I feel a blinding shaft of terror, which I tell myself to ignore, as my brain will often try to send me messages that are untrue and I do not have to listen to them. This is lesson one at St. John’s: your brain is an idiot.
“I don’t know.” I swallow, feeling my fists clench up. “Maybe.”
“Great.” Dr. Sarah gives me her angelic smile. “I know this feels hard and scary, Audrey. But I think it will be a great project for you.”
“OK, look, I don’t understand…” I pause, gaining control of myself; trying not to let tears of fright well up. I don’t even know what I’m frightened of. A camera? A new idea? A demand on me which I wasn’t expecting?
“What don’t you understand?”
“What do I film?”
“Anything. Anything you come across. Just point the camera and shoot. Your house. The people in your house. Paint a portrait of your family.”
“Right.” I can’t help snorting. “I’ll call it My Serene and Loving Family.”
“If you like.” She laughs. “I look forward to seeing it.”
MY SERENE AND LOVING FAMILY—FILM TRANSCRIPT
INTERIOR. 5 ROSEWOOD CLOSE. DAY.
The camera pans around a cluttered family kitchen.
So, welcome to my documentary. This is the kitchen. This is the kitchen table. Frank hasn’t cleared away his breakfast, he’s revolting.
ANGLE ON: a scrubbed pine table, bearing a used cereal bowl, a plate covered with crumbs, and a pot of Nutella with a spoon sticking out.
These are the kitchen cupboards.
ANGLE ON: a range of Shaker kitchen cupboards painted grey. The camera pans slowly across.
This is stupid. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be filming. This is the window.
ANGLE ON: a window to the garden, where we can see an old swing set and a brand-new fire pit, still with tags on. Camera zooms in on the fire pit.
That was my dad’s birthday present. He should use it, really.
Camera swings shakily to door.
OK, so I should introduce myself. I’m Audrey Turner and I’m filming this because—
Anyway. My mum and dad bought me this camera. They were all like, “Maybe you’ll become a documentary maker!” I mean, they got super-excited and they spent far too much on this camera. I was like, just get me the cheapest thing, but they wanted to, so…
The camera moves jerkily through to the hall and focuses on the stairs.
That’s the stairs. You can see that, right? You’re not a moron.
I don’t even know who you are. Who’s watching this? Dr. Sarah, I suppose. Hi, Dr. Sarah.
The camera moves unsteadily up the stairs.
So we’re going upstairs now. Who lives in THIS house?
Camera focuses on a black lacy bra draped over the bannisters.
Actually, she may not want you to see that.
Camera turns a corner and focuses on an ajar door.
That’s Frank’s room, but I can’t even go near it because of the stench. I’ll zoom in.
Camera zooms in on an area of floor space covered with trainers, dirty socks, a wet towel, three Scott Pilgrim books, a half-empty bag of Haribo, all thrown on top of each other.
The entire room’s like that. Just so you know.
Camera moves away, along an upstairs landing.
And this is my mum and dad’s room…
Camera focuses on a half-open door. From inside the room, we hear a voice. This is MUM, Audrey’s mum. She is talking in a low, urgent voice which, nevertheless, we can hear.
I was talking about it at book group and Caroline said, “Does he have a girlfriend?” Well, he doesn’t! Is THAT the problem? If he had a girlfriend, maybe he’d be out more, instead of hunched over that screen. I mean, why DOESN’T he have a girlfriend?
I don’t know. Don’t look at me like that! It’s not my fault!
This is my mum and dad. I think they’re talking about Frank.
Well, I’ve had an idea. We need to throw a party for him. Set him up with some pretty girls.
A PARTY? Are you serious?
Why not? It would be fun. We used to throw him some lovely parties.
When he was EIGHT. Anne, do you know what teenage parties are like? What if they knife each other and have sex on the trampoline?