Steve Bell

Steve Bell

It’s entirely the nature of modern advertising and those who control it to leave all dignity, tact or heart at home. But so what? Noone’s ever disputed that. I’m just taking a minute to express some sadness at the loss of class.

Here’s to you, John Smith. You’re our kind of person. Your individuality, generosity of spirit and unquenchable thirst for the new and the vibrant is right up our alley. You might even say we have these things in common. You know John, we ought to spend some time together. At our place! Before you know it, you’ll be having half your sentences -finished! Oh, you got there first!

It takes a certain kind of person to notice those little peculiarities that make you, you! And in how long, the time it’s taken for you to reach the front of that queue? And for us to catch your eye? Maybe it’s not so amazing after all. I’d say you’ve probably seen it in us too, but we never were ones to speak highly of ourselves, were we John?

Next time we see each other, we’ll give you a ride here. It’s the least we could do. Hey - we’ll hold your hand as we walk in, because you know what? It’s people like you and everyone here who hate to admit that once in a while we can take it easy, even just for one minute of the day. And maybe we ought to; let someone else take some of the strain off. We’ll hold your hand, carry your wallet, too, and you can leave that on the side while you’re here - it must weigh enough and noone can say you haven’t earned it!

When we meet people like you, John, we don’t even need to say, ‘Oh John, of course you’re welcome to leave your wallet with us, we’ve got an understanding! A connection. That’s something to cling onto, especially these days.’ - It all just goes without saying. And that’s when we know we’re talking to our kind of person.

Ya know? Class.

Think of the person you’d least like to invite to a party. They turn up with champagne, beer crates, the most lavish canapes you’re ever likely to set eyes on. They gift you an iPad. They’ve hired a big band for the night without telling you. As the night goes on, though - and you feel almost guilty about this - you still think they’re an arsehole. You ask them to leave and, oddly, they don’t mind doing so. They even willingly leave behind everything they brought along, for you to keep. It reminds you of them for weeks, months after and before long you get rid of everything that reminds you of them. One weekend you hear a big band playing next door, all night. The whole bluntly metaphorical scenario plays out to its natural conclusion.

And this is just reason to cherish the BBC.


Nelly is 37 years old. She doesn’t have a job, and she lives with her sister.

My mother had a caesarean when she had me. I’m a twin. My doctor asked my mother how many children she already had. She said that she had two, who were 8 and 6. The doctor said that he wouldn’t be able to take care of them because my mother had just had the caesarean and already had two small children.

There were two families of engineers, each of whom wanted to take one of the girls. The doctor said that because they’re twins, they have to stay together, so they would have all to go to a children’s home. I went as a baby. I was there for 18 years. Then I was sent home to my mother.

My mother didn’t want me. I’d first seen my mother when I was 14. I asked her if I had any brothers or sisters. My mother said, ‘yes, you have two older sisters’. I was surprised.

Were you very angry with your mother?

I’m laughing because I don’t need the word ‘angry’ translated. I was angry because my mother was cold towards us, and she had 4 children, whom she could have helped as well. But she was like a foreigner towards us – we couldn’t ask her for anything. That’s all there is to it.

What was your experience like in the children’s home?

I didn’t beat the other children or do bad things. But I didn’t like it when they said I was good for nothing. When I finally came home she found that the children’s home felt like a terrible fear that I’d lived with for a very long time. In the children’s home, if I took something and dropped it, for instance, I’d be beaten for that. So I preferred not to do anything in case something bad happened.

What did you think about why you were there, or maybe you didn’t think about it?

I didn’t like it. When I was 12 or 13 she would wander about the town by myself. I would see children holding their parents’ hands and say to god, ‘I want a mother.’

Someone came who was going to paint the school and he took me alongside him and he said, ‘do you want to be my little girl?’ And I said, ‘Yes!’ He said, ‘I’ll come and get you,’ and he didn’t mean it, but I believed him. I was expecting him to come but he never came.

How did you comfort yourself?

I was a very cheerful child; probably by just wandering around the streets and seeing children. I would watch some of my favourite television programmes. I loved Sesame Street – I learnt lots from it, even though it was supposed to be for smaller children. I realised that the people in Sesame Street were freer people.

