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The Edge of Reason

Helen Fielding


  1 Happily Ever After

  2 Jellyfish at Large

  3 Doooom!

  4 Persuasion

  5 Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy

  6 Italian Job

  7 Mood-Swinging Singletons

  8 Oh Baby

  9 Social Hell

  10 Mars and Venus in the Dustbin

  11 Thai Takeaway

  12 Strange Times

  13 Gaaah!

  14 For Better or Worse?

  15 Excess Christmas Spirit


  Helen Fielding is the author of Bridget Jones’s Diary, which spent seventeen weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, was a number-one bestseller around the world, and is soon to appear as a movie. She is also the author of the forthcoming novel, Cause Celeb. She lives in London and Los Angeles.

  To the other Bridgets


  With thanks to Gillon Aitken, Sunetra Atkinson, Peter Bennet-Jones, Frankie Bridgewood, Richard Coles, Richard Curtis, Scarlett Curtis, Pam Dorman, Ursula Doyle, Breene Farrington, Nellie Fielding, the Fielding family, First Circle Films, Colin Firth, Paula Fletcher, Piers Fletcher, Andrew Forbes, Tina Jenkins, Sara Jones, Tracey MacLeod, Sharon Maguire, Emma Parry, Henrietta Perkins, Harry Ritchie, Sarah Sands, Tom Shone, Peter Straus, Russ Warner, Working Title Films, for inspiration, feedback and support. Research by Sara Jones.

  And special thanks to Kevin Curran.

  * * *


  Happily Ever After


  129 lbs. (total fat groove), boyfriends 1 (hurrah!), shags 3 (hurrah!), calories 2,100, calories used up by shags 600, so total calories 1,500 (exemplary).

  7:15 a.m. Hurrah! The wilderness years are over. For four weeks and five days now have been in functional relationship with adult male thereby proving am not love pariah as previously feared. Feel marvelous, rather like Posh Spice or similar radiant newlywed posing with sucked-in cheeks and lip gloss while everyone imagines her in bed with David Beckham. Ooh. Mark Darcy just moved. Maybe he will wake up and talk to me about my opinions.

  7:30 a.m. Mark Darcy has not woken up. I know, will get up and make him fantastic fried breakfast with sausages, scrambled eggs and mushrooms or maybe eggs Benedict or Florentine.

  7:31 a.m. Depending what eggs Benedict or Florentine actually are.

  7:32 a.m. Except do not have any mushrooms or sausages.

  7:33 a.m. Or eggs.

  7:34 a.m. Or—come to think of it—milk.

  7:35 a.m. Still has not woken up. Mmmm. He is lovely. Love looking at Him asleep. V. sexy broad shoulders and hairy chest. Not that sex object or anything. Interested in brain. Mmmm.

  7:37 a.m. Still has not woken up. Must not make noise, realize, but maybe could wake Him subtly by thought vibes.

  7:40 a.m. Maybe will put . . . GAAAAAH!

  7:50 a.m. Was Mark Darcy sitting bolt upright yelling, “Bridget, will you stop. Bloody. Staring at me when I am asleep. Go find something to do.”

  8:45 a.m. In Coins Café having cappuccino, chocolate croissant and cigarette. Is relief to have fag in open and not to be on best behavior. V. complicated actually having man in house as cannot freely spend requisite amount of time in bathroom or turn into gas chamber as conscious of other person late for work, desperate for pee etc.; also disturbed by Mark folding up underpants at night, rendering it strangely embarrassing now simply to keep all own clothes in pile on floor. Also he is coming round again tonight so have to go to supermarket either before or after work. Well, do not have to but horrifying truth is want to, in bizarre possibly genetic-throwback-style way such as could not admit to Sharon.

  8:50 a.m. Mmm. Wonder what Mark Darcy would be like as father (father to own offspring, mean. Not self. That would indeed be sick in manner of Oedipus)?

  8:55 a.m. Anyway, must not obsess or fantasize.

  9 a.m. Wonder if Una and Geoffrey Alconbury would let us put marquee on their lawn for the recept— Gaaah!

  Was my mother, walking into my café bold as brass in a Country Casuals pleated skirt and apple-green blazer with shiny gold buttons, like a spaceman turning up in the House of Commons squirting slime and sitting itself down calmly on the front bench.

