Bridget joness diary, p.16
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       Bridget Jones's Diary, p.16

         Part #1 of Bridget Jones series by Helen Fielding
 
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  I couldn't go on with it after that. Oh God. It's no good. I am too old and will have to give up, teach religious knowledge in a girls' school and move in with the hockey teacher.

  Saturday 23 September

  9st,, alcohol units 0, cigarettes 0 (v.v.g.), draft replies written to Mark Darcy's invitation 14 (but at least has replaced imaginary conversations with Daniel).

  10 a.m. Right. I am going to reply to Mark Darcy's invitation and say quite clearly and firmly that I will be unable to attend. There is no reason why I should go. I am not a close friend or relation, and would have to miss both Blind Date and Casualty.

  Oh God, though. It is one of those mad invitations written in the third person, as if everyone is so posh that to acknowledge directly in person that they were having a party and wondered if you would like to come would be like calling the ladies' powder room the toilet. Seem to remember from childhood am supposed to reply in same oblique style as if I am imaginary person employed by self to reply to invitations from imaginary people employed by friends to issue invitations. What to put?

  Bridget Jones regrets that she will be unable . . .

  Miss Bridget Jones is distraught, that she will be unable . . .

  Devastated does not do justice to the feelings of Miss Bridget Jones . . .

  It is with great regret that we must announce that so great was

  Miss Budget Jones's distress at not being able to accept the

  kind invitation of Mr. Mark Darcy that she has topped herself

  and will therefore, more certainly than ever, now, be unable to

  accept Mr. Mark Darcy's kind . . .

  Ooh: telephone.

  It was Dad: 'Bridget, my dear, you are coming to the horror event next Saturday, aren't you?'

  'The Darcys' ruby wedding, you mean.'

  'What else? It's been the only thing that has distracted your mother from the question of who's getting the mahogany ornament cabinet and nesting coffee tables since she got the Lisa Leeson interview at the beginning of August.'

  'I was kind of hoping to get out of it.'

  The line went quiet at the other end.

  'Dad?'

  There was a muffled sob. Dad was crying. I think Dad is having a nervous breakdown. Mind you, if I'd been married to Mum for thirty-nine years I'd have had a nervous breakdown, even without her running off with a Portuguese tour operator.

  'What's wrong, Dad?'

  'Oh, it's just . . . Sony. It's just . . . I was hoping to get out of it too.'

  'Well, why don't you? Hurray. Let's go to the pictures instead.'

  'It's . . . ' he broke down again. 'It's the thought of her going with that greasy beperfumed bouffant wop, and all my friends and colleagues of forty years saying 'cheers' to the pair of them and writing me off as history.'

  'They won't . . . '

  'Oh yes, they will. I'm determined to go, Bridget. I'm going to get on my glad rags and hold my head up high and . . . but . . . ' Sobs again.

  'What?'

  'I need some moral support.'

  11:30 a.m.

  Miss Bridget Jones has great pleasure . . .

  Ms. Bridget Jones thanks Mr. Mark Darcy for his . . .

  It is with great pleasure that Miss Bridget Jones accepts . . .

  Oh, for God's sake.

  Dear Mark,

  Thank you for your invitation to your ruby wedding party for Malcolm and Elaine. I would love to come.

  Yours,

  Bridget Jones

  Hmmm.

  Yours,

  Bridget

  or just

  Bridget

  Bridget (Jones)

  Right. Will just copy it out neatly and check spellings then send it.

  Tuesday 26 September

  8st 13, alcohol units 0, cigarettes 0, calories 1256, lottery tickets 0, obsessive thoughts about Daniel 0, negative thoughts 0. Am perfect saint-style person.

  It is great when you start thinking about your career instead of worrying about trivial things – men and relationships. It's going really well on Good Afternoon! I think I might have a gift for popular television. The-really exciting news is that I am going to be given a tryout in front of the camera.

  Richard Finch got this idea into his head at the end of last week that he wanted to do a Live Action Special with reporters attached to emergency services all over the capital. He didn't have much luck to start with. In fact people were going round the office saying he had been turned down by every Accident and Emergency unit, Police and Ambulance force in the Home Counties. But this morning when I arrived he grabbed me by the shoulders yelling, 'Bridget! We're on! Fire. I want you on-camera. I'm thinking miniskirt. I'm thinking fireman's helmet. I'm thinking pointing the hose.'

