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Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, Page 3

Helen Fielding

  12.45 p.m. Tee hee.


  Nicolette Martinez


  Re: Billy’s ear

  Some parents appear to think that the boys taking care of their own property and the parents clearly labelling it is a matter for amusement. It is actually important for their development as self-reliant individuals. Perhaps if it was their child’s shoes which were missing they would take a different view.

  12.50 p.m. Oh no, oh no. Have offended Class Mother and probably horrified everyone else as well. Will send direct mass apology.


  Bridget Billymum


  Atticus’s shoes, Billy’s ears, etc.

  I’m sorry, Nicorette. I was trying to write and bored and just joking. Am very bad.

  12.55 p.m. Gaaah!


  Nicolette Martinez


  Bridget Jones

  Bridget – Possibly the misspelling of my name was a Freudian slip. I think we all know you struggle with the occasional smoking lapse. If it was intentional it was hurtful and rude. Perhaps we need to talk all this through with the head of Pastoral Care.


  Shit! I called her Nicorette! Look. Don’t dig yourself in further. Just leave it now and concentrate!

  1.47 p.m. This is ridiculous! I’m just COMPLETELY blocked.

  1.48 p.m. All the class mothers hate me and Roxster has not replied.

  1.52 p.m. Slumped at kitchen table.

  1.53 p.m. Look. No going over to the dark side. Grazina the Cleaner will be here any second and she can’t see me like this. Will leave a note re insect plague and go to Starbucks.

  2.16 p.m. In Starbucks now with ham-and-cheese panini. Right.

  3.16 p.m. Huge gaggles of posh mothers with prams have taken cafe over, talking really loudly about their husbands.

  3.17 p.m. Is so noisy in here. Hate people who talk on their phones in cafes – ooh, phone, maybe Roxster!

  3.30p.m. Was Jude, clearly in meeting, whispering furtively, ‘Bridget. Vile Richard has totally fallen for Isabella.’

  ‘Who’s Isabella?’ I whispered urgently back.

  ‘The girl we made up on PlentyofFish. Vile Richard’s fixed to have a date with her tomorrow.’

  ‘But she isn’t real.’

  ‘Exactly. She’s me. He’s arranged to meet me, I mean her, at the Shadow Lounge and she’s going to stand him up.’

  ‘Brilliant,’ I whispered, as Jude said bossily, ‘So just put a stop order of two million yen at a hundred and twenty-five and wait for the quarterly profits.’ Then whispered, ‘And simultaneously, the guy I met on DatingSingleDoctors is meeting me – the actual me – two blocks away at the Soho Hotel.’

  ‘Great!’ I said, confusedly.

  ‘I know, right? Gottogobye.’

  Hope the man from DatingSingleDoctors doesn’t turn out to be made up by Vile Richard.

  3.40 p.m. Roxster still has not texted. Cannot concentrate. Am going home.

  4 p.m. Got home to find terrifyingly pungent old-lady smell. Grazina had diligently followed my scribbled instructions, thrown all the food away, cleaned and sprayed everything and put mothballs in and behind any conceivable entry or exit to all floorboards, walls, doors or items of furniture. Will take me all weekend, and possibly rest of life, to find and destroy all mothballs. No moth could live through this or, crucially, toy boy. But that is, presumably, irrelevant, as STILL NO TEXT.

  4.15 p.m. Gaah! There is bang, clatter and voices of everyone coming home. Is Friday night, is time for Chloe to leave and have not prepared my Thoughts.

  4.16 p.m. How could Roxster not respond? Even though my last text was a question. Or was it? Will just check my last text again.


  Lurched in dismay. There was not only a question, an ending of text with a question, but an undeniably presumptuous presumption that I would see Roxster again.

  6 p.m. Went downstairs, attempting to conceal meltdown from Billy and Mabel (who fortunately, as is weekend, were absorbed respectively in Plants vs. Zombies and Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2) whilst simultaneously heating up spag bog (actually spag cheese without spag as Grazina has thrown away all the pasta). Finally, when supper was over, something about loading the dishwasher made me crack and send Roxster a fraudulently cheery text saying:

  Then went into paroxysms of agony, so bad that I had to let Billy just stay permanently killing plants with zombies, and Mabel watching Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 for the seventh time so they wouldn’t notice. Realized was irresponsible and lazy parenting, but decided not as bad as emotional damage inflicted by awareness of melting-down mother over someone closer in age to – Gaaah! Is Roxster actually closer in age to Mabel than me? No, but I think he might be to Billy. Oh God. What am I thinking? No wonder he has stopped texting.

