Bridget joness diary, p.17
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       Bridget Jones's Diary, p.17

         Part #1 of Bridget Jones series by Helen Fielding
 
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  'Bridget Jones,' I said, holding out my hand stiffly, feeling as if I were a member of a war cabinet.

  'Hi. Yah. Really nice to meet you. So can we have a dance?' he said, reverting to the public schoolboy again.

  'Well, I don't know, I'm sure,' I said, reverting to pissed floozy and giving an involuntary raucous laugh like a prostitute in a Yates Wine Lodge.

  'I mean out here. Just for a moment.'

  I hesitated. I was flattered, to tell you the truth. What with this and performing a miracle in front of Mark Darcy it was all starting to go to my head.

  'Please,' pressed Simon. 'I've never danced with an older woman before. Oh, gosh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean . . . ' he went on, seeing my face. 'I mean, someone who's left school,' he said, seizing my hand passionately. 'Would you mind? I'd be most awfully, awfully grateful.'

  Simon Dalrymple had obviously been taught ballroom dancing from birth, so it was rather nice being expertly guided to and fro, but the trouble was, he seemed to have, well, not to put too fine a point on it, the most enormous erection I've ever had the good fortune to come across, and us dancing so close it was not the sort of thing one could pass off as a pencil case.

  'I'll take over, now, Simon,' said a voice.

  It was Mark Darcy.

  'Come along. Back inside. You should be in bed now.'

  Simon looked completely crushed. He blushed scarlet and hurried back into the party.

  'May I?' said Mark, holding out his hand to me.

  'No,' I said, furious.

  'What's the matter?'

  'Um,' I said, flailing for an excuse for being so angry. 'That was a horrible thing to do to a young whippersnapper, throwing your weight about and humiliating him like that at a sensitive age.' Then, noticing his baffled expression, I gabbled on. 'Though I do appreciate your asking me to your party. Marvelous. Thank you very much. Fantastic party.'

  'Yes. I think you've said that,' he said, blinking fast. The truth is, he looked rather agitated and hurt.

  'I . . . He paused, then started pacing around the patio, sighing and running his hand through his hair. 'How's the . . . Have you read any good books lately?' Unbelievable.

  'Mark,' I said. 'If you ask me once more if I've read any good books lately I'm going to eat my head. Why don't you ask me something else? Ring the changes a bit. Ask me if I've got any hobbies, or a view on the single European currency, or if I've had any particularly disturbing experiences with rubber.'

  'I . . . ' he began again.

  'Or if I had to sleep with Douglas Hurd, Michael Howard or Jim Davidson which one I'd choose. Actually, no contest, Douglas Hurd.'

  'Douglas Hurd?' said Mark.

  'Mmm. Yes. So deliciously strict but fair.'

  'Hmmm,' said Mark thoughtfully. 'You say that, but Michael Howard's got an extremely attractive and intelligent wife. He must have some sort of hidden charms.'

  'Like what, you mean?' I said, childishly, hoping he would say something about sex.

  'Well . . . '

  He might be a good shag, I suppose,' I supplied.

  'Or a fantastically skillful potter.'

  'Or a qualified aromatherapist.'

  'Will you have dinner with me, Bridget?' he said abruptly, and rather crossly, as if he was going to sit me down at a table somewhere and tell me off.

  I stopped and stared at him. 'Has my mum put you up to this?' I said, suspiciously.

  'No . . . I . . . '

  'Una Alconbury?'

  'No, no . . . '

  Suddenly I realized what was going on. 'It's your mum, isn't it?'

  'Well, my mother has . . . '

  'I don't want to be asked out to dinner just because your mum wants you to. Anyway, what would we talk about? You'd just ask me if I've read any good books lately and then I'd have to make up some pathetic lie and – '

  He stared at me in consternation. 'But Una Alconbury told me you were a sort of literary whizz-woman, completely obsessed with books.'

  'Did she?' I said, rather pleased by the idea suddenly. 'What else did she tell you?'

  'Well, that you're a radical feminist and have an incredibly glamorous life . . . '

  'Oooh,' I purred.

  ' . . . with millions of men taking you out.'

  'Huh.'

  'I heard about Daniel. I'm sorry.'

  'I suppose you did try to warn me,' I muttered sulkily. 'What have you got against him, anyway?'

  'He slept with my wife,' he said. 'Two weeks after our wedding.'

  I stared at him aghast as a voice above us shouted, 'Markee!' It was Natasha, silhouetted against the lights, peering down to see what was going on.

