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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in The Bridget Jones Diaries' LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006
10:28 pm
[i_palimpsest]
Community Closing
Hey all.

Orginally I wanted to backdate entries to the fictional date. Turns out I can't do that if I set this up as a community.

I'm going to be closing this and deleting the entries.

Instead if you go here: jonesb

I'll be updating there instead.
Wednesday, March 15th, 2006
9:38 pm
[i_palimpsest]
I watched, aghast, as my father hurled himself at the literally flame-haired guest.
Alcohol units: 1 gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
11pm. Was just heading out to work, late and insecure due to gorging on Golden Globes coverage when phone rang. Stupidly picked it up, thinking it might be Daniel/ Johnny Depp/ George Clooney or similar.

"What did mummy say! Take it out! Take it out of Constance's nose now and put it back in the potty! Grrr. Hate it when Magda does this.

If there is one Motherhood Resolution am determined to keep it is not to talk to the baby while I am on the telephone. My baby will just play quietly with her toys and not demandattention from me.

"Sorry, Bridget. I was just ringing to say don't eat it! Yakky! Poo! Anyway official congratulations! The secret's out! You wait, though: everyone's going to start giving you advice. Not me, of course, but they'll tell you all sorts of rubbish - don't eat goats' cheese, don't wear underwire bras

I gasped. "Underwire bras? Why not?"
aPublished: 15 December 2005

Saturday 10 December

Alcohol units: 0 (vg); cigarettes: o (vg;) glühwein fumes: extensive;
gherkins: 27(eerie)

10am. Ugh. Last thing feel physically or emotionally able to do is to
drive to Grafton Underwood for Christmas Market on the Alconburys' Roman
Patio (unfinished DIY carport which became Roman when Una hosted toga party
in it). But have no choice, as promised. Am not going to tell Mum re: baby
until Christmas. Will simply don camouflaging winter coat, purchase
couple of festive toilet roll covers, and come straight back.
10pm. In single bed in parents' house, Grafton Underwood. What was I
thinking? In hindsight, was like a murderer wanting to lurk around the
funeral of his victim. I wanted to lurk around my mother drinking in
her mummyish warmth and fantasising that she approved of geriatric,
fatherless pregnancy.

Arrived to glühwein fumes, raucous laughter, and strains of Cliff
Richard's "Mistletoe and Wine". The Roman Pillars (aka roofless car-port
supports) had really come into their own with lanterns strung between on paper
streamers, illuminating the festive stalls. Was initially startled to see some
guests in togas. Maybe memory of last summer's party had confused them or
perhaps they had simply remained on the Roman Patio, drinking and reminiscing
every since. Geoffrey Alconbury, blindfolded and dressed as Santa, was brandishing a
basketful of white moustaches trying, for unexplained reasons, to stick
them on people's bottoms. Penny Husbands-Bosworth, clearly plastered, wove
past in a plunging red top and white paper hat which said "George Best",
asking:

"Am I Gary Glitter?"

"No you're not, You're Georgie Best," snapped Mavis Enderbury, whose
own hat said: "Kate Moss's drug dealer".

"But I asked Malcolm if I slept with little girls and he said yes."

"Well you didn't. You're Georgie Best. and you're dead."

"But Colin said I wasn't dead."

"Oh do shut up, Penny," said Mavis, whipping Penny's hat off, and
thrusting it into her face. Just then, Mum and Una teetered into view, in outfits
I recognised from Camilla Parker Bowles' US tour. At first I thought their
faces were frozen in horror, then realised it was something eerier. "Oh
there you are, darling," said Mum, lips clenched like a ventriloquist's
dummy. "Have a glass of glühwein!! We've had to heat it up in the
slow-cooker. It's not alcoholic, darling, it's just some orange juice
and cloves. Prost!"

"Did your mummy tell you she'd had botox?" slurred Penny
Husbands-Bosworth. There was a commotion on the patio. A lantern had set fire to a
streamer which in turn had ignited someone's guessing-game paper hat. I watched,
aghast, as my father hurled himself at the literally flame-haired guest,
wrestling her to the ground. There was a shocked silence, then Dad
arose, gallantly handling the lady to her feet. It was Mark Darcy's mother.
Her elegant, bouffed hairdo had a large black crater on top.

"Oh my goodness, am I all right?" It was fortunate that the words

"Grafton Underwood" and "lawsuit" are relative strangers to each other.

"Absolutely fine! You look wonderful," boomed Dad, dusting
unsuccessfully at the burnt patch as Mum and Una bustled up with scissors.
Took advantage of the distraction to escape into house, remove coat and
boots and stretch out on sofa. Was just stuffing face with gherkins and
cheesy cubes when heard voices.

"I don't know what she thought she was doing with her hair all bouffed
up like that. She looked like a mousse, or an elk."

"Well that's Elaine Darcy for you, isn't it? She's like something out
of the ark."

Froze as Mum and Una appeared in the doorway, taking in enormity of my
coatless frame

"Bridget! What have you eaten. You're like a balloon!" said Mum, as if
I'd caused the whole thing in one sitting, by eating a sheep.

"I don't think it's eating that's done it," said Una pointedly.

They stared, then turned away, whispering. When Mum looked back she
could equally have been furious, delighted, or constipated.

"Bridget," she hissed. "Are you preggy?" (Ugh - unexpectedly disgusting
word.) They stared at my body as if I was brood mare. Toyed briefly with
whinnying but plumped instead for horse-like silence.

"I told you. She is!" said Una.

"Well, I mean, I ..." stuttered Mum. "You're going to have to have it
looked at, Bridget because it could easily come out a mongol at your age."
Maybe she was drunk. Maybe she didn't mean to say it. But she still
said it and I will never forget. People are supposed to be pleased and
congratulate you when they find out you're pregnant, even if you are an older
mother.

Here is a list of the reactions I have got.
Baby's father: You are going to get rid of it, aren't you?
Baby's Auntie Magda: It's completely irresponsible.
Baby's Auntie Shazzer: Try not to leave it in a shop.
Baby's Granny: It's going to come out a mongol at your age.
(Mind you, suppose own initial response: "Gaah! am having the
menopause," was not that great either.)

Bravely drew self up to full height (which, these days, is nearly the
same as my width) and hissed. "If 'it' is, as you so offensively put it, 'a
mongol', then I shall love her more than ever."

"You see, Pam! She is pregnant."

" Who's the father? Is it Mark?"

"No," I said, kicking the coffee table sulkily.

"Well then, who is it?"

"It's a virgin birth."

"Don't be silly, Bridget," snapped Mum. "You're going to have to stop
eating, you know. Or you'll end up like Penny's daughter. Mind you, she
enjoyed being grotesque."

There are many things I wish I'd said, but all I managed was: "Excuse
me, I've to go and puke up."

Anyway am going to go to sleep, get up early and drive back to London
and sanity. Should only take 1/2 hours if leave at 9.

Sunday 11 December

1.30pm. Bedfordshire. Have been sitting in traffic jam for 5 1/2 hours
looking at billowing flames and black smoke. Hope is not in some way
connected with glühwein or Mark Darcy's mother's hair.nderwiring's disastrous for breast-feeding: crushes your ducts. You are wearing a sports bra at night, though, aren't you? Or you'll end up with one breast under each arm. And don't eat raw eggs."

"Why would I eat raw eggs?"

"Zabaglione? Steak tartare? But the only advice actually worth taking is not to lie down."

"What?"

"Because your main artery to your brain goes through your back."

"But how can I not lie down?"

" I mean, not on your back. Otherwise it'll cut off the oxygen to your brain. Oh, and the other thing is, try and put your feet up or you'll get varicose veins. Woney spent too much time standing up and got varicose veins in her labia. Harry! Better go. Bye."

I slumped, traumatised. The phone rang again: my mother.

"Hello darling! Just ringing to see if you've heard about Angelina Jolly. She must be due about the same time as you.

"Mind you, you wouldn't know it to look at her, she's hardly put on any weight at all. Have you tried going swimming?"

Seconds after I got rid of her, Magda rang again. "The only other thing I was going to say is don't go swimming because it'll put strain on the uterus. Oh and if your hair starts falling out the best thing is to rub a tiny tiny bit of engine oil into your scalp."

I sank down, head in hands. Everything I used to care about was gone, or going: my figure, my sex life, my freedom, my hair.Was clearly going to end up sitting alone in flat with hair falling out, taking poo out of nose of baby with one breast under each arm and labial varicose veins. Impulsively I grabbed the phone and dialled.

"Shaz? It's Bridget. Are you and Jude going out tonight?"

There was silence at the other end: the same silence I used to emit when Magda called to see if she could come out with us and try, Smug Marriedly and in vain, to share in our debauched singleton fun.I bit my lip, tears pricking my eyelids. Just then the mobile rang.

I stared at both phones, confused: "Bridge. It's Shaz. We got cut off," said one.

"Oh, thank God."

"What?

"Never mind. So can I come out with you tonight?"

"Yess! We thought we'd lost you. See you in the Electric at 8."

Initial excitement at being in scruffy glamour of Portobello again was squelched by Shazzer crowing over survey saying parents were more likely to get depressed than childless people.

"You see?" she ranted gleefully. "All these years we've been brainwashed into thinking we were depressed because we haven't got children whereas in fact, we weren't depressed at all!"

"But, er, we were," said Jude.

"No. We just thought we were, because society made us believe we'd suffered an unbearable loss whereas in fact people like Ricky Gervais, who made a conscious decision not to have children, are not depressed at all."

"Hurrah!" I said. "Childless singletons! Hurrah!" Then realised that both Jude and Shazzer were staring rather pointedly at my stomach.

"Well maybe you only get depressed if you want to have children and can't," said Jude in a funny, strangled voice.

"Or if you're about to have children but don't have a husband, boyfriend or any money and are having a panic attack," I said.

"Jesus Christ," said Shazzer, "I'd better get some more drinks.""I can't," I said, glumly.

"You can," said Jude. "The government guidelines say you can drink two units twice a week."

"Really?" I said, brightening.

Mmmmmmm. Had forgotten how a glass of wine makes your troubles go away. Had also, however, forgotten how it makes you want another glass of wine and a packet of Silk Cut.

Was on the point of arguing myself into "one tiny puff won't hurt" when I heard a familiar voice.

"Bridget! Congratulations!" It was Janey the Jellyfisher.

"Oh my God, you're enormous. I thought you were only a few months.

You need to stop piling it on or you'll have a terrible delivery. That's not wine is it?"

"Yes," snarled Shazzer. "She's allowed four glasses a week."

"She's not!" said Janey "They've just discovered you can't drink any alcohol at all without harming the foetus. One glass and you've done it."

"Bridget!" It was Natasha, Mark's former girlfriend.

"I just heard your news. It's SO brilliant. God, that's not shellfish you're eating? It's full of mercury."

"Boy or a girl?" interrupted Janey.

"Er, don't know yet..."

"You mean you haven't had the scan? At your age? Magda thought Harry was a GIRL until she had hers and saw a penis inside her."Apparently Harry actually urinated in the womb."

Ugh. Normally nothing could be more charming than a penis inside one, but not belonging to one's own urinating child.

"Is that wine you're drinking, Jones?" a voice murmured into the back of my neck. Daniel! I started guiltily.

"It's all right Jones. It's been scientifically proved to be perfectly safe for the foetus as long as you sleep with the father immediately afterwards."'



Published: 19 January 2006
9:37 pm
[i_palimpsest]
'I sank down, head in hands. Everything I used to care about was gone, or going'
Alcohol units: 1 gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
11pm. Was just heading out to work, late and insecure due to gorging on Golden Globes coverage when phone rang. Stupidly picked it up, thinking it might be Daniel/ Johnny Depp/ George Clooney or similar.

"What did mummy say! Take it out! Take it out of Constance's nose now and put it back in the potty! Grrr. Hate it when Magda does this.

If there is one Motherhood Resolution am determined to keep it is not to talk to the baby while I am on the telephone. My baby will just play quietly with her toys and not demandattention from me.

"Sorry, Bridget. I was just ringing to say don't eat it! Yakky! Poo! Anyway official congratulations! The secret's out! You wait, though: everyone's going to start giving you advice. Not me, of course, but they'll tell you all sorts of rubbish - don't eat goats' cheese, don't wear underwire bras

I gasped. "Underwire bras? Why not?"
aPublished: 15 December 2005

Saturday 10 December

Alcohol units: 0 (vg); cigarettes: o (vg;) glühwein fumes: extensive;
gherkins: 27(eerie)

10am. Ugh. Last thing feel physically or emotionally able to do is to
drive to Grafton Underwood for Christmas Market on the Alconburys' Roman
Patio (unfinished DIY carport which became Roman when Una hosted toga party
in it). But have no choice, as promised. Am not going to tell Mum re: baby
until Christmas. Will simply don camouflaging winter coat, purchase
couple of festive toilet roll covers, and come straight back.
10pm. In single bed in parents' house, Grafton Underwood. What was I
thinking? In hindsight, was like a murderer wanting to lurk around the
funeral of his victim. I wanted to lurk around my mother drinking in
her mummyish warmth and fantasising that she approved of geriatric,
fatherless pregnancy.

Arrived to glühwein fumes, raucous laughter, and strains of Cliff
Richard's "Mistletoe and Wine". The Roman Pillars (aka roofless car-port
supports) had really come into their own with lanterns strung between on paper
streamers, illuminating the festive stalls. Was initially startled to see some
guests in togas. Maybe memory of last summer's party had confused them or
perhaps they had simply remained on the Roman Patio, drinking and reminiscing
every since. Geoffrey Alconbury, blindfolded and dressed as Santa, was brandishing a
basketful of white moustaches trying, for unexplained reasons, to stick
them on people's bottoms. Penny Husbands-Bosworth, clearly plastered, wove
past in a plunging red top and white paper hat which said "George Best",
asking:

"Am I Gary Glitter?"

"No you're not, You're Georgie Best," snapped Mavis Enderbury, whose
own hat said: "Kate Moss's drug dealer".

"But I asked Malcolm if I slept with little girls and he said yes."

"Well you didn't. You're Georgie Best. and you're dead."

"But Colin said I wasn't dead."

