Saturday, August 28, 2021

Inexpensive Progress

Encase your legs in nylons,
Bestride your hills with pylons
  O age without a soul;
Away with gentle willows
And all the elmy billows
  That through your valleys roll.

Let's say goodbye to hedges
And roads with grassy edges
  And winding country lanes;
Let all things travel faster
Where motor-car is master
  Till only Speed remains.

Destroy the ancient inn-signs
But strew the roads with tin signs
  'Keep Left,' 'M4,' 'Keep Out!'
Command, instruction, warning,
Repetitive adorning
  The rockeried roundabout;

For every raw obscenity
Must have its small 'amenity,'
  Its patch of shaven green,
And hoardings look a wonder
In banks of floribunda
  With floodlights in between.

Leave no old village standing
Which could provide a landing
  For aeroplanes to roar,
But spare such cheap defacements
As huts with shattered casements
  Unlived-in since the war.

Let no provincial High Street
Which might be your or my street
  Look as it used to do,
But let the chain stores place here
Their miles of black glass facia
  And traffic thunder through.

And if there is some scenery,
Some unpretentious greenery,
  Surviving anywhere,
It does not need protecting
For soon we'll be erecting
  A Power Station there.

When all our roads are lighted
By concrete monsters sited
  Like gallows overhead,
Bathed in the yellow vomit
Each monster belches from it,
  We'll know that we are dead.

John Betjeman (28 August 1906 – 19 May 1984)


  1. Replies
    1. Excellent, eh?!
      And if one thinks it can't get worse ... it does.

  2. More current than ever... and the situation is still getting worse. For instance in the village where I live, the local footballfields, were all covered with plastic grass, last spring. Too bad for the kids who want to touch the fresh green grass and for the birds, that before found their daily meal there... no worms nor insects, no plants, no life, what could have been a small forrest is totaly dead now...
    In the center, the village park turned into concrete and flats, and at the riverbank they're building a big residence amidst the green... All these "changes" in one year.
    It's heartbreaking what our politicians are doing with the little nature that is left. And protest? Who cares anyway, for some footnote in the local papers of today, forgotten by tomorrow...
    It's all so sad.

    1. Synthetic turf, even front gardens gravelled, and were there is still grass: robo mowers. Light pollution, driving 400 meters with one's SUV to buy two rolls for breakfast ... ach, don't get me started, loveliest of all Lindas.
      There is, after alle, solace for future generations: They won't miss, what they never came to know.