I grew up in a little coastal West Country town you’ve probably heard of, called Portishead. To be fair, as a child, I was quite happy there. It was only when I moved away then came back that I became aware of how crazily right-wing the place is.

Our local MP is the Conservative Dr Liam Fox. You will probably remember him from coming third in the Conversative Party leadership race, and for resigning from his position of Secretary of State for Defence after allegations that he had given his lobbyist friend Adam Werritty access to the Ministry of Defence and had brought him on trips. He wants our abortion laws repealed and voted against marriage equality. Classy guy.

I once served him a pint of Caffreys in the pub I worked in. In the run up to the Conservative leadership race, I sat on a table next to him in a different pub and heard him say to his colleague: ‘You see, the future of politics isn’t ideology – it’s geology.’ Which makes about as much sense as any of the asinine bullshit he and his morally bankrupt party supports.

While on our tour of poets’ graves, I read some of the war poet Rupert Brooke. I was particularly taken by his poem ‘The Old Vicarage, Grantchester’, a lighthearted, bouncy little piece written in 1912 about him and his pals’ favourite outdoor swimming spot. He takes some deliciously vicious tongue-in-cheek swipes at the surrounding areas and I really love the rhythm of the verse.

Perhaps it’s a trite observation, but in visiting all these poets’ graves I was struck by how the places they lived had such a powerful influence on the mood and cadence and content of their work. We started in the tour in Bristol, right by where I grew up, and I set out with the intention of writing a gently satirical piece about Portishead, using Brooke’s poem as a model.

It, uh. It didn’t work out like that.

When I left, Portishead felt like a sleepy little village with pretentions. When I came back, huge new housing developments had skewed the population middle-class. We had coffee shops and a Waitrose. It’s been an impregnable Tory stronghold my entire life. Liam Fox has held his seat since 1992. The town has gone upmarket, but its politics remain insular and nasty.

If the poem below seems a bit, err… emphatic, perhaps that’s because I still feel guilty that I once colluded and echoed some of the views that now repel me. Lest I be accused of my own kind of prejudice, I recognise the poem is a caricature – my parents and their lovely friends, for example, are nothing like the people I describe.

As I wrote the poem, Portishead became a symbol for so much of the complacency and simmering hatred tolerated in small towns and villages all over this country. It’s an unfair, exaggerated portrait – of course there are liberals in Portishead (and, like I say, perhaps one of the targets is my younger self) but still – a man who resigned under allegations of corruption, who thinks if you happen to be female or non-heterosexual your rights should be curtailed, has been voted in for two decades. It’s 2013. This is madness.

Anyway… here it is.

In Portishead

Far west of here, there lies a town
Where better people settle down
A classy land of lemon couscous
Bastion of Englishness-ness
Ah! To be where white foam plunges
Over Jags from soapy sponges
Ah! To know such rabid pride
The valley of the class divide

In Portishead, in Portishead
Blue waves lap on the shore, ‘tis said
As honest ploughmen till the earth
(Work as befits their lowly birth)
Where panel beaters sup their ales
And gaze with loathing upon Wales
While inside gorgeous Georgian Houses
Soused consultants thrash their spouses
Come! To where the right-wing prosper
‘Fewest gypsies south of Gloucester’
Boast the brochure’s glossy pages
Tories haven’t lost in ages
Come! To where the moneyed frolic
Thin of heart and fat of wallet
Where gangs of pillocks flaunt their wealth
Where culture comes to hang itself

In Portishead, in Portishead
A haven on the water’s edge
Celebs – we’ve got a horde of ‘em!
Well… mainly Carol Vorderman
Where housewives dragging mangy pets
Exchange new leads on Johnny Depp:
Pete Smith (who says his mate knows Farrage)
Saw him at the Waitrose garage
Book clubs full of schlubs and harpies
Meet to swap critiques and car keys
Barthes averred the author’s dead
The murderer was Portishead

In Portishead, in Portishead,
It’s news when someone’s bought a shed
A flare goes up, the minions scatter:
‘Fetch the mayor! Throw a regatta!’
Bonfires smoke in leafy closes
Squires with moral scoliosis
Rake and scheme and plot and stew
And wonder: What Would Clarkson Do?

In Portishead, in Portishead
Time staggers, like a tortoise led
The wrong way up an escalator
‘Frothing bigots? Gosh no, mater!
We accept some immigration
Want to join our rainbow nation?
Show you’re not some gurning savage
Live our culture, learn the language
Toss the turban, bin the burkas
Listen – some are damn hard workers
Out with shirkers, grafters welcome
Homes for Gurkhas, Heaven help ’em
Look – to all those having doubts
My neighbour Hans’s lot are Krauts
See? Jingoism’s brash and prolish
Love the Germans – fear the Polish
They come down here, ignore our customs
Strip the countryside of mushrooms
There’s something… wicked in their faces
Apparently that makes me racist.’
Here, at last our sage relents
And ends this blast of common sense
Content his cannon have delayed
The Charge of the PC Brigade

In Portishead, in Portishead,
The posh point at the poor with red
And flapping jowls: ‘Hey now, blame them!
It’s not my fault – I vote Lib Dem!’
Come trendy mums, fall on The Plough
It isn’t fit for students now
‘Ugh! It’s just so… EDL-y –
Let’s tear it down and build a deli!
Swell our aspiration roster:
Got a Waitrose, got a Costa
Got our own Big Issue seller
Lovely sort of… earthy feller
Never buy one – not from drifters
Lest they spunk the lot on blifters
Spongers! Tsk! Can’t help some people.
Now, chip in for the new church steeple!’
Those who drew the shortest thread
Are out of luck in Portishead

In Portishead! In Portishead,
The droves of walking corpses fed
On olive bread and right-wing lies
All glare with sunken, piggy eyes
Where once swayed surly, tattooed dockers
Now there’s tinted glass and mochas
Waxed stiff upper lips wear splashes –
Frothy milk-white pencil taches
Mothers waft an emperor’s pride:
I came, I saw, I gentrified
Think Berlin in the forties wed
With Grand Designs – that’s Portishead

For Bristol folk have liberal views
(we’re warned about them on the news)
And Yatton’s poor stroll round uncowed
And Clevedon children talk out loud
In Nailsea no one owns a moat
And Portbury women get the vote
Strong men expunge sons from their will
If word comes that they’ve been to Pill
Strong men will drown their only heir
To spare him Weston-super-Mare
Strong men would rather swallow pins
And hammer tent pegs through their shins
And dive into a live volcano
Than go to Clapton-in-Gordano
While worst of all, ah woe is me!
Each broken wife of Abbot’s Leigh
Winds barbed wire round her daughter’s bed
No need! No need! In Portishead

Ah Portishead! The home of whiteness!
Bile disguised by bland politeness
Naked hatred spliced with pardons
Fascists – but with nicer gardens