Bridget joness diary, p.21
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       Bridget Jones's Diary, p.21

         Part #1 of Bridget Jones series by Helen Fielding
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  Frantically called Rebecca but no reply or answerphone. Decided to go round and leave a note and bumped into Dan on the stairs, the Australian guy from downstairs who I snogged in April.

  'Hi. Merry Christmas,' he said leerily, standing too close. 'Did you get your mail?' I looked at him blankly. 'I've been putting it under your door so you don't have to get cold in your nightie in the mornings.'

  I shot back upstairs, grabbed back the doormat and there, nestling underneath like a Christmas miracle, was a little pile of cards, letters and invitations all addressed to me. Me. Me. Me.

  Thursday 14 December

  9st 3, alcohol units 2 (bad, as did not drink any. units yesterday-must make up extra tomorrow to avoid heart attack), cigarettes 14 (bad? or maybe good? Yes. a sensible level of nicotine units is probably good for you as long as do not binge-smoke), calories 1500 (excellent), lottery tickets 4 (bad but would have been good of Richard Branson had won non-profit-making lottery bid), cards sent 0, presents purchased 0, 1471 calls 5 (excellent).

  Parties, parties, parties! Plus Matt from the office just rang asking if I'm going to the Christmas lunch on Tuesday. He can't fancy me – I'm old enough to be his great-aunt-but then why did he ring me in the evening? And why did he ask me what I was wearing? Must not get over-excited and allow party casbah and phone call from feller-me-lad to go to self=s head. Should remember old saying 'once bitten twice shy' as regards dipping pen in office ink. Also must remember what happened last time snogged whippersnapper: ghastly 'Ooh, you're all squashy' humiliation with Gav. Hmmm. Sexually tantalizing Christmas lunch followed bizarrely by disco dancing in the afternoon (such being editor's idea of a good time) involves severe outfit choice complexity. Best ring Jude, I think.

  Tuesday 19 December

  9st 7 (but still nearly one week to lose 7 lbs. before Christmas), alcohol units 9 (poor), cigarettes 30, calories 4240, lottery tickets 1 (excellent), cards sent 0, cards received 11, but include 2 from paper boy, 1 from dustman, 1 from Peugeot garage and 1 from hotel spent night in for work four years ago. Am unpopular, or maybe everyone sending cards later this year.

  9 a.m. Oh God, feel awful: horrible sick acidic hangover and today is office disco lunch. Cannot go on. Am going to burst with pressure of unperformed Christmas tasks, like revision for finals. Have failed to do cards or Christmas shopping apart from doomed panic-buy yesterday lunchtime as realized was going to see girls for last time before Christmas at Magda and Jeremy's last night.

  Dread the exchange of presents with fiends as, unlike with the family, there is no way of knowing who is and isn't going to give and whether gifts should be tokens of affection or proper presents, so all becomes like hideous exchange of sealed bids. Two years ago I bought Magda lovely Dinny Hall earrings, rendering her embarrassed and miserable because she hadn't bought me anything. Last year, therefore, I didn't get her anything and she bought me an expensive bottle of Coco Chanel. This year I bought her a big bottle of Saffron Oil with Champagne and a distressed wire soapdish, and she went into a complete grump muttering obvious lies about not having done her Christmas shopping yet. Last year Sharon gave me bubble bath shaped like Santa, so last night I just gave her Body Shop Algae and Polyp Oil shower gel at which point she presented me with a handbag. I had wrapped up a spare bottle of posh olive oil as a generalized emergency gift which fell out of my coat and broke on Magda's Conran Shop rug.

  Ugh. Would that Christmas could just be, without presents. It is just so stupid, everyone exhausting themselves, miserably hemorrhaging money on pointless items nobody wants: no longer tokens of love but angst-ridden solutions to problems. (Hmm. Though must admit, pretty bloody pleased to have new handbag.) What is the point of entire nation rushing round for six weeks in a bad mood preparing for utterly pointless Taste-of-Others exam which entire nation then fails and gets stuck with hideous unwanted merchandise as fallout? If gifts and cards were completely eradicated, then Christmas as pagan-style twinkly festival to distract from lengthy winter gloom would be lovely. But if government, religious bodies, parents, tradition, etc., insist on Christmas Gift Tax to ruin everything why not make it that everyone must go out and spend ?500 on themselves then distribute the items among their relatives and friends to wrap up and give to them instead of this psychic-failure torment?

