Bridget joness diary, p.11
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       Bridget Jones's Diary, p.11

         Part #1 of Bridget Jones series by Helen Fielding
 
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  Aargh. Instead of denying it, Jude and Shazzer were accepting my premature ageing as read, tactfully trying to change the subject to spare my feelings. I sat, in a spiral of terror, grasping my sagging face.

  'Just going to the ladies,' I said through clenched teeth like a ventriloquist keeping my face fixed, to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

  'Are you all right, Bridge?' said rude.

  'Fn,' I replied stiffly.

  Once in front of the mirror I reeled as the harsh overhead lighting revealed my thick, age-hardened, sagging flesh. I imagined the others back at the table, chiding Rebecca for alerting me to what everyone had long been saying about me but I never needed to know.

  Was suddenly overwhelmed by urge to rush out and ask all the diners how old they thought I was: like at school once, when I conceived private conviction that I was mentally subnormal and went round asking everyone in the playground, 'Am I mental?' and twenty-eight of them said, 'Yes.'

  Once get on tack of thinking about ageing there is no escape. Life suddenly seems like holiday where, halfway through, everything starts accelerating towards the end. Feel need to do something to stop ageing process, but what? Cannot afford face-lift. Caught in hideous cleft stick as both fatness and dieting are in themselves ageing. Why do I look old? Why? Stare at old ladies in street trying to work out all tiny processes by which faces become old not young. Scour newspapers for ages of everyone, trying to decide if they look old for their age.

  11 a.m. Phone just rang. It was Simon, to tell me about the latest girl he has got his eye on. 'How old is she?' I said, suspiciously,

  'Twenty-four.'

  Aargh aargh. Have reached the age when men of my own age no longer find their contemporaries attractive.

  4 p.m. Going out to meet Tom for tea. Decided needed to spend more time on appearance like Hollywood stars and have therefore spent ages putting concealer under eyes, blusher on cheeks and defining fading features.

  'Good God,' said Tom when I arrived.

  'What?' I said. 'What?'

  "Your face. You look like Barbara Cartland.'

  I started blinking very rapidly, trying to come to terms with the realization that some hideous time-bomb in my skin had suddenly, irrevocably, shrivelled it up.

  I look really old for my age, don't I?' I said, miserably.

  'No, you look like a five-year-old in your mother's make-up,' he said. 'Look.'

  I glanced in the mock Victorian pub mirror. I looked like a garish clown with bright pink cheeks, two dead crows for eyes and the bulk of the white cliffs of Dover smeared underneath. Suddenly understood how old women end up wandering around over-made-up with everyone sniggering at them and resolved not to snigger any more.

  'What's going on?' he said.

  'I'm prematurely ageing,' I muttered.

  'Oh, for God's sake. It's that bloody Rebecca, isn't it?' he said. 'Shazzer told me about the Magda conversation. It's ridiculous. You look about sixteen.'

  Love Tom. Even though suspected he might have been lying still feel hugely cheered up as even Tom would surely not say looked sixteen if looked forty-five.

  Sunday 11 June

  8st 13 (v.g, too hot to eat), alcohol units 3, cigarettes 0 (v. g., too hot to smoke), calories 759 (entirely ice-cream).

  Another wasted Sunday. It seems the entire summer is doomed to be spent watching the cricket with the curtains drawn. Feel strange sense of unease with the summer and not just because of the drawn curtains on Sundays and mini-break ban. Realize, as the long hot days freakishly repeat themselves, one after the other, that whatever I am doing I really think I ought to be doing something else. It comes from the same feeling family as the one which periodically makes you think that just because you live in central London you should be out at the RSC/Albert Hall/ Tower of London/Royal Academy/Madame Tussauds, instead of hanging around in bars enjoying yourself.

  The more the sun shines the more obvious it seems that others are making fuller, better use of it elsewhere: possibly at some giant softball game to which everyone is invited except me; possibly alone with their lover in a rustic glade by waterfalls where Bambis graze, or at some large public celebratory event, probably including the Queen Mother and one or more of the football tenors, to mark the exquisite summer which I am failing to get the best out of. Maybe it is our climatic past that is to blame. Maybe we do not yet have the mentality to deal with a sun and cloudless blue sky, which is anything other than a freak incident. The instinct to panic, run out of the office, take most of your clothes off and lie panting on the fire escape is still too strong.

