Saturday 22 April

8st 12; cigarettes 2( not allowed to smoke at Alconburys except out of window); alcohol units 7 ( entirely sherry); calories 3,245 (entirely custard cream salmon paste sandwiches: previously undiscovered miracle food-combining diet).

It is now exactly 24 hrs since my father rang and said, in a weird Dalek- like voice, "Bridget, I have some bad news. Your mother and Julio are wanted by the police."

It turns out my mother's Portuguese tour operator lover has embroiled her, the Alconburys, the Enderbys, Nigel and Audrey Coles and - horror of horrors - the Darcys (begetters of the rich, rude but sexy top-level barrister Mark Darcy) in a hideous time-share con trick; relieving them of their life savings, remortgaging our house in Grafton Underwood and buggering off to Portugal with the money.

I had just put down the phone, nightmare visions of the future looming (my boss Richard Finch dubbing me Wake-up Britain's Suddenly Single's Jailbird's Daughter, and forcing me to do a live interview down the line from the Holloway visitors' room before being Suddenly Sacked on air) when the phone rang again: Mark Darcy.

"Are you OK?" he said in a voice which made me feel Harrison Ford had taken charge. "Shall I come round?"

Ten minutes of frantic shoving of pants and self-help books under the sofa. Later he was here striding round the flat firing questions. "What is being done to find her? What are the sums involved? How did the matter come to light? What is the police's involvement?" It was pretty damn sexy, I can tell you.

Mark decided his driver would take he and I up to Grafton Underwood where a crisis meeting was taking place at the Alconburys'. For a fleeting second gliding silently up the A1 in the back of his BMW breathing in the scent of beige calfskin, I experienced the totally novel sensation of being grateful to my mother.

We arrived to find tearful Enderbys and Alconburys all over the shop. Mark started striding around making phone calls. In spite of horror, rather enjoying sense of normality being suspended, and everyone allowed to throw entire glasses of sherry and handfuls of salmon paste sandwiches down their throats as if it were Christmas or the time when Granny turned schizophrenic, took all her clothes off in Penny Husbands-Bosworth's orchard and had to be rounded up by the police.

Monday 24 April

Have just been grilled in my flat by police officers. Felt like members of public interviewed after plane crashes in their front gardens, talking in formulaic borrowed phrases. Found myself saying "obviously" every other word and describing my mother as being "Caucasian" and "of medium build".

Mark Darcy seemed to think a case could be made for mother being a victim of the fraud if only we could get her back. But his knight in shining armour act seems to have petered out dramatically and have not heard a peep from him since he purred off from the Alconburys' with his driver. Pah, typical man.

Friday 26 April

8st 12 (waif-like shadow with worry); cigarettes v. many; alcohol units 3; Instants 7, winnings pounds 10, profit pounds 3 (excellent start to paying off family debts.)

11pm: Hurrah! Phone call from Mark from Portugal! Apparently, he has been talking to the police all week and flew out to Albufeira yesterday. God-like man. They have found Mum and managed to track down some of the money, but not Julio. Mum is coming back tomorrow night, under police escort.

Saturday 27 April

Dad and I set off to Luton airport, preparing ourselves to comfort a very different person from the one we had last been told off by: a Mum chastened and humbled by experience. But, alas, no.

"Let go of me, you silly billy," a voice rang out through the arrival lounge. "Now we're on British soil I'm certain to be recognised and I don't want everyone seeing me being manhandled by policemen. Ooh, d'you know? I think I've left my sun hat on the aeroplane."

The two policeman rolled their eyes as Mum zoomed back towards the baggage hall with the officers of the law wearily tagging after her. Forty-five minutes later they were back. One of the policemen was carrying the sun hat.

There was nearly a stand-up fight when they tried to get her into the police car. Dad was sitting in his Sierra in tears and I was trying to explain to her that she had to go to the station but she just kept going.

"Oh don't be silly, darling. Come here. What have you got on your face? Haven't you got a tissue?"

"Mum," I remonstrated as she took a handkerchief out of her pocket and spat on it. "You might be charged with a criminal offence," I protested as she started to dab at my face. "I think you should go quietly to the station with the policemen."

"We'll see, darling. Maybe tomorrow when I've cleaned out the vegetable basket. I left 2lbs of King Edwards in there and I bet they've sprouted. Nobody's touched the plants, apparently, the entire time I've been away, and I bet you anything Una's left the heating on."

It was only when Dad came over and curtly told her the house was about to be repossessed, vegetable basket included, that she shut up and huffily allowed herself to be put in the back of the car next to the policeman. She is being kept in overnight for questioning and we will find out about bail tomorrow.