Did you think a lot about when you were going to leave?

I didn’t know how to do anything other than just sit there and look around. So it was like the world stopped… here. But it didn’t work out like that. I heard some music in the village and said, ‘Oh, where’s that lovely music coming from?’ We went from house to house to work out where this music was coming from. ‘Oh, here it is‘– and we knew the name of the lady who lived in this house so we called out to her. We said to her, ‘we don’t know how to do anything; please teach us something so we can listen to your beautiful music!’ For 10 years we worked with this lady.

What was the music? What did she say?

It was just some Christian music, some music from the church.

I first washed a plate at this lady’s house. I dropped the very first plate in the sink and it broke. I was afraid I would be told off and when the lady came, I thought it’d be better to tell the truth than to say something untrue. So I said, ‘I broke your plate.’ And the lady said, ‘It’s okay! It’s nothing, we’ll learn! And you’re not going to break them anymore.’ And I said, ‘you’re not going to beat me?’ ‘No! I won’t beat you because you want to learn.’ I said, ‘wow.’

How old were you?

18. 18 years.

This may be an odd question… What was the best thing about being in the children’s homes?

The directors’ care for us. The big kids beat up the little kids – that happened; more the boys than the girls. One of them he actually had removed from the children’s home, because this older boy had not just beaten another child but actually sexually abused them. This boy was in my class. But they kicked him out so that it wouldn’t happen again.

Did it happen to you?

Yes. It was different when I was 7.

Maybe you have already answered my next question, but I wondered what the worst thing about the children’s home was?

I didn’t have toys, didn’t have my own. They weren’t mine – people who came from Germany, Holland, France, different places, they brought aid and they brought toys, but the children didn’t see them. I was 13 at the time and these people would be the ones who would unload the trucks. I and the other children heard the sound of the toys in the boxes as they were moving them.

One day I opened a box and saw a racing car I really liked. I wanted to take it. There was a French person who was behind her taking photographs. He put a hand on my shoulder and said, ‘you can take it, it’s yours if you want it!’ Then the deputy director came and said, ‘you can have your picture taken with it but then you leave it there.’ ‘No, he said I could take it!’ He was standing next to me and he pinched me.

There was one single time I remember actually receiving clothes directly and being allowed to keep. The rest of the time…

Can you remember when they told you that you would be leaving the home and going to live with your mother again, with your family?

The biggest fear was that someone needed to look after me, because I was used to being looked after; someone washing my clothes, someone to give me food. I felt like I was a child.

Have you had a job since then, have you had a wage?

We live on ‘social help’.

How did you rebuild the relationship with your mother?

It was very difficult. My mother got very sick so we went to watch over her while she was ill. I had to do that, firstly for god and secondly for myself – to learn to love my mother, even if my mother hadn’t loved her.

Have you forgiven her?


Just learnt from BBC Four: Once at a royal dinner a female guest pissed herself as she was refused permission to go to to the antechamber and knickers hadn’t been invented at that point. The puddle on the floor ‘threatened the shoes of the guests’.

Work is grinding me down

“Convinced he’s been beheaded, Pierrot bores open Cassander’s skull to smoke a bowl of tobacco in it, and at the end with consummate detachment can ‘gladly view the lovely world’!”

>Be child of popular author

>Browse stories from confession bear meme, leisurely sprinkle with new plot details, adapt to greentext stories

>Publish collection of these as slick, enigmatic hardback aimed at middle class students with high opinions of their own taste and sophistication

>Is a hit with middle class students with high opinions of their own taste and sophistication

>Omit to ever refer back to 4chan or r/greentext

>Do book signing

>In Urban Outfitters of all places

>See guy in queue wearing 4chan t-shirt

>Cold sweat

>Mop brow

>4chan guy reaches front of queue

>Speak first – “Well, I bet you’re quite the man to please.”

>4chan guy stares blankly


>Hold pen slightly aloft

>”Did you want me to er, sign anything?”

>4chan guy pulls out laptop from bag and bashes me over head