  'Markee!' she called again. 'What are you doing down there?'

  'Last Christmas,' Mark went on hurriedly, 'I thought if my mother said the words 'Bridget Jones' just once more I would go to the Sunday People and accuse her of abusing me as a child with a bicycle pump. Then when I met you . . . and I was wearing that ridiculous diamond-patterned sweater that Una had bought me for Christmas . . . Bridget, all the other girls I know are so lacquered over. I don't know anyone else who would fasten a bunny tail to their pants or . . . '

  'Mark!' yelled Natasha, heading down the stairs toward us.

  'But you're going out with somebody,' I said, rather pointing out the obvious.

  'I'm not anymore, actually,' he said. 'Just dinner? Sometime?'

  'OK,' I whispered. 'OK.'

  Afterwards I thought I'd better go home: what with Natasha watching my every move as if she were a crocodile and I was getting a bit near to her eggs, and me having given Mark Darcy my address and phone number and having fixed to see him next Tuesday. On my way through the dancing room I saw Mum, Una and Elaine Darcy chatting animatedly to Mark – couldn't help imagining their faces if they knew what had just gone on. I suddenly had a vision of next year's Turkey Curry Buffet with Brian Enderby hitching up the waistband of his trousers going, 'Harumph. Nice to see the young people enjoying themselves, isn't it?' and Mark Darcy and me forced to do tricks for the assembled company, like rubbing noses or having sex in front of them, like a pair of performing seals.

  Tuesday 3 October

  8st 12, alcohol units 3 (v.g.), cigarettes 21 (bad), number of times said word 'bastard' in last twenty-four hours 369 (approx.).

  7:30 p.m. Complete panic stations. Mark Darcy is coming over to pick me up in half an hour. Just got home from work with mad hair and unfortunate laundry crisis outfit on. Help oh help. Was planning to wear white 501s but suddenly occurs to me he may be the type who will take me to a posh scary restaurant. Oh God, do not have anything posh to wear. Do you think he will expect me to put bunny tail on? Not that I'm interested in him or anything.

  7:50 p.m. Oh God oh God. Still have not washed hair. Will quickly get into bath.

  8:00 p.m. Drying hair now. V. much hope Mark Darcy is late as do not want him to find me in dressing gown with wet hair.

  8:05 p.m. Hair is more or less dry now. Then just have to do makeup, get dressed and put mess behind sofa. Must prioritize. Consider makeup most important, then mess disposal.

  8:15 p.m. Still not here. V.g. Keen on a man who comes round lace, in stark contrast to people who come round early, startling and panicking one and finding unsightly items still unhidden in the home.

  8:20 p.m. Well, pretty much ready now. Maybe will put something different on. This is weird. Does not seem like him to be more than half an hour late.

  8:30 p.m. 9:00 p.m. Cannot quite believe it. Mark Darcy has stood me up. Bastard!

  Thursday 5 October

  8st 13. (bad), chocolate items 4 (bad), number of times watched video 17 (bad).

  11 a.m. In loo at work. Oh no. Oh no. On top of humiliating standing-up debacle, found self horrible center of attention at morning meeting today.

  'Right, Bridget,' said Richard Finch. 'I'm going to give you another chance. The Isabella Rossellini trial. Verdict expected today. We think she's going to get off. Get yourself down to the H
igh Court. I don't want to see you climbing up any poles or lampposts. I want a hardheaded interview. Ask her if this means it's OK for us all to murder people every time we don't fancy having sex with them. What are you waiting for, Bridget? Off you go.'

  I had no idea, not even a glimmer of a clue as to what he was talking about. 'You have noticed the Isabella Rossellini trial, haven't you?' said Richard. 'You do read the papers, occasionally?'

  The trouble with this job is that people keep flinging names and stories at you and you have a split second to decide whether or not to admit you have no idea what they're talking about, and if you let the moment go then you'll spend the next half hour desperately flailing for clues to what it is you are discussing in depth and at length with a confident air: which is precisely what happened with Isabella Rossellini.

  And now I must set off to meet scary camera crew at the law courts in five minutes to cover and report on a story on the television without having the faintest idea what it is about.

  11:05 a.m. Thank God for Patchouli. Just came out of the toilet and she was being pulled along by Richard's dogs straining at the leash.

  'Are you OK?' she said. 'You look a bit freaked out.'

  'No, no, I'm fine,' I said.

