, put some wellie into it, why don’t you. Now town planning has hit Slough instead of the bombs, and it’s a normal, average, English city now. So there’s a counter-poem to Mr. Betjeman’s poem, written as part of a contest by a school girl, but it’s too nice. “Please Mr. Betjeman, it’s much better now… if you take a look?”

Sod that.

So here’s my personal rebuke. Feel free to perform it, but flying spittle is mandatory.


Not by John Betjeman

Oh come now Mr. Betjeman
A poet of your stature can
Undoubtedly do better than
This stream of bile

We may not be the people who
Adore the rural charm like you
The thing that you propose they do
Is just as vile

You fulminate against our home
As though the sight of it alone
Offends you, so you want it blown
To Kingdom Come

It’s evident that you like more
Those boozing kens you know of yore
With rotting rushes on the floor
That I run from

It’s clear the way that money works
Is strange to you, like to the berks
Who are, confronted with our clerks
Completely lost

It’s not our fault that they can’t tell
Their sodding arses from their ell-
bows, or the way that you can tell
What it will cost

The mortgages that you abhorred
For houses they could not afford
They entered of their own accord
So mind that well

I’ll tell you for the final time
Just take your badly crafted rhyme
Then put it where the sun don’t shine
And go to hell!


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