"Oh do shut up, Penny," said Mavis, whipping Penny's hat off, and
thrusting it into her face. Just then, Mum and Una teetered into view, in outfits
I recognised from Camilla Parker Bowles' US tour. At first I thought their
faces were frozen in horror, then realised it was something eerier. "Oh
there you are, darling," said Mum, lips clenched like a ventriloquist's
dummy. "Have a glass of glühwein!! We've had to heat it up in the
slow-cooker. It's not alcoholic, darling, it's just some orange juice
and cloves. Prost!"

"Did your mummy tell you she'd had botox?" slurred Penny
Husbands-Bosworth. There was a commotion on the patio. A lantern had set fire to a
streamer which in turn had ignited someone's guessing-game paper hat. I watched,
aghast, as my father hurled himself at the literally flame-haired guest,
wrestling her to the ground. There was a shocked silence, then Dad
arose, gallantly handling the lady to her feet. It was Mark Darcy's mother.
Her elegant, bouffed hairdo had a large black crater on top.

"Oh my goodness, am I all right?" It was fortunate that the words

"Grafton Underwood" and "lawsuit" are relative strangers to each other.

"Absolutely fine! You look wonderful," boomed Dad, dusting
unsuccessfully at the burnt patch as Mum and Una bustled up with scissors.
Took advantage of the distraction to escape into house, remove coat and
boots and stretch out on sofa. Was just stuffing face with gherkins and
cheesy cubes when heard voices.

"I don't know what she thought she was doing with her hair all bouffed
up like that. She looked like a mousse, or an elk."

"Well that's Elaine Darcy for you, isn't it? She's like something out
of the ark."

Froze as Mum and Una appeared in the doorway, taking in enormity of my
coatless frame

"Bridget! What have you eaten. You're like a balloon!" said Mum, as if
I'd caused the whole thing in one sitting, by eating a sheep.

"I don't think it's eating that's done it," said Una pointedly.

They stared, then turned away, whispering. When Mum looked back she
could equally have been furious, delighted, or constipated.

"Bridget," she hissed. "Are you preggy?" (Ugh - unexpectedly disgusting
word.) They stared at my body as if I was brood mare. Toyed briefly with
whinnying but plumped instead for horse-like silence.

"I told you. She is!" said Una.

"Well, I mean, I ..." stuttered Mum. "You're going to have to have it
looked at, Bridget because it could easily come out a mongol at your age."
Maybe she was drunk. Maybe she didn't mean to say it. But she still
said it and I will never forget. People are supposed to be pleased and
congratulate you when they find out you're pregnant, even if you are an older
mother.

Here is a list of the reactions I have got.
Baby's father: You are going to get rid of it, aren't you?
Baby's Auntie Magda: It's completely irresponsible.
Baby's Auntie Shazzer: Try not to leave it in a shop.
Baby's Granny: It's going to come out a mongol at your age.
(Mind you, suppose own initial response: "Gaah! am having the
menopause," was not that great either.)

Bravely drew self up to full height (which, these days, is nearly the
same as my width) and hissed. "If 'it' is, as you so offensively put it, 'a
mongol', then I shall love her more than ever."

"You see, Pam! She is pregnant."

" Who's the father? Is it Mark?"

"No," I said, kicking the coffee table sulkily.

"Well then, who is it?"

"It's a virgin birth."

"Don't be silly, Bridget," snapped Mum. "You're going to have to stop
eating, you know. Or you'll end up like Penny's daughter. Mind you, she
enjoyed being grotesque."

There are many things I wish I'd said, but all I managed was: "Excuse
me, I've to go and puke up."

Anyway am going to go to sleep, get up early and drive back to London
and sanity. Should only take 1/2 hours if leave at 9.

Sunday 11 December

1.30pm. Bedfordshire. Have been sitting in traffic jam for 5 1/2 hours
looking at billowing flames and black smoke. Hope is not in some way
connected with glühwein or Mark Darcy's mother's hair.nderwiring's disastrous for breast-feeding: crushes your ducts. You are wearing a sports bra at night, though, aren't you? Or you'll end up with one breast under each arm. And don't eat raw eggs."

"Why would I eat raw eggs?"

"Zabaglione? Steak tartare? But the only advice actually worth taking is not to lie down."

"What?"

"Because your main artery to your brain goes through your back."

"But how can I not lie down?"

" I mean, not on your back. Otherwise it'll cut off the oxygen to your brain. Oh, and the other thing is, try and put your feet up or you'll get varicose veins. Woney spent too much time standing up and got varicose veins in her labia. Harry! Better go. Bye."

I slumped, traumatised. The phone rang again: my mother.

"Hello darling! Just ringing to see if you've heard about Angelina Jolly. She must be due about the same time as you.

"Mind you, you wouldn't know it to look at her, she's hardly put on any weight at all. Have you tried going swimming?"

Seconds after I got rid of her, Magda rang again. "The only other thing I was going to say is don't go swimming because it'll put strain on the uterus. Oh and if your hair starts falling out the best thing is to rub a tiny tiny bit of engine oil into your scalp."

I sank down, head in hands. Everything I used to care about was gone, or going: my figure, my sex life, my freedom, my hair.Was clearly going to end up sitting alone in flat with hair falling out, taking poo out of nose of baby with one breast under each arm and labial varicose veins. Impulsively I grabbed the phone and dialled.

"Shaz? It's Bridget. Are you and Jude going out tonight?"

There was silence at the other end: the same silence I used to emit when Magda called to see if she could come out with us and try, Smug Marriedly and in vain, to share in our debauched singleton fun.I bit my lip, tears pricking my eyelids. Just then the mobile rang.

I stared at both phones, confused: "Bridge. It's Shaz. We got cut off," said one.

"Oh, thank God."

"What?

"Never mind. So can I come out with you tonight?"

"Yess! We thought we'd lost you. See you in the Electric at 8."

Initial excitement at being in scruffy glamour of Portobello again was squelched by Shazzer crowing over survey saying parents were more likely to get depressed than childless people.

"You see?" she ranted gleefully. "All these years we've been brainwashed into thinking we were depressed because we haven't got children whereas in fact, we weren't depressed at all!"

"But, er, we were," said Jude.

"No. We just thought we were, because society made us believe we'd suffered an unbearable loss whereas in fact people like Ricky Gervais, who made a conscious decision not to have children, are not depressed at all."

"Hurrah!" I said. "Childless singletons! Hurrah!" Then realised that both Jude and Shazzer were staring rather pointedly at my stomach.

"Well maybe you only get depressed if you want to have children and can't," said Jude in a funny, strangled voice.

"Or if you're about to have children but don't have a husband, boyfriend or any money and are having a panic attack," I said.

"Jesus Christ," said Shazzer, "I'd better get some more drinks.""I can't," I said, glumly.

"You can," said Jude. "The government guidelines say you can drink two units twice a week."

"Really?" I said, brightening.

Mmmmmmm. Had forgotten how a glass of wine makes your troubles go away. Had also, however, forgotten how it makes you want another glass of wine and a packet of Silk Cut.

Was on the point of arguing myself into "one tiny puff won't hurt" when I heard a familiar voice.

"Bridget! Congratulations!" It was Janey the Jellyfisher.

"Oh my God, you're enormous. I thought you were only a few months.

You need to stop piling it on or you'll have a terrible delivery. That's not wine is it?"

"Yes," snarled Shazzer. "She's allowed four glasses a week."

"She's not!" said Janey "They've just discovered you can't drink any alcohol at all without harming the foetus. One glass and you've done it."

"Bridget!" It was Natasha, Mark's former girlfriend.

"I just heard your news. It's SO brilliant. God, that's not shellfish you're eating? It's full of mercury."

"Boy or a girl?" interrupted Janey.

"Er, don't know yet..."

"You mean you haven't had the scan? At your age? Magda thought Harry was a GIRL until she had hers and saw a penis inside her."Apparently Harry actually urinated in the womb."

Ugh. Normally nothing could be more charming than a penis inside one, but not belonging to one's own urinating child.

"Is that wine you're drinking, Jones?" a voice murmured into the back of my neck. Daniel! I started guiltily.

"It's all right Jones. It's been scientifically proved to be perfectly safe for the foetus as long as you sleep with the father immediately afterwards."'



Published: 19 January 2006
9:36 pm
[i_palimpsest]
'I sank down, head in hands. Everything I used to care about was gone, or going'
Tuesday 17 January

Alcohol units: 1 gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
11pm. Was just heading out to work, late and insecure due to gorging on Golden Globes coverage when phone rang. Stupidly picked it up, thinking it might be Daniel/ Johnny Depp/ George Clooney or similar.

"What did mummy say! Take it out! Take it out of Constance's nose now and put it back in the potty! Grrr. Hate it when Magda does this.

If there is one Motherhood Resolution am determined to keep it is not to talk to the baby while I am on the telephone. My baby will just play quietly with her toys and not demandattention from me.

"Sorry, Bridget. I was just ringing to say don't eat it! Yakky! Poo! Anyway official congratulations! The secret's out! You wait, though: everyone's going to start giving you advice. Not me, of course, but they'll tell you all sorts of rubbish - don't eat goats' cheese, don't wear underwire bras

I gasped. "Underwire bras? Why not?"

"Oh, underwiring's disastrous for breast-feeding: crushes your ducts. You are wearing a sports bra at night, though, aren't you? Or you'll end up with one breast under each arm. And don't eat raw eggs."

"Why would I eat raw eggs?"

"Zabaglione? Steak tartare? But the only advice actually worth taking is not to lie down."

"What?"

"Because your main artery to your brain goes through your back."

"But how can I not lie down?"

" I mean, not on your back. Otherwise it'll cut off the oxygen to your brain. Oh, and the other thing is, try and put your feet up or you'll get varicose veins. Woney spent too much time standing up and got varicose veins in her labia. Harry! Better go. Bye."

I slumped, traumatised. The phone rang again: my mother.

"Hello darling! Just ringing to see if you've heard about Angelina Jolly. She must be due about the same time as you.

"Mind you, you wouldn't know it to look at her, she's hardly put on any weight at all. Have you tried going swimming?"

Seconds after I got rid of her, Magda rang again. "The only other thing I was going to say is don't go swimming because it'll put strain on the uterus. Oh and if your hair starts falling out the best thing is to rub a tiny tiny bit of engine oil into your scalp."

I sank down, head in hands. Everything I used to care about was gone, or going: my figure, my sex life, my freedom, my hair.Was clearly going to end up sitting alone in flat with hair falling out, taking poo out of nose of baby with one breast under each arm and labial varicose veins. Impulsively I grabbed the phone and dialled.

"Shaz? It's Bridget. Are you and Jude going out tonight?"

There was silence at the other end: the same silence I used to emit when Magda called to see if she could come out with us and try, Smug Marriedly and in vain, to share in our debauched singleton fun.I bit my lip, tears pricking my eyelids. Just then the mobile rang.

I stared at both phones, confused: "Bridge. It's Shaz. We got cut off," said one.

"Oh, thank God."

"What?

"Never mind. So can I come out with you tonight?"

"Yess! We thought we'd lost you. See you in the Electric at 8."

Initial excitement at being in scruffy glamour of Portobello again was squelched by Shazzer crowing over survey saying parents were more likely to get depressed than childless people.

"You see?" she ranted gleefully. "All these years we've been brainwashed into thinking we were depressed because we haven't got children whereas in fact, we weren't depressed at all!"

"But, er, we were," said Jude.

"No. We just thought we were, because society made us believe we'd suffered an unbearable loss whereas in fact people like Ricky Gervais, who made a conscious decision not to have children, are not depressed at all."

"Hurrah!" I said. "Childless singletons! Hurrah!" Then realised that both Jude and Shazzer were staring rather pointedly at my stomach.

"Well maybe you only get depressed if you want to have children and can't," said Jude in a funny, strangled voice.

"Or if you're about to have children but don't have a husband, boyfriend or any money and are having a panic attack," I said.

"Jesus Christ," said Shazzer, "I'd better get some more drinks.""I can't," I said, glumly.

"You can," said Jude. "The government guidelines say you can drink two units twice a week."

"Really?" I said, brightening.

Mmmmmmm. Had forgotten how a glass of wine makes your troubles go away. Had also, however, forgotten how it makes you want another glass of wine and a packet of Silk Cut.

Was on the point of arguing myself into "one tiny puff won't hurt" when I heard a familiar voice.

"Bridget! Congratulations!" It was Janey the Jellyfisher.

"Oh my God, you're enormous. I thought you were only a few months.

You need to stop piling it on or you'll have a terrible delivery. That's not wine is it?"

"Yes," snarled Shazzer. "She's allowed four glasses a week."

"She's not!" said Janey "They've just discovered you can't drink any alcohol at all without harming the foetus. One glass and you've done it."

"Bridget!" It was Natasha, Mark's former girlfriend.

"I just heard your news. It's SO brilliant. God, that's not shellfish you're eating? It's full of mercury."

"Boy or a girl?" interrupted Janey.

"Er, don't know yet..."

"You mean you haven't had the scan? At your age? Magda thought Harry was a GIRL until she had hers and saw a penis inside her."Apparently Harry actually urinated in the womb."

Ugh. Normally nothing could be more charming than a penis inside one, but not belonging to one's own urinating child.

"Is that wine you're drinking, Jones?" a voice murmured into the back of my neck. Daniel! I started guiltily.

"It's all right Jones. It's been scientifically proved to be perfectly safe for the foetus as long as you sleep with the father immediately afterwards."'



Published: 19 January 2006
9:35 pm
[i_palimpsest]
'I mean: as if Daniel is going to marry me. He can't even manage to speak to me'
Wednesday 11 Jan
Weight: 10st 2lb, lbs gained more than should at this point: 8(bad),
alcohol units: 0 (torture), babies: 1 though (vg)

8pm. My flat. Nightmare day at work. Richard Finch started off, bouncing
round the room yelling: "Right! I'm thinking Blair's 'Respect' initiative,
I'm thinking graffiti, I'm thinking council-estate thugs, I'm thinking
respect... I'm thinking respect... I'm thinking respect..."

He ground to a halt like a wind-up toy winding down. The assembled team
stared at him, mildly interested. Found self wondering if repetition of
so alien a concept had short-circuited his brain.

"Respect!" Freddo burst out, in his Cambridge falsetto, stepping valiantly into the breach like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music when Captain Von Trapp loses all heart for "Edelweiss" during the Salzburg talent contest.