  'Sure?' she stared at me for a moment. 'Listen, right, you realize he didn't mean Isabella Rosselli at the meeting, didn't you? He's thinking of Elena Rossini, right.'

  Oh, thank God and all his angels in heaven above. Elena Rossini is the children's nanny accused of murdering her employer after he allegedly subjected her to repeated rape and effective house arrest for eighteen months. I grabbed a couple of newspapers to bone up and ran for a taxi.

  3 p.m. Cannot believe what just happened. Was hanging around outside the High Court for ages with the camera crew and a whole gang of reporters all waiting for the trial to end. Was bloody good fun, actually. Even started to see the funny side of being stood up by Mr. Perfect Pants Mark Darcy. Suddenly realized I'd run out of cigarettes. So I whispered to the cameraman, who was really nice, if he thought it would be OK if I nipped to the shop for five minutes and he said it would be fine, because you're always given warning when they're about to come out and they'd come and get me if it was about to happen.

  When they heard I was going to the shop, a lot of reporters asked me if I'd bring them fags and sweets and so it took quite a while working it all out. I was just standing in the shop trying to keep all the change separate with the shopkeeper when this bloke walked in obviously in a real hurry and said. 'Could you let me have a box of Quality Street?' as if I wasn't there. The poor shopkeeper looked at me as if not sure what to do.

  'Excuse me, does the word 'queue' mean anything to you?' I said in a hoity-toity voice, turning around to look at him. I made a weird noise. It was Mark Darcy all dressed up in his barrister outfit. He just stared at me, in that way he has.

  'Where in the name of arse were you last night?' I said.

  'I might ask the same question of you,' he said, icily.

  At that moment the camera assistant burst into the shop. 'Bridget!' he yelled. 'We've missed the interview. Elena Rossini's come out and gone. Did you get my Minstrels?'

  Speechless, I grabbed the edge of the sweet counter for support. 'Missed it?' I said as soon as I could steady my breathing. 'Missed it? Oh God. This was my last chance after the fireman's pole and I was buying sweets. I'll be sacked. Did the others get interviews?'

  'Actually, nobody got any interviews with her,' said Mark Darcy.

  'Didn't they?' I said, looking up at him desperately. 'But how do you know?'

  'Because I was defending her, and I told her not to give any,' he said casually. 'Look, she's out there in my car.'

  As I looked, Elena Rossini put her head out of the car window and shouted in a foreign accent, 'Mark, sorry. You bring me Dairy Box, please, instead of Quality Street?' Just then our camera car drew up.

  'Derek!' yelled the cameraman out of the window. 'Get us a Twix and a Lion Bar, will you?'

  'So where were you last night?' asked Mark Darcy.

  'Waiting for bloody you,' I said between clenched teeth.

  'What, at five past eight? When I rang on your doorbell twelve times?'

  'Yes, I was . . . ' I said, feeling the first twinges of realization, 'drying my hair.'

  'Big hair dryer?' he said.

  'Yes 1600 volts, Salon Selectives,' I said proudly. 'Why?'

  'Maybe you should get a quieter hair dryer or begin your toilette a little earlier. Anyway. Come on,' he said laughing. 'Get your cameraman ready, I'll see what I can do for you.'

  Oh God. How embarrassing. Am complete jerk.

  9 p.m. Cannot believe how marvelously everything has turned out. Have just played the Good Afternoon! headlines back for the fifth time.

  'And a Good Afternoon! exclusive,' it says. 'Good Afternoon!: the only television program to bring you an exclusive interview with Elena Rossini, just minutes after today's not guilty verdict. Our home news correspondent. Bridget Jones, brings you this exclusive report.'

  I love that bit: 'Our home news correspondent, Bridget Jones, brings you this exclusive report.'

  I'll just play it back once more, then I'll definitely put it away.

  Friday 6 October

  9st. (comfort eating), alcohol units 6 (drink problem), lottery tickets 6 (comfort gambling), 1471 calls to see if Mark Darcy has rung 21 (curiosity only, obviously), number of times watched video 9 (better).

  9 p.m. Humph. Left a message for Mum yesterday to tell her all about my scoop so when she rang tonight I assumed it would be to congratulate me, but no, she was just going on about the party. It was Una and Geoffrey this, Brian and Mavis that and how marvelous Mark was and why didn't I talk to him, etc., etc.? Temptation to tell her what happened almost overwhelming but managed to control myself by envisaging consequences: screaming ecstasy at the making of the date and brutal murder of only daughter when she heard the actual outcome.

