Lulu hearts Danny hearts narrative non-fiction
November 27, 2013

Danny was stalking my living room like a brain-damaged panther and outlining his plans for a series of “true-life movies” when the doorbell sounded with that stuttering triple-tap which Alan affects. A bazooka through the letter-box could not have deflected Danny. “They’d be like proper movies, alright? But with no actors. Just real people, being themselves. On camera. And we see it!”

I ushered the new guest in and enjoined him to silence. “Danny,” I confided, “has invented the documentary.”

Alan lacks restraint on these occasions. Rather than watch poor Danny slowly peck his way out of the egg, he thundered flutily in with a pinched history of narrative non-fiction and an unnecessarily accurate précis of Danny’s likely contribution. He had sketched out a four-decade career “without the pungency or substance of John Grierson’s airiest fart” when I intervened. His face was the colour of nougat.

“I feel I must apologise,” he finally whispered. “Mother.” It was explanation enough for those who have been snared even briefly in the Lady B’s tight polyester orbit. But Danny’s face had crumpled like a trodden pie. He was beyond apology. He had evidently sent forth a distress signal so high-pitched it was audible only to Lulu. She bounded down the stairs, to which she now feels a territorial entitlement, and folded him without preamble into the crook of one enormous arm. The sight cheered Alan enormously. 

I had caught the camera in mid-launch, but Danny remained almost entirely lost to view. After an interval of choked corblimeys and some flapping of denimed limbs, I coaxed Lulu to the kitchen with the promise of apricots, and left her humming happily there while I attended to what was left of my guests.