Bridget joness diary, p.12
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       Bridget Jones's Diary, p.12

         Part #1 of Bridget Jones series by Helen Fielding
 
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  7.45 a.m. Mum just rang. 'Oh, hello, darling, guess what?'

  'I'll just take the phone in the other room. Hang on,' I said, glancing over nervously at Daniel, unplugging the phone, creeping next door and plugging it in again only to find my mother had not noticed my absence for the last two and a half minutes and was still talking.

  ' . . . So what do you think, darling?'

  'Um, I don't know. I was bringing the phone into the other room like I said,' I said.

  'Ah. So you didn't hear anything?'

  'No.' There was a slight pause.

  'Oh, hello, darling, guess what?' Sometimes I think my mother is part of the modern world and sometimes she seems a million miles away. Like when she leaves messages on my answerphone which just say, very loudly and clearly, 'Bridget Jones's mother.'

  Hello? Oh, hello, darling, guess what?' she said, again.

  'What?' I said resignedly.

  'Una and Geoffrey are having a Tarts and Vicars party in the garden on the twenty-ninth of July. Don't you thin that's fun! Tarts and Vicars! Imagine!'

  I tried hard not to, fighting off a vision of Una Alconbury in thigh boots, fishnet nights and a peephole bra. For sixty-year-olds to organize such an event seemed unnatural and wrong.

  'Anyway, we thought it would be super if you and' – coy, loaded pause – 'Daniel, could come. We're all dying to meet him.'

  My heart sank at the thought of my relationship with Daniel being dissected in dose and intimate detail amongst the Lifeboat luncheons of Northamptonshire.

  'I don't think it's really Daniel's – ' Just as I said that the chair I had, for some reason, been balancing on with my knees while I leaned over the table fell over with a crash.

  When I retrieved the phone my mother was still talking.

  'Yes, super. Mark Darcy's going to be there, apparently, with someone, so . . . '

  'What's going on?' Daniel was standing stark naked in the doorway. 'Who are you talking to?'

  'My mother,' I said, desperately, out of the corner of my mouth.

  'Give it to me,' he said, taking the phone. I like it when he is authoritative without being cross like this.

  'Mrs Jones,' he said, in his most charming voice. It's Daniel here.'

  I could practically hear her going all fluttery.

  'This is very bright and early on a Sunday morning for a phone call. Yes, it is an absolutely beautiful day. What can we do for you?'

  He looked at me while she chattered for a few seconds then turned back to the receiver.

  'Well, that'll be lovely. I shall put that in the diary for the twenty-ninth and look out my dog collar. Now, we'd better get back and catch up on our sleep. You take care of yourself, now. Cheerio. Yes. Cheerio,' he said firmly, and put the phone down.

  'You see,' he said smugly, 'a firm hand, that's all it needs.'

  Saturday 22 July

  8st 11 (hmm must get 1lb off), alcohol units 2, cigarettes 7, calories 1562.

  Actually I am really excited about Daniel coming to the Tarts and Vicars party with me next Saturday. It will be so lovely for once not to have to drive up on my own, arrive on my own and face all that barrage of inquisition about why I haven't got a boyfriend. It will be a gorgeous hot day. Maybe we could even make a mini-break of it and stay in a pub (or other hotel without televisions in the bedroom). I'm really looking forward to Daniel meeting my dad. I hope he likes him.

  2 a.m. Woke up in floods of tears from, a hideous dream I keep having where I'm sitting A-level French and realize as I turn over the paper that I have forgotten to do any revision and I'm wearing nothing except my Domestic Science apron, trying desperately to pull it round me so Miss Chignall won't see that I'm wearing no pants. I expected Daniel to at least be sympathetic. I know-it's all to do with my worries about where my career is leading me but he just lit himself a cigarette and asked me to run over the bit about the Domestic Science apron again.

  'It's all right for you with your bloody Cambridge First.' I whispered, sniffing. 'I'll never forget the moment when I looked at the notice board and saw a D next to French and knew I couldn't go to Manchester. It altered the course of my whole life.'

  'You should thank your lucky stars, Bridge,' he said, lying on his back and blowing smoke at the ceiling. 'You'd probably have married some crashing Geoffrey Boycott character and spent the rest of your life cleaning out the whippet cage. Anyway . . . ' he started laughing, ' . . . there's nothing wrong with a degree from . . . from . . . ' (he was so amused now he could hardly speak) ' . . . Bangor.'

