Bridget joness diary, p.19
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       Bridget Jones's Diary, p.19

         Part #1 of Bridget Jones series by Helen Fielding
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  None of us spoke or looked at each other as we walked up the front steps.

  'Should you ring first?' whispered Sharon as I lifted the key to the lock.

  'I'll do it,' said Jude. She looked at us quickly, then pressed the buzzer.

  We stood in silence. Nothing. She pressed again. I was just about to slip the key in the lock when a voice on the intercom said, 'Hello?'

  'Who's that?' I said tremulously. 'Who'd you think it is, you daft cow.'

  'Tom!' I bellowed joyfully. 'Let us in.'

  'Who's us?' he said suspiciously.

  'Me, Jude and Shazzer.'

  'I'd rather you didn't come up, hon, to be honest.'

  'Oh, bloody hell,' said Sharon, pushing past me. 'Tom, you silly bloody queen, you've only had half London up in arms ringing the police, combing the metropolis for you because no one knows where you are. Bloody well let us in.'

  'I don't want anyone except Bridget,' said Tom petulantly. I beamed beatifically at the others.

  'Don't be such a prima bloody donna,' said Shazzer.

  Silence. 'Come on, you silly sod. Let us in.'

  There was a pause, then the buzzer went. 'Bzzz.'

  'Are you ready for this?' came his voice as we reached the top floor and he opened the door.

  All three of us cried out. Tom's whole face was distorted, hideous yellow and black, and encased in plaster.

  'Tom, what's happened to you?' I cried, clumsily trying to embrace him and ending up kissing his ear. Jude burst into tears and Shazzer kicked the wall.

  'Don't worry, Tom,' she growled. 'We'll find the bastards who did this.'

  'What happened?' I said again, tears beginning to plop down my cheeks. 'Er, well . . . ' said Tom, extracting himself awkwardly from my embrace, 'actually I, er, I had a nose job.'

  Turned out Tom had secretly had the operation on Wednesday but was too embarrassed to tell us because we'd all been so dismissive about his minuscule nasal bump. He was supposed to have been looked after by Jerome, henceforth to be known as Creepy Jerome (it was going to be heartless Jerome but we all agreed that sounded too interesting). When, however, Creepy Jerome saw him after the operation he was so repulsed he said he was going away for a few days, buggered off and hasn't been seen or heard of since. Poor Tom was so depressed and traumatized and so weird from the anaesthetic that he just unplugged the phone, hid under the blankets and slept.

  'Was it you I saw in Ladbroke Grove on Thursday night, then?' said Shazzer.

  It was. Apparently he had waited till dead of night to go out and forage for food under cover of darkness. In spite of our high spirits that he was alive Tom was still very unhappy about Jerome.

  'Nobody loves me,' he said.

  I told him to ring my answerphone, which held twenty-two frantic messages from his friends, all distraught because he had disappeared for twenty-four hours, which put paid to all our fears about dying alone and being eaten by an Alsatian.

  'Or not being found for three months . . . and bursting all over the carpet,' said Tom.

  Anyway, we told him, how could one moody geek with a stupid name make him think nobody loves him?

  Two Bloody Marys later he was laughing at Jerome's obsessive use of the tern 'self-aware,' and his skintight calf-length Calvin Klein underpants. Meanwhile, Simon, Michael, Rebecca, Magda, Jeremy and a boy claiming to be called Elsie had all rung to see how he was.

  'I know we're all psychotic, single and completely dysfunctional and it's all done over the phone,' Tom slurred sentimentally, 'but it's a bit like a family, isn't it?'

  I knew the Feng Shui would work. Now-its task completed – I am going to quickly move the round-leaved plant to my Relationship Corner. Wish there was a Cookery Corner too. Only nine days to go.

  Monday 20 November

  8st 12 (v.g.), cigarettes 0 (v. bad to smoke when performing culinary miracles), alcohol units 3, calories 200 (effort of going to supermarket must have burnt off more calories than purchased, let alone ate).

  7 p.m. Just returned from hideous middle-class Singleton guilt experience at supermarket, standing at checkout next to functional adults with children buying beans, fish fingers, alphabetti spaghetti, etc., when had the following in my trolley:

  20 heads of garlic

  tin of goose fat

  bottle of Grand Marnier

  8 tuna steaks

  36 oranges

  4 pints of double cream

  4 vanilla beans at ?1.39 each.

