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-tomorro
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."
"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