  “Hello, darling,” she trilled. “Just on my way to Debenhams and I know you always come in here for your breakfast. Thought I’d pop in and see when you want your colors done. Ooh I fancy a cup of coffee. Do you think they’ll warm up the milk?”

  “Mum, I’ve told you I don’t want my colors done,” I muttered, scarlet, as people stared and a sulky, rushed-off-her-feet waitress bustled up.

  “Oh don’t be such a stick-in-the-mud, darling. You need to make a statement about yourself! Not sitting on the fence all the time in all these fudges and slurries. Oh, hello, dear.”

  Mum went into her slow, kindly “Let’s try to make best friends with the waiting staff and be the most special person in the café for no fathomable reason” voice.

  “Now. Let. Me. See. D’you know? I think I’ll have a coffee. I’ve had so many cups of tea this morning up in Grafton Underwood with my husband Colin that I’m sick to death of tea. But could you warm me up some milk? I can’t drink cold milk in coffee. It gives me indigestion. And then my daughter Bridget will have . . .”

  Grrr. Why do parents do this. Why? Is it desperate mature person’s plea for attention and importance, or is it that our urban generation are too busy and suspicious of each other to be open and friendly? I remember when I first came to London I used to smile at everyone until a man on the tube escalator masturbated into the back of my coat.

  “Espresso? Filter? Latte? Cap: half-fat or decaf?” snapped the waitress, sweeping all the plates off the table next to her and looking at me accusingly as if Mum was my fault.

  “Half-fat decaf cap and a latte,” I whispered apologetically.

  “What a surly girl, doesn’t she speak English?” huffed Mum at her retreating back. “This is a funny place to live, isn’t it? Don’t they know what they want to put on in the morning?”

  I followed her gaze to the fashionable Trustafarian girls at the next table. One was tapping at her laptop and wearing Timberlands, a petticoat, a Rastafarian bonnet and a fleece, while the other, in Prada stilettos, hiking socks, surfing shorts, a floor-length llamaskin coat and a Bhutanese herdsman’s woolly hat with earflaps, was yelling into her mobile headset, “I mean, he said if he found me smoking skunk again he’d take away the flat. And I’m like, ‘Fucking, Daddy’ ”—while her six-year-old child picked miserably at a plate of chips.

  “Is that girl talking to herself with that language?” said Mum. “It’s a funny world you live in, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you do better living near normal people?”

  “They are normal people,” I said furiously, nodding in illustration out at the street where unfortunately a nun in a brown habit was pushing two babies along in a pram.

  “You see this is why you get yourself all mixed up.”

  “I don’t get myself mixed up.”

  “Yes you do,” she said. “Anyway. How’s it going with Mark?”

  “Lovely,” I said moonily, at which she gave me a hard stare.

  “You’re not going to you-know-what with him, are you? He won’t marry you, you know.”

  Grrr. Grrrr. No sooner have I started going out with the man she’d been trying to force me onto for eighteen months (“Malcolm and Elaine’s son, darling, divorced, terribly lonely and rich”) than I feel like I’m running some kind of Territorial Army obstacle course, scrambling over walls and nets to bring her home a big silver cup with a bow on.

  “You know what they say afterwards,” she was going on. “ ‘Oh, she was easy meat.’ I mean wh
en Merle Robertshaw started going out with Percival her mother said, ‘Make sure he keeps that thing just for weeing with.’ ”

  “Mother—” I protested. I mean it was a bit rich coming from her. Not six months ago she was running around with a Portuguese tour operator with a gentleman’s handbag.

  “Oh, did I tell you,” she interrupted, smoothly changing the subject, “Una and I are going to Kenya.”

  “What!” I yelled.

  “We’re going to Kenya! Imagine, darling! To darkest Africa!”

  My mind started to whirl round and round searching through possible explanations like a slot machine before it comes to a standstill: Mother turned missionary? Mother rented Out of Africa again on video? Mother suddenly remembered about Born Free and decided to keep lions?

  “Yes, darling. We want to go on safari and meet the Masai tribesmen, then stay in a beach hotel!”

  The slot machine clunked to a halt on a series of lurid images of elderly German ladies having sex on the beach with local youths. I stared levelly at Mum.

