An Interview with Charlie Brooker
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Running with Charlie Brooker
“Great run, Charlie!” I said as we finally finished our 10k run around Regent’s Park in the posh part of London.
“I really struggled to keep up with you there!” He gasped, bent over, hands placed above his hairy knees, his flawless hair flawed through sweat. I’d been running quite hard. I’d been trying to impress Charlie and so for the last kilometre I’d kicked on. I could hear Charlie panting behind me as he gamely tried to keep up.
“I’ve been running for years, Charlie,” I told him so he wouldn’t feel too bad about himself. I’d read in his column that he had started running fairly recently. That’s why I’d been hanging around in London parks, so I could ‘accidentally’ bump into him and run with him. In fact he’d only spoken about running for a few weeks, a while back. I reckoned he’d given up so I could hardly believe it when I finally found him and struck up a conversation with him.
I checked my Garmin Forerunner 305. Scratch that, I was with Charlie Brooker! I had a Garmin Forerunner 610 on! The expensive one. I looked at my fabulous running watch and nodded. Not too shabby, we’d completed the ten kilometres in a respectable 42 minutes, not bad for a training run and it was very hot.
“Does that tell you your heart-rate?” Charlie asked and I explained that it would if I wore the chest strap but I didn’t wear it because we were just going for a run and I wasn’t bothered about keeping to a specific heart-rate zone. “Well my heart’s going mental!” Said Charlie finally standing straight.
“You’ll be okay,” I told him.
“Here, feel this,” He said grabbing my hand and holding it to his chest. I was sort of cupping it because Charlie Brooker is a real person with a real person’s body. No pecs.
“Yeah,” I said, uncomfortable, but I wanted to remove my hand and so as he relaxed the pressure with which he was holding my hand to his chest I did.
“let me feel yours,” He said placing a hand on my chest before I could protest. I tensed. Charlie felt the tensing and nodded appreciatively and so I tried to tense my pec even more. “How do you do that?” Charlie asked.
“I don’t know actually, you sort of…” I tensed all around my shoulder area and upper arm, but not my pec. It was a fluke. “Hey, Sherpa Tensing, there’s probably a joke in there that you could use on your show, The 10 O’clock Show Live.” I licked my lips. Charlie’s hot hand was still on my chest. He didn’t laugh at my suggestion. I should stick to running, there’s a reason why he’s on TV. I tried again to tense my pec. “I don’t know.” Charlie withdrew his hand but he was looking at me with a smirk. That smirk. The Charlie Brooker smirk. Captivating. The smirk he did at the 2009 video game BAFTAs.
That look seemed to say, ‘you know exactly how to tense your pecs.’ But it’s the God’s honest truth that I didn’t. He smirked at me for a while.
“Let’s get out of this wet kit,” Charlie said, finally, still smirking. My kit wasn’t actually that wet but his was sopping. “I need a drink,” he said. He’d stopped panting but just the look he was giving me was causing my heart-rate to rise more than the running had. “Have you ever been to the Ivy?” He asked.
“The Ivy? That’s somewhere Sara Cox from the radio goes sometimes isn’t it?”
“No, I’ve never been, I don’t think I’m dressed for it,” I said gesturing to the running gear I was wearing.
“You’re not dressed for it.” He laughed.
“Oh,” I said, feeling foolish. I sensed Charlie was trying to make me uncomfortable, he clearly liked being in charge.
“Listen, we’ll go back to mine and after some sex you can wear some of my clothes.”
“Sex? I don’t know about this,” I told him. I was worried where this would lead. We were both jazzed because of the great run plus I’m straight although Brooker would be my… what’s the word? Where you get bummed without being gay. Happens in films.
Charlie saw my unease.
“I’m not going to bum you,” He said. I was relieved but also slightly disappointed.
“Phew!” I lied wiping sweat I didn’t have from my forehead.
“No, me and you aren’t going to have sex.”
“Let’s roll!” Said Charlie and we walked to his car in silence.
Charlie drives a Volkswagen Passat with a personalised number plate.
In the car Charlie asked me if I had all my badges.
“My badges?” I said, thinking about how I’d never been in the scouts.
“I’ll got all mine,” Charlie said as he drove casually. “My pink badge. My brown badge. My black badge…” Charlie looked over at me and smiled.
“And your Blue Peter badge?”
“Bingo,” he said shooting me with finger guns before turning back and looking where we were going. “We are getting on well,” he said.
