Thought I’d kick off with what’s currently the opener (if only because it was the first thing I’d got onto paper after – long after – finishing Blue Lamp Disco). A group of ideas and images, as well as a longstanding fascination with the cryptozoology of big cat sightings, seemed to crystallise in a kind of cod-folksy voice that then suggested the title…
The Humours of Ballycran
‘It would bring tears to the eyes of a turnip,’ said a man in his cups
holding on for dear life to the bar in The Saltwater Brig,
‘to see the state of the roads at Six Road Ends, and the grass that grows
through the cracks in the runways of Kirkiston airbase—
though it’s many’s the long day since the last American rose
into the low skies above a derelict cottage in Ballycranbeg,
and left the field to the racing drivers and long-footed Irish hare,
the one a bestial roar, the other a whisper in long grass.
Now I’m told I’ve as much chance of kissing again—
at my age, in my condition—as there is of that crab-apple tree
sprouting nine pound notes, or nuns coming back to Nuns Quarter,
or a puma or panther stalking the hills of the County Down.
And if that came to pass, wouldn’t they scour the Low Country
with their marksmen and nets, their guns and their helicopters,
and wouldn’t the poor thing be hunted down and put to death?
So I’ll act my age,’ he said, ‘and I’ll keep my lips to myself.’