Lulu falls
October 25, 2013

Thunderous rain. Sheets of lighting. The piercing ululation of a distant car alarm.  I have been watching Eastenders in an attempt to master the local patois and as a gesture of support for dear Danny, but even its awoightiest shoutfest could not match nature’s hysterical scene-setting at The Vapours last night. 

The One Show had hosted a comedian lately delivered of spawn. Apparently the greatest duty of the new parent is never to be funny again. But as the festivities petered out to forced chuckles and the sound of a cameraman slitting his throat with a lens-cap, a tremulous joy rose in my heart. A half hour of soap would soothe my cares. I shouted up for Lulu. No response. I wafted from the stairwell the curlicued mist of a nutty aubergine bake, usually enough to set Lulu salivating like Pavlov’s dog on a campanology retreat. Not a floorboard thumped. 

Retreating to the kitchen, my eye was caught by some movement in the garden. From beneath the door of the woodshed came a thin sliver of light. It wavered on the storm-flattened grass.  

An awful suspicion arose. In seconds I was out there, ear cupped to the door, obese raindrops caroming off the upper slope of my forehead. From inside the shed I was assailed by the unmistakeable sound of gnawing. 

It was the work of a manly second to shoulder-charge the door. It was the work of a slightly more cerebral second to nurse my shoulder and remember that shed doors open outward. I pulled it wide. There, hunched on the floor, was a monstrous shape. My heart faltered. Lulu’s face rose, pained with guilt and plastered, on its lowed portions, with the slabbered juices of our moon-faced butcher’s mutton.

Rain pounded. The siren croaked and stopped. A lightning flash whitened the back roof of Paradise Discount and Luxury Household Goods.

Should I be angry? Of course I should. Should I bewail the daily holocaust of sheep, the grinning murder of innumerable beeves? Yes, emphatically yes.

Instead I held my hand out. Lulu stood. I beckoned. Lulu came. The mutton was quite forgotten. From the house, the familiar clarion of Simon May’s syn-drums (his best work, in my opinion, since Holiday ’86) opened the curtain on a new day’s catastrophes in Walford, but in the garden the drama had a calmer, nobler hue. So much can be said with an embrace. In those few rainswept seconds, as Lulu’s hug brought my wet shirt and my back into icy contact, I felt I had truly moved. The Vapours was no longer a project. The house had become a home.