Chris Bell



This is something
I’ve been meaning to write down
ever since I gave up smoking:

I once worked in Capper Street
off London’s Tottenham Court Road
as a wholesaler’s warehouseman.

One day I was loading boxes into a parcel service van
when a down-and-out limped past the entrance
in a raincoat the colour of an OHMS envelope.

I think he was wearing a trilby hat.

“You wouldn’t have a cigarette, would you?”
he asked from the side of his mouth
without turning to face me

I reached into my jacket
and offered the old man my last Rothmans.

“No thanks,” he said,
“I only smoke Du Maurier.”



Chris Bell was born in Wales. Shrugging off this early setback, he moved to Germany, via London in a futile search for rock stardom, before arriving in New Zealand where, having gone as far as he could, he works as a writer. In January 2006 his poem about Richard Brautigan, ‘The Graves Have Turned to Powdered Wind’, won the ‘Writers Choice Award’ at In 1976, he was the youngest ever poet to be published in Norman Hidden’s ‘New Poetry’ (UK). His writing has also appeared in ‘The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror’ (US), ‘The Third Alternative’ (UK) and ‘The Heidelberg Review’ (Germany) and his first novel, ‘Liquidambar’ won PABD and UKA Press’s ‘Search For A Great Read’ competition. Bell writes: “The inspiration for ‘Style’ came in the early 1980s, when I was working in Central London. Its origins, however, are lost in time—where is that old down-and-out now, I wonder? Style is a curiosity; like cool, it’s the exclusive property of those who are unaware they possess it.”