  9:45 a.m. Just had Mum on the phone. 'Darling, I've just rung to say I've decided I'm not doing presents this year. You and Jamie know there isn't a Santa now, and we're all far too busy. We can just appreciate each other's company.'

  But we always get presents from Santa in sacks at the bottom of our beds. World seems bleak and gray. Won't seem like Christmas anymore.

  Oh God, better go to work – but will not have anything to drink at disco-lunch, just be friendly and professional to Matt, stay till about 3:30 p.m., then leave and do my Christmas cards.

  2 a.m. Course is OK – everyone drunks office Christmas parties. Is a good fun. Must gust sleep – doen maur about clothesoff.

  Wed 20 December

  5:30 a.m. Oh my God. Oh my God. Where am I?

  Thursday 21 December

  9st 3 (actually, in funny sort of way there is no reason why should not actually lose weight over Christmas since am so full that – certainly any time after Christmas dinner it is perfectly acceptable to refuse all food on grounds of being too full. In fact it is probably the one time of year when it is OK not to eat).

  For ten days now have been living in state of permanent hangover and foraging sub-existence without proper meals or hot food.

  Christmas is like war. Going down to Oxford Street is hanging over me like going over the top. Would that the Red Cross or Germans would come and find me. Aaargh. It's 10 am. Have not done Christmas shopping. Have not sent Christmas cards. Got to go to work. Right, am never, never going to drink again for the rest of life. Aargh – field telephone.

  Humph. It was Mum but might as well have been Goebbels trying to rush me into invading Poland.

  'Darling, I was just ringing to check what time you're arriving on Friday night.'

  Mum, with dazzling bravado, has planned schmaltzy family Christmas, with her and Dad pretending the whole of last year never happened 'for the sake of the children' (i.e., me and Jamie, who is thirty-seven).

  'Mum, as I think we've discussed, I'm not coming home on Friday, I'm coming home on Christmas Eve. Remember all those conversations we've had on the subject? That first one . . . back in August – '

  'Oh, don't be silly, darling. You can't sit in the flat on your own all weekend when it's Christmas. What are you going to eat?'

  Grrr. I hate this. It's as if, just because you're single, you don't have a home or any friends or responsibilities and the only possible reason you might have.for not being at everyone else's beck and call for the entire Christmas period and happy to sleep bent at odd angles in sleeping bags on teenagers' bedroom floors, peel sprouts all day for fifty, and 'talk nicely' to perverts with the word 'Uncle' before their name while they stare freely at your breasts is complete selfishness.

  My brother, on the other hand, can come and go as he likes with everyone's respect and blessing just because he happens to be able to stomach living with a vegan Tai Chi enthusiast. Frankly, I would rather set fire to my flat all on my own than sit in it with Becca.

  Cannot believe my mother is not more grateful to Mark Darcy for sorting everything out for her. Instead of which he has become part of That Which Must Not Be Mentioned, i.e. the Great Time-Share Rip-Off, and she behaves as if he never existed. Cannot help but think he must have coughed up a bit to get everyone their money back. V. nice good person. Too good for me, evidently.

  Oh God. Must put sheets on bed. Disgusting to sleep on uncomfortable button-studded mattress. Where are sheets, though? Wish had some food.

  Friday 22 December

  Now it is nearly Christmas, find self feeling sentimental about Daniel. Cannot believe have not had Christmas card from him (though come to think of it have not managed to send any c
ards yet myself). Seems weird to have been so close during the year and now be completely out of touch. V. sad. Maybe Daniel is unexpectedly Orthodox Jew. Maybe Mark Darcy will ring tomorrow to wish me Happy Christmas.

  Saturday 23 December

  9st 4, alcohol units 12, cigarettes 38, calories 2976, friends and loved ones who care about self this festive tide 0.

  6 p.m. So glad decided to be festive Home Alone Singleton like Princess Diana.

  6:05 p.m. Wonder where everybody is? I suppose they are all with their boyfriends or have gone home to their families. Anyway, chance to get things done . . . or they have families of own. Babies. Tiny fluffy children in pajamas with pink cheeks looking at the Christmas tree excitedly. Or maybe they are all at a big party except me. Anyway. Lots to do.

  6:15 p.m. Anyway. Only an hour till Blind Date.

