Danny died of covid-19 and underlying health conditions in January this year. He was 72 years old.
I’m told he could do a wonderful impersonation of Maggie Smith in the film, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which came out (when he did) in 1969 while he was a university student in Edinburgh.
In 1983 he met Keith, who was then seventeen – exactly half his age. They became a twosome and lived in a two-bedroomed flat in a grade II listed building in Cheltenham. A married couple in their seventies lived below in the ground floor apartment.
Danny was the personnel manager of a company employing over 500 staff and life was a bed of roses – until disaster struck. After he and his colleagues had been out celebrating a successful business venture in France on Bastille Day 1995, the vehicle in which he was a passenger careered into a tree and Danny suffered devastating brain damage.
The Court of Protection appointed Keith as his receiver and Danny received approximately £50,000 a year, from an income protection policy paying two thirds of his salary.
After eleven months in hospital, Danny returned to the flat and Keith became his primary carer. He was assisted by a small team of friends. One of them, Michael, soon became Keith’s lover.
Keith and Michael commandeered the master bedroom and Danny was consigned to the spare room, which lacked any en suite facilities. He was distraught by this arrangement and constantly criticised Michael, until he was supplanted by another boyfriend who, in turn, became the object of Danny’s wrath.
Every time he had a row with Danny, Keith would grab the video player, raid the cashpoint and disappear for a few days. He would return when the penny had dropped that there was no prospect of escape and that he was totally dependent on Danny’s money, property and continued goodwill.
Predictably, Danny’s physical and mental health deteriorated. In 1998, his personal injury lawyers asked the brain injury case management company, Rehab without Walls, to find a solution.
He was admitted to a rehabilitation centre in Milton Keynes where he stayed for eighteen months, before being transferred to specialist accommodation in Gloucester. Meanwhile, Keith was ensconced in the flat with his latest beau.
In 2002 I received two letters from the lady in the apartment below, complaining about the noise. I have no idea why she wrote to me. In the first letter, she also mentioned that Keith had a disconcerting habit of coming downstairs into the communal hall to welcome his guests, wearing nothing but a pair of black leather chaps, flagrantly flaunting his bare bottom.
In the second letter she said: “Keith and his partner are on the internet looking for ‘safe gay sex’. This would account for why we have so many callers to our front door late at night. I am very disturbed that Danny’s flat is being used for immoral purposes and am sure that such behaviour is in contravention of the lease (copy enclosed).”
I sent a bland but sympathetic reply, saying there was nothing I could do to stop Keith wearing chaps or having safe gay sex, and suggested that she contact Cheltenham Borough Council with a view to obtaining a noise abatement notice.
It took time, but eventually the problem was solved. Keith agreed to stand down as receiver and the court appointed a solicitor in his place.
Keith was given a golden handshake to vacate the flat, which was sold, and he moved on. He never kept in touch with Danny and died in 2017, aged 51.
Denzil Lush is a retired senior judge at the Court of Protection...