"Where has it gone? What has happened to it? Where are our English values? -
cucumber sandwiches, Thomas the Tank Engine, the red pillar box, the thud of
tennis balls, the vicar on his bicycle, we shall fight them on the beaches,
an Englishman's word is his bond?"

"Jesus Fucking H Christ, shut up, Freddo," interrupted Richard Finch,
wiping snot off his nose. "I've just realised something earth shattering. The
question we've all been asking ourselves is answered."

Everyone stared at me."What?" I hissed.

"Oh come on, Bridget. You are, aren't you? Up the duff? Why else would
a woman not drink at the office Christmas party!"

The said "Christmas" "party" - held only last Thursday - consisted of
the trusty team, festivitied-out, slouching reluctantly to the upstairs
room of the pub and drinking crap white wine ferociously on empty stomachs to
ease the pre-Christmas deja vu. Two people had thrown up by 7.30. Patchouli
was sent home comatose in a taxi at 8 and the whole sordid, strip-lit,
wilted-decoration affair was over by 9.30. I was, it is true, the only
person sober.

"It's scientifically proven! And I'm here to announce our New Year Special
Strand! Older Motherhood: Bridget Jones's pregnancy and childbirth - live on
camera."

Grrr. I mean: what kind of schizophrenic, split-personality culture do
we live in? On the one hand, if a woman doesn't get plastered at the
office party, the only possible explanation is that she's pregnant. On the
other hand, the leader of the Liberal Democrats is obliged to resign for - as
far as can see - being bit of a pisshead in manner of everyone else in the
country. He's certainly not as much of a pisshead as Winston Churchill,
who used to start the day with two scotch-and-sodas in the bath and carry
on drinking till bedtime.

What has Charles Kennedy done exactly? He hasn't been pictured falling
out of a taxi with lipstick smeared all over his face and a strap falling
of his shoulder.

I mean we're not in bloody California, are we? We're not in the land of
" Oh look, you've had a glass of wine at lunchtime - better go to rehab."

Hmm.

Maybe I should start writing a newspaper column with my opinions. Oh
goody, telephone!

"Oh hello, darling, did you see?" - my mother - "Elizabeth Hurley is
buying her wedding dress from Debenhams."

Grrr. This is the latest thing with Mum. Having subjected me to years
of " When are we getting you married off?" to make me have babies; now that
I've got pregnant, in a sickening, last-ditch, far-too-old attempt to have
it all, she's trying to get me married before I have the baby. I mean: as
if Daniel is going to marry me. He can't even manage to speak to me.

"There's no need to go all quiet, Bridget," she said huffily, adding,
lyingly, to disguise her passive-aggressive "get married" as something
less sinister. "I was only showing you that Debenhams isn't as unfashionable
as you think."

"I think you'll find Elizabeth Hurley's point was precisely the
opposite," I said through grinding teeth, "ie she's friends with so many fashionable
designers that the only way to avoid offending them is to get her dress
from somewhere completely unfashionable."

There was only a second's alarmed hesitation, and then: "Don't be
silly, Bridget. Elizabeth Hurley wouldn't say something like that about
Debenhams. Anyway don't you think what Tony Blair is doing about Respect is
marvellous? I only wish Daddy and I had had access to those parenting classes when
you and Jamie were small."

I took a deep breath. "You think I have no respect?"

"Well, I'm not saying you don't have any respect darling. But when it
comes to certain things... I mean Debenhams is a very long-established
department store."

"I don't think Tony Blair was talking about respect for Debenhams,
Mother."

"Well what does he mean, then? He should make himself more clear."
"He means... er..."

I tailed off. Respect for not doing graffiti? Respect for politicians
who's main thing is spinning everything? The problem is, it's the wrong way
round. You can't tell people to respect people - people respect people for
behaving in a ways they respect.

As I said at work only this afternoon: "The only leader I see people
really respecting is Prince William. I can see him shaping up to be a
spectacular new kind of global leader, insisting on going to Iraq to fight like all
the other boys at Sandhurst, making speeches thundering 'If a country
cannot send its heir to the throne to field of conflict, if politicians will
not send their own sons to die on that field, then let us ask ourselves -
is that a conflict we ought to be fighting?'"

"Iieeuw," Finch interrupted leerily. "Bridget wants to shag Prince
William while she's pregnant!"

"I think Bridget's confusing Blair's concept of 'respect' with 'want to
shag'," snorted Freddo, with a high-pitched whinny.

I mean, honestly. At least "want to shag" nails it down a bit. You
don't want to shag people you don't respect, do you? Oh, though. What about
Daniel? And come to think of it... actually, I think I'll just go to sleep
now.



Published: 12 January 2006
9:34 pm
[i_palimpsest]
'Best thing about being pregnant: Am going to have baby. Am no longer tragic, barren spinster'
Saturday 31 December 2005:

An overview Alcohol units in first 6 months of year: 3,497 (normal). Alcohol units in second 6 months of year: 0 (vg). Imaginary menopauses: 1. Unplanned pregnancies disguised as imaginary menopauses: 1. Pounds lost: 114 (vg).
Pounds gained: 127 (v bad). Potatoes consumed in first 6 months of year: 11
(approx). Potatoes consumed in second half of year 1,100 (approx)(bad).
Egg whites: 0. Liver: 0.

Proudest achievement of year: creating unborn baby.

Biggest drawback to proudest achievement of year: Creating said unborn
baby via drunken shag with emotional fuckwit.

Proudest achievement of year as British citizen: Brave way dealt with
London bombings: even though consisted mainly of walking part of way home once
in bare feet before finding taxi.

Worst piece of British political timing: Abolition of licensing hours just
when have got pregnant and given up drinking.

Least favourite political person of year: President Bush - for still being
Global Superpower Leader despite a) very stupid; b) massive fuck-up re:
New Orleans toxic soup. And c) still pretending is all right about invading
Iraq; even though is now obvious he simply got mixed up and thought
Iraq had invaded World Trade Centre.

Favourite political or world leader of year: Prince William - owing to
being both attractive, caring and responsible doing mountain rescue and
visiting homeless when could easily be jetting round world on freebies in manner
of Fergie and modelling for Hugo Boss.

Worst Motherism of year :
Third place: Justifying third helping of dessert, fourth phone call of day
to self etc etc last summer by saying "You have to carry on as normal,
don't you? or otherwise the bombers will have won."

Runner up: Encouraging self to adopt Chinese or Ethiopian baby in order
to attract a man in manner of Angelina "Jolly" with Brad Pitt.

Winner: On receiving news of self's pregnancy with her first
grandchild, snapping "You'll have to get it checked out, you know, because it could
easily come out a mongol at your age."

Least impressive driving manoeuvre of year:

Winner: Driving away from petrol station with pump still attached to
car.

Runner up: Not noticing above had happened for three days, till Mark Darcy
alerted self.

Favourite pregnancy foodstuff:
Runner up: Cheese.
Winner: Potatoes.

Best thing about being pregnant:
Am going to have baby.
Am no longer tragic barren spinster
Will have little baby to love.

Worst thing about being pregnant:
Runner up: Suddenly becoming wide in manner of Senator Edward Kennedy
or Ann Widdecombe
Winner: throwing up all the time.
Best thing about throwing up all time:
Runner up: can eat more cheese and potatoes
Winner: Suddenly understanding miracle of toilet. solid, dependable,
magically making vomit vanish in quasi-Hogwartian fashion.

Favourite home furnishing or bathroom fitting: Toilet.
Best everyday invention: Toilet.
Most underrated everyday fixture or fitting: Toilet. (Toilet is clearly
going to walk away with whole armful of awards like Norah Jones at
Grammys in year when brought out song which is now in lifts everywhere.)

Most honoured honoree on tonight's occasion: Toilet.
Rest-of-pregnancy resolutions:
I will: a) Halt dizzying slide into obesity caused by treating nausea
like hangover and eating whatever feel like, moment by moment, in attempt to
make it go away. Instead will be lead by books not instinct and eat eg liver
and egg white. b) Compensate for current too-large weight gain, by
under-gaining for rest of pregnancy - not by cutting back on nourishment (for as
pregnancy book chillingly explains "the baby cannot live on your flesh alone, no
matter how ample") - but by cutting back on shit like ice cream,
cheese, and potatoes. c) Accept that stuffing cheese and ice-cream is not made all
right by calcium. d) Stop growing wide but instead develop endearing front-facing
bump like normal pregnant people. e) Stop buying more and more tiny baby
outfits such as, as Magda says, will only fit baby for 3 weeks and anyway
newborn babies do not need Uggi Boots: instead buy boring but necessary
things like bottle steriliser, car seat and changing table. f) Tell Richard
Finch am pregnant, having first checked out rights under the law on
internet.

Least favourite moments of year:
When thought pregnancy was menopause.
When, in middle of celebrating conception of first born with Mark Darcy, DNA
clinic rang to say father was Daniel Cleaver.

When told Daniel he was baby's father and he put phone down on me.
When Daniel came round to discuss pregnancy and said "You are going to
get rid of it, aren't you?"

Favourite moments of year:
When threw up cherry-coloured vomit in Daniel's new Mercedes.
Harharhar.
When looked at pregnancy test and saw blue line in window.
When did subsequent 17 pregnancy tests and still saw blue lines in
windows.
When bought first babygro with teddies on and put it on bed next to me
as if was baby.

When parcel arrived from Daniel - just as was leaving sadly for Mum and
Dad's for Christmas, which contained tiny pair of bootees with card saying:
"To mini-Bridget. Happy First Unborn Christmas with love from your
Daddy."

An EXCELLENT year's achievements and progress.

Published: 05 January 2006
9:33 pm
[i_palimpsest]
'Felt like Fanny in Far From the Madding Crowd, who ended up pregnant in the snow'
Monday December 5th.
9st 13 ( terrible). Items consumed from quivering mass of cottage cheese,
skinless chicken, egg whites, clams, tofu, texturized vegetarian protein and
liver suggested by Better Pregnancy diet: 0. Mini-Crunchies consumed
out of Cadbury's advent calendar: 24.

9.30am. Ugh, overwhelmed at thought of all things am supposed to do
before Christmas: traditional hideous taste-of-others exam where must spend
next 2.5 weeks running around hysterically, spending money do not have on
things others do not want. Fear it might be like finals at Bangor University,
when kept thinking any second would panic and start revision but never did,
and ended up putting things like: "Blood oh Blood Iago" - with lines like
this we see that Othello is a very good play indeed!!" - and failing Shakespeare,
Romantic Poets and Middle English. Depressed, also by swathe of fat round
midriff like on leg of lamb, only fatter. Induces panic since, now am pregnant,
cannot go on diet but will simply get fatter and fatter, fail to lose baby weight,
turn into depressed mother, forbidden to turn up at school by baby as too
embarrassing, and eventually have to be lifted out of window with a crane.
Otherwise everything is fine! (apart from geriatric single parent, no money,
father of baby hanging up when told him was pregnant etc.) Jolly dee!
Better go to work now, before sacked!

11am. Grrrr. As snuck into office Richard Finch bellowed: "Ah, Bridget!
I'm thinking eye-candy newscasters. I'm thinking beautiful women who just
read autocue. I want a stand-off between you and a wrinkly on-their-feet
reporter."

"But I don't read autocue. I am a reporter," I said, indignantly.

"Doesn't matter. It's what you symbolise that's the thing."

"And what do I symbolise?" I hissed.

"Triumph of style over substance and the fittest titties in Christendom. Try
saying that when you're pissed! Now, I'm thinking Tory leadership results.
"I'm thinking Bridget Jones versus Kate Adie on a split screen, live from
the Royal Academy."

5.45 pm. Oh dear. Unable to work up any enthusiasm for Tory leadership
contest apart from in reality show sense of witnessing humiliation of
losers. For so long "Tory Leaders" has simply meant people either with
receding hair or no hair, trying to come up with some sort of personality,
that whole thing now seems reduced to Big Brother-like quirks to remember
which is which: the Scottish doctor one, the Osborne and Little-owner
one, the woman one with the unusual shoes, the naughty shagger one with the
yellow hair.With Mrs. Thatcher, "Tory" was simple: Loadsamoney, every man for
himself and sod the sturdy beggar poor people - so anyone who fancied
themselves an egalitarian, kind, or arty knew the Tories were bad.

But this "Compassionate Conservatism" is just confusing, like saying
"non-fat full-fat cheese". Unless, of course, you're a Loadsamoney
bastard disguised as an arty/media liberal who wants to vote Tory but feels
embarrassed about it. Like, for example... Daniel Cleaver.

Oh God, the very thought of him sends a dull ache through my heart. It
was so horrible on Saturday night, when he knew I was pregnant, seeing him
come into the Electric with a gorgeous brunette. Trying to restrain Shazzer
was like holding back a pitbull on a leash, but I didn't want her to
confront him.

My philosophy is that me and the baby are complete in ourselves and all
I need to do is calmly and detachedly observe Daniel to see if he is
worthy to be baby's father.

5.50pm. Why hasn't he called me? Why? How can any human - or even
subhuman - man be so ungallant and cruel?

5.55pm. Gaaah! Suddenly found self dialling Daniel's mobile. "It's
Bridget."

"Yees. I see that. Funnily enough, Jones, I was just going to call you."

Was going to sarcastically sneer "oh really?" but suddenly was a catch
in my throat. After all these years, how could I have ended up pregnant and
still ringing Daniel pathetically to see why he hadn't called?

Felt like Fanny in Far From the Madding Crowd who got pregnant by
Sergeant Troy and ended up dying in the snow outside the poorhouse.
"The point, is, Jones, you were joking the other day? about..." - he
was clearly panicked -"I mean, I assumed you were, when I hung up. I was
going to ring back and quip that I was dying of cancer but someone came to
the door and..."

"I wasn't joking."

There was a click. I couldn't believe it. He'd fucking well put the
phone down again.

6pm. He just called back: "You're not serious?" "I am serious. I'm pregnant."

"And who's the father? Just kidding, Jones. I'm going to come round!"
Was unbelievable - first that Daniel, like Mark Darcy, had immediately
assumed he was the father and secondly that, there was an unmistakable
note of thrilled pride in his voice. Was beginnging to understand something.
Everyone thinks women who have children late are just stupid and don't
think about it, then suddenly go "Right,want a baby! Gaaah! Too late."
The truth is much more painful: that men in their thirties are mad
fuckwits who refuse to commit to having children because they don't need to and
women do.

