Claudia Winkleman: Take It From Me

'We accepted his haircut and dungarees. And his mother being the art teacher. Until he turned out to be a coward'
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The Independent Online

Boys' and Girls' Joint School Disco, 18 November 1987

Gideon: I dare you to dare me to go up to Mr Walker and tell him he's rubbish at maths.

Me: That's not a good dare.

Gideon: Why? That would be way cool.

Me: Gids. Listen to yourself. Not good at adding up? Have you been drinking?

Gideon: Half a bottle of Taboo.

Me: What is that?

Gideon: It's when you say something that, like, that no one else says. It's like really bad, right?

Me: What are you talking about?

Gideon: Taboo.

Me: I was asking about the drink. Not the meaning of the word.

Gideon: Yeah. Yeah. Sure. So, are we going to snog or what?

Me: Wow. Flattering. But...

Gideon: How about I tell you about Mirage?

Me: Does that one taste good?

Gideon: It's something that you think you're seeing but ISN'T REALLY THERE. You only think you're looking at it. Imagine that. Amazing, right? Like, just think, those crisps aren't actually there. Do you get it?

Me: OK. I think the music is too loud for us to talk anymore.

Gideon: I love mirages.

Me: Good for you.

Gideon: Your face is a mirage.

Me: Excuse me?

Gideon: Your mouth is a mirage.

Me: Are you flirting with me?

Gideon: You're supposed to ask why.

Me: My dad's coming to pick me up soon. Please. Really, I think you're not bad but you're a bit...

Gideon: Annoying? And then I say because your face looks too good to be true and all that, and then we kiss. I saw it on Neighbours.

Me: Neighbours...

Gideon: Maybe Home and Away. Anyway, I suppose you fancy Dan, like all the other girls.

Me: Well...

Gideon: He doesn't fancy you. I know that for sure. He hates braces.

Me: Thanks.

Gideon: Look, if I do a really cool dare, then will you kiss me?

Me: Where?

Gideon: Right here. Tonight.

Me: No. Where do I have to kiss you?

Gideon: On the lips.

Me: No tongues and we have a deal.

Gideon: What do you want me to do?

Me: Something crazy.

Gideon: OK. Like saying five words in French?

Me: Bigger than that.

Gideon: But you said no tongues.

Me: It's a good point. Let's ask Melanie. She's always good at truth or dare.

Melanie: George Michael's shit.

Me: Mel, can you think of a good dare for Gids?

Melanie: Why doesn't he get one of those pot plants and put it on his head?

Me: I suppose...

Gideon: Do I have a say in this?

Melanie: Not really. You see, we've decided you now have to lay it on the line. We're going to put you to a test and you have to pass it.

Gideon: OK. What if I think I can't do it?

Me: Of course you can do it...

Melanie: You could go to the DJ and ask for a song and then dance to it all by yourself.

Gideon: What?

Me: That's a good one. In the middle of the room.

Gideon: Alone? What if everyone laughs at me?

Me: I'm going to kiss you, you ninny. Surely it's worth it?

Gideon: Um...

Melanie: Come on. More people than you think will join in.

Gideon: I'll be a laughing stock.

Me: I've got breath freshener and everything...

Gideon: What song?

Melanie: "Thriller", Michael Jackson?

Gideon: Oh, God. I think I need some more Taboo.

Melanie: Fine. Go for "Bad". That's slightly more risqué.

Me: Whatever, guys. Just choose it and do it.

Gideon: You can't be impatient about these things.

Me: Yes I can. You've built it up, so now do it. My dad's coming in like, seven minutes, and then I'm going home to bed.

Gideon: The moment has to be right.

Melanie: The moment is now.

Gideon: How do you know?

Me: Because we're ready.

Gideon: OK. How does my hair look?

Melanie: It looks like hair.

Gideon: Cheers. I'm just going to tell Mike and Scott that it's a dare.

Melanie: Stop putting it off.

Gideon: I just need their support.

Me: It's a dance.

Melanie: And you're getting less cool by the minute.

Gideon: I'm definitely doing it. Just you wait. Stay there and I'll be back in 30 seconds. Pucker up, Winkleman.

Melanie: He's beginning to really annoy me.

Me: It'll be cool when he does it though.

Melanie: He needs to prove himself now he's made such a thing of it.

Me: I might let him put his tongue in.

Melanie: It would be polite.

Me: Shit. That's him running off with Scott.

Melanie: Bloody hell. He bottled it.

Me: What a wimp.

Melanie: Prat.

Gideon did the worst thing he could have done. We accepted his Billy Idol haircut and his dungarees. We didn't mind that his mum was the art teacher. We overlooked his protruding upper lip. It was all OK until he turned out to be a coward.

Gideon, Gordon, whatever. We were with you. We were hardly going to go and vote for the nincompoop, were we? But now you've lost us. You're too scared? You'd have won, you muppet. We'd have let you put your tongue in...