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some old bullshit

Charlie Brooker: The Complete Works

INTERVIEW

This is an imaginary interview. I have never met the man. He won’t even reply to my tweets but that’s fine. Hopefully one day I will meet him when he least expects it, to interview him, it will be interesting to see how the real interview compares to this one.
JP Barker (me): Hi, Mr Brooker, thank you for allowing me this interview here in your home in one of the most desirable parts of London, Notting Hill, in Noel Gallagher’s old house.
Charlie Brooker: Yes, that’s right. But call me Charlie.
JPB: Charlie. Charlie Charlie Charlie. What a wonderful name. Classic.
CB: Thanks.
JPB: Were you ever called Charles?
CB: Charles is actually my birth name but I prefer Charlie.
JPB: So do I.
CB: Would you like anything to eat? Drink?
JPB: Oh no, I’m fine thanks, Charlie. I’m conscious of taking up too much of your time. I know you’re a very busy man.
CB: I am, I am enjoying a lot of success at the moment.
JPB: You deserve it.
CB: Thanks.
JPB: And how is the wife? Do you plan to have children with her?
CB: I would love children but I am very busy and I don’t think it would be fair at the moment to have a child and not be able to devote myself to its upbringing.
JPB: I agree, it’s terrible when your father is too busy working and never at home.
CB: I don’t want to be that guy.
JPB: So no kids with Konnie for the foreseeable future. Is Konnie here?
CB: She’s in the orchard.
JPB: Marvellous.
CB: When she comes in I will get her to make you sandwich.
JPB: If you insist. Actually, that leads me on very nicely to a question that one of my subscribers has sent in. Charlie Brooker, what is your favourite food?
CB: Hmmm, I’ve never really thought about it. I would say my favourite is probably an e-
JPB: An egg sandwich?
CB: Yes! How did you know? That’s amazing, you know me better than Konnie does!
JPB: I could just tell. Thick white bread?
CB: Yes!
JPB: *laughter*
CB: *laughter*
JPB: Do you and Konnie see each other enough?
CB: It’s difficult, we both have demanding careers so we never see each other as much as we’d like.
JPB: That does sound tough, it’s hard for these things to work. You might have been better off with somebody who wasn’t famous.
CB: I think that sometimes.
JPB: Somebody who would dedicate themselves to you.
CB: Yes.
JPB: Somebody who would never think about trying to attract any attention away from you. You who, afterall, are really the big star.
CB: Yes, it’s difficult.
JPB: I mean, Blue Peter, really? Is that even still on?
CB: I don’t know actually.
JPB: It probably isn’t.
CB: No.
JPB: Well if it does go wrong with Konnie just remember there are people out there who might not be famous but they could still be perfect for you.
CB: That’s certainly something to think about.
JPB: Another of your passions, apart from making people laugh, are computer games are they not?
CB: Yeah, I love them.
JPB: Me too, I’m currently playing Animal Crossing New Leaf on the Nintendo 3DS XL.
CB: Great choice of game and system.
JPB: Thanks mate.
CB: What colour is your 3DS XL?
JPB: Red, just a normal one from Amazon.
CB: I’ve got a special edition one from Japan.
JPB: Why am I not surprised!!
CB: Jonathon Ross got it for me.
JPB: Name dropper!
CB: I know, I’m sorry, I’m actually just a regular guy really, more like you than Stephen Fry and Jeremy Clarkson.
JPB: That’s very refreshing to hear. Shall we go out for a coffee? A game of pool.
CB: What about the interview?
JPB: Ah, fuck it.
CB: Okay, I’ll just tell Konnie I’m go-
JPB: She’ll work it out when she comes in from the orchard and you’re not here. You deserve your space.
CB: True, let me just get my wallet because tonight is on me.
JPB: If you insist.
We go out. People recognize Charlie everywhere but they don’t crowd him because they see him often around these parts. I feel like a prince.
Walking home the next morning I saw a house that looked just like Charlie Brooker, asleep, as I’d left him.