It's only when they hit their forties and have their own version of
existential angst that they want them.

Or maybe men just daren't commit to the idea of babies but like it when
they come. If only I'd known all this I'd have just had a baby on my own
years ago and never mind waiting for a man. Mmmm. Cannot help fantasising
about having a baby with Daniel now I know he's happy. It would be hilarious.
He's so funny and charming, Mmm. Mmmm.

Just imagining how sweet he'd be, cuddling a little baby.

8pm. Daniel appeared up the stairs with a bunch of red roses, looking
unbelievably gorgeous. He took me gently in his arms, and whispered tenderly: "Don't worry, Jones. I'll take care of everything. I mean, I'm assuming you want to, you
know, get rid of it? Jones? Aaaargh. Ow! Bloody hell!"


Published: 08 December 2005
9:31 pm
[i_palimpsest]
'How lovely would have been to arrive with Mark as reunited pregnant Christmas duo'
Saturday 26 November 26

Progress with Better Pregnancy Diet: 0; Liver or other organ meats: 0; Egg
whites, tofu, other colourless blubber: 0; "Bunny favourites": 0; Cadbury's
Fruit and Nut: 3.

5pm. Phone just rang. Lunged at it, hoping was Daniel.

"Ooh! hang on, I've got a hair in my mouth," - my mother. I listened,
despairingly, to series of gargling/ choking noises at the other end.
"Oof! There we are. What a long hair!" (My mother doesn't have long
hair.

How had she got a long hair down her throat?) "Anyway, darling, I was
just ringing to make sure you're coming to the Christmas market on
Saturday."

"You mean the Christmas market in Amsterdam?" I said,stomach lurching.
Mum and Una set off to Amsterdam two weeks ago. If they were still there it
could mean only one thing: another holiday romance. Found self imagining handsome Moroccan gastarbeiter playing "Oh Tannenbaum" on native pipes at Christmas market - long hair trailing down his colourful costume and, subsequently, my mother's throat.

"It was Antwerp, darling," she said huffily. "Anyway, I'm talking about Una and my Christmas market on Saturday."

Wish she would stop assuming I know about things of which there has been no mention. Makes me feel senile. But maybe she's so confused by celebrity culture she thinks I've already read about it in the Mail on Sunday. "It's on Una and Geoffrey's Roman Patio. Everybody's coming! The Enderburys, Penny Husbands-Bosworth, the ..." - slight pause - "Darcys." Una and Geoffrey's "Roman Patio" is a DIY carport which Uncle Geoffrey
never finished, leaving a concrete floor and six supports with no roof. Una was
livid until she happened upon the Roman Patio interpretation, held a toga party and never looked back. (Though, after the party, the adjacent goldfish pond was abruptly filled in, for reasons which are never alluded to.)

"Sounds festive!" I managed, heart aching at how lovely would have been to arrive with Mark as reunited pregnant Christmas duo, trying to forget about fuckwit-father-to-be Daniel putting phone down on me when told him was pregnant.

"Of course, Malcolm Enderbury used to be VERY friendly with the Blairs," Mum was prattling, on, oblivious. "But even he's disgusted by Euan's goatee. I mean, he looks like one of these fashion 'homos'. As Mavis says, if Prince William's studying charity companies for his work experience and then doing the Homeless and Mountain Rescue, how come the Prime Minister's son is spending his running round Paris in a black Mercedes, drinking Louis Vuitton?"

"Well, firstly, Louis Vuitton is a luxury clothing/luggage line, not an alcoholic beverage, and secondly, Euan is not preparing to inherit the role of Prime Minister."

"Yes he is! He's the oldest son!. Well at least he isn't, darling, but the point is, you don't see Prince William in a goatee, do you?"

"Well I'd better be getting along," I ventured brightly, but it was hopeless. She had started on a coy trip down a "Georgie" Best memory lane, and then it was Dad's stand against Blair's nuclear power: "He's trying to get Geoffrey to join Greenpeace and Una's furious Geoffrey will use it to look at girls. I mean, I've told her they're all lesbians but ..."

Finally crashed in with "Mum, I've got to go, bye." and put phone down.
And now I must go round and tell Mark Darcy that he isn't my baby's
father, after he was so overjoyed, and that his arch enemy is, before he hears
it from someone else. Which is nice.

9pm. Sometimes there is nothing to say but the truth, so I simply blurted:
"I'm very sorry about this and very sad and wish it wasn't true but the baby's father isn't you, it's Daniel Cleaver."

Mark went completely silent and motionless but his face said everything.
Eventually, he murmured, "I see," then turned his back to me and started
opening and shutting all the kitchen cupboards

"And will ... Daniel ... be shouldering his fatherly responsibilities?" he said eventually, locating a bottle of antique whisky and pouring a glass.

"I don't know," I said, trying not to cry.

Mark drank it in one, wiped his mouth and said: "I think I need to be alone now."

Ended up letting myself out and sobbing on the steps. Everything seemed so
hard. But then remembered Abigail Witchalls who was stabbed and paralysed
when pregnant and now doesn't need to forgive because she never blamed. We
live in such a culture of self-pity and blame. Instead one must be noble ,
strong, rise above it, and be grateful for what one has.

9.05pm. Why is this happening to me? WHYYYYY? FUCKING God. It's SO
unfair. I wish I was DEAD. Ooh! Wonder if Jude and Shazzer are still in the
Electric.

11pm. The longer I don't drink, the stranger the girls seem late at night.

"OK she was drunk. OK she was tartily dressed," Shazzer was ranting,
waving her glass at the waiter "Did that mean Daniel could rape her? No!"

"But he didn't rape me."

"Of course he raped you," growled Jude.

"And Mark Darcy's no better. Did it even enter his head that someone
else might be the father? Oh no! Mr 'I'm the only one who'll shag Bridget'.
He's worse than Steve Bing."

"But I thought we hated Steve Bing because he assumed it WASN'T an
exclusive relationship,"

"Shut up, Bridge," said Shaz.

"But you see," I went on earnestly, "I'm trying to look on the bright
side and not blame Daniel, but forgive."

"Wha?" slurred Jude. "Bridge, do you mind if I light up?"

"Of course you can't fucking light up, she's fucking pregnant,"

"Maybe Daniel thought I was joking. If Mark Darcy was delighted, why
wouldn't Daniel be?"

They stared at me as if I was a rubberised dragon which had descended
through the ceiling via a movie marketing campaign.

"Because," said Shazzer, as if talking to a half-wit, "Daniel is a
fuckwitted commitment-phobe bastard shitbag. Oh, hello!"

"Ladies! What a pleasure!" murmured Daniel, attempting to slide past
with a stunning, half-dressed brunette. "Whoever can you be talking about?"

Published: 01 December 2005
9:28 pm
[i_palimpsest]
‘Do you think both sets of sperm were slugging it out in the womb? Like father, like sperm?’
Saturday November 19th

After Mark departed, immediately called Jude and Shaz who, declaring State of Emergency, said they would be round in 20 mins. Grateful, bundled up against cold to purchase chocolate brownies from Mr Christians. As squeezed though bustle of Portobello Market past twinkly lights in Woolworth’s, it was getting dark and all cosy, suddenly felt rush of happiness that impending Christmas – instead of causing traditional stabs of pain, regret and left-outness – made me think of own baby under (or possible on top of, in manner of fairy?) that Christmas tree. Portobello – with its rotting vegetables, Union Jack Y-fronts and salt-of-the-earth cheeriness – seemed symbol of harmony, humanity and joy. Sight of Yummy Mummies in fashionable sheepskin rubbing shoulders with council-house mums made self feel part of a worldwide embrace of Universal Motherhood.

Eyes met those of scruffily pregnant girl. Gave warm, colluding smile as she bent towards her toddler and yelled. “Chardonnay! You *beep* bleedin’, little *beep*

Looked away at a rail of flailing kaftans where policeman was trying to separate two stallholders who were yelling “He called me a *beep* terrorist!”

“Well he called me a Moroccan *beep*

Hurried off to Mr Christians, where felt momentarily more at home amongst those who could afford £5 for a goats cheese crottin, then overheard: “Yar, yar, but the question with playdates is – whose child should be inconvenienced most?” I mean, with Lucy we have to fit round Molly’s whinges, so Ned has to have his lunch late, which means he can’t digest his supper properly so he wakes in the night. And basically I think it would be more appropriate for Lucy to deal with Molly’s whingeing problem than expect me to have broken sleep.”

Suddenly felt overwhelming urge to ask assistant to open bottle of wine so I could swig it on way home. Where in society was I going to fit in as mother? Remembering survey saying even one drink a week can cause baby to have spasms in womb, stumbled out boozeless, but convinced was going to be social misfit and baby thus become obese, bespectacled and picked-on at school.

Got home to find flat smelling Christmassy. Turned out Jude and Shaz had let themselves in and made mulled wine, decided it was disgusting, tipped it out and made Cosmopolitans instead.

“I’ve done a very bad thing,” I said, starting off, as is traditional, with self flagellation, in order to be comforted and supported. “I should have told Mark Darcy that Daniel was the father as soon as I got the call from the DNA clinic.”

“Yes, you should,” snapped Shazzer. “It’s appalling to leave Mark thinking it’s him. Why didn’t you?”

Jude and I looked at her, aghast. What was she thinking? Didn’t she understand why she was here?

“I couldn’t, could I?” I said. “We were euphoric with reunited newly pregnant joy. I could hardly put the phone down and say, ‘sorry, you’re not the father any more. It’s Daniel Cleaver. Bye’.”

“Of course she couldn’t,” snapped Jude. “Daniel shagged Mark’s *beep* wife, for God’s sakes. Listen, Bridget, did Mark even ask you if he was the father?”

“No,” I said uncertainly, wondering if this was good or bad.

“Isn’t that a bit arrogant? Assuming that no one else would want to shag you?”

“Arrogant?” burst out Shaz, mercifully back on message. “It’s *beep* pathological. Who the *beep* does he think he is, ‘oh, oh, look at me … I’m the only person who could possibly bring himself to shag Bridget.’?”

“Bastard, *beep* bastard,” yelled Jude.

“It’s quite funny, really,” giggled Shaz. “Do you think both sets of sperm were slugging it out in the womb? Like fathers, like sperms?”

“Shut up, Shaz,” said Jude. “The point is, what is she going to do?”

Eventual resolution was that I had to tell Daniel before I told Mark. It was therefore resolved that I should call Daniel and and arrange to tell him in person. This is how that phone call went:

Telephone: “Brrrring brrring.”

Daniel: “Yes?”

Me: “Hello.”

Daniel: “What?”

Me: “Nothing, bye.”

Admittedly immature. But it wasn’t exactly my fault. I mean, who answers the phone barking, “Yes?”. Anyway, two minutes later, he rang back.

“Jones? How old are you?”

“It’s none of your business.”

“No, no absolutely, absolutely. But you’re not – just to pluck an example out of the air – 13?”

“No.”

“Pity, pity. You’re not of the age, then, where you might dial zero and say ‘Is that the operator on the line? Well get off it quickly, there’s a train coming’?”

I hesitated. He truth is, there was a night a few months ago when Jude, Shaz and I got a drunk and …

“What I’m driving at, Jones, is did you just call me at work and say ‘Nothing, bye’?”
I paused, unsure of my ground.

“Oh, never mind. What colour knickers are you wearing? Are they those big Mummy pant? Are you Daddy’s Mummy?”

For a split second I panicked, thinking someone had told him I was pregnant.
“Mummy, Mummy, Mummy, Mummy, Mummy, Mummy.”

“I thought you said you were at work.”

“I am.”

“You’re not. You’re at home. I’ve just rung you there.”

“Good Lord! You’re absolutely right. I’m in bed, stark naked. How long will it take you to get round here? Could you fasten your bunny tail to the Mummy pants? Then you’d be a Mummy bunny.”

I frowned, crossly. This wasn’t the right atmosphere at all. Though actually, it would be quite fun to go have a shag. I mean …

“I’m pregnant.”

Gaaaaaaah! Gaaaaaah! I don’t know what happened. It just popped out. It was like I had absolutely no control over my speech.

There was silence at the other end and then … a click.

I’ll remember this for the rest of my life: the moment I told my baby’s father I was pregnant and he put the phone down on me.


Published: 24 November 2005
9:26 pm
[i_palimpsest]
'I thought Mark was going to start bouncing on the sofa like Tom Cruise on Oprah Winfrey'
Saturday 12th November

9am. Lying slobbily under duvet, unable to face either fridge-like world or
reality of situation: i.e. Mark Darcy insisting on coming round at 9.30
with cappuccinos, presumably to tell me off for a) getting pregnant and b)
going on date with whippersnapper when great with child - said child being
only slightly younger than said whippersnapper.

Attempt at displacement activity by reading festive magazines while
Instant Messaging Jude has misfired, leaving self with uncomfortable sense that
ought to be Peaches Geldof/Tom Parker Bowles/member of the International
Art Show Set, instinctively understand how to take the must-have Galaxy
dress from classic daywear through evening and already own a black Christmas
tree.

9.05am. Ooh. Instant Message from Jude, re what to wear for confrontation:
"I think you should start off Desperate Housewives in slouchy t-shirt with
too-long sleeves then change halfway through and rev it up a la Paris
Hilton plus dog."

9.10am. Hee hee. Just messaged back "Re: dog, do you think a gerbil
would do?"

9.15am. Look, this is ridiculous. Must get up, shower and, er, bake
bread?

Oh goody, telephone.

9.20am. My mother: gabbling, insane. "Oh, hello darling, guess what?
We're on the way to the Christmas Market in Antwerp!! They're all over the
low countries, now, apparently - just like the Craft Market in Kettering
only it's all Christmas with Gluhwein. Oh my godfathers, I'll have to go,
I'm picking Una up from her botox behind Debenhams."

9.25am. Oh Christ. What am I going to say to him? Still don't even know
if he's the father. DNA clinic called last night but couldn't talk as
everyone here, and now they're not in yet. I'm just going to read a little bit
of Sensational Villas section.

9.30am. There you see. Very calming. What can Mark Darcy do exactly?
Berate me for trying to trap him into marriage? Or be so worried about what
the Notting Hill Tory set will think about out of wedlock child that he'll
force himself into a shotgun wedding, put the baby down for Roedean or
Benidorm and force me to go to ghastly lawyer-wife Mummie and Mee classes: like
the one I took god-daughter Constance to in freezing church where a mad
Sloaney woman was bellowing: "The grrrrand old Duke of York!!! He had ten
thousand men!!" and Constance took one look and ran off.

