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NEVER mind April; it's February that is the cruellest month. Your nose runs, the roof leaks and the bank manager's on the phone every day. But it's the zip that won't close when you jump into jeans that really makes you want to sit down and cry.

Freud wasn't born in February. Perhaps that's why his sexual anxieties aren't a patch on 'fat thigh fear'. This contemporary ailment comes into its own at this time of year, and last week it drove more than 7,000 people out to bookshops to stock up on paperback medication, both preventive and curative. No 1 was Food Combining for Health, No 6 The Food Combining Diet and No 7 Food Combining in 30 Days. Food combining (also known as the Hay diet) is the latest and strictest of regimes: never mix proteins with carbohydrates, nor fruit with anything, nor any sugar ever, and never, ever eat melon except on its own (that's the hardest bit). How-to-drive books are the next most popular category. I wonder what Freud would have made of that.

----------------------------------------------------------------- HARDBACKS ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Bravo Two-Zero by Andy McNab Bantam pounds 14.99 (4/18) 2 An Imaginative Experience by Mary Wesley, Bantam pounds 14.99 (3/2) 3 The Orion Mystery by Robert Bauval & Adrian Gilbert Heinemann pounds 17.99 (-/1) 4 My Secrets by Joan Collins Boxtree pounds 14.99 (2/4) 5 A Parliamentary Affair by Edwina Currie, Hodder pounds 15.99 (1/2) 6 Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle, Secker pounds 12.99 (13/20) 7 Great Railway Journeys by Clive Anderson et al, BBC pounds 18.99 (10/5) 8 Disclosure by Michael Crichton Century pounds 14.99 (5/4) 9 Chronicle of 1993 ed Andrew Hunt Chronicle pounds 9.99 (11/2) 10 Michelin 1994; Red Guide to Britain & Ireland Michelin pounds 10.95 (6/2) 11 Delia Smith's Summer Collection BBC pounds 14.99 (-/18) 12 Eat Your Greens by Sophie Grigson, Network pounds 12.99 (12/4) 13 Some Other Rainbow by John McCarthy and Jill Morrell Bantam pounds 14.99 (-/20) 14 The Tiny Book of Hugs by Kathleen Keating, Fontana pounds 2.99 (-/1) 15 The Matisse Stories by A S Byatt, Chatto pounds 9.99 (9/3) ----------------------------------------------------------------- PAPERBACKS ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Middlemarch by George Eliot Penguin pounds 3.99 (2/4) 2 Wild Swans by Jung Chang Flamingo pounds 6.99 (1/21) 3 Missing Joseph by Elizabeth George, Corgi pounds 4.99 (5/2) 4 Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally, Sceptre pounds 5.99 (-/1) 5 Theory of War by Jean Brady Abacus pounds 6.99 (3/2) 6 The Pelican Brief by John Grisham, Arrow pounds 4.99 (7/2) 7 The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller Mandarin pounds 3.99 (8/21) 8 By Stealth by Colin Forbes Pan pounds 4.99 (4/3) 9 The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, Penguin pounds 4.99 (10/3) 10 The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, Faber pounds 4.99 (12/3) 11 The Liverpool Basque by Helen Forrester, HarperCollins pounds 4.99 (11/3) 12 Rebel by Bernard Cornwell HarperCollins pounds 4.99 (6/6) 13 Mixed Blessings by Danielle Steel, Corgi pounds 4.99 (13/11) 14 Driving Force by Dick Francis Pan pounds 4.99 (14/9) 15 Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby Gollancz pounds 4.99 (-/6) (The first figure shows last week's place; the second shows appearances on this list.) ----------------------------------------------------------------- PAPERBACK REFERENCE ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Food Combining for Health Doris Grant & Jean Joice Thorsons pounds 4.99 2 The Good Pub Guide ed Alastair Aird, Vermilion pounds 12.99 3 The Driving Manual, The Driving Standards Agency, HMSO pounds 8.50 4 The Complete Hip and Thigh Diet by Rosemary Conley, Arrow pounds 4.99 5 The First Aid Manual, 6th Edition Dorling Kindersley pounds 6.99 6 The Food Combining Diet by Kathryn Marsden, Thorsons pounds 4.99 7 Food Combining in 30 Days by Kathryn Marsden, Thorsons pounds 4.99 8 The Complete BBC Diet by Barry Lynch, BBC/Penguin pounds 5.99 9 Your Driving Test The Driving Standards Agency HMSO pounds 2.75 10 The Writer's & Artist's Year Book 1994, A & C Black pounds 9.99 ----------------------------------------------------------------- Compiled by Bookwatch -----------------------------------------------------------------