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;
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,
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",
"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
"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
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."
"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."
"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