9.35am. Gaah! Doorbell. Oh no. How has this happened? Am still in
pyjamas and hair is like African Shrub from Sensational Villas section.
Later. When Mark appeared up the stairs he was.... ebullient.
"Right!" he said, brightly. "Coffee? Eggs as well? I brought eggs!
Oh....."

Tried - and failed - to fight down egg-induced vomit. When returned
from the loo, Mark knelt at my feet.

"So," he said. "Seems like there's three of us now."

I nodded, still unsure where this was leading.

"It must have been the high spirits," he grinned, sheepish yet proud.

"I know," I giggled.

"It was so ghastly before. There's nothing worse than forcing yourself
to have sex just because it's the right time of the month, is there?"

Trying hard not to react to this brutal over-honesty, I flashed back to
one particularly grim "right time" close to the end, when Mark had dragged
himself round, exhausted, after work. I was hiding in the bathroom
furtively performing a raspberry vinegar douche which Shazzer said would
create a girl, when Mark stumbled in, lowering his trousers. We blinked at
each other wondering how much lower in the unromantic stakes we could sink.
Naked farting competitions? Later I emerged, slinkily, in a silk teddy to
find Mark asleep on the sofa with his stomach hanging out. When we finally
got down to it, I kept batting him off from doing anything which might
alert him to the raspberry douche and it all got so bad we gave up, and lay side
by side, staring despairingly at the ceiling, Mark quoting Martin Amis,
saying:

"Marriage ends up like being brother and sister with occasional unfortunate
bouts of incest."

But what a change now! Mark had leapt to his feet so excitedly I thought he
was going to start bouncing on the sofa like Tom Cruise on Oprah Winfrey.

"I can't believe it," he beamed. "It's just so bloody fantastic. You need to
move into the house straight away. We'll start decorating the nursery and
get Nana on board." (Nana, Mark's former nanny, is 93 - and so senile
she would immediately mistake the baby for a rich tea biscuit and eat her).
"Ooh, that reminds me. Hang on. Don't move!" He bounded off down the
stairs again.

I sat back on the sofa, bathed in a warm glow. All my worries were over
- the stairs, getting the firewood up from the petrol station, the scandal,
the financial crisis, the fatherless little one. "You've got a daddy,"
I whispered to baby, "and he's going to love and take care of us."

The phone rang. Reached, dreamily, for receiver, hoping it was someone
I could bask and boast to.

"Bridget?" said a brisk voice. "It's Judy from the DNA clinic!"

Just then Mark staggered back in, carrying the most enormous,
moth-eaten teddy bear.

"Good news. We've got a crystal-clear result from the fingernail," said
Judy.

"He was mine when I was a baby," Mark said, proudly plonking teddy at
my feet. "Nana bought him for me. Do you like him?"

"I love him," I said, gripping the phone so hard I thought it would splinter.

"It's positive!" said Judy

"Who's that?" said Mark, looking anxiously at my face.

"Bridget?" said Judy. "Bridget? You have your father. It's Daniel C
leaver."
"Not today, thank you. I've already got the Sky movie package," I said,
shakily, replacing the receiver.

"Oh my darling," said Mark, taking me in his arms. "We're a family at last.
And as long as we all live, we'll never be lonely again. My son. My own
son. I'm the happiest man alive. Why are you crying?"

As Jude, Shaz and all agree, it is a tragedy of Shakespearean
proportions.



Published: 17 November 2005
9:21 pm
[i_palimpsest]
'His eyes immediately went to my stomach, his face a mess of emotions. He obviously knew'
Monday October 31st

11.30am. In office. There is a new researcher at work who is young, tall,
handsome and flirts with older women. Patchouli and I have therefore
renamed him Ashton Kutcher (as in Demi Moore's youthful husband) This
morning Richard Finch slavered into the meeting, a lascivious gleam in his
eye. "Lewd e-mails!" he bellowed. "There's an inquiry into lewd e-mails at
the BBC."

The Sit Up Britain Team looked on in mute despair as Richard flung
himself, frowning, at the computer as if trying to rework the Iraqi
constitution. "Print this out for me, love, will you," he eventually yelled at
Patchouli, as if she was his secretary. Which, er, she is.

"Love? What do you think this is: the Batley Variety Club circa 1970?
Print it out your fucking self, love," she yelled back. "Oooh! Wrong time of
the month is it?" said Richard. "I'll read it out then."

Is it just me, or is this work environment totally dysfunctional?
Wanted to lay my head on the tabloids and whimper.

"Okay, here we go," said Richard, clearing his throat.

"Titmanfinch@SitupB.org: Jesus I swear to God they've grown over the
lunch hour.

Freddo@Cantabile. Can that be humanly possible?

Titmanfinch: You know how, when she's sitting back they just cover the
B on the Sit up Britain sign? Well now they're halfway across the R.

Freddo@Cantabile: You're right. They're usually just teasing the Post
Office Tower from here. Now they're half way across..."

I glanced, mortified, over at my desk. On one side, the wall with the
Sit up Britain sign, on the other, the view of the Post Office Tower.

"This sucks!" Ashton Kutcher leapt to his feet. "What is it with you
guys? Knock it off."

"It sucks?" Richard Finch was dancing around, air boxing. "How about if
I tell you to suck your job off."

"Fine by me. How about if I tell your 'Human Resources Interface
Executive' why?" Ashton strolled towards the door, offered me his
arm and said: "Coffee, Bridget?"

"Don't mind if I do - and fuck you too, sexist fat arse," I said,
admittedly not very maturely, to Richard Finch.

Ashton and I both fell into the corridor, giggling helplessly, then, in
the tea bar, deconstructed Richard Finch's relationship with Freddo. Ashton
felt Freddo was Richard exploring his gay side, whereas I felt it was a
search for lost youth.

"No, that's me," said Ashton grinning lazily.

"We'd better get back," I said, beginning to lose control of my Demi
Moore fantasies. "Nooo," he groaned, folding both my hands in his. "Can we
have dinner tonight?"

I panicked, wondering whether you are allowed to go out to dinner with
youths when you're pregnant.

He looked jokily from side to side then whispered: "Are you really
pregnant?" I was aghast. How did he know? "Don't panic. I won't tell.
We can still have dinner, can't we?"

Maybe it's okay. but isn't there something weird about it? I said yes,
anyway.

5.45pm. Fantastic day. It's amazing how a new man's interest in you -
however dubious - makes you feel like a new woman. Richard put me on
Charles and Camilla, which merely meant working out exactly what percentage
less of the American people wanted to meet Charles and Camilla than wanted to
shag Princess Diana in 1985, and freed up my mind for rampant Demi Moore
fantasies: Ashton snowboarding with the baby and getting on really well
with Bruce Willis in form of Daniel/Mark etc, etc. Gaah! telephone.

Later. Was reception: "Bridget, your Dad's down here." Panicked again.
Why? How? Maybe Dad was dead. Dashed for the lift, giving an encouraging
"see you later" wave to Ashton and remembering the thrill of having secret
liaisons with people you work with. Was overcome at seeing lovely Dad again
looking all mild, sweet and, importantly, alive.

"Hello, love," he said. "Just popped into town for my annual fishing
tackle re-stock and I thought, 'well! I'll pop in to see Bridget and say
hello'." I smiled, understanding this was bollocks and he'd sensed something was
wrong.

"Fancy a bite to eat?" "Well, actually I'm going out for dinner, but..."

" Let me drive you home to get ready, then."

7.45pm. My flat. Cowering with embarrassment in bedroom, pretending to
make tea. Chatted to Dad, then, deciding was not right moment to tell him
about granddaughter when did not know result of paternity test and about to
entertain unconnected whippersnapper. Retreated to bedroom to get
ready, while hissing story of Ashton down phone to Shazzer.

Just then, the entryphone rang - 15 minutes early. "It's him, it's
him!" shrieked Shazzer.

"Better get used to it, Bridge. Young men always come too early."

Pressed the buzzer and purred: "Just getting ready, come on up."

Then asked Dad to let him in, and dashed back to put clothes on. Could
hear Dad and Ashton chatting away in the living room. Stepped out nervously
to find it wasn't Ashton, it was Mark Darcy.

His eyes immediately went to my stomach, his face a mess of emotions.
He obviously knew. "You remember Dad?" I absurdly inquired.

"Don't mind me," said Dad, smiling all over his face as if all his
grandfather/son-in-law fantasies had come true at once. "Why didn't you
tell me?" said Mark, tears glistening in his eyes. Just then the doorbell
rang again; this time Ashton pretending to be Richard Finch. "Bridget, my
darling, I've come to see if your tits have grown any more."

"Come on up," I said, weakly.

Dad and Mark looked utterly baffled as Ashton appeared, overwhelmingly
young and vigorous

"Whoa," Ashton said. "You didn't tell me it was a party."

Just then, the answerphone clicked on, and a voice rang out.

"It's Judy from the DNA testing lab..." Dived for the phone, gabbling:
"Can't talk now, thank you very much. Ring you back in the morning."

Banged the receiver down to see three pairs of eyes looking at me,
questioningly.

"Work!" I trilled hysterically. "Story on David Blunkett's DNA clinic
shares! Boring! Boring! Hahahah! Here we all are! Nice to have all the
generations together! Cup of tea, anyone?"

Published: 03 November 2005
9:19 pm
[i_palimpsest]
'Oh God. You're pregnant and I forgot. You see? Horrible person. Bye'
Friday 21 October

Things are not going well. Left work early to submit Daniel's fingernail to DNA clinic (not in the best condition owing to Shazzer keeping it "safe" in the top of cigarette lighter then forgetting to remove before she lit up fag). Had to fill in form explaining how pregnant was etc, which receptionist then entered into computer, chatting to me in what seemed inappropriately cheery manner given the circumstances. Maybe she was trying to finesse - as we in television say - the awkwardness of dual paternity issue. Or maybe she was so used to the situation that it was all in a day's work, like funeral director making jolly quips about Camilla-chic whilst filling in a form asking which embalming package you wanted.

"You must be excited," she trilled. "Is this your first?"

"Certainly is!" I said with the tense faux-jollity of radio phone-in listener.

She glanced up at me as she typed, then, after a pause, as if a propos ofnothing inquired: "Did you hear about that woman in Italy who had a baby when she was 56?"

Staggered home, reeling, through darkness, lethal slippery leaves and driving rain, wishing was child bride with cosy weekend cottage in Oxfordshire where could bake apple crumble in Aga, looking even younger
in glow from inglenook fireplace. Dragged self up stairs to find boiler gone out and - with fleeting promise - answerphone flashing. Was my mother:

"Oh hello, darling. Just ringing to see what you wanted for Christmas."

Flirted briefly with calling back and asking for a bottle steriliser, but the phone rang again.

This time was Tom in San Francisco, asking if he was a horrible person. Great thing about Tom is, he knows about baby, but is so self-absorbed that it never occurs to him to bring it up until end of conversation, when he suddenly remembers and panics. Knew already, therefore, that however the "am-I-a-horrible-person?" debate resolved itself, it was bound to end with Tom remembering he'd forgotten to ask about the pregnancy and thus deciding he was horrible person anyway. Source of current neurosis was that Tom had seen Jesus at front of queue at his gym snack bar, gone to say "hi", then asked Jesus to order him a
wheatgrass smoothie (Jesus, from El Salvador, is Tom's latest nightmare ex), at which man behind Jesus said, "Excuse me, I think I was next. "

"The thing is," Tom obsessed, "the thought of jumping the queue had - I think - actually taken seed in my mind when I decided to say hello to Jesus.

So I did actually want to queue jump. I'm one of those people who coldly, cynically tries to make things better for themselves at the expense of others. Like people who deliberately avoid buying a round in the pub by going to the toilet."

"But wait," I said, happy to escape from my own fucked-up mind, if only for a moment. "The moral issue you're ignoring, Tom, is: is it actually queue-jumping if you join someone else in that queue and ask them to
get you something?"

"I think if I'd joined Jesus strictly to talk to him ..."

"Yup, yup ..."

"... and then Jesus had said, 'Do you want something?' and ..."

"Yup, yup, yup."

"Bridget," he said urgently, suddenly cutting to the chase. "Am I a horrible person?"

Lurched back on sofa, wrong-footed, thinking hard. Certainly Tom isn't non-horrible person in conventional sense of saying: "That colour looks really pretty on you," to people, or running half-marathons for Breast
Cancer. Realise I like my friends being horrible people, at least in that they enjoy talking about others behind their backs. Started to think maybe I was a horrible person too, for not reminding Tom I was pregnant . But
then if I reminded him, would I be like the man in the queue who could easily have left him in an innocent state of ...

"OK, Bridget, you've said enough."

"But I didn't ..."

"No. It's fine. Really. That's all I wanted to know."

"No wait. I'm just feeling a bit ..." "You're pregnant and I forgot. You see? Horrible person. Bye."

Oh God. Should go to gym like Tom. Wish pregnancy was still like in Princess Diana's day when you simply hid under Mothercare smock for nine months. Now is insane pressure to appear in full evening dress with highly toned arms.Fuck it. Is too rainy. Will go tomorrow.

Sunday 23 October
Finally got to gym to find naked pregnant girl in there, smugly humming Bach cantata . Hate people who hum classical music. Is sort of thing Freddo at work does: as if saying, "God's in his heaven, and I got a first in PPE at Cambridge."

Cantata-girl's stomach was enormous protruding thing with inside-out navel, but rest of her - arms, legs, bum etc - were really thin: in sharp contrast to own body which seems to have got sort of wide, like Ann Widdecombe: as if a particularly strong gust of wind might carry me quite away.

Felt totally convinced that no one could actually tell I was pregnant, but suddenly, when naked, found naked Cantata-girl staring with head-on-side, knowing smile.

"Five months?" she said.

Tried to absorb new horror: recent, growing conviction that have put on more weight than am supposed to at this point now confirmed. Nodded mutely, then rushed to mirror, hysterically, grabbing a hairdryer and starting to blow madly at totally dry hair.

"Oh! Excuse me!" Turned to see a woman banging down hairbrush and flouncing off. Had inadvertently nicked her hairdryer when she was mid-toilette. Like Tom, am horrible person as well as looking 56 years old and five months pregnant.