  Everything has been total mayhem ever since, with the everyday business of the day's news utterly forgotten and everyone gibbering down the phone about links, towers and OBs. Anyway, it is all happening tomorrow and I have to report to Lewisham fire station at 11 o'clock. I'm going to ring round everybody tonight and tell them to watch. Cannot wait to tell Mum.

  Wednesday 27 September

  8st 11 (shrunk with embarrassment), alcohol units 3, cigarettes 0 (no smoking in fire station) then 12 in 1 hour, calories 1584 (v.g.).

  9 p.m. Have never been so humiliated in my life. Spent all day rehearsing and getting everything organized. The idea was that when they Cut to Lewisham I was going to slide down the pole into shot and start interviewing a fireman. At five o'clock as we went on air I was perched at the top of the pole ready to slide down on my cue. Then suddenly in my earpiece I heard Richard shouting, 'Go, go, go go, go!' so I let go of the pole and started to slide. Then he continued, 'Go, go, go, Newcastle! Bridget, stand by in Lewisham. Coming to you in thirty seconds.'

  I thought about dropping to the bottom of the pole and rushing back up the stairs but I was only a few feet down so I started to pull myself up again instead. Then suddenly there was a great bellow in my ear.

  'Bridget! We're on you. What the fuck are you doing? You're meant to be sliding down the pole, not climbing up it. Go, go, go.'

  Hysterically I grinned at the camera and dropped myself down, landing, as scheduled, by the feet of the fireman I was supposed to interview.

  'Lewisham, we're out of time. Wind it up, wind it up, Bridget,' yelled Richard in my ear.

  'And now back to the studio,' I said, and that was it.

  Thursday 28 September

  8st 12,, alcohol units 2 (v.g.), cigarettes 11 (g.), calories 1850, job offers from fire service or rival TV stations 0 (perhaps not altogether surprising).

  11 a.m. Am in disgrace and am laughingstock. Richard Finch humiliated me m front of the whole meeting flinging words like 'shambles,' 'disgrace,' and 'bleedin' bloody idiot' at me randomly.

  'And now back to the studio,' seems to have turned into a new catchphrase in the office. Anytime anyone gets asked a question they don't know the answer to they go, 'Errrr . . . and now back to the studio,' and burst out laughing. Funny thing is, though, the grunge youths are being much more friendly to me. Patchouli (even!) came up and said, 'Oh, like, don't take any notice of Richard, right? He's, like, you know, really into control, right. You know what I'm sayin'? That fireman's pole thing was really like subversive and brilliant, right. Anyway, like . . . now back to the studio, OK?'

  Richard Finch now just either ignores me or shakes his head disbelieving whenever he comes anywhere near me, and I have been given nothing to do all day.

  Oh God, I'm so depressed. I thought I'd found something I was good at for once and now it's all ruined, and on top of everything else it is the horrible ruby wedding party on Saturday and I have nothing to wear. I'm no good at anything. Not men. Not social skills. Not work. Nothing.

  OCTOBER. Date with Darcy

  Sunday 1 October

  8st 11, cigarettes 17, alcohol units 0 (u.g., esp for party).

  4 a.m. Startling. One of the most startling evenings of life.

  After
got depressed on Friday Jude came round and talked to me about being more positive about things, bringing with her fantastic black dress for me to borrow for party. Was worried that might split or spill on the dress but she said she had lots of money and dresses because of top job and did not matter so not to worry about it. Love Jude. Girls are so much nicer than men (apart from Tom-but homosexual). Decided to accessorize fantastic dress with black tights with Lycra and Light Shimmer (?6.95) and Pied a terre kitten-heel black suede shoes (have got mashed potato off).

  Had shock on arrival at the party as Mark Darcy's house was not a thin white terraced house on Portland Road or similar as had anticipated, but huge, detached wedding cake-style mansion on the other side of Holland Park Avenue (where Harold Pinter, they say, lives) surrounded by greenery.

  He had certainly gone to town for his mum and dad. All the trees were dotted with red fairy lights and strings of shiny red hearts in a really quite endearing manner and there was a red and white canopied walkway leading all the way up the front path.

