Friday 22 March

9st 2; alcohol units 2 (vg); cigarettes 7 (vg); Instants 1 (vg); beefburgers 5.

8pm: Never having been particularly keen on beef in the past, suddenly find self desperate for beefburgers. Sure one more little quarter pounder can't hurt?

8.30pm: Mum just rang.

"Oh, hello darling, guess what?"


"I've fixed for the Colour Me Beautiful lady to come round on Sunday night. Now don't be sulky, darling. Una says the whole of your Labour Party have had their colour done! Didn't you see Harriet Harman in that shocking pink? Absolutely super! She's a Winter."

Ugh. Whole weekend now ruined by hideous colouring experience hanging over self. Definitely deserve McDonald's now.

9pm: Mmmm. Delicious. If want to rescue farmers, government should simply forbid all children to eat beef so that whippersnappers will immediately run behind the bicycle sheds to guzzle steak tartare and offal sausages. Also should insist all beef adverts and packets carry giant health warnings - "BEEF KILLS" or "EAT THIS AND YOUR BRAIN WILL TURN INTO A SPONGE AND YOU WILL DIE HORRIBLY" - and refuse to let any beef or cows be shown in the adverts so beef advertisers will have to spend millions getting the public used to things that suggest beef - like cat, a fiddle and moon or a bucket with milk pouring into it and an arrow pointing upwards. Also farmers should threaten to shoot all the cows by firing range or hunt them on horseback on Sunday afternoons with packs of vicious dogs, then everyone will be up in arms to save and eat the saintly, well-meaning cows.

Saturday 23 March

9st ( vg); alcohol units 2 ( vg); cigarettes 9 (vg); no of correct lottery numbers 2 (vg); beefburgers 8 ( poor).

Torn between repulsion from papers stuffed with pictures and descriptions of quivering diseased cow interiors and obsessive need to scour papers for any mentions of slaughter of National Herd. Did not even know we had National Herd in first place. Will we be expected to shoot cows on sight? Maybe it will be like in olden days with witch hunts or priest hunts and people hiding the cows in wardrobes or secret Cow's Holes in walls.

2pm: How will they slaughter the National Herd, though? How?

2.15pm: Just rang Tom to discuss, who said that I should shut up about slaughtering the National Herd or I would never get a boyfriend.

3pm: Hmmm, though. Maybe they will make all the cows go on the M1 at dead of night in manner of Iraqis fleeing from Kuwait and gun them down. Remember incident from Far from the Madding Crowd where flock of diseased sheep all jump off cliff into the sea. Wonder if similar plan would be good idea with cows? No. Then they would get into the fish chain, and we would have to slaughter the National Shoal.

Rang Tom again who said shut up.

Sunday 25 March

9st 3; alcohol units 3; cigarettes 3; beefburgers 7 ( better).

11am: Aargh. Horror. McDonald's are not selling any hamburgers any more. Ugh. Will have to go to Burger King.

Noon: Mum just rang. "Oh, hello, darling, have you been to the doctor lately?" "No," I said, with sinking heart, thinking she was going to give me a talk about going on the Pill. "Why?"

"Oh, nothing, darling, nothing!" she sing-songed. "Isn't it terrible about this Mad Cow Disease? Julio says we older women are going to be even more in demand if all the young ones go mad! Apparently, your brain goes like a sponge and your flesh turns to cheese. The way it starts, you know, darling, is mood swings. And people get very unco-ordinated and clumsy. By the way, did you ever replace that blue pottery dolphin Auntie Audrey gave you from the Azores, the one you said you broke when you were washing up?"

"Mother," I exploded. "I have not got Mad Cow Disease."

"Now you see, darling. You're really getting very touchy and changeable. Anyway. The thing was, you see, when we were feeding our youngsters none of us had any idea. We were all terribly busy, whizzing here, whooshing there, and there wasn't always time to cook. I do think it's a good idea to have regular check-ups at the doctor."

A horrible suspicion began to lodge in my brain. "What did you feed me on?" I whispered, dangerously.

"Oh, just the usual things, darling. Ooh, did I tell you Julie Enderby's getting engaged?"

"What. Did. You. Feed. Me. On?"

"Well, you know, darling," she gabbled, "Daddy and I didn't have much money. And you used to love frankfurters and potted meat in jelly and ..." She gave a hysterical, high-pitched laugh.

"And what ... ?"

"... and those chopped liver faggots Donald the butcher used to run up for the kiddies. Anyway, must run, darling."

"What time's the Colour Me Beautiful lady coming?""I said weakly, slumping against the wall.

"Ah." There was an embarrassed pause. "Actually, darling, I cancelled her. I thought it would be better to wait till ..."

"Till what?"

"... oh, nothing, Darling. Anyway. Must whizz! Byee!"

I lit a Silk Cut with shaking hands, trying to come to terms with the fact that my mother doesn't want to waste pounds 25 on having me Colour Me Beautifulled because she thinks I've got Mad Cow Disease. Then I bravely picked up the phone and dialled.

"Tom," I said. "If I get Mad Cow Disease will you promise to do euthanasia on me before my mother does?"

"Course I will, Hon," he said. "I'll do it on the M1 if you like, with a cruise missile."