  “You’re not going to start messing around again, are you?” I said. “Dad’s only just got over all that stuff with Julio.”

  “Honestly, darling! I don’t know what all the fuss was about! Julio was just a friend—a penfriend! We all need friends, darling. I mean even in the best of marriages one person just isn’t enough: friends of all ages, races, creeds and tribes. One has to expand one’s consciousness at every—”

  “When are you going?”

  “Oh, I don’t know, darling. It’s just an idea. Anyway must whizz. Byee!”

  Bugger. It’s 9:15. Am going to be late for morning meeting.

  11 a.m. Sit Up Britain office. Was luckily only two minutes late for meeting, also managed to conceal coat by rolling it into ball to create pleasing sense of having been in for hours and merely detained on urgent transdepartmental business elsewhere in building. Made my way in composed manner through hideous open-plan office littered with the telltale remnants of bad daytime TV—here an inflatable sheep with a hole in its bottom, there a blowup of Claudia Schiffer wearing Madeleine Albright’s head, there a large cardboard sign saying: “LESBIANS! Out! Out! Out!”—towards where Richard Finch, sporting sideburns and black trendy spectacles, his portly frame squeezed hideously into a ’70s retro safari suit, was bellowing at the assembled twenty-something research team.

  “Come on, Bridget Droopy-Drawers Late Again,” he yelled, spotting my approach. “I’m not paying you to roll coats into a ball and try to look innocent, I’m paying you to turn up on time and come up with ideas.”

  Honestly. The lack of respect day after day is beyond human endurance.

  “Right, Bridget!” he roared. “I’m thinking New Labour Women. I’m thinking image and roles. I want Color Me Beautiful in the studio. Get them to give Margaret Beckett a makeover. Highlights. Little black dress. Stockings. I want to see Margaret looking like sex on legs.”

  Sometimes there seems no limit to the absurdity of what Richard Finch will ask me to do. One day, I will find myself persuading Harriet Harman and Tessa Jowell to stand in a supermarket while I ask passing shoppers if they can tell which one is which, or trying to persuade a Master of the Hunt to be chased naked through the countryside by a pack of vicious foxes. Must find more-worthwhile fulfilling job of some kind. Nurse, perhaps?

  11:03 a.m. At desk. Right, had better ring Labour press office. Mmmm. Keep getting shag flashbacks. Hope Mark Darcy was not really annoyed this morning. Wonder if it is too early to ring him at work?

  11:05 a.m. Yes. As it says in How to Get the Love You Want—or maybe it was Keeping the Love You Find?—the blending together of man and woman is a delicate thing. Man must pursue. Will wait for him to ring me. Maybe had better read papers to brief self about New Labour policy in case actually get Margaret Beckett on end of . . . Gaaah!

  11:15 a.m. Was Richard Finch yelling again. Have been put on the fox-hunting item instead of Labour Women and have got to do live insert from Leicestershire. Must not panic. Am assured, receptive, responsive woman of substance. My sense of self comes not from my worldly achievements but from within. Am assured, receptive . . . Oh God. Is pissing it down. Do not want to go out in fridge-crossed-with-swimming-pool-like world.

  11:17 a.m. Actually is v.g. to get interview to do. Big responsibility—relatively speaking, obviously, not like having to decide whether to send cruise missiles to Iraq, or holding clamp on main arterial valve during surgery, but chance to grill Fox-Murderer on camera and actually make a point rather like Jeremy Paxman or similar Newsnight presenter with Iranian—or Iraqi—ambassador.

  11:20 a.m. Might even be asked to do trial item for Newsnight.

  11:21 a.m. Or series of short specialized reports. Hurrah! Right, better get out cuts . . . Oh. Telephone.

  11:30 a.m. Was going to ignore it but thought it might be interviewee: Sir Hugo Rt. Hon. Boynton-Fox-Murderer with directions about silos, pig huts on the left, etc. so picked up: was Magda.

  “Bridget, hi! I was just ringing to say in the potty! In the potty! Do it in the potty!”

  There was a loud crashing noise followed by the sound of running water and screaming in manner of Muslims being massacred by Serbs with “Mummy will smack! She will smack!” as if on a loop in the background.

  “Magda!” I yelled. “Come back!”

  “Sorry, hon,” she said, eventually returning. “I was just ringing to say . . . tuck your willy inside the potty! If you let it hang out it’ll go on the floor!”

