Portishead, on the muddy shores of the Severn Estuary

Portishead. A band, but also a place with a rather unique and confused bunch of inhabitants. A bit of geography. Portishead is eight miles west of Bristol, on the muddy shores of the Severn Estuary. Pose yourself a question. What kind of house – and householder – would you expect to find next door to a grizzly coal fired power station, a phosphorus factory and a fertiliser processing plant?

Now pose yourself another question. How happy – and how lucky – do you think that person in their chavilla would be if the power station and associated heavy industry was to be replaced, over a ten year period, by a lovely spanking new marina, complete with bars, restaurants and fishing boats. Pleased? Happy that their £10,000 “more of an ensuite shed really” has risen in value by twenty-fold while they were lying there, slumped in the corner dribbling on their Donnay tracksuit?

No. They are bitter. Bitter bitter bitter.  Their town, their lovely seething cesspit of phosphorus, ash and dust has been robbed from them.  And now there’s outsiders. And they don’t like outsiders. With their trendy eateries, with their yachts and their Audis. 

But fear not my Portishead *****. Because the planners are smart cookies and they’ve thought of you. You’ve got yourself a McDonalds. With a hundred metres of dual carriage way alongside – specially for you and your mum’s car. But wait it get’s better.

Do you remember where the phosphorus spoil heaps used to be?  The part of town that Ordnance Survey clearly label as “Ashlands”? Well the developers have, sweetly, renamed it the “Village Quarter” and built some lovely little sheds for you.  So now you can live next door to Bristol’s overspilling  nouveau-middle class – with their slightly superior taste in sportswear, unfettered racism and fixation with jet washers.

So there’s the Portishead **** – not sure whether to laugh or cry.

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