On my 9th birthday my father gave me a copy of Cautionary Tales by Hilaire Belloc. This sounds like a classic parent to child birthday ritual but it had so much more significance for me. My father who had never lived with us, rarely kept to the tradition of giving his children presents on their actual birthdays. He was more likely to fish out the occasional £20 note from the paint encrusted chef's trousers he wore to work in - that is when I did see him. I had recently returned with my mother and sister from living in Morocco for two years where we had existed in a very hand to mouth way, some of it fun and some of it not fun. We had moved to East Sussex into two rooms of a very old man's small cold house with an outside loo; I remember having a bath in the kitchen sink. So this present on my actual birthday was totally incredible and I loved the outlandish humour of the verses and the hilarious drawings of bad tempered ponies or boys being eaten by lions. I read everything and found the influence of Hilaire Belloc stayed with me, even in this poem of defeat which I composed as response to my sister asking me to move out of our very haunted flat in favour of her friend Janet. I was living in Rome at the time and came back and caused havoc for a few days every three months.

Bella's Arrival in Town Seen through the Eyes of her Sister

The only fault of sister Bel
Is that she sometimes makes life hell.
When flying in to London Town
Upon her face she wears a frown.
Why? You may ask and so might I-
To understand her rage I try.
But fail,
Because it seems to deal
With my dear flatmate Janet Steel.
It seems that on Miss B's appearance
Poor Janet has to make a clearance.
Out! To where she doesn't care
Only that she isn't there.
If to these whims I don't comply
A deadly gleam from Bella's eye
Makes my life just not worth living
Until I simply have to give in.
But no I won't! I must hold forth
Against my tyrant sister's wrath,
And so with subtle argument
And keeping quiet while she gives vent
To fury at her contradictor,
In the end
I am the victor.

More Happenings

Bella Freud Autumn Winter

Bella Freud AW22

The Bella Freud Autumn-Winter 2022 (AW22) collection evokes an inquisitive and daring youthful spirit. Bella says: “It is important in fashion that you don't relax into being repetitive.”



I made a short film in 2002 with John Malkovich called 'Hideous Man', about some Beatnik girls waiting around in a club for their favourite poet to arrive and do a reading.