  'Right, that's it. I'm sleeping on the sofa,' I yelled, jumping out of bed.

  'Hey, don't be like that, Bridge,' he said, pulling me back. 'You know I think you're a . . . an intellectual giant. You just need to learn how to interpret dreams.'

  'What's the dream telling me, then?' I said sulkily. 'That I haven't fulfilled my potential inteflectually?'

  'Not exactly.'

  'What, then?'

  'Well, I think the pantless apron is a pretty obvious symbol, isn't it?'

  'What?'

  'It means that the vain pursuit of an intellectual life is getting in the way of your true purpose.'

  'Which is what?'

  'Well, to cook all my meals for me, of course, darling,' he said, beside himself at his own amusingness again. 'And walk around my flat with no pants on.'

  Friday 28 July

  8st 12 (must do diet before tomorrow), alcohol units I (v.g.), cigarettes 8, calories 345.

  Mmmm. Daniel was really sweet tonight and spent ages helping me choose my outfit for the Tarts and Vicars. He kept suggesting different ensembles for me to try on while he weighed it up. He was quite keen on a dog collar and black T-shirt with black lace-topped hold-ups as a cross between a tart and a vicar but in the end, after I'd walked about for quite a while in both of them, he decided the best one was a black lacy Marks and Spencer body, with stockings and suspenders, a French maid's-style apron which we'd made out of two hankies and a piece of ribbon, a bow-tie, and a cotton-wool rabbit's tail. It was really good of him to give up the time. Sometimes I think he really is quite caring. He seemed particularly keen on sex tonight as well.

  Ooh, I am so looking forward to tomorrow.

  Saturday 29 July

  8st 11 9v.g.), alcohol units 7, cigarettes 8, calories 6245 (sodding Una Alconbury, Mark Darcy, Daniel, Mum, everybody).

  2 p.m. Cannot believe what has happened. By 1 p.m. Daniel had still not woken up and I was starting to worry because the party starts at 2.30. Eventually I woke him with a cup of coffee and said, 'I thought you needed to wake up because we're supposed to be there at two-thirty.'

  'Where?' he said.

  'The Tarts and Vicars.

  'Oh God, love. Listen, I've just realized, I've got so-much work to do this weekend. I'm really going to have to stay at home and get down to it.'

  I couldn't believe it. He promised to come. Everyone knows when you are going out with someone they are supposed to support you at hideous family occasions, and he thinks if he so much as mentions the word 'work' he can get out of anything. Now all the Alconburys' friends will spend the entire time asking me if I've got a boyfriend yet and no one will believe me.

  10 p.m. Cannot believe what I have been through. I drove for two hours, parked at the front of the Alconburys' and, hoping I looked OK in the bunny girl outfit, walked round the side to the garden where I could hear voices raised in merriment. As I started to cross the lawn they all went quiet, and I realized to my horror that instead of Tarts and Vicars, the ladies were in Country Casuals-style calf-length floral two-pieces and the men were in slacks and V-necked sweaters. I stood there, frozen, like, well, a rabbit. Then while everyone stared, Una Alconbury came flapping across the lawn in pleated fuchsia holding out a plastic tumbler full of bits of apple and leaves.

  'Bridget!! Super to see you. Have a Pimms.' she said.

  'I thought it was supposed to be a Tarts and Vicars party,' I hissed.

  'Oh de
ar, didn't Geoff call you?' she said. I couldn't believe this. I mean, did she think I dressed as a bunny girl normally or something? 'Geoff,' she said. 'Didn't you telephone Bridget? We're all looking forward to meeting your new boyfriend,' she sajd, looking around. 'Where is he?'

  'He had to work,' I muttered.

  'How's-my-little-Bridget?' said Uncle Geoffrey, lurching over, pissed.

  'Geoffrey,' said Una coldly.

  'Yup, Yup. All present and correct, orders obeyed, Lieutenant,' he said, saluting, then collapsing on to her shoulder giggling. 'But it was one of those ruddy answerphone thingummajigs.'

  'Geoffrey,' hissed Una. 'Go-and-see-to-the-barbecue. I'm sorry, darling, you see we decided after all the scandals there've been with vicars around here there'd be no point having a Tarts and Vicars party because . . . ' she started to laugh, ' . . . because everyone thought vicars were tarts anyway. Oh dear,' she said, wiping her eyes. 'Anyway, how's this new chap, then? What's he doing working on a Saturday? Durrr! That's not a very good excuse, is it? How are we going to get you married off at this rate?'

