Fandom: British Comedy RPF
Pairing: David Mitchell/Dara O Briain
Warning: RPF-If it's a squick-do not click. Name-dropping and art abuse.
Notes: Written for the British Comedy Love-In. Recipient: marginaliana. Thanks to michelleann68 and severinne for beta services. Comments and concrit welcome.
Disclaimer: None of this happened and I'm not making any money for saying it did.
Summary: David and Dara, not having a date at the Tate.
David emphatically refuses to call it a date.
For one thing, they’re at the Tate Modern. The idea of having “a date at the Tate” is just too twee to contemplate, with the last rhyme only making it worse.
Definitely not a date. Just him and Dara, spending time together while Robert handles a business meeting, thereby saving David from a business meeting-related anxiety attack. Meanwhile Dara has about an hour to kill as he waits for a text message telling him that Jessie’s play-date is over and he’s now required to fetch the child generally referred to (usually with great affection) as The Little Princess.
The weather is typical early spring rubbish, so a walk along the South Bank is out of the question, although the sight of bedraggled schoolchildren queuing up for the Eye has a certain sadistic charm of its own. The Tate just happens to be a convenient indoor location, providing a nearly endless source of entertainment.
Dara, in the best tradition of Anglo-Irish relations, can flatten his brogue into a vicious approximation of a tweedy Oxbridge don holding forth on the glories of neo-classicism or some such rot, all in the interest of inculcating the next generation of British Imperialists. David finds this vaguely insulting, but still funny. The one that nearly doubles him over is Dara’s take on a very Northern accented couple who spend a good twenty minutes cooing platitudes at Julian Schnabel’s “Homo Painting,” while Dara mugged behind their backs.
For David, there is nothing that begs for mockery more than American tourists. Their epic sense of entitlement and general cluelessness about the world beyond their own borders can be riffed on for hours. David’s favourite stereotype to play is the cultivated WASP who attempts a modicum of cultural sensitivity only to reveal their provincialism in smaller, stupider ways. Like genuinely believing they understand modern art.
That’s the real reason for picking the Tate on a rainy afternoon,, when by all rights either of them should be tucked away in a garret, drinking absinthe and creating comic genius for fun and profit, or some such nonsense. Because even if their combined skill at accents is far short of Hugh Laurie’s brilliance, there’s still the unadulterated amusement of listening to Americans, Brits and pretty much anyone else, actually talk about modern art. Or any kind of art, for that matter.
David thinks it’s easier to mock modern art, but really, he wonders, is Impressionism really that much more pretentious than Rembrandt? He’d ask Dara, but the point has been rendered moot by the Miro exhibit. It cost a few extra quid to get in, but the thing genuinely has to be seen to be believed.
Complete and utter bollocks, no matter how many geriatric docents parrot the party line about “personal vision, sense of freedom, and energy.”
Near “The Conductor,” Dara’s big, round face is at its most expressive as a woman who seems to hail from Southern California falls ever deeper into the trap of “meaningful” and “powerful” and god help them all, “subversive.”
David is afraid he’s going give the game away by falling about the place in hysterics, until Dara tires of mere facial mockery and announces loudly, “My daughter, with a box of dull crayons and her own shite could produce something more meaningful, more powerful and about a hundred times more subversive.”
Oh lovely. They’re going to get thrown out and probably arrested. There’ll probably be some insulting headline in the Sun. With his luck, they’ll be the bonkers story next to the tits.
Luckily, this is Britain and one can get away with a certain amount of rudeness simply because of the English horror of being rude. David manages to get Dara away from Miro before some Catalan enthusiast can decode his abuse and take properly Mediterranean revenge or get a security guard to do so.
Somewhere between Arbus and Picasso, David comes up with an idea.
“We should pitch this to Channel 4. If May can get the Beeb to subsidise his descent into alcoholism, we ought to be able to get a show of our own.”
“Yeah,” Dara concurs, “two miserable bastards taking the piss out of their artistic betters. Sure-fire ratings bonanza.”
David hears a ruefulness in Dara’s tone, and suddenly feels guilty. Schnable and Miro might have it coming, but this is truly a beautiful place, full of pieces that truly display the best of humanity. Should he really be acting the pig for the sake of a few laughs?
“Better than Sister Wendy, surely,” he insists. “Although I’d be willing to put on a habit for the Christmas show.”
For a second, he thinks Dara looks just a little too intrigued by the idea until he follows Dara’s gaze all the way to the Matisse in front of them and then back to the bloke standing between them and the Matisse, studying the painting like he doesn’t know if he wants to steal it or make love to it.
“Oh,” David whispers.
“Yeah,” Dara replies.
There’s handsome and then there’s too good-looking to live. This fellow is clearly in the latter category. Well dressed, smooth-skinned, but with the kind of scruff that only a certain kind of beautiful young man can get away with. Otherwise they’re just chavs with pretensions to yobbism or vice versa. David doesn’t know whether he’s more stunned by seeing such a handsome fellow among the hordes of tourists or by the fact that Dara seems equally taken.
That’s another reason it couldn’t possibly be a date. Because Dara, husband and father, had never come off the least bit gay to David. Of course not every homosexual had to swish about or act like Barrowman on steroids, but considering the number of times that the Mock The Week set had devolved into a veritable camp-fest, David likes to think he’d have gleaned some hint.
David has pretty much decided he’s too neurotic to settle on a favourite flavour of yoghurt, much less define his sexuality, but right now there’s something about the way Dara’s looking at the handsome art lover and the way David is looking at Dara that’s got their cozy little not-a-date thrown completely off kilter.
“Maybe he’s an art thief,” Dara mutters. If Dara thinks he’s being the least bit subtle, David would have to inform him otherwise.
“No,” David counters, trying to sound analytical and not at all disturbed by what he’s now thinking about Dara, or perhaps allowing himself to think, rather than suppressing it, “he looks more like a forger to me.”
“Maybe I’m both,” the man replies, with the genuine article of an American accent and a smile that leaves David feeling stunned and possibly a bit ill. As if that weren’t bad enough, there are eyes bluer than any he’s seen, except possibly Hugh Laurie’s, and the most audacious wink.
With that he leaves, and David tries desperately not to look to at his bum. He knows he’s failed when he finds Dara staring at him, trying for a smirk and for once failing.
Great, David thinks. All the tension that was supposed to be covered up with snark and bitchiness and jokes about Picasso’s mother and now it’s just sitting there, like a fart, or at least a fart joke.
Either they can talk about it and deal with it or they can…
“Tea,” Dara announces firmly.
David breathes a sigh of relief, and suddenly feels grateful to Dara for taking charge of the situation. So grateful he’s tempted to reach out and hug him, maybe even plant a big, wet kiss, although that would pretty much defeat the purpose.
Instead it’s tea and those ghastly boxed egg and mayonnaise sandwiches. It’s too loud to talk in the Café and that’s probably just as well too. Soon enough, Dara’s mobile goes off, signaling the end of this week’s episode of their never-to-be-a-hit-series, Dara and David’s Art Follies, or whatever else it won’t be called.
He decides not to walk Dara out, just in case there’s any confusion as to the proper hand-shake vs. hug conclusion to the afternoon. Instead he contemplates his tea and nibbles at the crust of his sandwich, and wonders what the hell is going on at the business meeting.
When he takes out his Blackberry just to make sure if he hasn’t missed a message, he sees a reminder that he’s taping QI on Friday and naturally Dara is on as well.
One more reason why it couldn’t possibly be a date.
If Fry ever found out, he’d never let them live it down.