Again there were a few more moments of awkward charged silence. I tried to think of something to say but I was struggling. “So, do you-” I managed before Charlie cut me off.
“Sorry, just gonna CB the wife,” he said.
“You’ve got a CB? CB radio?” I looked around the dashboard.
“I call my phone a CB. Charlie Brooker.”
Charlie then hands freely contacted his wife, the delectable Konnie Huq. He was on speaker phone but didn’t tell her. He started by asking her what she was wearing and then things got serious. He elbowed me every time he made her say something despicable. This went on for 20 minutes right until we pulled up outside Supernova Heights.
“I’m outside now, I want you to go into the bedroom we have with no windows or light fittings,” he was telling Konnie. “Get in bed and wait. I’ve a surprise for you,” and then he ended the call. He looked at me and smirked but I read the meaning and what I was supposed to do. This was better than getting bummed by Charlie by quite some margin. Still, it didn’t seem quite right.
Charlie made me take my shoes off outside the house and we tiptoed through until we were outside a door.
“Okay?” Asked Charlie.
“Okay,” he opened the door. I went to step inside but he grabbed me. “Where you going?” He hissed.
“Stand there and shut up and listen,” he said. He went in and closed the door. I stood in the hallway for 40 minutes. I couldn’t really hear much. I thought about knocking on the door but instead I had one more look at the self portraits of Charlie that were everywhere and then I walked home to Holborn.
Popcorn with Charlie Brooker
“Look, he doesn’t want to see anybody,” said Konnie Huq standing on the threshold of Supernova Heights with her arms crossed. She looked harassed.
“He’ll see me!” I told her.
“No, I don’t know who you are but Charlie Brooker, my husband, won’t get out of bed. He just won’t, I bet you.”
“Just let me in for four minutes,” I said holding her gaze. She considered my offer for a moment and then stood aside and fully opened the door. “Thanks, Konnie,” I said entering the hallway. “Really enjoying Four Rooms,” I added.
“Four Rooms, the show you present with the dealers?”
“That’s not me.”
“Whatever Konnie, I don’t have time for this,” I said and then walked down the hall. The smell of egg sandwiches was overpowering. I went into the kitchen first and put one of the heap of sandwiches that Konnie had prepared to tempt Charlie down onto a saucer and then headed up the stairs.
“It’s no good!” Shouted Konnie, after me and I ignored her.
“Charlie,” I said gently knocking on his bedroom door. There was no reply, as I expected, and so I opened the door. Charlie Brooker pulled the covers up over his head and lay there like the victim of a vehicle disaster. “Come on Charlie, up an at ‘em!” I sat on the side of his bed. He didn’t make a sound although I saw his chest bump slowly rising and dropping.
I explained to him I’d read his column. His column in the Guardian about people leaving comments and how it was fucking him off. It fucked him off so much that he’d stopped doing his Guardian column.
“Don’t let them win, Charlie,” I said finally. “You think Konnie’s going to hang around without that grand coming in every week?”
Charlie groaned and turned over so his back was to me.
“No chance. Women…” I just left that hang there.
I sat staring at Charlie Brooker’s egg sandwich. I’d delivered my speech and there wasn’t much more I could do. Perhaps Konnie was right? “Charlie?” I said and then prodded him in his side. He jerked violently under the covers and so I did it again. Again he jerked but this time he also giggled. I’d got him. I placed the egg sandwich on the bedside table and tickled Charlie Brooker with both hands.
Soon Charlie was screaming and thrashing and then his head popped out. His hair was all over the place. His face was serious, angry even but I knew it was a front. I wiggled my fingers menacingly at him and he screamed again and tried to pull the covers over his head but I grabbed them and jumped on the bed.
He struggled like a wild cat, alternating between pretending to be angry and laughing. I was on top of him. My knees either side of hips, my ass on his thighs. I had hold of the covers and he was staring up at me.
“Who are you?” Asked Charlie Brooker, panting.
“Just a friend,” I said and leant forward and planted a kiss on his forehead. “Come on, we’ve got work to do.”
I climbed off the bed and Charlie sat up and swung his legs off and ate his egg sandwich. Then he opened the curtains and got dressed. He changed his underpants even though I was in the room and watching him. He put on a shirt.
Charlie Brooker, when fully dressed did a little spin and I nodded, he looked perfect.