  'At this rate I'm going to end up as a call girl,' I muttered, trying to unpin the bunny tail from my bottom.

  I could feel someone's eyes on me and looked up to see Mark Darcy staring fixedly at the bunny tail. Beside him was the tall thin glamorous top family-law barrister clad in a demure lilac dress and coat like Jackie O. with sunglasses on her head.

  The smug witch smirked at Mark and blatantly looked me up and down in a most impolite manner. 'Have you come from another party?' she breathed.

  'Actually, I'm just on my way to work,' I said, at which Mark Darcy half smiled and looked away.

  'Hello, darling, can't stop. Shooting.' trilled my mother, hurrying towards us in a bright turquoise pleated shirtwaister, waving a clapper board. 'What on earth do you think you're wearing darling? You look like a common prostitute. Absolute quiet, please, everyone, aaaaand . . . ' she yelled in the direction of Julio, who was brandishing a video camera, 'action!'

  In alarm I quickly looked round for Dad but couldn't see him anywhere. I saw Mark Darcy talking to Una and gesturing in my direction then Una, looking purposeful, hurried across to me.

  'Bridget, I am so sorry about the mix-up over the fancy dress,' she said. 'Mark was just saying you must feel dreadfully uncomfortable with all these older chaps around. Would you like to borrow something?'

  I spent the rest of the party wearing, over my suspender outfit, a puff-sleeved, floral-sprig Laura Ashley bridesmaid dress of Janine's with Mark Darcy's Natasha smirking and my mother periodically rushing past going, 'That's a pretty dress, darling. Cut!'

  'I don't think much of the girlfriend, do you? said Una Alconbury loudly, nodding in Natasha's direction as soon as she got me alone. 'Very much the Little Madam. Elaine thinks she's desperate to get her feet under the table. Oh, hello, Mark! Another glass of Pimms? What a shame Bridget couldn't bring her boyfriend. He's a lucky chap, isn't he?' All this was said very aggressively as if Una was taking as a personal insult the fact that Mark had chosen a girlfriend who was a) not me and b) had not been introduced to him by Una at a turkey curry buffet. 'What's his name, Bridget? Daniel, is it? Pam says he's one of these sooper-dooper young publishers.

  'Daniel Cleaver?' said Mark Darcy.

  'Yes, it is, actually,' I said, jutting my chin out.

  'Is he a friend of yours, Mark?' said Una.

  'Absolutely not,' he said, abruptly.

  'Oooh. I hope he's good enough for our little Bridget,' Una pressed on, winking at me as if this was all hilarious fun instead of hideous.

  'I think I could say again, with total confidence, absolutely not,' said Mark.

  'Oh, hang on a tick, there's Audrey. Audreyl' said Una, not listening, and tripping off, thank God.

  'I suppose you think that's clever,' I said furiously, when she'd gone.

  'What?' said Mark, looking surprised.

  'Don't you "What?" me, Mark Darcy,' I muttered.

  'You sound just like my mother,' he said.

  'I suppose you think its all right to slag people's boyfriends off to their parents' friends behind their back when they're not even there for no reason just because you're jealous,' I flailed.

  He stared at me, as if distracted by something else. 'Sorry,' he said. 'I was just trying to figure out what you mean. Have I . . .? Are you suggesting that I am jealous of Daniel Cleaver? Over you?'

  'No, not over me,' I said, furious because I realized it did sound like that. 'I was just assuming you must have some reason to be so horrible about my boyfriend other than pure malevolence.'

  'Mark, darling,' cooed Natasha, tripping prettily across the lawn to join us. She was so tall and thin she hadn't felt the need to put heels on, so could walk easily across the lawn without sinking, as if designed for it, like a camel in the desert. 'Come and tell your mother about the dining furniture we saw in Conran.'

  'Just take care of yourself, that's all, he said quietly, 'and I'd tell your mum to watch out for herself too,' he said, nodding pointedly in the direction of Julio as Natasha dragged him off.

  After 45 minutes more horror I thought I could decently leave, pleading work to Una.

  'You career girls! Can't put it off forever you know: tick-tock-tick-tock,' she said.

