Friday, February 09, 2007

The mystery of Slough

I've lived in Slough pretty much all my life. It's my home town and I'd like to tell you just how proud of it I am.

I'd like to, but I can't. Slough is a dump. It really is an ugly, run down, drab, grey, tired looking, depressing sort of place full of deary looking slab sided buildings and dreary looking world-weary people.

For the life of me I can't think why.

I can't think of one building in Slough that I'd recommend as a symbol of great architecture - modern or classical. I can't think of a single cultural monument worthy of the name. I can't think of a single cultural event worth going to. The best I can come up with is that Slough has the biggest Tesco in the world. Not exactly a recommendation!

Slough has one of the biggest trading estates in Europe - it used to be THE biggest. How can a town with so much revenue from business, with so much wealth generated from it, with so much employment to offer look like it's in need of urgent regeneration assistance?

It really is a mystery to me. Anyone got any ideas?


Sir Henry Morgan said...

The Luftwaffe?

Then start again?

I used to live in Wycombe. I know Slough and I understand you.

Stan said...

Tried that already, Sir Henry. Didn't work.

Honestly, you'd think with all that money that Slough must get from business rates and the like it would be one of the best towns in Britain.

Where does all the money go?

Not on public services - they are dire. Not on health - Wexham Park is one of the worst hosiptals in the country. Not on education - the schools vary from moderately decent to bloody awful. Not on leisure - the parks and facilities are beyond ridicule. Not on keeping the town clean and tidy - it's a filthy, litter strewn, graffitti covered carbunkle. Not on civic pride - not a decent building (with the possible exception of Slough train station, but that looks pretty sorry for itself these days), no decent cultural events, no theatre or venue of note. Even the lousy football team has to play in Windsor as Slough doesn't have a stadium.

How can a town with such massive employment potential have such a high unemployment rate? Employers can't fill their vacancies and yet Slough ranks as one of the country's unemployment blackspots!!

I just don't understand it. Where does all the money go?

Titus Aduxass said...

I have to sympathise Stan, even though I come from Liverpool.
Liverpool? … Simpathy? … ‘Arr Ayyy, (I hear you say), Ime norravin Nah’ … as it were;
Liverpool … The Butt of the Joke, of all the best southern humour has to offer in the attempt to make light of their own crappy existence, always has to or at least infer that ‘it might be bad here, but just think if you came from Liverpool!
This is why I can empathise with you O Ranting One.
The only difference is that if you came to Liverpool today, you would be struck by the absence of the Londoncentric vision of multicultural Britain.
You would see very few overtly muslim men and women … they would have the piss taken out of them … mainly by the Chinese and Toxteth aborigines who like their ganja and gambin, food styles and fashion. These immigrants (now 4th,5th, and later generations) have made parts of the city their own without alienating anyone whatever their historic origins. What they didn’t do was to try to change the irreverence Liverpudlians have for authority and dictat.
We ‘scousers’ (if honest) laugh at our own insularity and incongruencies, but take offence if you southerners point them out before we have had a chance to make a joke out of it … ones don’t like bein upstaged y’know.
But never mind all of this, multifaith, multicoloured multiculturalism has got a good side (just), in so far as it lets us know how united is the indigenous Englishman with his own Kind imbued with the ability to laugh at all the absurdity going on around him. Fortunately we are far enough away from Londonistan to still feel English and fiercely defensive of our culture, history and sense of uniqueness.
Slough (Slough in 1937)
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 a 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 sport 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.
Beast wishes and keep up the good work on the web
Titus(& Mrs) Aduxass

Stan said...

Cheers, titus.

I expect a lot of southerners perceptions of Liverpool are formed through popular culture (i.e. watching Bread on telly) rather than actually going there. First time I went to Liverpool was when I was working as a courier driver back in the early eighties. Friday night, 5:25, my boss gets a call - urgent job to Liverpool. I'm the only one free so it's given to me. "Thanks a bunch" I thought. Off I trot, pick up the package and head on up the M1.

Four and a half hours later (loads of hold ups) I'm in some dive of a pub thinking about kipping in the van when a bunch of lads notice my southern accent. Expecting to now be spending the night in the Royal Infrimary I'm pleasantly surprised to find they're friendly.

After exlaining my predicament, they treat me to beers all night and offer me a sofa for the night. Next day they treat me to a trip to Anfield, I get to stand in the Kop and join in with "You'll Never Walk Alone". I'm no football fan, but it was a great experience.

The thing that struck me most about Liverpool was the sense of pride that scousers have in their city - and everything about it from the accent to the football teams.

You used to see that sense of pride in the old east end of London (my dad was born in Millwall) but it's nothing like it used to be. The old east end has long gone and the accent with it.

Slough's the same. No pride, no culture, no sense of belonging. It's just a place you're stuck in till you can get out.