“So?” He asked.
“Follow me,” I said and then we were going down the stairs. Konnie was at the bottom looking up in amazement.
“How? Why? Who?” She was stuttering but I winked at her and took Charlie outside.
“Keys?” I said clicking my fingers at Charlie. He tossed me his car keys and he got in the passenger side. I got in the driver’s side and had to move the seat right back because Charlie’s not as tall as he looks on TV.
“Shush, Charlie Brooker,” I said and drove around London in silence until I found the street and parked. Charlie followed me grumbling as I found the building. We went inside and I asked the receptionist where the guy I was looking for was. She pointed him out. Charlie Brooker and I walked over to his cubicle. From seeing the back of his head I could tell the guy was greasy as hell and twice as ugly. I saw he had the Gaurdian website open on his desktop. The comments section. Perfect
“Kngen?” I said. The nerd turned around and his jaw nearly hit the floor when he saw Charlie and I standing there.
“What is this?” He asked.
“You’ve been leaving shitty comments on his columns,” I said.
“Yes you have, have you got anything you want to say to his face?” I looked over at Charlie, he was staring down at the carpet. “You’ve hurt him,” I said.
Kngen started shaking his head. “It’s a free country!” He said.
“That’s right, it is, so we’re going to sit here all day and comment on you, would you like that?”
“Yeah, fine,” said Kngen.
“Great, so what is this place?”
“It’s a magazine.”
“Never heard of it, why are you so ugly?” I asked Kngen.
“Nice come back.”
Kngen just stared up at us both. Everytime he tried to type something I insulted him. After twenty minutes I was pretty bored. I told Kngen he was so boring he’d bored me. He nodded and I ushered Charlie Brooker outside. “Do you feel better?” I asked him.
“Yeah, you cheer me up in a way Konnie Huq never could. I wish I’d married you.”
“Me too. Shall we go and watch Monster University?”
“Yes,” said Charlie Brooker. “You’ve made me confident again to be seen in public.”
In the cinema as I was watching the adverts I could sense Charlie Brooker sat next to me really fucking around with the big tub of popcorn. I tried to ignore him but just before the movie proper began he elbowed me and gestured down and the massive tub of popcorn he had planted squarely on his lap.
“Oh yeah?” I said.
“There’s something in the bottom, it’s a surprise for you!” He whispered, a mischievous reflection of the screen glinting in his eye like a crystal ball.
“Charlie, not that old one!” I laughed.
“Go on, put your hand in!” He urged. He licked his lips. I looked at him, tutted and smiled and delved my hand deep into the popcorn. Popcorn spilled over the top but he didn’t seem to mind. I rummaged around and then I felt it. I smiled. I grabbed it firmly and started pulling.
It came out quite easily being only held in there with popcorn. I opened the small velvet box and gasped.
“It’s a friendship ring,” Said Charlie Brooker playing it casual. Just glancing at me before going back to staring at the screen. I didn’t look at the screen. I just stared at the profile of the most wonderful man alive.
“One ring to rule them all!” I mouthed.
And then he wanked me off.
He didn’t really wank me off.
Gelato with Charlie Brooker
“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.
Man, I did a lot of these. Didn’t realize.
Dinner with Charlie Brooker
“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.”
“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.
“No, was on Read-” Charlie clicked his fingers. “Ainsley Harriott. He lives next door. He made this.”
“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.”
“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.
“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.
He’s a nerd.
Games Night with Charlie Brooker
“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.”
“Not fucking boys night in, video games and Konnie.” See, I was talking quietly, worried Konnie might hear. This was my whole point.
“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.
“She won’t come in.”
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 span 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 double A batteries.
Yeah. Well. I should have stopped a while ago but I just kept on truckin’ with this fucking bullshit.
London with Charlie Brooker
The air was dark with menace and also just dark. It was gone 10pm and I was lost in a rough part of London. I’d only been in London four days and was not prepared for the change that took place in the City as soon as the sun went down.
Our plan, seemingly simple, had been to hook up in Whitechapel and go on one of those Jack the Ripper tours but I’d got horribly lost and he wasn’t answering his phone.
Fourteen minutes after we were due to meet I tried to call him again although I knew producing my telephone was an invitation to a get together named Trouble, but what choice did I have? “Come on, Charlie, pick up!” I hissed into the un-responding handset. “Pick-” I swallowed hard and quickly stuffed my phone back into my pocket.