Then this happened.

GELATO

“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.

DINNER

“I didn’t see it,” I said and Charlie Brooker just looked at me, bemused, shaking his head and smiling. I looked back down at my dinner and pushed a piece of lemon chicken around my plate. “I was probably watching Netflix,” I added.
“This is what I lo… like about you,” replied Charlie after he’d finished chewing. He shook his now empty fork at me. “I love that you don’t care about a Touch of Cloth II and all the other things I’ve done. You’re here just for who I am.”
“Charlie Brooker the man,” I said quietly. “I heard it was good, though.”
“People are going mental for it,” replied Charlie. “They’re comparing it to Airplane and Police Squad.”
“That’s because you copied Airplane and Police Squad isn’t it?” I said. Charlie considered this for a moment and then sat back in his chair and roared with laughter. He dabbed his eyes with his napkin and then shouted for Konnie who refilled our glasses with expensive wine from Waitrose before backing out of the room half-bowed. “I’ve just got a thing about watching things that aren’t The Simpsons on Sky. I just don’t do it. Never even check what’s on. It’s my problem, not yours.”
“I’ll get my assistant to send you the tapes.”
“No that’s-”
“Konnie!” Bellowed Charlie Brooker. She came in looking worried. “Send him the tapes,” he said pointing at me with his fork and Konnie nodded and backed out of the room. “She’s a treasure,” he said watching her go.
“She’s okay, did she make this? It’s delicious.”
“Did Konnie make this?” Asked Charlie Brooker, his eyes wild and dancing, a grin spread right across his face? “This?” He tapped his plate with his fork without taking his eyes off me. He was leaning forward.
“Yeah, the chicken.”
“Does it taste good?”
“Yeah, it’s delicious. I said already.”
“Well there’s your answer. Of course she fucking didn’t. She just makes jam. Don’t even like jam. No, what’s his name… lives next door.”
“Sven Goran Erikkson?”
“No, big guy. Black. Oh, what’s his fucking name?” Asked Charlie looking angry at himself.
“Frank…”
“No, was on Read-” Charlie clicked his fingers. “Ainsley Harriott. He lives next door. He made this.”
“It’s lovely.”
“Can hear him crying,” said Charlie Brooker popping another piece of chicken in his mouth. I waited for him to chew it. He swallowed. “Cries all night.”
“Oh…”
“He can still cook though.”
“You can say that again.”
“He can still cook though.”
“Heh, I wouldn’t have thought Ainsley was famous enough to live around here. He’s not on TV any more, he can’t afford it surely.” Charlie started coughing at this. I watched him. His face was red as he chewed furiously. He had a big bit of chicken in his mouth. “Are you okay?” I asked. Charlie gave up chewing and spat out his chicken delicately into his serviette. “Okay?” I asked.
“What did you just say?”
“I asked if you were okay.”
“Before that. You said something. Say it again.”
I couldn’t remember what I’d said. “I don’t remember.”
“No, you said something about Ainsley.”
I thought. I couldn’t remember. “It wasn’t important.”
“No!” Said Charlie Brooker. He looked serious. I tried to smile. “You said something about Ainsley. I want you to say it again.”
“I don’t…” Fuck, what had I said? Something racist? No, I’d only had two glasses of wine.
“Say what you said.”
“Erm, Ainsley Harriott, cooked the chicken. Cries a lot. Erm. Oh, I’m surprised he can afford to live around here.”
“That was it, say that.”
“Charlie I…” What I’d said wasn’t racist. I couldn’t afford to live next door to Charlie Brooker and I’m not even black.