  Keep hoping he might ring me up and ask me for another date after the hair dryer debacle. Maybe I should write him a note to say thank you for the interview and sorry about the hair dryer. It's not because I fancy him or anything. Simple good manners demands it.

  Thursday 12 October

  9st 1 (bad), alcohol Units 3 (both healthy and normal), cigarettes 13,fat Units 17 (wonder if it's possible to calculate fat unit content of entire body? I hope otherwise), lottery tickets 3 (fair), 1471 calls to see if Mark Darcy has rung 12 (better).

  Humph. Incensed by patronizing article in the paper by Smug Married journalist. It was headlined, with subtle-as-a-Frankie-Howerd-sexual-innuendo-style irony: 'The Joy of Single Life.'

  'They're young, ambitious and rich but their lives hide an aching loneliness . . . When they leave work a gaping emotional hole opens up before them . . . Lonely style-obsessed individuals seek consolation in packeted comfort food of the kind their mother might have made.'

  Huh. Bloody nerve. How does Mrs. Smug Married-at-twenty-two think she knows, thank you very much? I'm going to write an article based on 'dozens of conversations' with Smug Marrieds: 'When they leave work, they always burst into tears because, though exhausted, they have to peel potatoes and put all the washing in while their porky bloater husbands slump burping in front of the football demanding plates of chips. On other nights they plop, wearing unstylish pinnies, into big black holes after their husbands have rung to say they're working late again, with the sound of creaking leatherware and sexy Singletons tittering in the background.'

  Met Sharon, Jude and Tom after work. Tom, too, was working on a furious imaginary article about the Smug Marrieds' gaping emotional holes.

  'Their influence affects everything from the kind of houses being built to the kind of food that stocks the supermarket shelves,' Tom's appalled article was going to rant. 'Everywhere we see Anne Summers shops catering to housewives trying pathetically to simulate the thrilling sex enjoyed by Singletons and ever-more exotic foodstuffs in Marks and Spencer for exha
usted couples trying to pretend they're in a lovely restaurant like the Singletons and don't have to do the washing up.'

  'I'm bloody sick of this arrogant hand-wringing about single life!' roared Sharon.

  'Yes, yes!' I said.

  'You forgot the fuckwittage,' burped Jude. 'We always have fuckwittage.'

  'Anyway, we're not lonely. We have extended families in the form of networks of friends connected by telephone,' said Tom.

  'Yes! Hurrah! Singletons should not have to explain themselves all the time but should have an accepted status – like geisha girls do,' I shouted happily, slurping on my tumbler 0f Chilean Chardonnay.

  'Geisha girls?' said Sharon. looking at me coldly.

  'Shut up, Bridge,' slurred Tom. 'You're drunk. You're just trying to escape from your yawning emotional hole into drunk.'

  'Well, so's bloody well Shazzer,' I said sulkily.

  'I's not,' said Sharon. 'You's blurr are,' I said.

  'Look. Shuddup,' said Jude, burping again. 'Shagernothebol Chardonnay?'

  Friday 13 October

  9st 3 (but have temporarily turned into wine bag), alcohol units 0 (but feeding off wine bag), calories 0 (v.g.).*

  * Actually might as well be honest here. Not really v.g. as only 0 because puked up 5876 calories immediately after eating.

  Oh God, I'm so lonely. An entire weekend stretching ahead with no one to love or have fun with. Anyway, I don't care. I've got a lovely steamed ginger pudding from M amp;S to put in the microwave.

  Sunday 15 October

  9st (better), alcohol units 5 (but special occasion), agarettes 16, calories 2456, minutes spent thinking about Mr. Darcy 245.

  8:55 a.m. Just nipped out for fags prior to getting changed ready for BBC Pride and Prejudice. Hard to believe there are so many cars out on the roads. Shouldn't they be at home getting ready? Love the nation being so addicted. The basis of my own addiction, I know, is my simple human need for Darcy to get off with Elizabeth. Tom says football guru Nick Hornby says in his book that men's obsession with football is not vicarious. The testosterone-crazed fans do not wish themselves on the pitch, claims Hornby, instead seeing their team as their chosen representatives, rather like parliament. That is precisely my feeling about Darcy and Elizabeth. They are my chosen representatives in the field of shagging, or, rather, courtship. I do not, however, wish to see any actual goals. I would hate to see Darcy and Elizabeth in bed, smoking a cigarette afterwards. That would be unnatural and wrong and I would quickly lose interest.

 
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