Oh fuck me, I thought. Youths were approaching. They were wearing baseball caps. I looked around for an escape but there was no escape. There were dark alleyways off to the side but fuck that. I’d be better off on the main road. Somebody would call me an ambulance sooner.
I had one chance. One I’d learnt from being around dogs. My one hope was to look confident and so after another big swallow I somehow managed to get my legs moving. I was walking towards the oncoming black youths. Was I insane? My first few steps were okay but then adrenaline kicked in making each step more and more spastic. The harder I tried to walk normally the more stilted and robotic my progress became. I was trying to smile confidently as I lurched towards them.
“Hi guys!” I said as I was near them and then I looked away. I stepped off the pavement to pass them. It had worked! I shambled faster.
“What?” Asked one of the youths and I froze. I closed my eyes as my confidence pffted out of me.
I opened my eyes and looked at the youths. They were smiling their sadistic smiles. “Here!” I said handing over my telephone. “I don’t want any trouble.” The youth looked over my telephone as his hyenaesque pack chortled with delight. They were like cats with a mouse.
“Hey man, what’s this, man?” He asked, turning my phone over in his hands. I groaned internally. He was holding my phone out to me.
“I’m sorry it’s not a better phone, I haven’t got much… I have got somemoney though, is there a cashpoint around here?” I asked more in hope than expectation.
“Yo, man, what your cracker-ass be all talkin’ bout, nomesayin?” He asked. He looked angry. Very angry. His crew also looked angry.
“I’ll do anything!” I begged. “Anything! Just-”
Just then I heard the screech of car tyres heading in my direction. I thought it was going to hit me, I was sort of hoping it would and I closed my eyes again and waited for impact but as I stood in the road I heard the black youths shout things like — “Peg it!” And “Yo-yo-yo, let’s scram!” and “We gotta make like a banana and split!” Things like that. I opened my eyes and saw the bumper of the Volkswagen Passat less than 17 inches away from my legs. I looked left, to where the gang had been but they had all ran away like Olympic sprinters. I turned back to the car and looked into the wind-shield. Charlie Brooker’s face was behind it and the remainder of my strength left me. I collapsed and sat heavily down on the pavement. The world was spinning. I heard the car door open and the click of Charlie’s leather soled boots as he walked over to me.
The world was still spinning but I heard a car horn and Charlie shout in its direction, “It’s okay, I’m Charlie Brooker.” And then a coat was being draped around my shoulders and I was being lifted up and carried and then, with a bit of juggling, Charlie managed to open the passenger door a touch, he then got his leg in it and with his thigh and hip he opened to door fully before gently placing me on the leather seat. He put my seatbelt on and I could smell Issey Miyaki: L’eau D’issey. I was still shaking as Charlie climbed into the driver’s seat and expertly put on his seatbelt.
“I’m sorry, Charlie!” I said, my head leaning on the passenger window. “I’m sorry!”
“You’ve nothing to be sorry about,” He said but he sounded angry. “I’m angry with myself for leaving you in this position. You’re a fish out of water on these streets.”
“It’s not your fault.”
“Did they get anything?”
“They took my phone.” I said. “It doesn’t matter, it wasn’t very good.”
“That’s not the point,” said Charlie, his leather jacket creaking as he looked over his shoulder and out the rear window as he reversed. “What did I say when you paid for that Geliato?”
“It’s gelato, and you said we were a team from now on and something about how you like me better than Konnie.”
“Well… I didn’t say that last bit.”
“No, I suppose you didn’t. You said the first bit though, about the team.”
“And don’t you forget it,” he said, wheel spinning and hunched. “I’m going to get your phone back.”
We drove down Whitechapel High Street. We’d gone a hundred metres before Charlie pointed out a group of black youths. “Is that them?” He asked, pointing and driving.
I squinted. “Yeah, I think so.” It wasn’t though. Nor the next group, or the next group. After half an hour I told Charlie it was pointless. It was like looking for needle in a haystack. He wouldn’t give up though. He sucked his teeth, nodded and then did a handbrake turn. I held onto the door and ceiling of the Passat. “Where are we going?” I asked.
“All police…” Didn’t know what the B stood for. “You’re not a real policeman are you, Charlie?”
“Of course not,” said Charlie.
“No, of course not.”
