‘You know the rules, let’s get started…’
Freddy gulps hard, like a thirsty dog.
He still can’t quite believe the last week. Sex with Bernadette seems to have expunged him of the desire for her, which had gripped him since that sweaty night in Babylove. Exorcising his Benenden demon – though it took a monumental and Shakespearean comedown from the coke to do so – has left in a state of bliss.
And then, two days later, he gets the call that he’s been drafted into the Judas College University Challenge team, because one of the team members was hit by a bicycle and has ungainly tyre marks on her face. It’s Freddy’s time to shine.
So here he is, under the blinding lights of MediaCity Salford, sitting across from none other than Jeremy Fucking Paxman. Anyone who ever doubted that he was going to do great things with his life can suck a dick- Freddy has arrived.
‘Which author, born in 1897, was responsible for works including 1936’s First Term at Malory Towers…’
BAM! Freddy hits his buzzer and his name is shouted around the studio.
‘Enid Blyton,’ he says, confidently. Paxman confirms this and there’s a smattering of applause. He remembers when Bernadette read a passage to him. It was her favourite book from childhood…
‘Which London road is the site of the headquarters of Channel 4?’
BAM – Freddy – ‘Horseferry Road!’
Correct, of course, it’s Bernadette’s surname after all…
He managed to go through most of the quiz without another Slumdog Millionaire moment. Judas College have moved into a comfortable lead, which means he can slack off a little and his mind starts to wander to images of Bernadette’s bedroom interior. ‘Hadn’t I exorcised you a moment ago?’ he thinks to himself.
With the clock almost ticked away, and Judas all but home and dry, Freddy returns to full-consciousness in order to try and assist the team over the line.
‘Portrayed on television by Melissa Rauch, which sitcom character married her aerospace engineer boyfriend before he launched off for the International Space Station?’
Freddy’s hand hits his buzzer before he has time to compute the cosmic significance of the answer he’s about to give: ‘Bernadette!’
Correct! Of course it’s correct! After all this time he’s spent thinking and worrying and exorcising, Bernadette has been the correct thing all along. His eyes begin to well up with tears. I must get her back, he thinks; I must be a better boyfriend to her.
‘And at the gong it’s Judas College Oxford 260, Teesside University 145. It all seems to have been too much for Judas, as one of the team is actually crying…’