  But there, too, is confusion. It is not the thing to go out courting malignant growths any more so what should you do? A shady barbecue, perhaps? Starve your friends while you tamper with fire for hours then poison them with burnt yet still quivering slices of underdone suckling pig? Or organize picnics in the park and end up with all the women scraping squashed gobbets of mozzarella off tinfoil and yelling at children with ozone asthma attacks; while the men swig warm white wine in the fierce midday sun, staring at the nearby softball games with left-out shame.

  Envy summer life on the Continent, where men in smart lightweight suits and designer sunglasses glide around calmly in smart air-conditioned cars, maybe stopping for a citron presse in a shady pavement cafe in an ancient square, totally cool about the sun and ignoring it because they know for a fact that it will still be shining at the weekend, when they can go and lie quietly on the yacht.

  Feel certain this has been factor behind our waning national confidence ever since we started to travel and notice it. I suppose things might change. More and more tables are on pavements. Diners are managing to sit calmly at them, only occasionally remembering the sun and turning their faces to it with closed eyes, breaking into huge excited grins at passer-by – 'Look, look, we're enjoying a refreshing drink in a pavement cafe, we can do it too' – their expressions of angst merely brief and fleeting which say, 'Ought we to be at an outdoor performance of AMidsummer Night's Dream?'

  Somewhere at the back of my mind is a new-born, tremulous notion that maybe Daniel is right: what you are supposed to do when it's hot is go to sleep under a tree or watch cricket with the curtains drawn. But to my way of thinking, to actually get to sleep you'd have to know that the next day would be hot as well, and the one after that, and that enough hot days lay in store in your lifetime to do all conceivable hot-day activities in a calm and measured manner with no sense of urgency whatsoever. Fat chance.

  Monday 12 June

  9st 1, alcohol units 3 (v.g.), cigarettes 13 (g.), minutes spent trying to programme video 210 (poor).

  7 p.m. Mum just rang. 'Oh, hello, darling. Guess what? Penny Husbands-Bosworth is on Newsnight!!!'

  'Who?'

  'You know the Husbands-Bosworths, darling. Ursula was in the year above you at the High School. Herbert died of leukaemia . . . '

  'What?'

  'Don't say "what", Bridget, say "pardon". The thing is I'm going to be out because Una wants to see a slide show of the Nile so Penny and I wondered if you'd record it . . . Ooh, better dash – there's the butcher!'

  8 p.m. Right. Ridiculous to have had video for two years and never to have been able to make it record anything. Also is marvellous FV 67 HV VideoPlus. Simple matter of following operating instructions, locating buttons, etc., certain.

  8.15 p.m. Humph. Cannot locate operating instructions.

  8.35 p.m. Hah! Found operating instructions under Hello! Right. 'Programming your video is as easy as making a phone call'. Excellent.

  8.40 p.m. 'Point the remote control at the video recorder.' V. easy. 'Turn to Index.' Aargh, horror list with 'Timer controlled simultaneous HiFi sound recordings', 'the decoder needed for encoded programmes', etc. Merely wish to record Penny Husbands-Bosworth's rant, not spend all evening reading treatise on spying techniques.

  8.50 p.m. Ah. Diagram. 'Buttons for IMC functions'. But what are IMC functions?

  8.55 p.m. Decide to ignore t
hat page. Turn to 'Timer-controlled recordings with VideoPlus': '1. Meet the requirements for VideoPlus.' What requirements? Hate the stupid video. Feel exactly the same as feel when trying to follow signposts on roads. Know in heart that signposts and video manual do not make sense but still cannot believe authorities would be so cruel as to deliberately dupe us all. Feel incompetent fool and as if everyone else in world understands something which is being kept from me.

  9.16 p.m. 'When you turn your recorder on you must adjust the clock and the calendar for precise TIMER-controlled recording (don't forget to use the quick-adjust options to switch between summer and winter time). Clock menus called with red and digital number 6.'

  Press red and nothing happens. Press numbers and nothing happens. Wish stupid video had never been invented.

  9.25 p.m. Aargh. Suddenly main menu is on TV saying 'Press 6'. Oh dear. Realize was using telly remote control by mistake. Now news has come on.

