Joy unconfined proposed for Slough

"I don't do happiness," was the unpromising comment from a prominent local businessman in last week's opening instalment of the BBC2 documentary Making Slough Happy. If this Betjemanesque attitude is anything to go by, the producers face a stiff challenge.

The four-part series has assembled a motley crew of professionals, including a psychologist, an economist, workplace specialists and a social entrepreneur, in a bid to completely transform the outlook of the Thames Valley town.

Their aim is to make the burghers of Slough happy to be alive and positive in their outlook to life.

While disdainful hilarity was the initial reaction, there is some evidence that its ideas may bear fruit. The manifesto is largely based on simple tasks such as planting something every day, cutting down on television viewing and taking regular exercise. Planning for "talk time", where you spend at least an hour every day conversing with your partner, seems to inspire particular dread.

Inevitably, planning issues also entered the fray. The planning and layout of the town, and of cities in general, was questioned by one volunteer who argued that the friendly bombs called for by John Betjeman would indeed have enabled the town to be reconfigured along more natural and environmental grounds. They obviously need a local planning consultant on the Making Slough Happy team.


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