Thursday 4 January

9st 7 (state of emergency); alcohol units 5 (VG); cigarettes 12 (VG); calories 4,250 (VB); Instants 2 (VG); Premium Bonds 0. Hmm.

It seems wrong that Christmas should be forced upon you against your will, then be snatched away as soon as you start to like it. I was just beginning to enjoy the feeling that normal service was suspended and it was OK to not get up, put anything that came into your head into your mouth, buy and eat a chocolate tree decoration whenever you pass a newsagent, and drink at all times of the day or night. Now suddenly we are all supposed to snap into self-discipline like lean racehorses.

In denial, on the way home tonight I bought a packet of Mini-Eggs and a pounds 3.99 bottle of sparkling wine from Norway to guzzle by the light of the Christmas tree with a piece of stilton and the last of my giant Cadbury's Dairy Milk Bar while watching EastEnders, imagining it was a Christmas special.

Next thing Tom rang, chatting on cheerily about the aquamarine chiffon tutu he is planning to wear for Sparkle's graduation party. Then he said, "Sorry I haven't rung, but I didn't think it was fair to talk to anyone because they'd notice I have lost my former personality and become manic depressive."

When pressed, he revealed that he has been working alone at home, obsessing so much about Jerome - the over-beautiful self-esteem-thief he loves who is mean to him - working and chain-smoking all night and sleeping all day, that he had convinced himself he had gone insane and must speak to no one.

Then he said cheerfully, "By the way, have you seen Sharon's new coat? Gorgeous - reduced from pounds 400 to pounds 175."

I hurried round there with the remains of the Norwegian sparkle and chocolate and stilton feast, and he eventually realised that the phantom madness was quite funny, given that if he hadn't informed me he was clinically insane I wouldn't have noticed any difference.

That is the trouble with everyone living alone - when you get a weird idea into your head about yourself, often through boredom or something you have seen on the telly, there is no one to laugh at you and give you Hob-Nobs, so you plunge into a spiral, thinking: Oh God, I'm a schizophrenic/frigid/nymphomaniac/alcoholic/have MS and must stay under the duvet.

Sharon once didn't come out of the house for three days because she thought her face was suddenly collapsing from sun damage like a movie ageing effect and didn't want to face anyone or expose herself to UVP rays till she'd privately come to terms with it - then when she came to Cafe Rouge she looked exactly like she did the week before.

Got back to phone call from Mum with more evidence to prove that Mark Darcy (the divorced barrister who snubbed me at the Alconburys) is a world- renowned rude person - infinitely preferable to anyone finding her daughter unattractive. "Apparently, Jill Coles - Colin Coles' wife, who works for ICI in Runcorn - said he did exactly the same thing to Julie Enderby three years ago. He's one of the screwed-up people." At which point my Dad piped up in the background, "I thought he was rather nice, actually - very sound judgement." What's Dad doing there?

Recounted all to Tom, who rang to thank me for being saintly papal Clare Rayner figure, at which he said, "Mark Darcy? But he's really great - sort of liberal human rights champion, isn't he?"

Humph. Well, he's still very rude anyway. Ugh, can feel fat actually forming itself on my body. Tomorrow I will start diet and stop smoking.

Friday 5 January

9st 7; alcohol units 3 (exemplary); cigarettes 0; cigarillos 4 (excellent fag substitute); calories 3,280.

Sometimes I think I am going mad with constant desire to draw a line under one's past self and start again. The idea that you could be all right just as you were is like thinking it all right to wear a big peacock on your head or live in a pie with custard on - the sort of stupid fantastical thought you don't even give the time of day to. Impossible to diet when feel so hungry anyway.

Monday 8 January

9st 7; alcohol units 3 (exemplary); calories 2,225 (VG); cigarettes 0 (excellent); cigarillos 42.

Tom just rang. Apparently, the man who wrote the book of Babe - heartwarming, top-grossing film we saw last night about little piglet who thinks he is sheepdog - was only paid pounds 500 or something for the rights. Huh. It is all very well making Nineties feel-good movies which are the antithesis of the usual filmic message that one should aspire to be young, successful and desired - and instead suggest that, even if one looks like a pig, if you are kind, good, respectful, loving, humble and enthusiastic you can be a hero - and then not put your morals where your mouth and money is and make the author an ex gratia morality payment.

See strange affinity between Babe and Tony Blair. Though not keen on the phrasing of Blair "stakeholder" concept for citizenship - far too suggestive of lottery syndicate or teenage sport banned in parks - consider Blair quite right that we need to be motivated and feel we are working to a common purpose and that goodness is valued and respected - as with the small pig Babe. People would be happy to pay taxes if they saw it as an altruistic thing in manner of Children in Need.

Ooh. That reminds me. Now I work in TV Sharon says if I get a new coat I can claim it against tax.