SHOT OF VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT SPEEDING THROUGH LONDON STREETS
“Ah!” I said when Charlie pulled up outside the door with an awning over it. Written on the awning was — Andi Peters’ Bar. “APB,” I said and nodded.
“He owes me a favour,” Said Charlie and we got out and walked up to the very large man who was black and a bouncer.
“We’re here to see Andi,” Charlie Brooker told the bruiser.
“He don’t wanna see you,” said the man. The man had his arms crossed and a very deep voice.
“Come on Charlie, let’s forget it,” I said tugging on Charlie’s sleeve. He shook me off.
“Tell Andi that Brooker’s here. Charlie Brooker. Channel Four. You big fat idiot,” said Charlie and I whimpered.
The man regarded Charlie for a moment and then just when I thought he was going to pummel us both he blue-toothed somebody with his headset. He was so fat the bit to his mouth dug a gorge in his cheek. He only said a few words before standing aside and unhooking the red velvet rope. Charlie strode in without giving the doorman another look. I thanked him quietly.
Inside the room was filled with smoke and noisy black people playing pool and cards and pinball. Though when we’d first stepped in they were all slouching when they saw us their posture became much better.
“Hey, brothers, we got ourselves some fresh meat! Yuk yuk yuk!” Said the man who had been playing pinball.
“Tastes like chicken!” Said another but Charlie ignored this and walked confidently through them and towards the back where I could see a bar. One of the pool players put the cue on his shoulders, behind his head and sort of hung his hands off it, like a scarecrow. I followed Charlie as closely as I could. Charlie wasn’t heading to the bar and instead headed to a door next to the bar. I thought he was going to walk right into it because he was approaching it without slowing. If anything he was accelerating and then, when he stretched out a booted foot and booted the door I realised why he’d been speeding up. He was booting the door open. The door flew open and Charlie walked through, the door was bouncing closed and so I galloped inside and it just missed me.
Andi Peters was sat behind a large wooden desk, and he was smoking a cigar. His face displayed no emotion and Charlie Brooker marched over but again Charlie Brooker was showing no signs of slowing. I thought he was going to kick the desk and crush Andi Peters behind it but instead he marched around the desk, still increasing his speed. Now a flicker of fear revealed itself on Peters’ face. Charlie grabbed him by the bits that go over your shoulder of his white vest and lifted Andi Peters out of his chair. I heard the sound of gun being cocked in the dark corner but couldn’t see who was there.
“It’s okay!” Said Peters to the dark corner as Charlie Brooker lifted Andi Peters higher.
“Where’s his telephone!”
“I don’t know nothing about no telephone!” Said Andi Peters. Charlie Brooker lifted him higher still. Andi’s feet were swinging in thin air.
“Last chance, Peters!” Bellowed Charlie Brooker
“I be tellin’ you, I don’t know nuttin’ bout no telephone, dawg.”
“Peters!” Said Charlie Brooker pressing his forehead against Peters’.
“Dwayne’s got it.”
Charlie growled and dropped Andi Peters back into his chair and turned. Dwayne stepped out of the dark corner.
“Yup, that’s probably the man!” I said and the man confirmed it by producing my telephone.
“Hey, dat honky gave it to-” managed Dwayne before Charlie slugged him in his gut. Dwayne doubled over still holding the phone out. Charlie took the phone as Dwayne crumpled to the ground with an ooof!
“As if I’d just give him it!” I said. Charlie handed me my phone and we left. Marching through the bar I wasn’t as frightened as I’d been when we came in but it was too late to do the Jack the Ripper thing.
Still reading? Holy shit, what’s wrong with you?
Christmas with Charlie Brooker
“It’s nothing,” I lied. “I’m sorry I couldn’t afford to buy you a present. I guess it’s pretty lame to give something handmade.” Charlie was speechless as I’d hoped he would be. He just stared at it. “About 130 hours, it took, but it’s a hobby for me.”
“It’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen,” gasped Charlie looking at it, then up to me, and then back to it.
“I was pretty happy with the way it turned out,” I said, nodding and then Charlie held the thing under his arm like it was a rugby ball and flung himself at me and gave me a hug. I gently rested my chin on his shoulder and closed my eyes.
“Konnie will shit when she sees this,” said Charlie after he’d taken a step back. “Where is she?”
“Does it matter?”
“Well… Konnie!” Bellowed Charlie Brooker and I heard her footsteps as she ran from the kitchen. She was wiping her hands on a tea-towel as she entered the living room. “Check this out,” he told her as he held it out.