“Fucking say it.”
“I’m surprised Ainsley Harriott could afford to live around here,” I said with a submissive face.
“Say it with surely on the end.”
“Say it with surely on the end?” I parroted. I was worried. Things weren’t making sense. I wondered if my drink had been spiked. If Konnie and Charlie were trying to drug me.
“Charlie I-”
“Say it with surely on the fucking end.” I could feel Charlie’s lemony breath on my face from across the table.
“I don’t know what-”
Charlie slammed his fists down on the table causing the tableware to hop and me to blink violently. “Just say Ainsley Harriott can’t afford to live around here surely.”
“Ainsley Harriott can’t afford to live around here surely,” I said quietly.
“Well,” began Charlie, suddenly calm, “actually he has a range of sauces that make a lot of money, and don’t call me Shirley,” His face was just bubbling under. Rippling. Or was it a rolling boil? I didn’t have a fucking clue what was going on. Charlie Brooker had lost his mind. “Shirley!” He repeated.
“Shirley? Ah!” I went and smiled and Charlie Brooker dropped his cutlery and slumped back in his chair again roaring with laughter. He started tipping back on his chair. We were sat on white plastic garden furniture for some reason. All of Charlie’s chairs are white plastic and as he tipped back slightly one of the rear legs began to twist and he had to grab onto the table to stop himself from falling. The look of momentary panic on his face got me laughing. He started laughing a relieved laughter, with his eyebrows raised, and that made me laugh even more. We were both laughing very hard indeed. He was laughing harder than I was and looking at him made me laugh harder. Soon couldn’t talk. Crying. Charlie started squeaking something I couldn’t make out because he was laughing so hard.
“What?” I managed through the tears.
“Ainsley can’t afford his house!” Managed Charlie super high-pitched and we fell about again. “He’s getting… getting evicted tomorrow! I’m buying it!” And that was it. I was gone. I was on another plane of laughter, one between reality and Heaven. Tears and snot all over my face. Charlie grabbed my sleeve and shook it because he had no other ways of communicating. We laughed solidly for six or seven minutes. And then one of us would stop, get ourselves under control but look at the other one and we’d be off again. I have never laughed so much. When I got myself under control for the umpteenth time I made sure I didn’t look at Charlie. I twisted and I looked around the room instead while trying to breathe deeply. As my gaze passed one of the windows behind me I saw Ainsley Harriott outside looking in. Tears rolling down his face. I turned back to Charlie with an amazed expression upon my face and then turned back to the window. When Charlie followed my gaze back he literally screamed with laughter. Screamed. He was screaming with laughter and kicking his legs and banging things. It was too much. I couldn’t breathe. I was on the floor crawling around and holding my torso to stop it from splitting. I honestly thought I was going to die laughing.
I don’t know how long that went on for. Konnie came in at one point and asked us what we’d said to Ainsley which only resulted in more groaning, gasping laughing. It was hurting now. It wasn’t funny now. She said Ainsley wasn’t going to give us the dessert he’d made. More screaming laughing. Ten minutes? Half and hour? Don’t know. Alls I do know is some time later that night we were both sat back at the table eating bowls of jam and my throat felt like I’d swallowed a melon. Konnie had gone to bed.