  6:45 p.m. Oh God, I'm so lonely. Even Jude has forgotten about me. She has been ringing all week panicking about what to buy Vile Richard. Mustn't be too expensive: suggests getting too serious or an attempt to emasculate him (vg idea if ask self); nor anything to wear as taste-gaffe minefield and might remind Vile Richard of last girlfriend Vile Jilly (whom he does not want to get back with but pretends still to love in order to avoid having to be in love with Jude – creep). Latest idea was whisky but combined with other small gift so as not to seem cheapskate or anonymous-possibly combined with tangerines and chocolate coins, depending on whether Jude decided Christmas Stocking conceit over-cute to point of nausea or terrifyingly smart in its Post-Modernity.

  7 p.m. Emergency: Jude on phone in tears. Is coming round. Vile Richard has gone back to Vile July. Jude blames gift. Thank God stayed home. Am clearly Emissary of Baby Jesus here to help those persecuted at Christmas by Herod-Wannabees, e.g. Vile Richard. Jude will be here at 7:30.

  7:15 p.m. Damn. Missed start of Blind Date as Tom rang and is coming round. Jerome, having taken him back, has chucked him again and gone back with former boyfriend who is member of chorus in Cats.

  7:17 p.m. Simon is coming round. His girlfriend has gone back to her husband. Thank God stayed at home to receive chucked friends in manner of Queen of Hearts or Soup Kitchen. But that's just the kind of person I am: liking to love others.

  8 p.m. Hurrah! A magic-of-Christmas miracle. Daniel just called 'Jonesh' he slurred. 'I love you, Jonesh. I made tebble mishtake. Stupid Suki made of plastic. Breast point north at all times. I love you, Jonesh. I comin' round to check how your skirts is.' Daniel. Gorgeous, messy, sexy, exciting, hilarious Daniel.

  Midnight. Humph. None of them turned up. Vile Richard changed his mind and came back to Jude, as did Jerome, and Simon's girlfriend. It was just over-emotional Spirit-of-Christmas Past making everyone wobbly about ex-partners. And Daniel! He rang up at 10 o'clock. 'Listen, Bridge. You know I always watch the match on Saturday nights? Shall I come round tomorrow before the football?' Exciting? Wild? Hilarious? Huh.

  1 a.m. Totally alone. Entire year has been failure.

  5 a.m. Oh, never bloody mind. Maybe Christmas itself will not be awful. Maybe Mum and Dad will emerge radiantly shag-drunk in the morning, holding hands shyly and saying, 'Children, we've got something to tell you,' and I could be a bridesmaid at the reaffirming of vows ceremony.

  Sunday 24 December

  9st 4., alcohol units I measly glass of sherry, cigarettes 2 but no fun as out of window, calories 1 million, probably, number of warm festive thoughts 0.

  Midnight. V. confused about what is and is not reality. There is a pillowcase at the bottom of my bed which Mum put there at bedtime, cooing, 'Let's see if Santa comes,' which is now full of presents. Mum and Dad, who are separated and planning to divorce, are sleeping in the same bed. In sharp contrast, my brother and his girlfriend, who have been living together for four years, are sleeping in separate rooms. The reason for all this is unclear, except that it may be to avoid upsetting Granny who is a) insane and b) not here yet. The only thing that connects me to the real world is that once again I am humiliatingly spending Christmas Eve alone in my parents' house in a single bed. Maybe Dad is at this moment attempting to mount Mum. Ugh, ugh. No, no. Why did brain think such thought?

  Monday 25 December

  9st 5. (oh God, have turned into Santa Claus, Christmas pudding or similar), alcohol units 2 (total triumph),.cigarettes 3 (ditto), calories 2657 (almost entirely gravy), totally insane Christmas gifts 12, number of Christmas gifts with any point to them whatsoever 0, philosophical reflections on the meaning of the Virgin Birth 0, number of years since self was Virgin, hmmm.

  Staggered downstairs hoping hair did not smell of fags to find Mum and Una exchanging political views while putting crosses in the end of sprouts.

  'Oh yes, I think what's-his-name is very good.'

  'Well, he is, I mean, he got through his what-do-you-mer-call-it clause that nobody thought he would, didn't he?'