  Have to start preparations tonight as working tomorrow.

  8 p.m. Ugh, do not feel like cooking. Especially dealing with grotesque bag of chicken carcasses: completely disgusting.

  10 p.m. Have got chicken carcasses in pan now. Trouble is, Marco says am supposed to tie flavor-enhancing leek and celery together with string but only string have got is blue. Oh well, expect it will be OK.

  11 p.m. God, stock took bloody ages to do but worth it as will end up with over 2 gallons, frozen in ice-cube form and only cost ?l.70. Mmm, confit of oranges will be delicious also. Now all have got to do is finely slice thirty-six oranges and grate zest. Shouldn't take too long.

  1 a.m. Too tired to stay awake now but stock is supposed to cook for another two hours and oranges need another hour in oven. I know. Will leave the stock on v. low heat overnight, also oranges on lowest oven setting, so will become v. tender in manner of a stew.

  Tuesday 21 November

  8st 11 (nerves eat fat), alcohol units 9 (v. bad indeed), cigarettes 37 (v.v. bad), calories 3479 (and all disgusting).

  9:30 a.m. Just opened pan. Hoped-for 2-gallon stock taste-explosion has turned into burnt chicken carcasses coated in jelly. Orange confit looks fantastic, though, just like in picture only darker. Must go to work. Am going to leave by four, then will think of answer to soup crisis.

  5 p.m. Oh God. Entire day has turned into nightmare. Richard Finch gave me a real blowing-up at the morning meeting in front of everyone. 'Bridget, put that recipe book away for God's sake. Fireworks Burns Kids. I'm thinking maiming, I'm thinking happy family celebrations turned into nightmares. I'm thinking twenty years from now. What about that kid who had his penis burnt off by firecrackers in his pockets back in the sixties? Where is he now? Bridget, find me the Fireworks Kid with no Penis. Find me the Sixties Guy Fawkes Bobbit.'

  Ugh. I was just grumpily making my forty-eighth phone call to find out if there was a burnt-off-penis victims' support group when my phone rang.

  'Hello, darling, it's Mummy here.' She sounded unusually high-pitched and hysterical.

  'Hi, Mum.'

  'Hello, darling, just called to say 'bye before I go, and hope everything goes well.'

  'Go? Go where?'

  'Oh. Ahahahaha. I told you, Julio and I are popping over to Portugal for a couple of weeks, just to see the family and so on, get a bit of a suntan before Christmas.'

  'You didn't tell me.'

  'Oh, don't be a silly-willy, darling. Of course I told you. You must learn to listen. Anyway, do take care, won't you?'


  'Oh, darling, just one more thing.'


  'For some reason I've been so busy I forgot to order my travelers' checks from the bank.'

  'Oh, don't worry, you can get them at the airport.'

  'But the thing is, darling, I'm just on my way to the airport now, and I've forgotten my banker's card.'

  I blinked at the phone.

  'Such a nuisance. I was wondering . . . You couldn't possibly lend me some cash? I mean not much, just a couple of hundred quid or something so I can get some travelers' checks.'

  The way she said it reminded me of the way winos ask for money for a cup of tea.

  'I'm in the middle of work, Mum. Can't Julio lend you some money?'

  She went all huffy. 'I can't believe you're being so mean, darling. After all I've done for you. I gave you the gift of life and you can't even loan your mother a few pounds for some travelers' checks.'

  'But how am I g
oing to get it to you? I'll have to go out to the cash machine and put it on a motorbike. Then it will be stolen and it'll all be ridiculous. Where are you?'

  'Oooh. Well, actually, as luck would have it I'm ever so close, so if you just pop out to the NatWest opposite I'll meet you there in five minutes,' she gabbled. 'Super, darling. Byee!'

  'Bridget, where the fuck are you off to?' yelled Richard as I tried to sneak out. 'You found the Banger Bobbit Boy yet?'

  'Got a hot tip,' I said, tapping my nose, then made a dash for it. I was waiting for my money to come, freshly baked and piping hot, out of the cash machine, wondering how my mother was going to manage for two weeks in Portugal on two hundred pounds, when I spotted her scurrying towards me, wearing sunglasses, even though it was pissing with rain, and looking shiftily from side to side.