"It's Bridget, isn't it?" Was Cantata-girl again: "Amy Benwick - Daddy works with Mark. We had you over for dinner once."

Blanched, trying to remember which nightmare scary-lawyer occasion that was.

"I didn't know you and Mark were having a baby. Congratulations!"

Oh great. Now she'll tell "Daddy", and he'll tell Mark, and then what am I supposed to do?

Published: 27 October 2005
9:18 pm
[i_palimpsest]
'What if I put the baby in the washing machine, like that woman in the paper with her cat?'
Saturday 15 October

11.30pm. Cannot sleep. Looping thoughts are going
round and round, loopily. Keep thinking all alcohol
have drunk over the years will stay in body and give
baby Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and baby will emerge with
monstrous defects because have been so selfish as to
be older mother - like older mother Una Alconbury goes
on about whose baby was born with three legs and no
jaw and had to be adopted by co-habiting nun and
priest.

11.35pm. Still no nearer to getting DNA samples from
Mark and Daniel. What If I get post-natal depression
and drive the car off a cliff? There'll be no father
to look after baby and Jude and Shaz will leave her
outside the Electric while they get drunk and
Portobello Rd will be full of dishevelled Oriental
birds roosting like in Hitchcock's The Birds and
they'll swoop and give baby Avian Flu by pecking at
her eyes. Nooooooo! Am going to turn light on, be
sensible, and stop worrying.

11.37pm. What if I put the baby in the washing machine
like that woman in the paper with her cat?

11.40pm. Why are we terrified of Bird Flu? Think it is
something about mutation: maybe humans into birds?
Maybe will give birth to dishevelled bird's head on
baby's body. Ugh, ugh. Am going to read "Desiderata".
"Go quietly amidst the noise and haste and remember
what peace there may be in silence."
Pah. Is no peace in silence: is lonely and terrifying.
Is this how life will be when baby comes? Even if Mark
or Daniel does want to be proper father, it will be
like with girl at school called Harmony Middlebrook
whose parents called her "Harmony" because they
thought having her would repair their relationship and
it was a total disaster. Also there are too many
stairs to my flat. What if a parcel comes and I have
to go down and leave baby on table and she just rolls
off? Also am so old will end up bringing baby up in
retirement community and worst of it is, you're not
supposed to worry when you're pregnant because baby
will come out worried. Oh God. Really feel like having
a drink and a cigarette. What if suddenly lose control
and glug entire bottle of wine out of pure habit and
kill baby?

11.50pm. Am horrible spoilt person worrying about
stupid things in midst of Pakistan earthquake
disaster. Also am bad person because for so many years
had one huge worry that I would never have a baby that
you couldn't say "Oh it doesn't matter" about because
it did. I mean, it was a tragedy of Shakespearean
proportions. Always thought: "If I do have a baby then
I will never worry about trivial matters again." And
now look at me.

Reminds me of before I was pregnant when there was
Worry Vortex in my brain and thoughts would just go
round and round on a certain subject and if one worry
subject disappeared then another would plop into its
place and go round and round the same vortex even if
it was completely meaningless, like which trousers to
put into dry cleaners.

Gaaaah! Maybe am not pregnant any more. Have lost that
glowing peaceful feeling (though Shaz said glowing
feeling was mere product of not being hung-over for
first time in 17 years) Maybe baby has died. Had
better do pregnancy test quickly.

11.55pm. Hurrah! Am still pregnant! Gaaah! Telephone.

Was Jude, talking in a strange voice.

"I hort yur gegging DNA off Daniel."

"What?"

"Ning neah,"

"Why are you talking in that funny voice?"

"He's here. Daniel's in the Electric." There was the
sound of a struggle. "Fucking bastard!" It was Sharon
now. "I'm going to fucking kill him. You'd better get
your arse down here."

Was completely dumbfounded. "What are you talking
about?" I hissed. "Why aren't you in bed? It's the
middle of the night."

"Bridget. It's Saturday night. It's not even midnight.
Just because you're pregnant there's no need to go
insane."

Whole idea of going out seemed monstrous and
unnatural. But I really needed to get Daniel's DNA,
and anything was better than tossing and turning,
imagining deformed flu birds' heads on babies' bodies
in retirement community washing machines. Twitching
and muttering I managed to get dressed, find my
handbag and stagger down to a curry-scented minicab
which immediately set off at a rattling belt in the
general direction of North Yorkshire.

Eventually reined in minicab and redirected it towards
Electric. Could not believe the crush of people and
shouting inside. Everyone seemed completely mad: an
impression I get increasingly when out these days but
Shaz says is because have no previous adult memory of
being sober after 8pm.

Caught sight of Jude, Shaz and Daniel at a table near
the bar, but smell of booze and cigarettes made me
have to rush to loos and puke. When I returned,
Sharon, dressed in transparent blouse, was leaning
over Daniel coquettishly, holding his hand, saying:
"Come on now, darling ... close your eyes."

Daniel looked up, nervously, caught sight of me and
yelled: "Christ Alive! Jones! Jesus! What's happened
to your tits? They're fucking enormous."

"I said shut 'em," snarled Shazzer, at which Daniel,
clearly terrified, screwed up his eyes.

"OK," said Shazzer, turning Daniel's palm upwards as
Jude slipped her a pair of nail scissors. "This is a
secret test I learned from my psychic to find out
whether you're going to live a long happy life, or die
horribly and soon. Hold still."

Shazzer ran the blade lightly across Daniel's wrist.
Then, quick as a flash, took his index finger, clipped
his fingernail, and handed it to Jude.

"Bloody hell," said Daniel. "That hurt."

"Oh diddums, did it?" said Shaz, lunging at him again
with her fist, at which a tiny pinprick of blood
appeared on his palm, just as Jude dived in with a
cotton wool ball and swabbed it.

"Thanks!" said Shazzer, "We'll let you have the
results in a couple of days."

Published: 20 October 2005
9:17 pm
[i_palimpsest]
'When greeting Daniel, will thrust pin into his chest, thereby drawing drop of blood'
Tuesday October 11th

9.30am. In frenzy of anxious anticipation. Daniel is coming round tonight to have DNA, unbeknownst to him, covertly extracted. Mark Darcy is scheduled for Thursday.
Acceptable DNA sample forms


Saliva: from inside cheek using sterile swab, possibly by initiating playful game of "Hamsters" where parties put swabs in cheeks and make cute noises.
Blood: knife through artery or similar.
Tooth, fingernail or toenail: everyday grooming or violence.
Hair:15 to 20 strands yanked from head, plus follicles and scalp in manner
of Red Indians. Sorry, Native Americans.

Entire flat is booby-trapped. Have put dental floss and tangle-inducing hairbrush enticingly on washbasin. Tonight will affix dry cleaning ticket with open safety pin to inside of my D&G shirt. When greeting Daniel, will thrust pin into his chest , thereby drawing drop of blood which can then swab! Gaah! Telephone! Completely late for work.

6.30pm. Back home. Was my mother "Oh hello, darling. Have you seen about Tom
Cruise and this Katie Holmes being pregnant..." I crouched by the answerphone, brooding. Were these constant celebrity baby reports normal maternal sadism or something eerier - a Richard Finch-like sixth sense about my condition perhaps? It was probably just sadism, I told myself. Or maybe just a by-product of the celebrity magazines' own obsession with all
things Baby? Funnily enough, I had the Katie Holmes baby conversation with Shazzer
only yesterday at work.

"It's too weird," Shazzer whispered into the phone. "I mean, if Tom Cruise CAN get people pregnant why did he adopt the children with Nicole Kidman?"

"Hmmm," I said thoughtfully.

"Well exactly," snarled Shazzer. "And anyway, Katie Holmes is still a virgin. She's always said she wanted to wait till she was married."

"She can't be a virgin if she's pregnant, can she?" I whispered, glancing around for marauding Finches or Freddos.

"If you were impregnated with sperm using a turkey baster you'd still be a virgin wouldn't you? Katie Holmes has obviously been impregnated by someone else's sperm."

"Whose sperm?"

"A Scientologist's sperm," whispered Shazzer, darkly. "Oh fuck. Gottogobye."

Would actually really have liked to call my Mum back and continue Katie Holmes debate, even garner maternal support for own situation, but cannot talk to Mum at moment, at least until have prepared some kind of defence. My great white hope is that my mother likes Elizabeth Hurley - because she comes from a Home Counties army background - so the single parent thing might go down OK, particularly as Elizabeth Hurley was invited to get
her figure back at the European villa of Elton John - another Mother favourite.

The main problems as I see them are:

1) I was never going to be invited to get my figure back at the European villa of anyone.
2) Liz Hurley didn't have to pursue Steve Bing round the room trying to gouge out skin. (Did Steve Bing just send a toenail over, I wonder?)
3) There was only one of him.

Found self racking brains for names of stars who had to do paternity testing on two different fathers. Realised that for my mother to really embrace the whole thing, Angelina Jolie would have to split up with Brad Pitt, then have a not-back-together shag with him, followed by a not-back-together shag with Billy Bob Thornton, DNA test them both then do an interview about it in Hello! magazine and I'd be home and dry. It was never going to happen.

Left for work v. depressed. Got into office to find that Sienna Miller (whom my mother likes because, again, she has a posh voice) in spooky echoing of own situation had previously "gone out" with future James Bond, Daniel Craig (you see: same name!), split up, got engaged to Jude Law, split up with Jude, shagged her Daniel again, then shagged Jude Law again - just like me!

Now all she needs to do is be pregnant, DNA test them both, do an interview about it in Hello! and I can tell my mother the truth! Maybe there is a God, or at least a spiritual pattern in life, or is that Magical Thinking?

Gaaah!

Daniel will be here in 15 minutes.

6.55pm. Right, right. Have got safety pin attached to shirt now. As a back up, I can twist my fingers passionately round his hair and pull, even perhaps suggest he has a scratchy nail and cut it off. Have rejected semen as that was what got self into this mess in first place (not that baby is mess, obviously). Thought about putting drawing pin on kitchen chair
but decided it wouldn't actually draw blood through trousers. Also inappropriate. WHAT AM I TALKING ABOUT - WHOLE THING IS COMPLETELY OFF THE SCALE OF INAPPROPRIATE. Calm and poised. Have got two stabs (not in sense of actual stabbing, hope) at it, for...

Gaah! Telephone! Had better not be fucking Daniel.

7.00pm Was fucking Daniel all right, with buzzy sound of excited voices, clinking glasses etc. in background."Jones my darling. Listen I'd forgotten it's the bloody Booker Prize
tonight. Can we make it Monday?"

NOOOO! THE FUCKING DNA TEST IS ONDAY!

Honestly!Doesn't Daniel realise he's been doing this: "completely forgot it was the Booker Prize/my grandmother's funeral/Christmas" excuse for YEARS now? Doesn't he REALISE what an idiot he sounds? Daniel would be terrible father, terrible. It would be baby's first Nativity play and she would be the Virgin Mary or the Angel Gabriel and Daniel would ring up saying he had to go to the National Crap TV Awards and then a big tear would plop down her cheek and she would say: "But all the other daddies are here. Why isn't
my daddy here?"

7.15pm. Hate Daniel. Is not fit to be human father. Am not even going to get his DNA sample then will not even get a chance to be father. Hah! That will show him.

7.20pm. But then what, if Mark Darcy blows me out for DNA sampling as well?

7.30pm. Maybe stabbing would be best option after all. Will simply go round to both their offices and stab them. That should do it.

Published: 13 October 2005
9:16 pm
[i_palimpsest]
What am I going to do? Lunge at Daniel, knock one of his teeth out and then swab the wound?'
Monday Oct 3rd

Alcohol units: o (vg) cigarettes: 0 (vg) pregnancy tests: 2 (better)
baby outfits purchased 5 (excellent)

Hurrah! Have found lovely soothing website about prenatal paternity testing,
featuring joyous black and white picture of pregnant madonna-like woman
(as in Virgin Mary, not country-house falling-off-horse pop goddess), with
swarthy mysterious sex-god in the background: "If you have had more
than one partner, it's natural for you to want to know who the father is."
Love the way they put this: as if this is a completely normal dilemma
which every woman faces at one time or another. Find self hurriedly
double-checking that website is not called "Pregnantslag.com" but it is
just "i-awomanhealth.org".

"You may feel the need to collect financial or emotional support," it
goes on encouragingly. V. keen on idea of going round to "collect" emotional
support, like on Poppy Day with a tin or for Comic Relief with a plastic
bucket. Would be handy to be sick in, anyway.

"... or simply for the piece of mind which accompanies knowing for
sure."

Whilst worrying that the "i-awomanhealth" team don't know how to spell,
I do find this a curiously apt image: pieces of my mind all over the place,
some of them accompanying knowing for sure, others collecting emotional
support in buckets, others accompanying Tory leadership hopefuls to conference
events in shiny Tory-wife dresses.

Aha! There is a DNA test they can do at three months. "Results are
usually given in 14 business days or less." Hmm ... 14 business days. Does that
mean

... Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Was bloody Richard Finch, leaning over my shoulder, peering at my
screen as I hurriedly pressed Force Quit.

"What was that? It was a pregnant woman wasn't it? Does that mean
you're ..."

"... researching the new report about the effects of alcohol on unborn
babies," I said smoothly. "Why yes, Richard, I am!" (I mean sometimes I
literally think I am a genius).

"That's a good one," he guffawed. "Well, we'll find out in nine months,
won't we?"

The phone rang. I lunged at it gratefully.

"Bridget, it's Magda. I assume you haven't told either Mark or Daniel
that you're pregnant or worked out which one is the father," a Sloaney voice
boomed out of the earpiece." I want you to know that we're all sick of
you behaving like a child."

Because I was feeling sick and having a child the whole concept she was
trying to put across got mixed up with what was happening in real life
and made me want to be sick with Richard Finch still standing there trying
to listen.

"Thank you so much, Dr Fletcher, I'll whizz over to the fax and grab
those figures!" I said, putting the phone down and heading off in the
direction of the loos/imaginary fax, flashing a backwards smile over my shoulder at
Richard whilst praying that sick wasn't squelching through my teeth
like in The Exorcist.

When got back to my desk Magda was on the phone again. "Now listen,
Bridget.

You're in denial. I've made contact with a friend of a friend who's
going to help you."

