A few minutes from now, Jarvis Cocker, singer with Pulp, will make his debut as a music journalist. He seems impressively unperturbed, even if the subject of his first question will be the unfeasibly famous Kylie Minogue.
Jarvis, a walking advertisement for the Oxfam fashion collection, has just spent two hours sitting in a photo studio looking thoroughly bemused while Kylie climbed all over him and covered his face in lipstick. They made a lovely couple, rather like a wedding photo of distant relatives of the Addams family. A strange way of getting to know someone you've never met before, but as we wait for Kylie to reappear, he seems to have decided that it has its merits. "I thought it was great," he says, in that famously deadpan voice of his, which makes him sound like he was recorded at 45rpm and is being played back at 33. "I was hoping the photographer would say he'd got all the exposures wrong or something so we'd have to do it all over again."
Kylie arrives. Jarvis produces his list of questions (he's done his homework) from inside his crumpled suit, studies them intently for a bit, and then he's away. Like a veteran sensation-hunter, he tries to catch her off guard by starting with a big one.
Jarvis: "I was reading Top Of The Pops magazine earlier and it said you may be thinking of having children. Is this true, and if so, have you thought of any names?"
Kylie: (not taken aback at all) "I think, about it constantly. The difficult part, of course, is with whom. And when. But it's such a diabolical, dilemma, the name thing, that I think I'll leave it until I've actually got one baking. Then I'll be more inspired, I would like it to be a name that isn't really a name."
J: "I hated my name when I was younger, because I grew up in Sheffield, which is quite a normal place, and being called Jarvis was just... I wanted to be called John or Peter."
K: "There's a Jarvis Bay in Australia."
J: "Is there? Maybe that's my spiritual home..."
Kylie explains about Jarvis Bay's green trees and white sands for a bit. Jarvis nods sagely while he tries to find his place on his list. Aware of the importance of research, Jarvis delves into Kylie's past.
J: "Have you ever had a Saturday job?"
K: "I had a Sunday job in a video store when I was 15. It's the only real job I've ever had. I don't think I was very good at it."
J: "Did you tell people off if they hadn't rewound the tape when they brought it back?"
K: "No, I just did very menial things there."
J: "I worked with fish. I was a fishmonger. Well, a fishmonger's assistant. Which, obviously, made my Saturday nights very barren, as I used to go home smelling of fish. Scarred me for life."
K: "I couldn't go back to it. I've got no qualifications for any job other than the one I do. Which you don't need any qualifications for."
J: "Can you drive? That's a qualification."
J: "Do you own a car?"
K: "Yes. I share a 1967 Mustang with my father. It's very cool. Steve McQueen drove one in Bullitt. I never could comprehend - not that I spent much time contemplating it - that fast car thing guys have. But then dad got a Mustang and, sure enough, I got behind the wheel and it is magnificent. Though I do get nervous because if I ever pranged it, my dad would have kittens."
J: "Seeing as you mentioned your dad there, when you were an adolescent, did your parents ever do anything that embarrassed you in front of your friends? Like dancing badly, or something."
K: "I was just embarrassed in general at that age, I think, They didn't do anything particularly awful, like doing the polka or anything, it was just telling you what time to be home and stuff in front of your friends when you were trying to be cool. My parents were quite strict."
J: "I'm, glad to hear that. I believe in strict parenting, myself."
It's always very hard to tell whether Jarvis is joking or not.
Seeking now to get at the truth behind Kylie's sunny public image, Jarvis sets intrepidly off in search of her dark side.
J: "Have you ever had a fight?"
K: "No. And I wouldn't like to. I'm sure I'd get thrashed,"
J: "Because you said you'd learnt some martial arts on this last film you were working on, I thought maybe you would be able to hold your own. I was actually wondering more whether you got picked on at school."
K: "I could hold my own better now, having studied some martial arts, but you really need to keep up the practice and keep up your fitness and flexibitity and be quite dedicated."
J: "Was it Jean-Claude Van Damme who told you this?"
K: "No. It was this marvellous trainer called Benny The Jet, who trained us during the film."
J: "The only time I ever had a fight at school was with this other boy who wore glasses as well, and so we both took our glasses off to have a fight, and..."
K: "And you couldn't see each other, ha ha."
J: "Also we didn't really want to have the fight, but once you've said it and everyone's gathered round, you can't back out of it, so we had the fight, and it went on for ages, because neither of us really wanted to hit each other. It was the longest fight in school history."
K: "Did you get hurt?"
J: "I got a black eye."
K: "Well, that's a good trophy. Every young man should have at least one."
Sensing that he's lulling his subject into a false sense of security, Jarvis goes gunning for scandal...
J: "If you had to kiss one of Take That, which one would it be? I mean, if you definitely had to, if there was no getting out of it."
K: "Hang on, I've been asked this before."
J: "Oh. Sorry."
K: "I got out of it last time by saying all of them, but I'm not allowed to get out of this one, am I? I was about to say Robbie, because we've both dyed our hair red, unbeknownst to each other. It kills me to choose one of them, because they're all lovely, but I'll go with the red hair, I think, and say Robbie."
J: "Wise choice, I'd say. I think Robbie's the best of the bunch. They're all alright, you know, but I think he's got the edge."
But surely she's harbouring some deepseated neuroses that have never come out before. She is, after all, an artiste...
J: "Have you got any phobias?"
K: "I don't like snails. Snails and worms and things. I know they're completely harmless, but I don't get on with them."
J: "So if you saw one, would you run away from it?"
K: "I would, erm, avoid it. I wouldn't start panicking, but I wouldn't pick one up."
J: "With me it's mice. And I actually do jump on the chair if I see one.
Jarvis has a car waiting to take him to another appointment. Pressed for time, he asks the biggest question of them all.
J: "Do you believe in life after death?"
K: I believe in something after death. The people I've known that have passed away, I don't believe they're just gone. You can still feel someone's presence. But I don't know about reincarnation."
J: "Well, even if it exists, I don't see what good it does you. Because if I've ever existed anywhere else in the world, I'm not aware of it. I can't remember the days when I was a Roman Emperor. So even if I have been recycled, which is quite a nice idea, I don't really don't see how it makes any difference."
K: I hope this isn't it. I'm not one of those people who can be very blasť about death. I don't want it, myself."
They say their goodbyes. Kylie agrees that it's been an exemplary performance, especially for a novice. She admits that she wasn't sure what to expect.
"No, I didn't know a lot about Pulp. But I like what I've heard of their music. I love the way that he can tell a story in a song. I'm really quite jealous of that. He's lovely, though. There were moments where his eccentricity showed, like when he started ballroom dancing with me in the middle of the photo shoot, but he's really lovely. I took forward to bumping into him again, definitely."