  'Oh, there you are, darling. You are sweet. Thank you very much. Must dash, going to miss the plane. Byee!' she said, grabbing the banknotes from my hand.

  'What's going on?' I said. 'What are you doing outside here when it's not on your way to the airport? How are you going to manage without your banker's card? Why can't Julio lend you the money? Why? What are you up to? What?'

  For a second she looked frightened, as if she was going to cry, then, her eyes fixed on the middle distance, she adopted her wounded Princess Diana look.

  'I'll be fine, darling.' She gave her special brave smile. 'Take care,' she said in a faltering voice, hugged me quickly then was off, waving the traffic to a standstill and tripping across the road.

  7 p.m. Just got home. Right. Calm, calm. Inner poise. Soup will be absolutely fine. Will simply cook and puree vegetables as instructed and then-to give concentration of flavor-rinse blue jelly off chicken carcases and boil them up with cream in the soup.

  8:30 p.m. All going marvelously. Guests are all in living room. Mark Darcy is being v. nice and brought champagne and a box of Belgian chocolates. Have not done main course yet apart from fondant potatoes but sure will be v. quick. Anyway, soup is first.

  8:35 p.m. Oh my God. Just took lid off casserole to remove carcasses. Soup is bright blue.

  9 p.m. Love the lovely friends. Were more than sporting about the blue soup, Mark Darcy and Tom even making lengthy argument for less color prejudice in the world of food. Why, after all, as Mark said – just because one cannot readily think of a blue vegetable – should one object to blue soup? Fish fingers, after all, are not naturally orange. (Truth is, after all the effort, soup just tasted like big bowl of boiled cream which Vile Richard rather unkindly pointed out. At which point Mark Darcy asked him what he did for a living, which was v. amusing because Vile Richard was sacked last week for fiddling his expenses.) Never mind, anyway. Main course will be v. tasty. Right, will start on veloute of cherry tomatoes.

  9:15 p.m. Oh dear. Think there must have been something in the blender, e.g. washing-up liquid, as cherry tomato puree seems to be foaming and three times original volume. Also fondant potatoes were meant to be ready ten minutes ago and are hard as rock. Maybe should put in microwave. Aargh aargh. Just looked in fudge and tuna is not there. What has become of tuna? What? What?

  9:30 p.m. Thank God. Jude and Mark Darcy came in kitchen and helped me make big omelette and mashed up half-done fondant potatoes and fried them in the frying pan in manner of hash browns, and put the recipe book on the table so we could all look at the pictures of what chargrilled tuna would have been like. At least orange confit will be good. Looks fantastic. Tom said not to bother with Grand Marnier Creme Anglaise but merely drink Grand Marnier.

  10 p.m. V. sad. Looked expectantly round table as everyone took first mouthful of confit. There was an embarrassed silence.

  'What's this, hon?' said Tom eventually. 'Is it marmalade?'

  Horror-struck, took mouthful myself. It was, as he said, marmalade. Realize after all effort and expense have served my guests:

  Blue soup



  Am disastrous failure. Michelin-star cookery? Kwik-fit, more like.

  Did not think things could get any worse after the marmalade. But no sooner was the horrible meal cleared away than the phone went. Fortunately I took it in the bedroom. It was Dad.

  'Are you on your own?' he said. 'No. Everyone's round here, Jude and everyone. Why?'

  'I – wanted you to be with someone when . . . I'm sorry, Bridget. I'm afraid there's been some rather bad news.'

  'What? What?'

  'Your mother and Julio are wanted by the police.'

  2 a.m. Northamptonshire in single bed in the Alconburys' spare room. Ugh. Had to sit down and get my breath back while Dad said, 'Bridget? Bridget? Bridget?' over and over again in manner of a parrot.

  'What's happened?' I managed to get out eventually. 'I'm afraid they – possibly, and I pray, without your mother's knowledge – have defrauded a large number of people, including myself and some of our very closest friends, out of a great deal of money. We don't know the scale of the fraud at the moment, but I'm afraid, from what the police are saying, it's possible that your mother may have to go to prison for a considerable period of time.'

  'Oh my God. So that's why she's gone off to Portugal with my two hundred quid.'

