Mark Darcy has summoned me to `have a serious talk', ie chuck me in time for Valentine's Day
Saturday 8 February

9st 1lb; cigarettes, 12 (vg); alcohol units, 7 (Saturday); No of minutes spent not obsessing about Valentine's Day, 37

Doom doooom. No sooner is Singleton Torture Christmas out of the way than we have to be subjected to Valentine's Day. No chance of getting any cards whatsoever. Am incommunicado with Mark Darcy over him voting Tory and nobody loves or cares about me. Worse, on top of everything else it is National Marriage Week. Why is it that when it is staring everyone in the face that men and women do not want to live with each other any more, everyone is trying to make everyone feel ashamed of themselves for not spending the entire day on floral swings staring into the eyes of spouses?

Humph. Anyway, am going to turn attention from love to becoming rich. As Marilyn Monroe says - Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend. Will start filling in cheque stubs and checking bank statements. Ooh, telephone. Maybe admirer.

"Darling, guess what?" My mother.

"What?" I muttered sulkily.


I looked nervously from side to side, wondering what was going to happen.


Oh God. It reminded me of when Richard Finch told me to do an item on fog when it was a lovely sunny day and I spent the whole morning feeling puzzled trying to get out Pathe news clips about pea-soupers and persuade Michael Fish to come in, and then it turned out he meant Mark Phillips.

"Twinning, darling. We'd forgotten all about it till the Doncaster councillors! Una and I are going to twin Grafton Underwood with Albufeira!"

"Mother," I said suspiciously, "you haven't started seeing Julio again, have you?"

"Oh, don't be silly, Bridget! You remember twinning. All the towns used to do it. It was the same time as coq au vin. And, you know, Delia's bringing back all the Seventies dishes, so we're going to do twinning again."

A horrible vision flashed before my mind of my mother dressed in a pair of Crimplene bell-bottoms and chain belt serving macaroni cheese to the mayor of Albufeira.

"Anyway, must whizz. We're going to make a deputation to the council meeting. We're taking a taxi so we can drink, because Geoffrey's the treasurer and he can claim it."

1pm Oh my God. Corruption is everywhere. Found weird cheque on bank statement for pounds 217.65 which did not recognise. Convinced it was cheque that wrote out to dry-cleaners for pounds 7.65 or similar. Rang up bank to see who it was to, and it was a "Monsieur SFS". Dry-cleaners are fraudsters. Have rung Jude, Shazzer, Rebecca, Tom and Simon telling them not to go to Duraclean any more.

4pm Hah. Just went into Duraclean to check out "Monsieur SFS". Could not help remarking that staff of dry cleaners seemed to be not so much French as Indian. Maybe anglo-French, though.

"Could you tell me your name, please?" I said to the man as I handed in my nightie.

"Salwani," he said, smiling suspiciously nicely. S. Hah! "And your name?"

"Bridget," I said.

"You write your address here, please," he said. You see, that was suspicious. Decided to put Mark Darcy's address as he has staff and burglar alarms.

"Do you know a Monsieur SFS?" I said, at which the man became almost playful.

"No, but I think I am knowing you from somewhere," he said.

"Don't think I don't know what's going on," I said, then shot out of the shop.

Sunday 9 February

Mark Darcy has summoned me to meet him on neutral ground to "have a serious talk", ie chuck me in time for Valentine's Day.

Monday 10 February.

9am Letter for me! Maybe early Valentine card.

Was from bank. Enclosing cheque. to "MSFS". V suspicious, but does look like my signature. Maybe they somehow fraudulently removed Duraclean and put MSFS instead. Ooh, note just fluttered out.

Note said "This cheque is to Marks & Spencer Financial Services."

Oh God. Was for Christmas payment on M&S card.


When I arrived Mark Darcy was already at table. "This came for you this morning," he said, handing me a card in a pink envelope which said, "Not to be opened until 14 February" but had already been opened, obviously by nosy Mark Darcy.

"Who's it from?"

"I don't know," I said.

"Yes, you do," he said, in the sort of calm, smiley way which suggests someone is about to pull out a meat hatchet and cut your nose off. "Who's it from?"

"I told you," I muttered. " I don't know."

"OK," he said pleasantly. "Let's try a different tack. I love you. I know you have ridiculous socialist ideas. But I don't want other men sending you this sort of thing. So I'm going to ask you to marry me."

I stared at him open-mouthed.

"Not for a whole lifetime, of course," he went on. "I've been reading the Demos report. They do talk some sense. I'll give you that. So I'd like to go for a fixed term. I'll offer you five years, with an option to review after four for a further three. I need an answer by Friday. Think about it." Then, while I was trying to work out what in the name of arse he was talking about, he stroked my thigh under the table and gave me a playful little kiss. "Provided," he said, "you explain what this is about."

Trembling, I pulled the card out of the envelope. It depicted two cartoon hedgehogs watching a bra entwined with a pair of underpants going round in a washing machine. Inside, it said, "Be Mine Valentine. I'll see you when you come to pick up your nighty - love S xxxxxxxx"