GAMES NIGHT

“Wow!” Exclaimed Charlie when Konnie placed the plate of fairy cakes in the middle of the coffee table. I looked at them and then at her and nodded while smiling as best I could. “They look great Konnie!” He continued picking one up and turning it over in his hands. A bit of the decoration fell off onto the floor but he didn’t notice. He then stood, standing on the small curl of icing, and kissed her on the cheek. I was still smiling as best I could but internally I was shaking my head.
“If you boys want anything else then just ring the bell,” she said placing a bell on the table next to the cakes. She then wiped both hands downwardly on her apron before leaving the room. I was staring at the cakes.
“Go on, tuck in!” Urged Charlie nodding at the cakes.
I stared at the cakes. I was desperately trying not to say anything. I didn’t want to ruin the night but it seemed to me the night was already ruined. Charlie picked up a yellow iced cake, possibly lemon. He peeled down a side of the paper cup that contained it and took a bite and I spoke up.
“I thought you said she wouldn’t be here?” I was trying to remain calm. Charlie, his teeth deep in the cupcake just raised his eyebrows. “Boys night in, you said.”
Charlie Brooker remained static, the cup cake in his face.
“How’s this a boys night in if she’s here?” I hissed with ‘how?’ written all over my face. “How is it?” I asked.
Charlie removed the cupcake from his face and like a pelican swallowing a cat he swallowed his mouthful. I looked down at the Dual Shock controller in my hand. Fucking buttons all over it. I didn’t know what any of them did.
“She’ll be in the annexe,” said Charlie patiently. I could feel his gaze burning into the side of face and I felt myself blush. Anger mostly. I was overreacting but couldn’t help it.
“Boys night in, video games you said.”
“Well…”
“Not fucking boys night in, video games and Konnie.” See, I was talking quietly, worried Konnie might hear. This was my whole point.
“I’ll…”
“What, Charlie Brooker, what? What will you?” I did a big sigh.
“I’ll tell her to go out,” he said placing the half eaten cupcake back on the plate and reaching for the bell.
“You can’t, can you?” I said. “She’ll know I said something.” I looked over at the door although there was nothing to suggest she might be there. Charlie had the bell in his hand and was looking at me. I shook my head. “It’s okay.” I placed a hand gently on his arm and he carefully placed the bell on the table.
“I’m sorry,” said Charlie Brooker.
“It’s okay.”
“She won’t come in.”
“It’s fine.”
Charlie Brooker continued to look at me as he picked up another cake and slowly sank back into the couch. Then he seemed to relax. “Try a pink one,” he said to himself. I looked down at the controller and pressed some buttons. I pressed the one that unpaused the game but then by luck more than judgement I pressed that button again and the game paused. “Fuck me, these are good,” said Charlie Brooker, his voice thick with icing and sponge that frankly looked dry as fuck. “Huh?” I heard Charlie grunt. I looked up and him. He nodded at the cakes on the table again with his eyebrows raised.
“No thanks,” I said.
“They’re really good,” he said musically. “She’s got Bake-Off fever.”
“Do I eat carbohydrates, Charlie?” I asked and he slowly closed his eyes. He felt like a cunt. “In all the time you’ve known me what’s the one thing I don’t eat?”
“Fuck, I’m sorry. That’s so thoughtless of…” He looked at the half eaten cake in his hand and with some effort leant forward and placed it on the plate. Now there were two half eaten cakes on the table. Four remained untouched. “I’ll get…” he began and then trailed off.
“It’s fine, I’m not hungry,” I said. Just at that moment my tummy rumbled audibly. Charlie heard it, I could see the worry on his face. I shook my head slightly and looked back at the controller. “Come on,” I said randomly pressing buttons on the controller. Charlie Brooker wiped his hands on his trousers then picked up the controller that was by his side.
For the next 20 minutes or so we ran around an industrial wasteland with Charlie Brooker repeatedly shooting me in the head as my guy spun spastically, shooting at the sky. “Head shot,” he would say with each successful head shot. He said it in a level voice each time and whilst I wasn’t looking at his face I could sense he was also licking his lips. Was he enjoying this? I couldn’t fucking control the game at all. At one point I somehow managed to get Charlie Brooker in my sights but, panicking, I pressed the button the reloaded the weapon instead of shooting. Charlie, realising he’d had a near miss ran away screaming like a girl. I sighed. Then I felt Charlie looking at me. My chin was nestled in my chest as I looked at the controller with my eyes flicking up to the telly as I tried to work out which button did which action. I didn’t look over at him immediately but when Charlie’s avatar came out from behind a wooden hut, facing the other way and just stood there I did look over at him. He was squinting at the screen pretending he was looking for me.
“Don’t fucking patronise me, Charlie Brooker.” I said.
Eventually, good to his word, he put WiiSports on and my mood brightened. I knew he didn’t want to play it but I also knew he’d get into it. I was going to totally cream his ass at WiiTennis. Or so I thought. That was my plan, but the rich bell-end didn’t have any AA batteries.