"Not a backstreet abortionist?" I said, horrified.

"No, Bridget. She's a medical/legal expert in these sorts of cases."

'What sort of cases?" I said, indignantly. "Honestly, I mean I've been
to the doctor, haven't I? And I've bought loads of baby clothes."
"Paternity. I've arranged for you to see her at 8 o'clock tomorrow
morning."

Suppose had better go. I mean, it would be useful to know who is the
father.

It's just that now I am actually having the baby it doesn't seem all
that important. Oh goody, Lunchtime! Think will just pop out to John Lewis
and look at Moses baskets.

Tuesday Oct 4th

8.45am. Actually Magda's paternity woman was quite nice.

"I'm glad you don't think I'm a crack whore," I said.

"Heavens, no. You'd be amazed how many people get themselves into this
sort of situation. Now: timing," she said, crisply whipping out her Palm
Pilot.

"It would be nice to be exact about dates, but if we could, we wouldn't
need to be doing a paternity test. So we're going to err on the side of
caution and make it a week on Thursday. Think you're up to it?"

"Isn't it risky to the baby?"

"Oh, God no. They don't do the amnio needle thing any more. DNA science
is moving so fast these days. No risk to the baby at all."

"How am I going to get the DNA?" I said, suddenly realising it might be
difficult to get both Mark and Daniel to turn up to meet me in the
first place, let alone covertly extract DNA from them.

"The first choice is saliva, of course. Clean, sterile swab inside the
cheek. Next best is blood."

"Blood!!?"

"And then hair."

"That might be all right," I said doubtfully, wondering if Mark or
Daniel would buy it, if I said I needed a lock to remember them by.

"The important thing with hair is that the follicle should still be
attached. Fifteen to twenty strands, pulled straight from the head."

"Any other options?" I gulped.

"A tooth would be good."

Jesus. "Oh, that should be easy enough!"

"Some people hold on to their baby teeth," she laughed.
Yeah, right. I could really see Mark Darcy or Daniel Cleaver peeking
fondly into a little box looking at their old baby teeth.

"... or you could go for a toenail or a fingernail or a skin sample.

Pop it

in this bag. Oh, I was forgetting. You'll need two bags, of course, for
both potential fathers! Get them over to us as quickly as possible. I've put
you some swabs in as well."

"Jolly good," I said, wandering out unsteadily. "Right"

What am I going to do? Lunge at Daniel, knock one of his teeth out and
then swab the wound with a sterile cotton puff? Invite Mark Darcy to come
for a mani/pedi with me? Oh fuck it. Wonder if Baby Gap will be open at 9am?



Published: 06 October 2005
9:15 pm
[i_palimpsest]
Only twice? Most couples your age are having sex about two or three times a week'
Tuesday 27th December.

7am. Shaking with nerves. About to embark on first doctor's visit re: baby, armed with chart of all shags, cycles etc. In one hour's time (approx.) will finally discover identity of baby's father.

10.30am. Sit up Britain office. Something has addled Richard Finch's subconscious so that every story he gives me has something to do with babies. Slipped discreetly into morning meeting attempting to conceal giant boobs under desk and recover from trauma of doctor's visit when Finch suddenly bellowed: "Bridget! Babies! I'm thinking the ban on cooing at babies in Halifax hospital. Get me a dozen babies in the studio and a child psychiatrist and we'll coo at half and ignore the others and I'll give 'em marks at the end of the show. Oh, and keep an eye on Blair's speech to see what he says about childcare."
Has he gone psychic? What will he be like when am forced to tell him the truth? Will probably make me do a live piece to camera while; actually giving birth - though if doctor's attitude is anything to go by he will more likely sack me. Visit turned into humiliating telling-off fest.

Hate the way now, if you want to see your actual own doctor you have to make an appointment weeks in advance. I mean, who knows they are going to be ill weeks in advance? Or pregnant, for that matter? Ended up with bloody Dr Rawlings: disapproving witch-woman with pudding bowl fright wig and strange wart/mole on forehead. Unfortunately, last time I had Dr Rawlings it was about five years ago for a morning-after pill and she has clearly formed a rather dim view of me.

"Well you're definitely pregnant," she said, in the I-told-you-so tones of a schoolteacher informing a three-year-old she's finally broken the head off her Barbie doll.
"I know I'm pregnant," I muttered, sulkily kicking the desk and wondering why she didn't get rid of the enormous wart/mole thing. If she was, as she purported to be, a doctor, then surely she could get it done free, or quickly, or even cut it off herself with..."

"Everything all right?" Dr Warthead enquired coldly.

"Fine, fine," I gabbled guiltily, realising I was staring at the wart/mole.

"I was asking what your husband thinks about this. But you seem a little distracted."

"Oh he's delighted. He's my boyfriend, actually." I said, narrowly avoiding adding, "Though actually he's not my boyfriend any more and there's two of him and why don't you get that thing cut off?"

"How pregnant am I?" I ploughed on brightly, as if everything were normal instead of a sociological disaster.

"Well, you should know!"

"Well you're the doctor," I parried.

"When was the date of your last period?"

I handed her the chart. She peered at it.

"I see. And when did you have intercourse."

Intercourse - oh, for heaven's sakes. It's like Americans calling the toilet the "restroom" or "the bathroom" - like they're going to have a bath or a little sleep, rather than a pee.
"There," I said, pointing at my chart.

"Really? Only twice? Most couples of your age are having sex at least two or three times a week,"

"Actually my boyfriend is 105, but very rich," I felt like saying, though managed to hold myself back. Instead I said: "So which of the times do you think I would have got pregnant on?"

"Does it matter?'

"Yes: such a special moment! I want to know which one it is, so I can treasure it."
"Well you can't. It could have been either."

"But surely one date is more likely than the other?"

"Actually Day 10's a bit early and Day 15 is a bit late. Are you sure there wasn't another occasion in between?"

"Quite sure, thank you. So of the two, which one would you go for?"

"No idea. Both equally likely"

"What about the scan?"

"Ten to 13 weeks."

"Will that show when the conception was?"

"Possibly. But frankly, Bridget, I think you're being rather silly about this. There are more important things to focus on."

She ended up fobbing me off with a leaflet called "Things to think about before you're pregnant" which didn't say anything about making sure there's only one father.

Wonder if you can do a DNA test before you actually have the baby? Oh God, cannot believe have got self into such a sordid situation. Feel like a crack whore.

Or one of those people in The News of the World who has got pregnant by her own grandson.

Suddenly realise how you always assume the sort of people you read about doing unthinkable things are entirely different from you.

But in fact, when you are in the thick of something, it is quite easy to get into a situation which other people will find unimaginably disgusting when they find out.

Imagine if you accidentally killed someone in a moment of passion: one split-second changing everything forever, like in Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody".

You're going to be vilified and sent to jail, maybe electrocuted, but you're still the same person underneath, or maybe ... gaah!

Was Freddo, drawing up a chair, leaning forward with a concerned air: "Bridget. Richard wants you to think about the rights of the father."

I panicked. Had Dr Warthead reported me to Richard Finch? Was it Magda? Could Richard Finch be channelling God?

"It's ok, I know," said Freddo creepily, laying a clammy hand on mine "You've been focusing on the baby thing. But Richard's saying: fathers left out in the cold, Daddies dismissed as mere sperm machines."

"But ... but ... why has Richard suddenly ...?"

"Oh," said Freddo coldly. "There's a man from Fathers 4 Justice protesting about fathers' rights on the roof of the Houses of Parliament. You really should keep an eye on the wires, Bridget. It is actually part of your job."

I leaned back, shaking with relief. If God was trying to tell me something, I'd far rather he did it through the national broadcasting media than Richard Finch.


Published: 29 September 2005
9:13 pm
[i_palimpsest]
''Oh bloody hell, what am I going to do? What if neither of them wants to be the father?'
Tuesday September 20th

11am Sit Up Britain office. In loos, panicking. After promising start, entire day is hideously unravelling. Woke up without being sick for first time in weeks and got into work freakishly early, bursting with ideas for morning meeting, only to be greeted by Richard Finch, careering around me like enormous pantomime bee, going: "Bleedin' hell. It's a sign. It's a portent. The end of the world is nigh."

"What?" I said, crossly trying to get past him to my chair.

"Bridget Jones is on time."

"Well, that's good, isn't it?" I said, primly, starting to unbutton my jacket.

"Dunno. Scary. Maybe too scary. Now - I'm thinking Kate Moss, I'm thinking call the photo agencies. I'm thinking off-guard pictures with her mouth open making her look like a haggish crackhead ... Gaaah! Jesus Christ!"

"What?"

"Your tits! They're fucking enormous. Freddo! Come and look at this."

Crossing my arms, furious, I turned my back on him, spluttering, "I could have you reported to the sex discrimination authority for this ... this ... harassment."

"Oh come on. I'm just remarking on a natural phenomenon. If you saw a double-sized double-decker bus, like a quadruple-decker, you'd remark on it, wouldn't you? "

"It's not the same," I hissed. "I am a human being."

I mean, I would have resigned on the spot, but I have to think of the child.

"Are you pregnant or something?"

I froze. Oh my God. My secret!

"Richard, really I think that's a bit beyond the pale," Freddo chipped in, in his resonant Oxbridge tenor. "One doesn't need to be actually cruel."

This was going from bad to worse. Did Freddo think I was so old that just asking me if I was pregnant was crueller than making sexist remarks about my tits?

"I'm going to the loo," I said, confusedly hearing Richard chortle: "Not to be sick, I hope."

Once there, I sat down, shaking, grabbing desperately at my mobile when it rang.

"Oh hello, darling. So you're still alive," said an icy voice.

"Mum, I'm sorry. It's just ..."

"No, no, it's fine! Don't worry about me. I know you're busy with your life. I don't expect you to return my calls."

"Mum ..."

"Anyway, I was just ringing to see if you saw Camilla's hat."

"Yes," I said wearily. "I saw Camilla's hat."

"Well exactly. And this Kate that Prince William's marrying. I mean, she was wearing a very eye-catching hat on the side of her head, wasn't she?"

"Kate and William are not getting married, Mother. They're just being sensible and taking it step by step."

"Yes but, the point is, darling, men do like it if you wear something a little bit eye-catching. It's like that MP woman, do you remember? Who wore the unusual shoes."

"Mother," I hissed, "Camilla's hat was insane. She might as well have put a plank of blue wood on her head or a litter of puppies. If you go out in something lurid or mad of course people will comment on it, but it doesn't mean they actually like it. It certainly doesn't mean I'm going to ensnare a member of the Royal Family by putting a bunch of lemons on my head, if that's what you're ..."

There was a sudden banging on the loo door. "Bridget, it's Patchouli," - Richard's PA - "Richard says he's sorry about the tits thing and you've got to come out now."

"Tell him to bog off," I yelled, not, admittedly, very professionally. "I'm on the phone."

"All I'm saying, Bridget, is maybe if you dressed a bit more ..."

"Mum, I've got to go."

I closed my eyes and leaned my head against the toilet wall feeling like whole world was going mad. Currently feel strange affinity to both Kate Moss and President Bush in sense that everything is falling apart and everyone starting to notice, but am still defiantly ploughing on. Everyone in world seems to accept that Bush is useless and mad, all busily e-mailing each other pictures of him cheerily sport-fishing in New Orleans street with his Dad, but he is still going along being President of most powerful nation on earth. Is exactly the same, perhaps, as me.

"Bridget!"

"Go away, Patchouli. Tell Richard Finch I'm very cross and if he doesn't leave me alone to recover my composure, I'll sue him."

You see this is what I need to do: take control of the situation.

Thing is, cannot quite believe that pregnancy is just being allowed to happen and am going along contentedly, buying more and more tiny baby clothes when have not even gone to doctor, informed potential fathers or purchased instruction manual. Is weird, surely, that these days you cannot buy a camera or mobile phone without instruction manual the size of a paperback book and yet you can do something as complicated and important as growing a baby or invading Iraq without any instructions at all.

Maybe problem is that do not want to go to doctor for first visit without baby's father. Used to fantasise about going to first scan with both Mark Darcy and Daniel - but not about going to first scan with both Mark Darcy and Daniel at same time, if see what mean. Oh bloody hell, what am I going to do? What if neither of them wants to be the father? What if they both want to be the father and get upset about the other one being it?

Right. Am going to emerge from Denial. These are the things I could do:

1. Not tell Mark or Daniel am pregnant.

2. Tell them I'm pregnant but pretend that neither of them is the father.

3. Tell both of them they are the father.

4. Tell both of them the other one is the father.

5. Find out who is the father and then if the one who isn't the father is upset about it, offer to have another baby with whoever isn't the father afterwards.

There. You see! All you have to do is think logically and sensibly, and everything will be fine.

Published: 22 September 2005
9:08 pm
[i_palimpsest]
'There was a pause, then a familiar, abrupt voice. I froze, heart lurching. It was Mark Darcy'
Tuesday September 13th

7.30pm. Gaaah. Had just been phone-obsessing with Jude re: England cricket team winning the Ashes. Having previously dismissed cricket as entirely asexual game played - apart from Imran Khan - by dull men in scratchy white flannels, we were both startled and aroused by pert, hungover youths in sunglasses, triumphantly waving their little urn of Ashes on open-topped bus, realising too late what we had been missing.

"It's a bit of a weird prize, though. I mean, ieuw, morbid - whose ashes are in there?" said Jude.

I thought it was the ashes of WC Fields or WC Grace, but Jude - believing him to be the author of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - went to check it out on Google.

"Hi, is it the Queen Mother?" I giggled into receiver when she rang back. Only it wasn't Jude. There was a pause, then a familiar, abrupt voice said: "Oddly enough, no." I froze, heart lurching. It was Mark Darcy.

Have not heard from Mark since passionate not-back-together shag during heady London Blitz/Cafe de Paris-eat-drink-and-be-merry-for-tomorrow-we-die atmosphere of Live8 and London bombings.

Only we didn't die and he didn't ring. Just hearing his voice brought home reality of situation.

Am actually pregnant - after all those humiliating months of trying and failing - but now do not know whether father is him or arch-rival Daniel. If Mark found out it would kill him. Well, maybe not actually kill ...

"Still there, are we?" he said in his terse way, suggesting torrid seas of emotion surging beneath. "Everything all right?"

"Superb! Absolutely fine," I lied trillingly. "You?"