  'Ah, but then, you see, you've got to watch it because we could easily end up with a nutcase like what-do-you-mer-call-him that used to be a communist. Do you know? The problem I find with smoked salmon is that it repeats on me, especially when I've had a lot of chocolate brazils. Oh, hello, darling,' said Mum, noticing me. 'Now, what are you going to put on for Christmas Day?'

  'This,' I muttered sulkily.

  'Oh, don't be silly, Bridget, you can't wear that on Christmas Day. Now, are you going to come into the lounge and say hello to Auntie Una and Uncle Geoffrey before you change?' she said in the special bright, breathy isn't-everything-super? voice that means, 'Do what I say or I'll Magimix your face.'

  'So, come on, then, Bridget! How's yer love life!' quipped Geoffrey, giving me one of his special hugs, then going all pink and adjusting his slacks.


  'So you still haven't got a chap. Durr! What are we going to do with you!'

  'Is that a chocolate biscuit?' said Granny, looking straight at me.

  'Stand up straight, darling,' hissed Mum.

  Dear God, please help me. I want go home. I want my own life again. I don't feel like an adult, I feel like a teenage boy who everyone's annoyed with.

  'So what are you going to do about babies, Bridget?' said Una.

  'Oh look, a penis,' said Granny, holding up a giant tube of Smarties.

  'Just going to change!' I said, smiling smarmily at Mum, rushed up to the bedroom, opened the window and lit up a Silk Cut. Then I noticed Jamie's head sticking out of window one floor below, also having fag. Two minutes later the bathroom window opened and an auburn-coiffed head stuck out and lit up. It was bloody Mum.

  12:30 p.m. Gift exchange was nightmare. Always overcompensate for bad presents, yelping with delight, which means I get more and more horrid gifts each year. Thus Becca – who, when I worked in publishing, gave me a worsening series of book-shaped clothes-brushes, shoehorns and hair ornaments – this year gave me a clapperboard fridge magnet. Una, for whom no household task must remain ungadgeted, gave me a series of mini-spanners to fit different jar or bottle lids in the kitchen. While my mum, who gives me presents to try and make my life more like hers, gave me a slo-cooker for one person: 'All you have to do is brown the meat before you go to work and stick a bit of veg in.' (Has she any idea how hard it is some mornings to make a glass of water without vomiting?)

  'Oh look. It isn't a penis, it's a biscuit,' said Granny.

  'I think this gravy's going to need sieving, Pam,' called Una, coming out of the kitchen holding a pan.

  Oh no. Not this. Please not this.

  'I don't think it will, dear,' Mum said already spitting murderously through clenched teeth. 'Have you tried stirring it?'

  'Don't patronize me, Pam,' said Una, smiling dangerously. They circled each other like fighters. This happens every year with the gravy. Mercifully there was a distraction: a great crash and scream as a figure burst through the French windows. Julio.

  Everyone froze, and Una let out a scream.

  He was unshaven and clutching a bottle of sherry. He stumbled over to Dad and drew hims
elf up to his full height.

  'You sleep with my woman.'

  'Ah,' replied Dad. 'Merry Christmas, er . . . Can I get you a sherry – ah, got one already. Jolly good. Mince pie?'

  'You sleep,' said Julio dangerously, 'with my woman.'

  'Oh, he's so Latin, hahaha,' said Mum coquettishly while everyone else stared in horror. Every time I've met Julio he has been clean and coiffed beyond all sense and carrying a gentleman's handbag. Now he was wild, drunk, unkempt and, frankly, just the type I fill for. No wonder Mum seemed more aroused than embarrassed.

  'Julio, you naughty person,' she cooed. Oh God. She was still in love with him.

  'You sleep,' said Julio, 'with him.' He spat on the Chinese carpet and bounded upstairs, pursued by Mum, who trilled back at us, 'Could you carve, Daddy, please, and get everyone sitting down?'

  Nobody moved.

  'OK, everybody,' said Dad, in a tense, serious, manly sort of voice. 'There is a dangerous criminal upstairs using Pam as a hostage.'

  'Oh, she didn't seem to mind, if you ask me,' piped up Granny in a rare and most untimely moment of clarity. 'Oh look, there's a biscuit in the dahlias.'

  I looked out of the window and nearly jumped out of my skin. There was Mark Darcy slipping, lithe as a whippersnapper, across the lawn and in through the French windows. He was sweating, dirty, his hair was unkempt, his shirt unbuttoned. Ding-dong!

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