  9.15 p.m. Still no text. Able, at last, to free-fall into well of misery, insecurity, emotional-pillow-pulled-from-under-feet, etc. The thing about going out with a younger man is that it makes you feel that you have miraculously turned back time. Sometimes, when we’re on the chair in the bathroom, and I catch sight of us in the mirror, I just can’t believe this is me, doing this with Roxster, at my age. But now it’s gone away I have burst like a bubble. Am I just using the whole thing to block existential despair about growing old, and the fear that maybe I’m going to have a stroke, and what would happen to Billy and Mabel?

  It was worse when they were babies. Had constant dread that I would spontaneously die in the night, or fall down the stairs, and no one would come, and they would be left alone, and end up eating me. But then as Jude pointed out, ‘It’s better than dying alone and being eaten by an Alsatian.’

  9.30 p.m. Must remember what it says in Zen and the Art of Falling in Love: when he comes, we welcome, when he goes, we let him go. Also, when Zen students sit on the Cushion they make friends with Loneliness, which is different from Aloneness. Loneliness is Transience and the way that people we love come into our lives and go away again which is just part of Life, or maybe that is Aloneness, and Loneliness is . . . Still no text.

  11 p.m. Cannot get to sleep.

  11.15 p.m. Oh, Mark. Mark. I know I did all this ‘Will he call, won’t he call?’ when we were going out, before we were married. But even then it was different. I knew him so well, I’d known him since I was running round his parents’ lawn with no clothes on.

  He used to have conversations with me when he was sleeping. That’s when I could find out what he was really feeling inside.

  ‘Mark?’ That dark, handsome face, sleeping on the pillow. ‘Are you lovely?’

  Sighing in his sleep, looking sad, ashamed, shaking his head.

  ‘Does your mummy love you?’

  Very sad, now, trying to say ‘no’ through his sleep. Mark Darcy, the big powerful human rights lawyer, and inside, the little damaged boy, sent away to boarding school at seven.

  ‘Do I love you?’ I’d say. And then he would smile in his sleep, happy, proud, nod his head, pull me to him, snuggle me under his arm.

  We knew each other inside out, back to front. Mark was a gentleman and I trusted him completely in everything and I went out from that safe place into the world. It was like exploring the scary underwater ocean from our safe little submarine. And now . . . everything is scary and nothing will be safe again.

  11.55 p.m. What am I doing? What am I doing? Why did I start all this? Why didn’t I just stay as I was? Sad, lonely, workless, sexless, but at least a mother and faithful to their . . . faithful to their father.


  Friday 19 April 2013 (continued)

  Five years. Has it really been five years? To start with it was just a question of getting through the day. Thankfully, Mabel was too little to know anything about it, bu
t, oh, the flashbacks to Billy, running all through the house saying, ‘I lost Dada!’ Jeremy and Magda at the door, a policeman behind them, the look on their faces. Running instinctively to the children, holding them both to me in terror: ‘What’s wrong, Mummy? What’s wrong?’ Government people in the living room, someone accidentally turning on the news, Mark’s face on the television with a caption:

  Mark Darcy 1956–2008

  The memories are a blur. Friends, family, surrounding me like a womb, Mark’s lawyer friends sorting everything, the will, the death duties, unbelievable, like a film that was going to stop. The dreams, with Mark still in them. The mornings, waking at 5 a.m., washed clean by sleep for a split second, thinking everything was the same, then remembering: poleaxed by pain, as though a great stake was ramming me to the bed, straight through the heart, unable to move in case I disturbed the pain and it spread, knowing that in half an hour the children would be awake and I’d be on: nappies, bottles, trying to pretend it was OK, or at least keep things together till help arrived and I could go off and howl in the bathroom, then put some mascara on and brace up again.

