Welcome to the online diary of the “London Ziegs,” as they journal their experiences relocating from the balmy climes of sunny Orlando, Florida to the more chaotically cosmopolitan environment of London, UK!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Tough Coughs up Dough in Slough

We named this blog after London, because everyone knows where that is. However, the capital of Berkshire, as well as the town where I commute to work every day, is actually called Slough. Most American audiences won't be familiar with the city (unless they're fans of the original UK version of The Office). However, when you mention it to someone in England, you are wont to receive a concealed flicker of displeased recognition, as though they were working out how to politely disengage after you'd just announced that you had the pox.

Without doubt, the most legendary expression of this national distaste is embodied in John Betjeman's infamous poesy, Slough ("Come, friendly bombs...").

Showing admirable pluck, the Slough Borough Council schools recently (2006) held a competition asking local students to write a rejoinder to the bitter and somewhat unwarranted tirade, and I must say I find the winning entry to be a much more authentic and accurate description of the town as a whole:

Horrible bombs don’t fall on Slough,
Because it’s fit for humans now,
This town’s much better, and how,
Old poem die a death!

Sikhs, Muslims and Christians too,
All are welcome and so are you,
All come here to live life anew,
One town, one breath.

A centre of learning you can see,
With a library and university,
A life’s training for you and me,
Work hard, get paid.

Ice skating, swimming and fitness places,
Playgrounds, parks and open spaces,
Children laughing, smiling faces,
Getting together, friendships made.

Queensmere, Observatory and High Street,
Cafes, restaurants where you can eat,
See a film at the cinema for a treat
Brand new Tesco open now.

Trains from Reading, London and many more,
Cars and taxis along the M4
Buses drop you at your door,
Climb aboard and come to Slough.

Joanna Okolotowicz
Montem Primary School

I haven't been able to tell if the Heart of Slough project is still considered on-course, or if its funding and schedule have already been impacted by the global financial situation. It would be nice to be here for the opening of that proposed new library!

(BTW, if the title of this post left you mired in confusion, it's a reference to a Dr. Seuss book :-)

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