  I had to have a cigarette in the car for five minutes before I was calm enough to set off. Then just as I got back to the main road my dad's car drove past. Sitting next to him in the front seat was Penny Husbands-Bosworth, wearing a red lace underwired uplift basque, and two bunny ears.

  By the time I got back to London and off the motorway I was feeling pretty shaky and back much earlier than I expected, so I thought, instead of going straight home, I'd go round to Daniel's for a bit of reassurance.

  I parked nose to nose with Daniel's car. There was I no answer when I rang, so I left it a while and rang again in case it was just in the middle of a really good wicket or something. Still no answer. I knew he must be around because his car was there and he'd said he was going to be working and watching the cricket. I looked up at his window and there was Daniel. I beamed at him, waved and pointed at the door. He disappeared, I assumed to press the buzzer, so I rang the bell again. He took a bit of time to answer: 'Hi, Bridge Just the on phone to America. Can I meet you in the pub in ten minutes?'

  'OK,' I said cheerfully, without thinking, and set off towards the comer. But when I looked round, there he was again, not on the phone, but watching me out of the window.

  Cunning as a fox, I pretended not to see and kept walking, but inside I was in turmoil. Why was he watching? Why hadn't he answered the door first time? Why didn't he just press the buzzer and let me come up straight away? Suddenly it hit me like a thunderbolt. He was with a woman.

  My heart pounding, I rounded the corner, then, keeping flat against the wall, I peered round to check he had gone from the window. No sign of him. I hurried back and assumed a crouching position in the porch next to his, observing his doorway between the pillars in case a woman came out. I waited, crouched in the position for some time. But then I started to think: if a woman did come out, how would I know it was Daniel's flat she had come out of and not one of the other flats in the building? What would I do? Challenge her? Make a citizen's arrest? Also, what was to stop him leaving the woman in the flat with instructions to stay there until he had had time to get to the pub?

  I looked at my watch. 6.30. Hah! The pub wasn't open yet. Perfect excuse. Emboldened, I hurried back towards the door and pushed the buzzer.

  'Bridget, is that you again?' he snapped.

  'The pub isn't open yet.'

  There was silence. Did I hear a voice in the background? In denial, I told myself he was just laundering money or dealing in drugs. He was probably trying to hide polythene bags full of cocaine under the floorboards helped by some smooth South American men with ponytails.

  'Let me in,' I said.

  ' I told you, I'm on the phone.'

  'Let me i
n.'

  'What?' He was playing for time I could tell.

  'Press the buzzer, Daniel,' I said.

  Isn't it funny how you can detect someone's presence, even though you can't see, hear or otherwise discern them? Oh of course I'd checked the cupboards on the way up the stairs and there was no one in any of them. But I knew there was a woman in Daniel's house. Maybe it was a slight smell . . . something about the way Daniel was behaving. Whatever it was, I just knew.

  We stood there warily at opposite sides of the sitting room. I was just desperate to start running around opening and dosing all the cupboards like my mother and ringing 1471 to see if there was a number stored from America.

  'What have you got on?' he said. I had forgotten about Janine's outfit in the excitement.

  'A bridesmaid's dress,' I said, haughtily.

  'Would you like a drink?' said Daniel. I thought fast. I needed to get him into the kitchen so I could go through all the cupboards.

  'A cup of tea, please.'

  'Are you all right?' he said.

  'Yes! Fine!' I trilled. 'Marvellous time at the party. Only one dressed as a tart, had to put on a bridesmaid dress, Mark Darcy was there with Natasha, that's a nice shirt your wearing . . .' I stopped, out of breath, realizing I had turned (there was no 'was turning' about it) into my mother.

  He looked at me for a moment, then set off into the kitchen at which I quickly leapt across the room to look behind the sofa and the curtains.

  'What are you doing?'

  Daniel was standing in the doorway-

  'Nothing, nothing. Just thought I might have left a skirt of mine behind the sofa,' I said, wildly plumping up the cushions as if I were in a French farce.

  He looked suspicious and headed off to the kitchen again.

  Deciding there was no time to dial 1471, I quickly checked the cupboard where he keeps the duvet for the sofabed – no human habitation – then followed him to the kitchen, pulling open the door of the hall cupboard as I passed at which the ironing board fell out, followed by a cardboard box full of old 45s which slithered out all over the floor.

 
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