  But the thing about having kids is: you can’t go to pieces; you just have to keep going. KBO: Keep Buggering On. The army of bereavement counsellors and therapists helped with Billy and later Mabel: ‘manageable versions of the truth’, ‘honesty’, ‘talking’, ‘no secrets’, a ‘secure base’ from which to deal with it. But for the soidisant ‘secure base’ – i.e. (try not to laugh) me – it was different.

  The main thing I remember from those sessions was, bottom line: ‘Can you survive?’ There wasn’t any choice. All those thoughts that crowded in – our last moment together, the feel of Mark’s suit against my skin, me in my nightie, the unknowing last kiss goodbye, trying to recapture the look in his eye, the ring at the doorbell, the faces on the doorstep, the thoughts, ‘I never . . .’ ‘If only . . .’, they had to be blocked out. The carefully orchestrated grieving process, watched over by experts with soft voices, and caring upside-down smiles, was less helpful than figuring out how to change a nappy whilst simultaneously microwaving a fish finger. Just keeping the ship afloat, if not exactly upright, was, I thought, 90 per cent of the battle. Mark had everything arranged: financial details, insurance policies. We got out of the big house full of memories in Holland Park, and into our little house in Chalk Farm. School fees, home, bills, income, all practical matters perfectly taken care of: no need to work now, just Mabel and Billy – my miniature Mark – all I had left of him to keep alive, and to keep me alive. A mother, a widow, putting one foot in front of the other. But inside I was an empty shell, devastated, no longer me.

  By the time four years had gone by, however, the friends were not having it.


  ONE YEAR AGO . . .

  These are the extracts from last year’s diary, starting exactly one year ago, four years after Mark died, which show how I got myself into the current mess.

  2012 DIARY

  Thursday 19 April 2012

  175lb, alcohol units 4 (nice), calories 2822 (but better eating real food in club than bits of old cheese and fish fingers at home), possibility of having or desire to have sex ever again 0.

  ‘She HAS to get laid,’ said Talitha firmly, sipping a vodka martini and glancing alarmingly around Shoreditch House for candidates.

  It was one of our semi-regular evenings which Talitha, Tom and Jude insist I attend, in an effort to ‘Get Me Out’, rather like taking Granny to the seaside.

  ‘She does,’ said Tom. ‘Did I tell you, I got a suite at the Chedi in Chiang Mai for only two hundred quid a night on There was a Junior Suite for 179 on Expedia but it didn’t have a terrace.’

  Tom, in later life, has become increasingly obsessed with boutique-hotel holidays and trying to make us tailor our lifestyles to fit in with Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog.

  ‘Tom, shut up,’ murmured Jude, looking up from her iPhone, where she was on DatingSingleDoctors. ‘This is serious. We have to do something. She’s become a Born-Again Virgin.’

  ‘You don’t understand,’ I said. ‘It’s a total impossibility. I don’t want anyone else. And anyway, even if I did, which I don’t, I’m non-viable, completely asexual and no one will ever fancy me again, ever, ever, ever.’

  I stared at my stomach, bulging under my black top. It was true. I had become a Born-Again Virgin. The trouble with the modern world is that you are bombarded with images of sex and sexuality all the time – the hand on the bum on the billboard, the couples smooching on the beach in the Sandals ad, real-life couples entwined in the park, condoms by the till in the chemist – a whole wonderful magical world of sex, which you no longer belong to and never will again.

  ‘I’m not going to fight it, it’s just part of being a widow and the process of turning into a little old lady,’ I said melodramatically, hoping they would all immediately insist I was Penelope Cruz or Scarlett Johansson.

  ‘Oh, darling, don’t be so bloody ridiculous,’ said Talitha, summoning the waiter for another cocktail. ‘You probably do need to lose a bit of weight, and get some Botox and do something with your hair, but—’

  ‘Botox?’ I said indignantly.

  ‘Oh God,’ Jude suddenly burst out. ‘This guy isn’t a doctor. He was on DanceLoverDating. It’s the same photo!’

  ‘Maybe he’s a doctor who’s also a dance lover and just covering all the bases?’ I encouraged.

