The Joy of Cousins

If you are broke and in a strange place, you will feel some joy if you have a cousin in town. Somehow it is easy to impose without too much conscience and beg some space to spread a sleeping bag. Of course they are then obliged to feed you.

This can be a tad awkward if they share the house with others or you only met them once for tea 12 years before. Also, if you have been hitch-hiking and travelling you are likely to be quite smelly and probably use all the hot water. To contribute, you buy some milk in return for the dinners and breakfasts you enjoyed.

Pretty sure they don’t mind you using their washing machine and dryer.

Mind you, I have only done it to a couple of cousins – only one was compelled by domestic pressure to move me on after one night. He was embarrassed but I am quite sensitive and sensible.

I spent the next night with a bunch of druggies in a Surrey Docks squat, sharing a room with an intense Canadian jockey who carried a Browning .45 pistol. The floor was sticky because all the carpet had been ripped up. They fed me eggs and bacon fried in hash oil … they didn’t have to ask me to leave.

My posh cousin in the country put me on a train to her parents after one night – she had young children and ponies to exercise. I had a great time in the country with my uncle and aunt and even learned to quite like bitter.

In the long run, it balances out – cousins visiting Africa had a great time with my two brothers. They even sent a lady friend to visit my single brother in Swaziland. She was a barrister, but he was evasive.

We were blessed by a visit from one of their children (cousin once removed?) in New Zealand on her OE. It was good to give a little back.

My best success was a month and that was not strictly a cousin but my brother in law’s brother who let me sleep in a studio when I was homeless and unemployed in Rhodesia. That was a Christian act!

If I met me in those days I might have thought I was a bit of a rough, well diamond in the rough, as I am family…

In fact, I think that my UK cousins must have thought that too.

But they still gave me a bed and fed me – that’s the joy of cousins.

Story proposed by Jane Longshaw

Author: manqindi

Post imperial wind drift. Swazi, British, Zimbabwe-Rhodesian, Irish, New Zealand citizen and resident, now in Queensland, Australia. 10th generation African of mainly European descent. Catholic upbringing, more free thinker now. BA and Law background. Altar boy, wages clerk, uncle, prefect, student, court clerk, prosecutor, magistrate, convoy escort, pensioner, HR Practitioner, husband, stepfather, father, bull terrier lover, telephone interviewer, Call Centre manager, HR manager, grandfather, author (amateur)

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