  'She may well be further afield by now.'

  I saw the future unfolding before me like a horrible nightmare: Richard Finch dubbing me Good Afternoon!'s 'Suddenly Single's Jailbird's Daughter, and forcing me to do a live interview down the line from the Holloway visitors' room before being Suddenly Sacked on air.

  'What did they do?'

  'Apparently Julio, using your mother as – as it were – 'front man,' has relieved Una and Geoffrey, Nigel and Elizabeth and Malcolm and Elaine' (oh my God, Mark Darcy's parents) 'of quite considerable sums of money-many, many thousands of pounds, as down payments on time-share apartments.'

  'Didn't you know?'

  'No. Presumably because they were unable to overcome some slight vestigial embarrassment about doing business with the greasy beperfumed wop who has cuckolded one of their oldest friends they omitted to mention the whole business to me.'

  'So what happened?'

  'The time-share apartments never existed. Not a penny of your mother's and my savings or pension fund remains. I also was unwise enough to leave the house in her name, and she has remortgaged it. We are ruined, destitute and homeless, Bridget, and your mother is to be branded a common criminal.'

  After that he broke down. Una came to the phone, saying that she was going to give Dad some Ovaltine. I told her I'd be there in two hours but she said not to drive till I'd got over the shock, there was nothing to be done, and to leave it till the morning. Replacing the receiver, I slumped against the wall cursing myself feebly for leaving my cigarettes in the living room. Immediately though, Jude appeared with a glass of Grand Marnier.

  'What happened?' she said.

  I told her the whole story, pouring the Grand Marnier straight down my throat as I did. Jude didn't say a word but immediately went and fetched Mark Darcy.

  'I blame myself,' he said, running his hands through his hair. 'I should have made myself more clear at the Tarts and Vicars party. I knew there was something dodgy about Julio.'

  'What do you mean?'

  'I heard him talking on his portable phone by the herbaceous border. He didn't know he was being overheard. If I'd had any idea that my parents were involved I'd . . . He shook his head. 'Now that I think about it, I do remember my mother mentioning something, but I got so upset at the mere mention of the words 'timeshare' that I must have terrorized her into shutting up. Where's your mother now?'

  'I don't know. Portugal? Rio de Janeiro? Having her hair done?'

  He started to pace around the room firing questions like a top barrister.

  'What's being done to find her?' 'What are the sums involved?' 'How did the matter come to light?' 'What is the police's involvement?' 'Who knows about it?' 'Where is your father now?' 'Would you like to go to him?' 'Will you allow me to take y
ou?' It was pretty damn sexy, I can tell you.

  Jude appeared with coffee. Mark decided the best thing would be if he got his driver to take him and me up to Grafton Underwood and, for a fleeting second, I experienced the totally novel sensation of being grateful to my mother.

  It was all very dramatic when we got to Una and Geoffrey's, with Enderbys and Alconburys all over the shop, everyone in tears and Mark Darcy striding around making phone calls. Found myself feeling guilty, since part of self – despite horror – was hugely enjoying the fact of normal business being suspended, everything different from usual and everyone allowed to throw entire glasses of sherry and salmon-paste sandwiches down their throats in manner of Christmas. Was exactly the same feeling as when Granny turned schizophrenic and took all her clothes off, ran off into Penny Husbands-Bosworth's orchard and had to be rounded up by the police.

  Wednesday 22 November

  8st 10 (hurrah!), alcohol units 3, cigarettes 27 (completely understandable when Mum is common criminal), calories 5671 (oh dear, seem to have regained appetite), Instants 7 (unselfish act to try to win back everyone's money, though maybe would not give them all of it, come to think of it), total winnings ,10, total profit ,3 (got to start somewhere).

  10 a.m. Back in flat, completely exhausted after no sleep. On top of everything else, have to go to work and get told off for being late. Dad seemed to be rallying a little when I left: alternating between moments of wild cheerfulness that Julio proved to be a bounder so Mum might come back and start a new life with him and deep depression that the new life in question will be one of prison-visiting using public transport.

  Mark Darcy went back to London in small hours. I left a message on his answerphone saying thank you for helping and everything, but he has not rung me back. Cannot blame him. Bet Natasha and similar would not feed him blue soup and turn out to be the daughter of criminal.

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