"Yes, yes, only ... I was just driving home and ... it was the strangest thing. Found myself following a car with the nozzle and hose from a petrol pump still attached and trailing along the road. I know there's been panic at the pumps, but really. I thought I was going to have to make a citizen's arrest."

"Why? Would that be illegal?" I said, wondering why, instead of apologising, he was telling me this admittedly quirky but essentially irrelevant-to-our-situation tale.

"Technically speaking, yes. But what I mean is, the only reason someone would speed off with the nozzle still in the car, surely, would be if they were on the run from the police."

"What if they just forgot to take it out?"

"How could one possibly do that?"

"Well, you know. If you were thinking about something else, once it was full, you might just think, 'Oh, goody', and drive off. Glad it wasn't me, anyway."

"Funny you should say that. That is your car parked outside, is it?"

My mind starting whirring. "But I haven't panic-bought any petrol today."

"Oh Christ."

"What?"

"When did you last panic-buy petrol?"

I thought hard. "Two days ago."

"You mean, you've been driving round with half a petrol pump attached to your car for two days?"

"It's not half a petrol pu ..." I trailed off, looking out of the window aghast. How could I possibly not have noticed?

"How could you possibly not have noticed?" said Mark

"I......" I tried to cast my mind back to the petrol station: the long queues of panic buyers, the search for the petrol tank.

Had there been a tug as I pulled away?

The truth is, it happens so often in car parks and petrol stations that you bump into a pillar or drive over a traffic cone that you don't really pay that much attention, do you?

"Have other drivers not tried to alert you?"

I cast my mind back. I mean, again, doesn't everybody find other drivers honking at them all the time? People are so rude and impatient when they're driving these days, that honking, which should be reserved for a genuine need to alert, becomes a reflex action for many drivers.

"I'm coming upstairs," he said.

I gasped: "What are you doing upstairs?"

"I'm not upstairs and I'm not 'coming' in that sense. I'm outside the flat and I'm proposing that I come up to see you."

"But what are you doing outside the flat? And how come you saw my petrol hose? Have you been following me?"

"Sometimes I come home this way," he said abruptly, "For old times' sake."

Heart racing, I pressed the buzzer, remembering how Mark used to secretly drive past my house when we first met.

Once he stopped when I'd lost my keys, took his shirt off and climbed through the window and we went upstairs and shagged.

Suddenly felt both sad and happy because all that passion had degenerated into the tit-for-tat resentfulness of the last six months: but then he had started driving past my flat again so had not degenerated that much.

Then unfortunately had to dive off to bathroom to vomit. Was just lying on floor, thinking if Mark turned out to be the father it would all be so marvellous - like end of a movie - that he probably isn't the father, because life never is marvellous like end of a movie, and wondering whether I dare tell him, when bathroom door burst open.

Looked up with mouth open, drooling slightly. Mark was standing there in his suit, fingers twitching. "Bridget. Have you been taking Class A substances?"

"No," I said indignantly. "I am being sick"

"And why, pray, are you being sick at seven o'clock in the evening?"

He looked so angry, I lost my nerve: "I'm drunk!"

"I see." he glanced suspiciously round the bathroom. "Any particular reason?"

"High spirits," I managed, as I reared up towards loo again.

"Oh for God's sakes. This explains everything." he said furiously and strode out of the room, slamming the door.

Rested head on my arms, hearing him thundering down the stairs and thinking that Daniel had been much nicer about my vomiting, and I hadn't even been sick in Mark Darcy's car.

At this rate am not going to end days with either of them in ash-form on mantlepiece in an urn.

But maybe me and baby will be better off without them.



Published: 15 September 2005
9:07 pm
[i_palimpsest]
'You're in denial,' said Magda. 'You're pregnant, single, and you don't know who the father is'
Sunday September 4th

Cigarettes: 0. Alcohol units: 0. Calories: minus 3,465 (owing to
vomits.) Baby outfits purchase: 4 (better)

7pm. Phone keeps ringing but dare not pick up - even if was able to -
in case is one of baby's fathers. Feel have been lying here for days,
like woman in Alan Bennett's Talking Heads who died trying to retrieve
biscuit from under sofa. Maybe should start singing Jerusalem to keep
spirits up and attract rescue whilst simultaneously supporting English
cricket team.

Whoever is ringing cannot leave message as Tom has filled up machine by
ranting hysterically from San Francisco about CNN and toxic soup:
"They've got half a million poor black people wading in toxic soup and who
do they interview on Larry King Live? Some arty white photographer who
had to check out of his deluxe hotel in New Orleans and go to one in
Texas. You should hear them: 'The President is now fighting a Warrrrr on
two fronts: the Warrrr on Terrurrr and the Warrrr on Naturrre!'. The
man's a total wimp. I bet he spent the first two days crying and
masturbating under the duvet."

Tom is right, actually. If I had been in charge of America this week I
would definitely have handled it a lot better. First I would have gone
down to the disaster area immediately, and on the way got all my troops
organised to drop water and food over the city, then at least people
would have known help was being organised, even if most of it fell in the
toxic soup. Then I would have stridden about investigating needs and
making rousing speeches. Can never understand absence of leadership in
modern world. It's like in the London bombings: what people really need
in a crisis is someone like Churchill or Mayor Giuliani to stand up and
inspire you with integrityful ideas of what to think and how to be:
pride in self, and things to believe in, not some Bush-like barrage of
spin after their advisers tell them they've pissed everyone off. I would
have said: "People of Louisia ... Oh, though. Is New Orleans the same as
Louisi...... urghhhhhhh"

8.45pm. Toilet really is wonderful invention. Is just amazing to have
such a thing in one's home which can so calmly, cleanly and efficiently
take all the sick away. Wish phone would stop ringing. Love the lovely
toilet. Is cool and solid, calm and dependable. Is fine just to lie
here and keep it handy. Sometimes I think it is not a man I have been
wanting all these years but a toilet. A baby I mean. Gaah. Doorbell. Will
just be sick once more and then ... ugh.

10pm. Think may have just been subject of an Alcoholics Anonymous-style
intervention. Though not, ironically perhaps, about being an alcoholic.
Suddenly heard key in lock, footsteps, then bathroom door bursting
open. Looked up, drooling slightly. Was Smug Married friend Magda, followed
by Jude and Shazzer.
"What are you doing?" said Magda, in calm, increasingly familiar tone
of emergency worker addressing lunatic.

"Actually, I'm writing a speech," I said. "What I would have said to
the people of New Orleans is: 'It might seem in the modern world as if
everything is safe and civilised, but really we're just tiny creatures in
a huge universe a the whim of nature. The question is, can we survive?
What strength can we find within us to...' "

"Bridget," hissed Magda furiously. "Have you been smoking marijuana?
With a baby on the way?"

"Would you be speaking to the people of Louisiana about survival from
your west London bathroom floor?" chortled Shaz. "From whence you have
failed to rise for 12 hours owing to a slight bout of morning sickness?"

"We think you're in denial," said Magda. "You're a single mother.
You're pregnant. And you don't know who the father is."

"I do know," I said, indignantly. "It's definitely either Daniel or
Mark Darcy."
Looking at their faces, though, I suddenly had a mini-panic attack in
case I had accidentally slept with someone else as well and then
forgotten about it: rather like at school when the headmistress says "No one
is leaving this hall until the person who wrote 'shag' on the wall owns
up," and you feel like it was you.

"Have you thought about the implications of a child not knowing who its
father is?" said Magda.

"Well of course she's going to know who the father is the minute it's
born," said Shazzer, groping inside the fridge. "It'll either have a
poker up its arse or immediately start trying to shag the maternity
nurses."

"Shut up, Shazzer," hissed Jude.

"Anyway," continued Shazzer. "It's OK, Magda. Me and Jude can be, like,
the fathers. f.ucking hell, Bridge, is this all the vodka you've got?"

"Oh, Christ," said Magda, putting her fingers against her forehead and
breathing through her nose. "I don't know what we're going to do. Who's
going to take care of it? I suppose it'll fall to me and Jeremy, and
we've already got three."

Magda was now walking around hysterically, flapping herself with her LK
Bennett clutch and pulling at the side of her hair.

"You'd better sit down," I said, pulling out a chair.

"Here, drink this," said Shazzer.

"Honestly, Bridget. I mean it's just so bloody inconsiderate putting us
all through this."

"It'll be fine, Mag," I said soothingly. "It's not like we're dying in
toxic soup."

"What about at school?" said Magda. "When the other children ask about
her daddy, and she has to say, 'I haven't got a daddy'."

"Look," said Jude, "by that time having two parents actually living
together will probably be so weird it will be actually embarrassing: like
being upper middle class or something."

At this Magda - now completely drunk - started crying and saying Jeremy
had started up the affair again and for all the help he was, she might
as well be a bloody single parent anyway.

Blimey. Think will just be sick one more time then get back to work on
my speech.

'Published: 8 September 2005
9:05 pm
[i_palimpsest]
'Is wrong to use embryonic human being as anti-depressant or mood-stabilising drug'
Tuesday 30th August

9st 3. Cigarettes: O: vg. Alcohol units: O: vg. Pregnancy tests: 7: bad? (less harmful than cigarettes, surely, though more expensive and weirder maybe?) Babies: 1? Fathers: 2.

8.45am. Hurrah! For almost a week now have woken up, instead of in traumatised hungover state, berating self re: all did/ate/said wrong on previous day, suddenly wildly happy. Realise is wrong to use embryonic human being as anti-depressant or other mood-stabilising drug, but cannot help new-found happiness at containing miniature baby to love. Is startling thought that all existential angst, yearning for insane men, and mood swings over recent years might be explained by simple fact that body wanted baby. Realise feminists would think this bad, but oh well, fuck 'em. Silly arses. Heeheehee. Baby will be my little friend.
(Oh, though. Am not using "baybeee" in creepy, joyous way, like people calling the Notting Hill Carnival "Carnival" . Is only because am writing diary and do not put "the" or "I' owing to time-consuming nature of same.)
Wonder whether will have time to go to BabyGap again in lunch hour? Oh no: telephone! Will leave on answerphone. Will just do one more pregnancy test to see little line again, then get ready for work.

8.47am. Was Lord Fuckwit himself ringing unprecedentedly early to check am still on for dinner tonight and claiming he will pick me up and drive me to Nobu. Is not normal. Daniel does not pick me up and drive me to restaurants. Jude and Shaz had better not have told him about baby. Do not want him jumping on bandwagon when do not even know if he is father. Oof. Really tired. Wish could just come home from work and go to sleep instead of going out to dinner with insane fuckwit.
Gaaah! Have just realised something: do not care about men any more. Am like tropical female insect which shags men to impregnate self then eats them. Maybe will eat Daniel at Nobu

8.50am. No. Must be more responsible. Of course uncertain fatherhood of baby is serious matter and must not eat one of them (though would, in some respects, simplify matters) Am just in giddy hormonic bubble of joy. Will not eat, but boldly level with Daniel. Definitely.

11pm. When Daniel arrived, reason for weird chauffeur-style behaviour became clear. Daniel had new car: sleek Mercedes with beige interior smelling of leather. Daniel launched immediately into smirking auto-car-witter: "D'you like the silver, Jones? Almost went for black with dark glass but thought it would look like I had a member of the Rap Community in the rear, so to speak. Wow, listen to that. Give it a hurry-up call with your right foot and - whoop!" Sank passively into cream leather, enjoying thought of havoc car-seat rather than member of Rap Community in rear would cause to Daniel's smirk.
Once in restaurant was about to tell Daniel, but had ordered signature Black Miso Cod marinated in 14th-century soy sauce or something. Unfortunately, when fish arrived, felt protest in stomach as if incredibly polite baby was saying: "Mater, might I have some cheese instead of this? or perhaps a little warm starch?"

"Everything all right, Jones?"

"Do you think I could order some cheese," I said "Or a baked potato?"

"Jones," said Daniel. "Nobu is a Japanese restaurant. You don't come to Nobu and ask for a pork pie and chips. You've just ordered a great big fucking Miso
barracuda. Now eat it up, there's a good girl."

Tried to make headway with giant fish but baby seemed increasingly furious and bad-charactered about same, eventually leaping up, yelling "I said I wanted cheese. CHEEEEEESE. AND A POTATO. NOWWWWWWW!" Only when giant fish was removed did baby shut up and calm down.

Was relief to finally get into car and lean back, breathing in calming smell of soft leather. Felt slight lurch in stomach, almost as if baby had opened one eye, considered revenge for Black Cod, then closed it again.

"Everything all right, Jones?" said Daniel for 90th time.

"Yes, fine," I said, not daring to shift position. Suddenly, as we purred into Park Lane, it was as if baby had pressed "eject" and whole of Miso Cod was rushing upwards through throat.

Tried to say "stop" through mouthful of vomit and waved hand up and down following vague memory of emergency hand signals during driving test, but
Daniel was going on about the Mercedes being lifestyle choice not a car and certainly not a statement. "It's not a bloody Ferrari, is it? It's not saying 'Look! I have a micro-penis'." Then suddenly was too much sick to contain. Emitted wild noise whilst putting hand over mouth at which black-fish vomit flew in all directions over beige interior. Was screech of tyres as Daniel swerved across three lanes. Realised to horror that he was pulling into the circular parking area outside Dorchester which was milling with people in black tie. In one way was relieved when uniformed doorman opened car door as was still holding sick in mouth and could let it spurt on to pavement (whilst hoping baby had not been growing in stomach in manner of Daily Mail miracle woman) Unfortunately, however, doorman did not quite get shoes out of way in time.

Next thing Daniel's shoes were there too. Looked up to see complex expression on Daniel's face: bafflement? despair? loss of will to live? He held out a cloth. I
wiped my mouth with it, realising as I did it was one of his expensive shirts.

"Drop it," said Daniel encouragingly. I froze, feeling like a pointer holding a pheasant in its mouth. Surely he didn't want me to throw his Armani shirt in gutter?

"Drop it," he said again in the calm, encouraging tones of an emergency worker addressing a lunatic holding a gun.
Still holding his gaze, I let the shirt fall.

"Goood," purred Daniel. "That was a good decision."

He sounded so calmly reassuring almost decided to tell him about baby there and then, but then, glancing back at vomit-splattered interior, decided maybe was not the perfect moment after all.



Published: 01 September 2005
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