“Oh wow!” Said Konnie and I smirked.
“It’s nothing, watch this,” I said and leant over and flicked the switch to turn it on. Charlie nearly dropped it.
“That’s incredible,” gasped Konnie. “You didn’t make that!”
“Yes I fucking did.”
Charlie was looking at it, spellbound. Konnie smiled at me and as soon as she did I stopped smiling and just stared at her. When I felt Charlie was about to look up I started smiling again.
“I’m sure it hasn’t upstaged what Konnie got you,” I said. “At least I hope not,” I laughed. Konnie was wearing a hilarious Christmas jumper that lit up. “That’s really funny, Konnie,” I said pointing at her torso. She held her arms out like she was a model as Charlie placed my gift on the coffee table and I briefly did that thing where I stopped smiling again.
“Do you want anything from the Spar?” Asked Charlie. “We’re just going down there, Jamie needs some cigarettes.” He nodded at me as he said it and I squinted at him. I had cigarettes in my pocket but I went along with it, with whatever Charlie had planned.
“See if they have any cranberry sauce,” she said.
“Not making your own?” I asked.
“I normally do but haven’t had time this year.”
“Too busy with your career?”
“Seems like a waste of that orchard Charlie bought you,” I said with a smile.
“Hey, come on you two, break it up,” said Charlie Brooker having a slurp of eggnog. I still had my coat on and he led me outside.
Snow was beginning to fall, sparkling under the street lights and Notting Hill Road in the posh part of London looked even more beautiful than normal. Charlie zipped up his coat.
“Hey Charlie, something’s been bothering me about Konnie.”
“Oh come on.”
“No, why does she still call herself Huq? She should be Brooker. Konnie Brooker and she should be fucking proud of it.”
“Ah, it’s a showbiz.”
“I’d call myself Brooker Brooker. I would.”
“I know you would. Look, try and relax and check this out.” Charlie started walking down the street. I followed and he stopped. We’d walked about ten metres.
“What?” I asked and Charlie looked around then went behind a wall. “Charlie!” I hissed but he reappeared almost instantly and he was waving a white oblong at me. “What is it?”
“Christmas bonus,” said Charlie ripping open the envelope, removing the card and shaking the money out of it before casting everything but the money onto the floor.
“Eh?” I asked.
“Whole street, there’s money taped to the bins. For the binmen.”
“And you’re taking it?”
“Fuck it, they get paid.”
“There’ll be about £300, just on this side.”
“Isn’t this Ainsley Harriott’s house?”
“Not anymore, told you, they were evicting him.”
“They did it?” I asked and then I blew on my hands and rubbed them together.
“Kicking and screaming, it’s was fucking beautiful. You should have seen it.”
“Did you buy it?”
“Oh yeah, bought it and flipped it within a month, made a packet.”
“Who bought it?”
“Well, “ began Charlie Brooker, rolling his eyes. “I got rid of one and then another one moves in.” Charlie shook his head. I had to be very careful here. He was being vague. He was either talking about black people or celebrity chefs. I needed more details. “I’ve had to start locking my shed.”
“Is it Dizzy Rascal?”
“Eh, no, Worral-Thomspon,” Said Charlie Brooker, looking around.
“I meant Worral-Thompson. I get those two mixed up.”
“How much did he leave? For the binmen?”
“£30!” Said Charlie shaking his head and putting the money in the inside pocket of his jacket.
“Well, now he’s got a taste of his own medicine,” I said.
We walked down the whole road with Charlie peeling off the envelopes that were taped to the top of the bins. By the time we arrived at the Spar Charlie had nearer £500. “What did Konnie say to get?” He asked me.
“Can’t remember,” I lied.
We bought a box of Guylian chocolates and ate the lot on the way back but the night went to shit when we were back in the house. “Cranberry sauce!” Charlie had said with a click of his fingers. I was sitting in the armchair drinking port. The doorbell went. I flashed a concerned look at Charlie, worried that it might be the police, but Charlie didn’t look worried. He went to answer it. I was looking at the doorway to the living room as Jonathon Ross, Peter Serasomething and Graham Lineham came in laughing. I looked at them with my not smiling face I’d used on Konnie. Charlie followed them in and introduced me. Ross held his hand out for me to shake and I saw he was wearing blue nail varnish. I stared at his hand and shook my head instead. Ross lowered his hand then took his coat off. They all started chatting and talking like they were best mates and I turned to the window and stared out at the swirling snow.