  “I’m in the middle of work,” I said pleadingly. “I’ve got to set off to Leicestershire in two minutes . . .”

  “Great, fine, rub it in, you’re all very glamorous and important and I’m stuck at home with two people who haven’t learned to speak the English language yet. Anyway, I was just ringing to say that I’ve fixed for my builder to come round and do your shelves tomorrow. Sorry to have bothered you with my boring domesticity. He’s called Gary Wilshaw. Bye.”

  Phone rang again before had time to call back. Was Jude, sobbing in a sheep’s voice.

  “It’s OK, Jude, it’s OK,” I said, tucking the phone under my chin and trying to shove the cuttings into my handbag.

  “It’s Vile Richard hegggggggg.”

  Oh dear. After Christmas Shaz and I convinced Jude that if she had just one more mad conversation with Vile Richard about the shifting sands of his Commitment Problem she would have to be put into a mental hospital; and therefore they would not be able to have any minibreaks, relationship counseling, or future together anyway for years and years until she was released into Care in the Community.

  In a magnificent feat of self-love she ditched him, cut her hair and started turning up to her staid job in the City wearing leather jackets and hipster jeans. Every striped-shirted Hugo, Johnny or Jerrers who had ever idly wondered what was under Jude’s suit was catapulted into a state of priapic frenzy and she seems to have a different one on the phone every night. But somehow, the whole subject of Vile Richard still makes her sad.

  “I was just going through all the stuff he left, ready to chuck it out, and I found this self-help book . . . book called . . . called . . .”

  “It’s OK. It’s OK. You can tell me.”

  “Called How to Date Young Women: A Guide for Men Over Thirty-five.”


  “I just feel terrible, terrible . . .” she was saying. “. . . I can’t stand being out in dating hell again. . . . It’s an impenetrable sea . . . I’m going to be on my own forever. . . .”

  Working towards balance between importance of friendship and impossibility of getting to Leicestershire in negative amount of time, gave merely preliminary first-aid advice in manner of holding on to sense of self: probably left it there on purpose; no you’re not; etc.

  “Oh, thanks, Bridge,” said Jude, after a while seeming a bit calmer. “Can I see you tonight?”

  “Um, well, Mark’s coming round.”

  There was a silence.r />
  “Fine,” she said coolly. “Fine. No, you have a good time.”

  Oh God, feel guilty with Jude and Sharon now I have boyfriend, almost like traitorous double-crossing side-switching guerrilla. Have arranged to see Jude tomorrow night instead, with Shaz, and merely talk through everything again on phone tonight, which seemed to go down OK. Now, had better quickly ring Magda and make sure she doesn’t feel boring and realizes how opposite-of-glamorous job is.

  “Thanks, Bridge,” said Magda after we’d talked for a bit. “I’m just feeling really low and lonely since the baby. Jeremy’s working again tomorrow night. Don’t suppose you’d like to come round?”

  “Um, well, I’m supposed to be seeing Jude in 192.”

  There was a loaded pause.

  “And I suppose I’m too much of a dull Smug Married to come along?”

  “No, no, come. Come, that would be great!!” I overcompensated. Knew Jude would be cross as would take focus away from Vile Richard but resolved to sort out later. So now am really late and have got to go to Leicestershire without actually having read fox-hunting cuts. Maybe could read in car when at traffic lights. Wonder if should quickly ring Mark Darcy to tell him where am going?

  Hmmm. No. Bad move. But then what if I’m late? Had better ring.

  11:35 a.m. Humph. Conversation went like this:

  Mark: Yes? Darcy here.

  Me: It’s Bridget.

  Mark: (Pause) Right. Er. Everything OK?

  Me: Yes. It was nice last night, wasn’t it? I mean—you know, when we . . .

  Mark: I do know, yes. Exquisite. (Pause) I’m actually with the Indonesian ambassador, the head of Amnesty International and the Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry just at the moment.

  Me: Oh. Sorry. I’m just going to Leicestershire. I thought I’d let you know in case anything happens to me.

  Mark: In case anything . . . ? What?

  Me: I mean in case I’m . . . late. (I finished lamely.)

  Mark: Right. Well, why not ring with an ETA when you’re through? Jolly good. Bye now.