Cooper Brown: He's Out There

'The guy went for me. I had no idea he had a heart condition. Now suddenly I'm the bad guy'
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The Independent Online

I'm on the plane to Florence about five hours after Victoria called me. Did I want a week's vacation in Italy staying at her folks' luxury villa? Now you all know that the Coop's got an important job single-handedly saving the British movie industry but hey, this was a no-brainer. Movies can wait, Cooper's off to Tuscany. Fuck work - let's eat some pasta!

I have been to Italy before. When I'd graduated high school my hippy-dippy mom sent me on a history of art course. I went to Venice and Milan and... somewhere else that I've forgotten the name of. I have to be honest, I found it all a bit Third World. Sure Venice is totally awesome, but after a couple of hours it's like... next! Plus, when I was there, it stank worse than the Epcot Centre and that's bad, believe me.

Anyway, Victoria's family have got this incredible place between Florence and Siena with a vineyard, pool, tennis courts, the whole nine yards. The only problem - and it's a big problem - the parents are staying there as well. Victoria tells me this in the car on the way there from the airport.

"I didn't think that you'd come if you knew that they were going to be here."

How right she was. But it was too late now, and I caught a glimpse of the underwear that I'd got Danielle to buy her from this seriously sexy store in Soho called Agent Provocateur and she looked HOT. She looked at me pleadingly with her little green puppy eyes and I realised that, if I played this one right, I was going to have one hell of a vacation. Yeah, right.

The moment we arrive at the villa, things kick off. It turns out that Victoria hadn't told Daddy about me coming to stay either. Despite our recent peace-pipe lunch together, he didn't look happy. He puts me up in a minuscule bedroom in a tower, up some seriously creaky steps miles from everyone else. When I finally find Victoria in her bedroom, it's still decorated like she's a five-year-old kid. It's all pink, with rosettes and photos of her on horses and shit. I feel like a child molester just kissing her in there. Just as I get over my scruples and clear the bed of Garfields and teddy bears, Daddy walks right in and announces that "supper" is ready as we quickly jump to our feet.

Suddenly I'm 15 all over again, being caught in Halimah Halliday's room by her psychotic Iranian dad. He kept me in his storm shelter for three hours, beating the soles of my feet with this thick rod wrapped in black duct tape. My mom, ever the peacenik, said that I should go round and apologise as I'd offended his culture.

For Christ's sake, I'm 39 years old and Victoria's 30. Is this shit normal over here?

At "supper" we all sit down at this enormous table that's bigger than the Paramount Boardroom. Round this enormo-slab are Victoria's mother and father plus their neighbours who are also British. They are seriously freaky. The man used to be something big in the Conservative Party and is a Lord (as he keeps reminding me every frickin' five minutes). The wife is slightly younger, quite attractive actually and at least listens to what I've got to say. After a while I get the feeling that she's giving me the eye, she keeps filling my glass and calling me "Keeper Brown". I'm giving her my party piece about Britain having to accept that it's not running the world any more and get comfortable with that when the "Lord" leans in and tells me that I'm talking complete "bollocks".

He's clearly gone quite heavy on the Chianti and he's got a fighting look in his eyes. I give him a firm but fake smile and tell him basically, "whatever dude". He starts getting right into my face, his breath stinks of stale Monte Cristo, his cheeks red and pock-marked with veins at the very limit of their elasticity.

"The problem with you fucking Yanks is that you've got no class, no bloody pedigree. You've got weak genes. That's why you've lost all your bloody hair, weak Yankee genes, you'll be fucking dead by 50."

His wife tries to change the subject and asks me whether I'm going to go to the fruit market in town the next morning. I pretend to ignore him and answer her but on he comes: "Why aren't you in Iraq fighting for your country like a man rather than working in a poof job? I'll bet you're a queer? You certainly look like one."

I've got quite an anger management problem that got me into quite a lot of shit back in LA. To be honest, it was one of the reasons that my NA group suggested I start afresh, move away from the usual triggers. If they could only see me now, eyeball to eyeball with a shit-faced Tory Lord in the middle of Italy. I wonder if this is David Cameron's "caring new face of Conservatism" that Elle Macpherson told me about?

As I'm thinking about all this stuff, the Lord swings at me. I duck him easily and put two fast reflex jabs into his gut. He goes down without a sound, there's just the crashing of crystal on ancient stone tiles. It's like a slow-motion scene from Scarface.

I had no idea he had a heart condition, the guy went for me and everybody saw it. Suddenly I'm the bad guy and Victoria's giving this asshole mouth to mouth as we wait for the non-existent Italian ambulance service to arrive. Three excruciating hours later and he's almost completely recovered but still the centre of attention and I'm public enemy Numero Uno. Victoria goes crazy with me and refuses to talk to me and "daddy" tells me that there's a taxi coming to take me to the airport the next morning.

I have never, ever had so many problems with a chick and her family in so little time. I need lessons in how to survive this, it's like Year Zero for me. Looks like the Coop might soon be single again. Lock up your daughters.;