  At the door things began to look even more promising as we were greeted by serving staff who gave us champagne and relieved us of our gifts (I had bought Malcolm and Elaine a copy of Perry Como love songs from the year they were married, plus a Body Shop Terracotta Essential Oil Burner as an extra present for Elaine as she had been asking me about Essential Oils at the Turkey Curry Buffet). Next we were ushered down a dramatic curved pale wood stairway lit by red heart-shaped candles on each step. Downstairs was one vast room, with a dark wood floor and a conservatory giving onto the garden. The whole room was lit by candles. Dad and I just stood and stared, completely speechless.

  Instead of the cocktail fancies you would expect at a parent-generational do -compartmentalized cut-glass dishes full of gherkins; plates sporting savory doilies and half grapefruits bespined with cheese-and-pineapple-chunk-ladened.toothpicks – there were large silver trays containing prawn wontons, tomato and mozzarella tartlets and chicken sate. The guests looked as though they couldn't believe their luck, throwing their heads back and roaring with laughter. Una Alconbury looked as though she had just eaten a lemon.

  'Oh dear,' said Dad, following my gaze, as Una bore down on us. 'I'm not sure this is going to be Mummy and Una's cup of tea.'

  'Bit showy, isn't it?' said Una the second she was within earshot, pulling her stole huffily around her shoulders. 'I think if you take these things too far it gets a bit common.'

  'Oh, don't be absurd, Una. It's a sensational party,' said my father, helping himself to his nineteenth canape.

  'Mmm. I agree,' I said through a mouthful of tartlet, as my champagne glass was filled as if from nowhere, ''s bloody fantastic.' After psyching myself up for so long for Jaeger two-piece hell, I was euphoric. No one had even asked me why I wasn't married yet.

  'Humph,' said Una.

  Mum too was now bearing down on us.

  'Bridget,' she yelled. 'Have you said hello to Mark?'

  I suddenly realized, cringing, that both Una and Mum must be coming up to their ruby weddings soon. Knowing Mum, it is highly unlikely she will let a trifling detail like leaving her husband and going off with a tour operator stand in the way of the celebrations and will be determined not to be outdone by Elaine Darcy at whatever price, even the sacrifice of a harmless daughter to an arranged marriage.

  'Hold hard there, big feller,' said my dad, squeezing my arm.

  'What a lovely house. Haven't you got a nice stole to put over your shoulders, Bridget? Dandruff!' trilled Mum, brushing Dad's back. 'Now, darling. Why on earth aren't you talking to Mark?'

  'Urn, well . . . ' I mumbled.

  'What do you think, Pam?' hissed Una tensely, nodding at the room.

  'Showy,' whispered Mum, exaggerating her lip movements like Les Dawson.

  'Exactly what I said,' mouthed Una triumphantly. 'Didn't I say so, Cohn? Showy.'

  I glanced around nervously and jumped in fright. There, looking at us, not three feet away, was Mark Darcy. He must have heard everything. I opened my mouth to say something – I'm not quite sure what – to try to improve matters, but he walked away.

  Dinner was served in the 'Drawing Room' on the ground floor and I found myself in the queue on the stairs directly behind Mark Darcy.

  'Hi,' I said, hoping to make amends for my mother's rudeness. He looked round, completely ignored me and looked back again.

  'Hi,' I said again and poked him.

  'Oh, hi, I'm sorry. I didn't see you,' he said.

  'It's a great party,' I said. 'Thanks for inviting me.'

  He stared at me for a moment. 'Oh, I didn't,' he said. 'My mother invited you. Anyway. Must see to the, er, placement. Very much enjoyed your Lewisham fire station report, by the way,' and he turned and strode upstairs, dodging between the diners and excusing himself while I reeled. Humph.

  As he reached the top of the stairs, Natasha appeared in a stunning gold satin sheath, grabbing his arm possessively and, in her haste, tripping over one of the candles which spilled red wax on the bottom of her dress. 'Fack,' she said. 'Fack.'

