This is a delightful, easily accessible little collection of poems. It is a slim volume which could easily be read in one sitting, but one which I will wish to dip into repeatedly. The poems are frequently humorous, often made me smile or even snort with laughter, but also often carry quite a weighty emotional heft.
The selection starts with a set of Christmas poems, including a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas, a poem which will touch anyone who has collected Christmas ornaments with a partner,and apiece which will delight all who are pedants about Christmas hymns.
After this gentle start, the tone darkens as Cope describes her childhood, boarding school and sulphourous relationship with her mother. There is some really bitter stuff here, but also some moving recollections of friendships.
Through the rest of the Cope offers reactions to 9-11, thoughts on later life and death, holidays, service stations and a quite brilliant Haiku about white wine.
The collection ends with two commissions, one written for, and read with, a string quartet, the other written for BBC Radio. The former contains a lovely pair of poems giving the different views of two people trying to impress each other on a date at a classical concert. The latter gives a tribute to the Archers, to late night announcers and to, of all things, Radio 5's 6-0-6.
Family values is at heart very British, very middle class, and very middle aged, but that is no bad thing. Cope is a great observer and brings warmth, humour and humanity as the velvet cover for some pretty sharp commentary.