“You didn’t tell me… I thought…” I managed to say to Charlie Brooker when I intercepted him on the way to the toilet. “I thought it was just us?”
“Hey,” said Charlie Brooker soothingly as he placed a hand on my shoulder. I blinked hard. “It’ll be fun,” he said and I bit my lip and nodded. When he was in the toilet I grabbed my coat and quietly stepped out onto the street. The snow was really coming down. I hunkered into my jacket and walked rapidly down Notting Hill Road while listening out for the call of my name. It didn’t come but towards the end of the road I did hear some grumbling. It was a weird voice. Looking around I found the source of the grumbling. It was Worral-Thompson. He was looking over a bin and then grumbling a kicking it before moving on to the next one.
“Hey, Worral-Thompson!” I shouted.
“What? What the fuck do you want?”
“This would have all been quite topical about ten years ago.”
“Fuck off!” He barked.
“And a merry Christmas to you!”
I hate myself.
An Interview by Charlie Brooker
Charlie Brooker recently had the chance for a sit-down interview with Jamie P Barker, to talk about his new book, the first part of a quadrilogy, A Year and a Day, Book One: Winter. The interview took place in Charlie’s amazing house in Notting Hill. It’s Noel Gallagher’s old house, Supernova Heights. Konnie and a team of expensive and famous interior designers have done their best to remove all traces of Noel.
Charlie Brooker: Well this is a turnaround!
Jamie P Barker: Tell me about it!
CB: Well, not long ago you were a nobody interviewing me and now I’m interviewing you!
JPB: That was a figure of speech, Charles, I knew exactly what you meant because we’re on the same wavelength.
CB: Oh dear, I’ve made a-
JPB: Just playing with you, Charlie.
JPB: You must have a lot of questions you would like to ask me about my hit new book, A Year and a Day.
CB: You can say that again.
JPB: Do you expect me to?
JPB: I’m not going to, Charlie.
CB: No. Okay. Talk to me about the title, A Year and a Day. What does-
JPB: The book took place over the course of a year and a day.
CB: Exactly what it says on the tin.
CB: Now, a lot of people have commented that setting it in a shop perhaps wasn’t the most original of ideas. Hackneyed.
JPB: And a police show is original, is it?
CB: Ha! These aren’t my words, I thought it was breathtaking it’s just-
JPB: Screenwipe? That’s the same thing every week.
CB: Please, Jamie, forgive me.
JPB: Like, all you do is say things are like things.
JPB: Fair cop guv? Did you really just say that to me.
JPB: Screenwipe starts, you say some things are like things that they’re not actually really like but it’s a kind of funny image so people love it. “This politician is looks like a banana crossed with a thing from popular youth culture.”
JPB: It’s fucking shit, mate.
JPB: Ask a decent question.
CB: Erm. Swearing. There’s a lot of swearing in your book.
CB: Some have said there’s too much swearing.
JPB: Well there’s not, it’s perfect.
JPB: Really, there’s just the right amount of swearing.
CB: These aren’t my… Listen, do you want to do this?
JPB: Yeah, I was just hoping for some more interesting questions.
CB: You’re a tough cookie!
CB: Listen. I’m sorry. Really, your book is the greatest thing I’ve ever read. It’s kind of stupid even talking to you about it. Should be, ‘here’s the book, it’s perfect in everyway. Let’s do something else because trying to describe it is like-
JPB: Don’t do the simile shit, Charlie, you’re better than that.
CB: Like trying to bottle lightning.
CB: Let’s just do something else. Just hang out like we used to.
JPB: Like we used to before I wrote the greatest book ever?
CB: That doesn’t… shouldn’t make…
JPB: Like when I came around to yours on New Year’s Eve and you didn’t tell me you’d invited Rossy and Dara O’Briain around?
CB: I said I was sorry. I meant like when we-
JPB: You left me there all night while you were chatting about TV and contracts and shit. Like that? You wanna go back to that?
JPB: Don’t Jamie me, my name’s Jamie P Barker. Don’t you fucking forget it.
CB: Well my name’s Charlton. I didn’t even correct you when you kept calling me Charles.
CB: So what are you saying? I don’t even know what’s going on.