  Just called Tom and asked him if he could record Penny Husbands-Bosworth but he said he didn't know how to work his video either.

  Suddenly there is clicking noise within video and the news is replaced, incomprehensibly, by Blind Date.

  Just called Jude and she can't work hers either. Aaargh. Aargh. Is 10.15. Newsnight in 15 minutes.

  10.17 p.m. Cassette will not go in.

  10.18 p.m. Ah, Thelma and Louise is in there.

  10.19 p.m. Thelma and Louise will not come out.

  10.21 p.m. Frenziedly press all buttons. Cassette comes out and goes back in again.

  10.25 p.m. Have got new cassette in now. Right. Turn to 'Recording'.

  'Recording will start when in Tuner Mode when any button is pressed (apart from Mem).'What, though, is Tuner Mode? 'When recording from a camcorder or similar press AV prog source 3 x during a bilingual transmission press 1/2 and hold for 3 seconds to make your choice of language.'

  Oh God. Stupid manual reminds me of Linguistics professor had at Bangor, who was so immersed in finer points of language that could not speak without veering off into analysis of each individual word: 'This morning I would . . . now "would" you see, in 1570 . . . '

  Aargh aargh. Newsnight is starting.

  10.31 p.m. OK. OK. Calm. Penny Husbands-Bosworth's asbestos leukaemia item is not on yet.

  10.33 p. Yesss, yesss. RECORDING CURRENT PROGRAMME. Have done it!

  Aaargh. All going mad. Cassette has started rewinding and now stopped and ejected. Why? Shit. Shit. Realize in excitement have sat on remote control.

  10.35 p.m. Frantic now. Have rung Shazzer, Rebecca, Simon, Magda. Nobody knows how to programme their videos. Only person I know who knows how to do it is Daniel.

  10.45 p.m. Oh God. Daniel fell about laughing when said I could not programme video. Said he would do it for me. Still, at least have done best for Mum. It is exciting and historic when one's friends are on TV.

  11.15 p.m. Humph. Mum just rang. 'Sorry, darling. It isn't Newsnight, it's Breakfast News tomorrow. Could you set it for seven o'clock tomorrow morning. BBC 1?'

  11.30 p.m. Daniel just called. 'Er, sorry, Bridge. I'm not quite sure what went wrong. It's recorded Barry Norman.'

  Sunday 8 June

  8st 12, alcohol units 3, cigarettes 17.

  After sitting in semi-darkness for the third weekend running with Daniel's hand down my bra, fiddling with my nipple as if it were a sort of worry bead and me occasionally feebly saying, 'Was that a run?' I suddenly blurted out, 'Why can't we go on a mini-break? Why? Why? Why?'

  'That's a good idea,' said Daniel, mildly, taking his hand out of my dress. 'Why don't you book somewhere for next weekend? Nice country house hotel. I'll pay.'

  Wednesday 21 June

  8st 11 (v.v.g.), alcohol units 1, cigarettes 2, Instants 2 (v.g.), minutes spent looking at mini-break brochures 237 (bad).

  Daniel has refused to discuss the mini-break any more, or look at the brochure, and has forbidden me from mentioning it until we actually set off on Saturday. How can he expect me not to be excited when I have been longing for this for so long? Why is it that men have not yet learnt to fantasize about holidays, choose them from brochures and plan and fantasize about them in the way that they (or some of them) have learnt to cook or sew? The singlehanded mini-break responsibility is hideous for me. Wovingham Hall seems ideal – tasteful without being over-formal, with four-poster beds, a lake and even a fitness centre (not to go in), but what if Daniel doesn't like it?

  Sunday 25 June

  8st 11, alcohol units 7, cigarettes 2, calories 4587 (ooops).

  Oh dear. Daniel decided the place was nouveau from the moment we arrived, because there were three Rolls-Royces parked outside, and one of them yellow. I was fighting a sinking realization that it was suddenly freezing cold and I had packed for 900 heat. This was my packing:

  Swimsuits 2.

  Bikinis 1.

  Long floaty white dress 1.

  Sundress 1.

  Trailer-park-trash pink jelly mules 1 pair.

  Tea-rose-pink suede mini dress 1.

  Black silk teddy.

