“So this is gelato?” Asked Charlie Brooker looking at the tubs containing brightly coloured gelato. We were in Mario’s Gelato Emporium in Regent Street which is in the posh part of London.
“This is gelato,” I replied feeling good that I was actually teaching Charlie Brooker about some of life’s luxuries. “I’m surprised you haven’t eaten any before, it’s de riguer at the moment.
“Yeah! I’m selling loads of it!” Said Mario from behind the counter. He was wearing lots of golden rings with jewels on.
“Take it easy, Mario,” I told him.
“What’s that one?” Asked Charlie Brooker drawn to the reddy/purply tub.
“Cherry I think,” I explained.
“Si! Dat’s-a-cherry!” Said Mario, musically
“And that? What the hell could be green? Is it grass flavour or something?”
“Oh, Charlie!” I laughed, “That’s pistachio, it’s a kind of nut.”
“A green nut?” His face was screwed up.
“Yeah, I know, but it’s nice.”
“There’s too much choice!” Wailed Charlie and I laughed again.
“I’ll order for us,” I said and then ordered two scoops of pistachio each.
“Great choice,” said Mario doing the scooping. “You should look after him, he clearly-a-knows-what’s-a-good mamma mia!” Mario was telling Charlie this, he meant Charlie should look after me. I smiled coyly.
I handed Charlie his scoops and then Mario told me he expected £19.17. I was pretty sure four of the same things could never add up to £19.17 but I took my wallet out regardless. God would judge Mario.
Charlie Brooker had started eating his gelato already. “Mmm, this is better than an egg sandwich,” he said and then he saw that I was paying. “Oh no you fucking don’t!” He said putting his gelato in the holder on the counter and producing a big roll of cash from his pocket.
“I’ve got this, Charlie Brooker!” I told him. “It’s my treat.”
“No,” said Charlie shaking his head violently. “I’m so rich that you wouldn’t even believe it.”
“That’s not the point, Charlie,” I said.
“Seriously mate, the Guardian column takes half an hour and I get a grand each one.”
This stopped me in my tracks. I knew he was rich but fucking hell. Then I regained my composure. “But I want to pay for this, Charlie Brooker. It would mean a lot.”
“You don’t have to,” he said. “Even though I’m rich I normally don’t even have to pay for things, they just give me stuff. I’d actually like to pay for this.” I looked into his eyes and saw he meant it. I nearly caved.
“No, Charlie, the gelato was my idea, I don’t have much money but what I have I want to spend on you!”
Charlie looked at me. His eyes were filling with tears. “Thanks mate, that was a test and you passed. You’re like the mouse who pulled the splinter out of the lion’s paw. From now on we’re a team.”
“I don’t want anything but your friendship,” I said. I too was getting emotional. I blinked a few times and turned back to Mario and handed over a £20 note. I saw that Mario was openly weeping. “Keep the change!” I told him and he dissolved into floods of tears.
Outside the heat of the sun immediately dried Charlie Brooker’s tears and we went and sat outside Buckingham Palace in the posh part of London. We sat in silence as we ate our gelato, occasionally looking at each other and smiling.