  As they disappeared ahead I could hear her telling him off. 'I told you it was ridiculous spending all afternoon arranging candles in dangerous places for people to fall over. Your time would have been far better spent ensuring that the placement was . . . '

  Funnily enough, the placement turned out to be rather brilliant. Mum was sitting next to neither Dad nor Julio but Brian Enderby, whom she always likes to flirt with. Julio had been put next to Mark Darcy's glamorous fifty-five-year-old aunt, who was beside herself with delight. My dad was pink with pleasure at sitting next to a stunning Faye Dunaway look-alike. I was really excited. Maybe I would be sandwiched between two of Mark Darcy's dishy friends, top barristers or Americans from Boston, perhaps. But as I looked for my name on the chart a familiar voice piped up beside me.

  'So how's my little Bridget? Aren't I the lucky one? Look, you're right next to me. Una tells me you've split up with your feller. I don't know! Dun! When are we going to get you married off?'

  'Well I hope, when we do, I shall be the one to do the deed,' said a voice on my other side. 'I could do with a new vimper. Mmm. Apricot silk. Or maybe a nice thirty-nine-button souterne from Gamirellis.'

  Mark had thoughtfully put me between Geoffrey Alconbury and the gay vicar.

  Actually, though, once we all got a few drinks down us conversation was by no means stilted. I was asking the vicar what he thought about the miracle of Indian statues of Ganesh the Elephant God taking in milk. The vicar said the word in ecclesiastical circles was that the miracle was due to the effect on terracotta of a hot summer followed by cold weather.

  As the meal broke up and people started to make their way downstairs for the dancing, I was thinking about what he said. Overcome with curiosity, and keen, also, to avoid having to do the twist with Geoffrey Alconbury, I excused myself, discreetly taking a teaspoon and milk jug from the table, and nipped into the room where the presents had – rather proving Una's point about the showy element of things – already been unwrapped and put on display.

  It took me a while to locate the terracotta oil burner, as it had been shoved near the back, but when I did I simply poured a little milk onto the teaspoon, tilted it and held it against the edge of the hole where you put the candle in. I couldn't believe it. The Essential Oil Burner was taking in milk. You could actually see the milk disappearing from the teaspoon..

  'Oh my God, it's a miracle,' I exclaimed. How was I to know that was when Mark Darcy would be bloody well walking past?

  'What are you doing?' he said, standing in the doorway.

  I didn't know what to say. He obviously thought I was trying to steal the presents.

  'Mmm?' he said. 'The Essential Oil Burner I bought your mother is taking in milk,' I muttered sulkily.

  'Oh, don't be ridiculous,' he said, laughing.

  'It is taking in milk,' I said indignantly. 'Look.' I put some more milk on the teaspoon, tilted the spoon and su
re enough the oil burner slowly started to take it in.

  'You see,' I said proudly. 'It's a miracle.'

  He was pretty impressed, I can tell you. 'You're right,' he said softly. 'It is a miracle.'

  Just then Natasha appeared in the doorway. 'Oh, hi,' she said, seeing me. 'Not in your bunny girl outfit today, then,' and then gave a little laugh to disguise her bitchy comment as an amusing joke.

  'Actually we bunnies wear these in the winter for warmth,' I said.

  'John Rocha?' she said, staring at Jude's dress. 'Last autumn? I recognize the hem.'

  I paused to think up something very witty and cutting to say, but unfortunately couldn't think of anything. So after a bit of a stupid pause I said, 'Anyway, I'm sure you're longing to circulate. Nice to see you again. Byee!'

  I decided I needed to go outside for a little fresh air and a fag. It was a wonderful, warm, starry night with the moon lighting up all the rhododendron bushes. Personally, I have never been keen on rhododendrons. They remind me of Victorian country houses up north from D. H. Lawrence where people drown in lakes. I stepped down into the sunken garden. They were playing Viennese waltzes in a rather smart fin de millennium sort of way. Then suddenly I heard a noise above. A figure was silhouetted against the French windows. It was a blond adolescent, an attractive public schoolboy-type.

  'Hi,' said the youth. He lit a cigarette unsteadily and stared, heading down the stairs towards me. 'Don't suppose you fancy a dance? Oh. Ah. Sony,' he said, holding out his hand as if we were at the Eton open day and he was a former Home Secretary who had forgotten his manners: 'Simon Dalrymple.'

 
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