  ‘Jude, shut up,’ said Tom. ‘You are lost in a morass of nebulous cyber presences, most of whom don’t exist and who simply turn each other on and off randomly at will.’

  ‘Botox can kill you,’ I said darkly. ‘It’s botulism. It comes from cows.’

  ‘So what? Better to die of Botox than die of loneliness because you’re so wrinkly.’

  ‘For God’s sake, shut up, Talitha,’ said Tom.

  Suddenly found self missing Shazzer again and wishing she was here to say, ‘Will everyone fucking stop the fuck telling everyone else to shut the fuck up.’

  ‘Yes, shut up, Talitha,’ said Jude. ‘Not everyone wants to look like a freak show.’

  ‘Darling,’ said Talitha, putting her hand to her brow, ‘I am NOT a “freak show”. Grieving apart, Bridget has lost, or shall we say, mislaid, her sense of sexual self. And it’s our duty to help her relocate it.’

  And with a toss of her lush, shining locks Talitha settled back into her chair while the three of us stared at her silently, sucking our cocktails through our straws like five-year-olds.

  Talitha burst out again, ‘The thing about not looking your age is, it’s all about altering the “signposts”. The body must be forced to reject the fat-positioning of middle age, wrinkles are completely unnecessary and a fine head of swingy shiny healthy hair—’

  ‘Purchased for a pittance from impoverished Indian virgins,’ interjected Tom.

  ‘—however obtained and attached, is all one needs to turn back the clock.’

  ‘Talitha,’ said Jude, ‘did I actually just hear you articulate the words “Middle” and “Age”?’

  ‘Anyway, I can’t,’ I said.

  ‘Look. This really makes me very sad,’ said Talitha. ‘Women of our age—’

  ‘Your age,’ muttered Jude.

  ‘—have only got themselves to blame if they brand themselves as unviable by going on and on about how they haven’t had a date for four years. Germaine Greer’s “Disappearing Woman” must be brutally murdered and buried. One needs, for the sake of oneself and one’s peers, to create an air of mysterious confidence and allure, rebranding oneself—’

  ‘Like Gwyneth Paltrow,’ said Tom brightly.

  ‘Gwyneth Paltrow is not “our age” and she’s married,’ said Jude.

  ‘No, I mean I can’t shag anyone,’ I elucidated. ‘It wouldn’t be fair on the kids. There’s too much to do, and men are very high-maintenance matters.’

  Talitha surveyed me sorrowfully, my customary black loose-waisted trousers and long top swa
thing the ruins of what was once my figure. I mean, Talitha does have some authority to speak, having been married three times and, ever since I first met her, never without some completely besotted man in tow.

  ‘A woman has her needs,’ Talitha growled dramatically. ‘What good is a mother to her poor children if she’s suffering from low self-esteem and sexual frustration? If you don’t get laid soon, you will literally close up. More importantly, you will shrivel. And you will become bitter.’

  ‘Anyway,’ I said.


  ‘It wouldn’t be fair to Mark.’

  There was silence for a moment. It was as if a huge wet fish had been thrown into the high-spirited mood of the evening.

  Later, though, Tom drunkenly followed me into the Ladies’, leaning against the wall for support as I flapped my hands around the designer tap trying to get it to turn on.

  ‘Bridget,’ said Tom, as I started groping under the washbasin for pedals.

  I looked up from under the sink. ‘What?’

  Tom had gone into professional mode again.

  ‘Mark. He would want you to find someone. He wouldn’t want you to stop—’

  ‘I haven’t stopped,’ I said, straightening up with some difficulty.

  ‘You need to work,’ he said. ‘You need to get a life. And you need someone to be with you and love you.’

  ‘I do have a life,’ I said gruffly. ‘And I don’t need a man, I have the children.’

  ‘Well, if nothing else, you need someone to show you how to turn taps on.’ He reached over to the square tap column and turned a bit of the base, at which water started gushing out. ‘Have a look on Goop,’ he said, suddenly changing back into funny, flippant Tom. ‘See what Gwyneth has to say about sex and French-style parenting!’

  11.15 p.m. Just said goodnight to Chloe, trying to conceal slight squiffiness.

  ‘Sorry I’m a bit late,’ I mumbled sheepishly.