Wednesday, March 04, 2020

101 Things #70 - In Praise of Friendly Bombs

Come, friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn't fit for humans now ...

Sir John Betjeman 

If you have been following these columns in recent months you will know that I am writing little pieces on the theme of "I'm not doing that". They are building into a set known as 101 Things I Refuse To Do Before I Die. Quite a lot of the inspiration comes from other people's bucket-lists, the achievements they actually wish to be able to tick off and say "I did that".

This piece, however, returns to a theme explored in one of my first outings, the less pleasant parts of the surrounding towns to beautiful Ruislip. We blasted Hayes; now it is the turn of the vast slug-like excrescence guarding the approaches to London from the west. I shall use the good offices of my friends at Google maps to present a kind of pictorial essay to explain why I shall not be numbered amongst those who may

Enjoy Slough. 

Sir John was ahead of his time, as always, in his 1937 short poem, of which the first lines are quoted above. Before I give you a glimpse of what it is like to drive around this place, consider the following supporting evidence
  • My car was stolen last year. It was later recovered by the police. Where was it found, the thieves having abandoned it? Slough.
  • Facebook believes that Ruislip is part of Slough, even though it is nearly 10 miles away and in a different county. This geographic vandalism has gone unchecked despite the protests of many residents including myself. We can only conclude sinister forces are at work. 

Now have a look at one of the most desolate town centres you can imagine. Not poor, not run down, in fact, it is a prosperous town, well placed in the thriving Thames Valley corridor. But utterly soulless, devoid of any attractive architecture, any sense of harmony or belonging to a particular time.

The huge double carriageway that bisects the town effectively relegates pedestrians to being second class citizens. And look at the last picture where each building is a different style and a different height, and we see it from yet another wide road that isolates anyone on foot behind a wall of traffic.

What a welcome to the shopping centre

Concrete brutalism

Sod you, pedestrians

Lovely view, eh?

Town centre? Near enough.

Just urgh! At least this is on the road out toward Ruislip
 I am not going to express the hope that you enjoyed looking at these pictures, but if I have persuaded just one person not to visit expecting to see a quaint old Berkshire town oozing history and charm, my work will not have been in vain.

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