JPB: What am I saying? I’m saying this. I’m going to fucking buy this house, Supernova Heights in Notting Hill – Noel Gallagher’s old house – and I’m going to build a hotel on it. I’m then going to charge you rent.
CB: Jesus. You wrote the greatest book ever written and you’ve instantly turned into a dick.
JPB: Well you didn’t even write the greatest book ever, what’s your excuse? Hair-do?
CB: Amazing. Well I’d like you to leave now.
JPB: Don’t worry, I’m going.
JPB: I know. I’ll probably go to Russell Brand’s house.
Charlie was left shaken by this encounter. After Jamie left he sought out Konnie and explained what happened. Konnie hugged him but really she was thinking about how handsome Jamie is.
Trappings of Success
“Show him in,” I said not turning from the window. I’d seen his approach through the rain-mottled glass, hunkered into his jacket. It was blowing a gale. I heard the door open and his squelching footsteps as he crossed the hall to the door of the library where I sat. The parquet would need a mop after he’d gone. I watched as a box van passed in a plume of spray. The driver and his mate were going to get wet when they unloaded it. Unless their depot was undercover.
“Hi!” Said Charlie Brooker from the doorway and I looked away from the glass, first to the sill and then I slowly turned my head and as it turned I affixed a smile to it.
“Charlie Brooker, good to see you,” I said. He was drenched and my eyes flicked briefly to the puddle his dripping was making. He didn’t notice. His fringe was plastered to his forehead. He ruffled it with his fingers, not making it any better and then took his coat off. He held it out and looked around and I gestured to a chair. As he hung his coat on the back of it I turned back to the window. My right arm was resting on the armrest, my left hand making a fist and pressed gently to my lips.
“It’s horrible out there,” said Charlie, brightly and I exhaled sharply through my nose, my head nodding back slightly. I rested my left arm on the armrest and drummed the fingers of my right hand and looked at Charlie. He’d sat down but he was fidgeting in an annoying manner. I looked at Charlie and now I was just drumming my forefinger. Tapping it on the expensive leather.
“This is alright, eh?” Asked Charlie Brooker.
“It’s okay,” I replied. Ainsley Harriott’s old house was okay. Charlie lived next door in Noel Gallagher’s old house. His house was slightly bigger but it lacked a lot of the original features. He’d bought it when house prices in Notting Hill were much lower. Not that money was an issue for me anymore. Not since the book. Not since all my dreams had come true.
“Is Konnie okay?” Asked Charlie Brooker.
“Yes, she’s fine.”
“She looks happier. I think she made the right decision leaving me and marrying you.”
“That’s kind of you to say.” I wanted to turn back to the window but didn’t.
“And my kids, how are they?”
“They’re great. Quiet, but they’re doing well,” I said and watched as Charlie Brooker blew a drip of rain from the end of his nose.
“I read your book again, probably twenty times now, I love it more each time.”
“Thanks. I watched A Touch of Cloth II.”
“I didn’t watch it, Charlie.”
“Charlie, can I ask you something?” I asked turning back to the window where I was drawn to a rain drop as it made its mazy, somehow sentient, run from the top of the pane to the bottom. Three quarters of the way down, when it looked for all the world like it was going to make it, it Schumachered itself on a bird poo. It had been so close. I did a long blink. When I opened my eyes I heard Charlie Brooker talking. I looked over, he looked concerned.
“You wanted to ask me something.”
“Ah yes,” I wet my lips with my tongue. “Is this it?”
“Is this what?”
“Is this it? It?“
“I don’t understand,” said Charlie Brooker and he shifted on his chair, moving slightly closer to me, as if the small distance between us was the reason for his incomprehension.
“Success. Winning. Having your dreams come true, is this it?”
“Look around!” Laughed Charlie. I did as he suggested. The ceilings were high. The oak shelves were packed with every Stephen King and Bill Bryson first edition that I’d sourced from a Jewish man in Whitechapel. On the desk was one of those brass lamps with the green glass like they had in the library in Se7en. I had it all.
“It’s just…” I turned back to the window. Another van passed. It’s dashboard hidden under tabloid newspapers, empty paper cups and white paper bags that would once have contained two sausage rolls. The driver of the van was laughing. So was his mate. They were going somewhere. They didn’t care about the rain. They were going somewhere. “It’s just I don’t think it is horrible out there. I think it’s better.”
“I meant the weather.”
“I know what you meant, Charlie Brooker.”
And that was the end of that.