The Lives of the Cousins

The Lives of the Cousins

The snaps are in black and white, of course,
Few captions, the album-covers scuffed,
But Kitty and Joyce still smile their smiles
From a speedboat tethered by stone steps
In what has the look of a Swiss lake.
One page on and Derek at a picnic
Strains facetiously to draw a cork,
And General Sawyer in dinner jacket
Poses by the rear door of a Daimler.
(It was he who without explanation
In a late codicil to his will
Left me an old-fashioned naval spyglass,
Presumably for looking at stars.
But I have never been a stars person,
Preferring to train my objective
On the bay windows across the townland.)
Hermione and Julius on a cruise
Fill several sheets – games on the boat-deck
And eager Arabs in djellabiyas
Pestering the tourists in Port Said.
Then to badminton at Cowes, and drinks
On Graham's destroyer in the Solent.

It was not like that - nor is it now -
In New Ross or the herbaceous valleys
That trail down from Carlow and Kilkenny,
Where the livestock stand dumbly around
Under broad-leaved trees in the demesnes
And the Nore slides swiftly over crowfoot.
In these parts there is not much call
For cigarette-holders or shady hats.
The creamery coughs from before dawn
And all day the foreigners' meat lorries
Rumble and thud along the main street.
Though I shoot with a couple of Councillors
And the Principal of the Tech,
A brace of woodcock is small return
For hours of damp shoulders and cold feet.
But asylum resides in the office –
Virginia-creepered, shabby but warm –
Where my pink-cheeked secretary sits
Typing out conveyances and wills.
Drinking my morning coffee, I observe
Her bosom snug in Botany wool
And her reassuringly thick legs.


'The Lives of the Cousins' from Who Goes There? (Faber & Faber, 1996), © Fergus Allen 1996, used by permission of the author.

Recordings

Fergus Allen

Fergus Allen Downloads

1Other

£0.89

2The Brown Parrots of Providencia

£0.89

3Tanks in Moscow

£0.89

4Foreign Relations

£0.89

5Actor in Mirror

£0.89

6Sodium Light

£0.89

7Wall of Death Bray

£0.89

8Flies and Nettles

£0.89

9Knight Errant

£0.89

10Modern Times

£0.89

11Blue Sky Dusty Horizon

£0.89

12When the Car Gave Up the Ghost

£0.89

13Who Goes There

£0.89

14A Time for Blushing

£0.89

15The Lives of the Cousins

£0.89

16To Be Read Before Being Born

£0.89

17A Young Protestant Lady

£0.89

18Parental Guidance

£0.89

19Fire

£0.89

20Waltzing with Veronica

£0.89

21The Visitant

£0.89

22Zennor

£0.89

23Eve's Lament

£0.89

24Fancy Dress

£0.89

25Pontecorvo

£0.89

26After Pneumonia

£0.89

27Irises

£0.89

28At the Meeting of the Niles

£0.89

29Gas Light & Coke

£0.89

30Easterly

£0.89

31Battue

No preview avaialable.£0.89

32A Bad Debt (1842)

£0.89

33Grinzing

£0.89

34Death Sentences

£0.89

Books by Fergus Allen