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!

Come, bombs, and blow to smithereens
Those air-conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans
Tinned minds, tinned breath.

Mess up the mess they call a town —
A house for ninety-seven down
And once a week for half-a-crown
For twenty years,

And get that man with double chin
Who’ll always cheat and always win,
Who washes his repulsive skin
In women’s tears,

And smash his desk of polished oak
And smash his hands so used to stroke
And stop his boring dirty joke
And make him yell.

But spare the bald young clerks who add
The profits of the stinking cad;
It’s not their fault that they are mad,
They’ve tasted Hell.

It’s not their fault they do not know
The birdsong from the radio,
It’s not their fault they often go
To Maidenhead

And talk of sports and makes of cars
In various bogus Tudor bars
And daren’t look up and see the stars
But belch instead.

In labour-saving homes, with care
Their wives frizz out peroxide hair
And dry it in synthetic air
And paint their nails.

Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough
To get it ready for the plough.
The cabbages are coming now;
The earth exhales.

Sir John Betjeman

Original Comments:

A visitor made this comment,
I hope that the first bomb lands on ‘The Office’.

[Redbaron responds – Babelfish logic I’m afraid John, that would be far too useful to be a random happening and would therefore prove the existence of God and thereby prove the non-existence of God!]

comment added :: 11th January 2005, 16:25 GMT+01
Lynne made this comment,
Ok, so what’s Slough done to you then?! 😉
Or is this just a random poetry entry?
Hmmm… random poetry entry… that give me an idea…

Visit me @

[Redbaron responds – s’a random entry really I do like a bit of Sir Johnny, altho’ I do hate Slough but not specifically more than Bracknell or Basingstoke or Stevenage! You’re not from Slough are you dear?!]

comment added :: 11th January 2005, 18:59 GMT+01
Rachel made this comment,
Hmmm, that sounds strangely familiar. Have you perhaps sent me that, or made me read it, or something?
Visit me @

[Redbaron responds – No I haven’t but it is a well known poem by an even more well-known poet.]

comment added :: 11th January 2005, 22:00 GMT+01
Pimme made this comment,
Those would make great lyrics for a death metal band. ;^)
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[Redbarn responds – You worry me sometimes Pimme hon! The fusion of Betjeman and Rammstein or such like is quite disturbing!]

comment added :: 11th January 2005, 23:25 GMT+01
Diogenes made this comment,
What bombs was he talking about/what time was it written, do you know? I read once that the IRA (correctly) believed Betjeman was a British agent but didn’t kill him because he was a great poet! Only the Irish, I guess…
Visit me @

[Redbaron responds – Betjeman lived 1906-1984 and Slough was first published in 1937 so one could say he was ahead of his time. Suffice to say far from improving Slough has degenerated since then! It is true that Betjeman was to be assasinated by the IRA during his time in Dublin in 1941-43, he was there as a kind of PR man for Britain but filed many reports on the political climate in Ireland and the IRA actvities. It was the actual assassin sent to kill Betjeman who recognised his name and felt that so good a poet couldn’t be a spy.]

comment added :: 13th January 2005, 03:18 GMT+01
Lynne made this comment,
From Slough? Moi? :oS
No, not me, I’m just an ugly bird from ‘astings (according to Viz, we’s all ugly birds here!)
Visit me @

comment added :: 13th January 2005, 20:00 GMT+01
Diogenes made this comment,
I don’t know. You couldn’t write that these days, could you? And I think that the kind of nihilistic schadenfreude is a bit off – reminds me of Yeats’ ‘Lapis Lazuli’where poets are ‘gay’ even though the ‘bomb-balls’ threaten the town. Then again it seems to be an early attack on sexual harrassment. Is it known who the capitalist pig is?
comment added :: 13th January 2005, 22:46 GMT+01
Spike made this comment,
If you’ve ever been to slough you’ll so understand why this poem was written.
POI I studied this poem for my GCSEs

[Redbaron responds – I have indeed been to Slough and can confirm that these are precisely the emotions that the place illicits!]

comment added :: 28th January 2005, 11:35 GMT+01