  Bras, pants, stockings, suspenders (various).

  There was a crack of thunder as I teetered, shivering, after Daniel to find the foyer stuffed with bridesmaids and men in cream suits and to discover that we were the only guests staying in the hotel who were not in the wedding party.

  'Chuh! Isn't it dreadful what's happening in Srebrenica,' I chattered maniacally to try to put out problems in proportion. 'To be honest, I never feel I've quite pinned down what's going on in Bosnia. I thought the Bosnians were the ones in Sarajevo and the Serbians were attacking them, so who are the Bosnian Serbs?'

  'Well, if you spent a bit less time reading brochures and more time reading the papers you might know,' smirked Daniel.

  'So what is going on?'

  'God, look at that bridesmaid's tits.'

  'And who are the Bosnian Muslims?'

  'I cannot believe the size of that man's lapels.,

  Suddenly I had the unmistakable feeling that Daniel was trying to change the subject.

  'Are the Bosnian Serbs the same lot who were attacking Sarajevo?' I asked.

  Silence.

  'Whose territory is Srebrenica in, then?'

  'Srebrenica is a safe area,' said Daniel in deeply patronizing tones.

  'So how come the people from the safe area were attacking before?'

  'Shut up.'

  'Just tell me if the Bosnians in Srebrenica are the same lot as the ones in Sarajevo.'

  'Muslims,' said Daniel triumphantly.

  'Serbian or Bosnian?'

  'Look, will you shut up?'

  'You don't know what's going on in Bosnia either.'

  'I do.'

  'You don't.'

  'I do.'

  'You don' t.'

  At this point the commissionaire, who was dressed in knickerbockers, white socks, patent leather buckled shoes, a frock coat and a powdered wig, leaned over and said, 'I think you'll find the former inhabitants of Srebrenica and of Sarajevo are Bosnian Muslims, sir.' Adding pointedly, 'Will you be requiring a newspaper in the morning at all, sir?'

  I thought Daniel was going to hit him. I found myself stroking his arm murmuring, 'OK now, easy, easy,' as if he were a racehorse that had been frightened by a van.

  5.30 p.m. Brrr. Instead of lying side by side with Daniel in hot sun at the side of the lake wearing a long floaty dress, I ended up blue with cold in a rowing boat with one of the hotel bath towels wrapped round me. Eventually we gave up to retire to our room for a hot bath and Codis, discovering en route that another couple were to be sharing the non-wedding party dining room with us that evening, the female half of which was a girl called Eileen whom Daniel had slept with twice, inadvertently bitten dangerously hard on the breast and never spoken to since.

  As I emerged from my bath Daniel was lying on the bed giggling. 'I've got a new diet for you,' he said.

  'So you do think I'm fat.'

  'OK, this is it. It's v
ery simple. All you do is not eat any food which you have to pay for. So at the start of the diet you're a bit porky and no one asks you out to dinner. Then you lose weight and get a bit leggy and shag-me hippy and people start taking you out for meals. So then you put a few pounds on, the invitations tail off and you start losing weight again.'

  'Daniel!' I exploded. 'That's the most appalling sexist, fattist, cynical thing I've ever heard.'

  'Oh, don't be like that, Bridge,' he said. 'It's the logical extension of what you really think. I keep telling you nobody wants legs like a stick insect. They want a bottom they can park a bike in and balance a pint of beer on.'

  I was torn between a gross image of myself with a bicycle parked in my bottom and a pint of beer balanced on it, fury at Daniel for his blatantly provocative sexism and suddenly wondering if he might be right about my concept of my body in relation– to men, and, in which case, whether I should have something delicious to eat straight away and what that might be.

  'I'll just pop the telly on,' said Daniel, taking advantage of my temporary speechlessness to press the remote-control button, and moving towards the curtains, which were those thick hotel ones with blackout lining. Seconds later the room was in complete darkness apart from the flickering light of the cricket. Daniel had lit a fag and was calling down to room service for six cans of Fosters.

  'Do you want anything, Bridge?' he said, smirking. 'Cream tea, maybe? I'll pay.'

  JULY. Huh

  Sunday 2 July

  8st 10 (continuing good work), alcohol units 0, cigarettes 0, calories 995, Instants 0: perfect.

 
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