There is deliberately very little description in the book. There is a chandelier in the pub. That’s about it. Even the name of the pub, The Red Lion, the most common pub name in Britain, is designed to be any pub. Specifically, the reader’s favourite or ideal pub, so they can imagine the place that they know in their minds eye. We don’t know Dan’s age, although we can work it out to some extent, nor his hair colour, nor how anyone looks or any place looks. This is partly because appearance is not important to Dan and it is his eyes through which we look at this world. Also, I want to give the impression that this pub could be available for anyone and the happiness and tragedies that occur to the people within it could also happen to anyone too. That’s also why the nature of Dan’s Dad’s illness is not specified as early onset. I do not want anyone to feel excluded from this story by living slightly different experiences.
As regards the Alzheimer’s storyline, I needed the story of Dan to have some kind of focus and direction, beyond just getting another pint in, and I wanted to talk about current issues in Britain. We are not short of choice there but when I started writing this book, Alzheimer’s was not a topic widely discussed in the media or amongst friends. Things have improved on that score at least since then it seems. The more we talk about it, and the affect it has on all of us, the better we will be. I particularly remember one day listening to 5 Live, a BBC radio station, which I tend to most days, and there was an interview with a couple of amazing brothers who fought hard to get their Dad into a right care home. He had early onset Alzheimer’s, so this was not easy. They were really impressive guys, but it got me to thinking how most people aren’t like that and it made me wonder how Dan, who is pretty ineffectual, would cope with something like that. You see, we see and read a lot of stories about heroes, which is fine, but I wanted to look at the life of someone who is not at all heroic, but still has to battle against the challenges life gives him anyway. Like most of us.