Continuing our new series of stories from our Young People’s Voice project – funded by Victorious Festival and supported by the University of Portsmouth – student at Havant and South Downs College, Evie West gives an unflinching insight into her sense of Pompey Pride, warts and all.
‘Where perfection meets paradise, the harbour town of Portsmouth is born. A collection of rolling hills, real gentlemen, and a burger van combine to create this magical location’.
The Urban Dictionary provides a generous definition when talking about Britain’s south coast diamond, Portsmouth. Sprawling suburbs, decadent beaches and cosmopolitan shopping. Well, that’s what you see on the postcards. Instead, Portsmouth is littered with terrible terraces, chirpy chavs and controversial characters. You are never far from a wandering pisshead or pile of dog dump. A city divided into little clusters of terror. Buckland, North End and need I say, the dreaded Somerstown. A scary little community sprinkled with crime.
Shopping is certainly not Portsmouth’s speciality. Sure, Gunwharf Quays glimmers with high-end stores such as Ralph Lauren and Kate Spade but venture down to Commercial Road and you are in for a shock: derelict clothing stores from the 80s, run-down charity shops and a monstrous multi-story car park. The pavements are dressed in a thin layer of puke and piss. However, I am partial to a giggle when a local fills the fountain with infinite bubbles. Commercial Road also serves some fine cuisine. McDonald’s, Burger King, Greggs and of course ‘Spoons (just past the Guildhall).
However shopping aside, one thing Portsmouth does have is a football team to be proud of, a club containing years of history. They have had highs and lows, losses and wins, from the Premier League right down to scraping liquidation. Legendary players such as Sol Campbell and David James graced the pitch continuously throughout the blue’s prime years. But the club would not be glorious without the fans. Come rain or shine the local townies will be queuing up by the turnstiles to support their pride and joy.
Surely, if the city is such a dump how can people support the team associated with it?
This is something I refer to as Pompey pride. The patriotic act of supporting the city, being a blue blood and never being ashamed no matter how horrendous it gets. Even in the suburbs, as a citizen of the seaside city, the pride for Portsmouth will never die. I will never be ashamed to tell that random Greek man in the Cretan bar where I am from. ‘Portsmouth and proud’, I’ll say.
As the people of the PO postcode, we are proud. Proud of our culture of shitty shops, dying pubs and nutty natives. We may live in an erratic environment but as a community we are one. Regardless if someone is from scary Somerstown or glimmering Gunwharf, we are all proud of where we’re from.
So as the Londoners look down upon us we shall stand and be the Blue Army we are.
The Young People’s Voices project aims to provide young people with a platform to share their opinions, report on topics that affect them and advance standards of literacy. We worked with students from St Edmunds School and Havant and South Downs College to investigate and write their own stories, in a variety of styles and mediums – from creative memoir and opinion pieces to their own investigations. All their work will be published on S&C throughout July, and all participants have the chance to enter their work into a competition to read their story on the Spoken Word Stage at the 2019 Victorious Festival. You will find all the Young People’s Voices stories here as we publish them.
This project is supported by the University of Portsmouth, with thanks to the teams in Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI). It was delivered by University of Portsmouth MSc and PhD researchers Maddie Wallace and Lauren Jones.