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The Time With The Red Pen

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Charlie scribbles scatological imagery over everything all the time, so it isn't a shock when he does it to the newspaper clippings on 10 O’Clock Live. He draws the feces of every kind of animal, as well as obscene things. The are penises on every face. Charlie claims he draws them without realizing he’s doing it, and David believes him. David believes him, and he isn't surprised.

No - the surprise is when Charlie leans over and starts drawing on Jimmy’s hand. There’s no transition - he’s staring off into space one minute, and the next, he’s picking up the pen, taking Jimmy’s hand in his, and drawing slow, careful lines on the skin, in bright red ink. Blasé - or at least pretending to be - Jimmy doesn't react at all.

Distantly, David wonders, what is Charlie doing with a red pen? What has he been correcting? If not correcting - what else is a red pen used for?

Something… red.

Charlie shifts and David sees that he isn’t drawing anything rude. He’s drawing long curlicues and what look like flowers. Like a pattern for a really polite tattoo.

It’s when Charlie pushes Jimmy’s shirt up to uncover more skin that David realizes he’s staring. He sees Charlie unbutton the cuff and feels his heart beat awkwardly, like it does when David’s done something embarrassing. Well - when he’s done something embarrassing unintentionally.

He looks down at the conference table and thinks about tattoos. It must be nice, David thinks, to be confident about something enough to want it permanently on one’s skin. Nice to have that knowledge, even if only for a moment. To be able to tell oneself: this is what I want.

When he looks up, David sees that the curlicues on Jimmy’s arm form the words “I am a cock.” It’s nice. It’s nice that, in this modern world, there is one certainty: Charlie Brooker is puerile.