Sunday 31 December 1995

New Year resolutions

I will:

Stop smoking

Drink no more than 14 alcohol units per week

Get down to 8st 7 (no toxins)

Reduce circumference of thighs by 3 inches (ie 1.5 each)

Save up money in form of savings, poss. start pension also

Be more confident and assertive

Go to gym 3xs a week (min.)

Form functional relationship with responsible adult

Learn to programme video

I will not:

Drink more than 14 alcohol units a week


Behave sluttishly around the house but instead imagine others are watching

Spend more than I earn

Bitch about others behind their backs but instead be a good person and positive about everyone

Get obsessions with parts of loathsome Tories' anatomy such as Portillolips, but concentrate when reading papers on issues in hand

Fall for any of following: alcoholics, workaholics, commitment phobics, people with girlfriends or wives, misogynists, megalomaniacs, chauvinists, emotional fuckwits, emotional freeloaders, perverts or similar

Get upset over, or form "crushes" on men but instead be poised and cool ice-queen and form relationships based on mature assessment of character

Sulk about having no boyfriend but develop inner poise and authority and sense of self as woman of substance, complete without boyfriend as best way to obtain boyfriend

Monday, 1 January

9st 5 (but post-Christmas). Alcohol units 16 (but including effectively 2 days as 4 hours continuation of party plus New Year's Day). Cigarettes 40 (bad). Calories 58424 (approx). Food consumed:

Cold new potatoes 14

Bloody Marys (count as food as Worcester sauce and tomatoes) 3

Bread - half ciabatta loaf with brie on it

Coriander leaves - half a packet

Milk Tray 21 (best to get rid of all Christmas confectionery in one go and make fresh start tomorrow)

Mince pies 5

Cocktail sticks* securing cheese and pineapple 13 (* sticks themselves not consumed)

Portion Una Alconbury's Turkey curry with peas, desiccated coconut and sliced bananas

Portion Una Alconbury's Raspberry Revolution made with Gingernuts soaked in tinned raspberries with eight gallons of whipped cream and decorated with glace cherries angelica and chocolate vermicelli

2pm Ugh. Last thing on earth I feel physically, emotionally or mentally equipped do is go to Una and Geoffrey Alconbury's in Grafton Underwood. But mum rang up - I swear to God - at 7.30 in the morning last August before I was even awake and hissed, "You will be coming to Geoffrey and Una's New Year's Day turkey curry buffet, darling, won't you?"

"Ah. Actually I ..." panicked wildly. What could I pretend to be doing? ... "Think I might have to work on New Year's Day."

"That doesn't matter. You can come up after work. Oh did I mention? Malcolm and Elaine Darcy are coming and bringing Mark with them. Do you remember Mark, darling? He's one of these top-notch barristers. Divorced. It doesn't start till 8.

"Mum. I've told you. I don't need to be fixed up with ..."

"Oh don't be silly, darling."

It's been more or less constant artillery ever since. "Of course you remember Malcolm and Elaine! They came over when we were living in Amersham, and you and Mark played in the paddling pool! He's just back from America - looking for a house in Holland Park. Apparently, he had the most terrible time with his wife. Japanese. Very cruel race."

Then, next time, as if out of the blue, "Do you remember Mark Darcy, darling? Elaine says he works all the time and he's terribly lonely. Guess what? He's coming to Una's turkey curry buffet."

I don't know why she didn't just come out with it and hiss, "You are going to shag Mark Darcy over the turkey curry buffet aren't you? He's very rich." Must have fag. Oh dear no: 1996. Hmm. Will start giving up tomorrow ... Maybe Bloody Mary will improve matters. I hate Mum and Una.

Midnight. Thought the hangover might have cleared by the evening but as I rang the Alconburys' entire-tune-of-town-hall-clock-doorbell had to accept I was still in a strange world of my own, nauseous, vile-headed. "Come along and meet Mark," Una Alconbury sing-songed. Being set up with a man against your will is on one level of humiliating thing but being literally dragged into it by Una Alconbury's hand, while tending a bilious hangover, watched by a room full of friends of your parents is on another altogether.

The rich, divorced-by-cruel-wife Mark was standing with his back to the room scrutinising the contents of the Alconburys' bookshelves - mainly leather-bound series about the Third Reich which Geoffrey sends off for from Readers Digest.

"Mark!" said Una, as if she was one of Santa Claus's fairies, "I've got someone nice for you to meet." He turned round and while there were no obvious superficial no-no signs - cable sweater, hankies in trouser pockets, red face or braces, black polo-neck sweater, pipe or white socks - he had an extremely irritating snooty expression suggesting he just could not be arsed.

"Mark, this is Colin and Pam's daughter Bridget," said Una, going all pink and fluttery. "Bridget works in television, don't you Bridget."

"I do indeed," I for some reason said, as if I were taking part in a Capital Radio phone-in and were about to ask Una if I could "say hello to a few people", then give an excruciatingly long list finishing with "everyone at the turkey curry buffet".

"Well I'll leave you two young people together. Durrrr! I expect you're sick to death of us old fuddy duddies."

"Not at all," said Mark, brusquely in a way that suggested he certainly wouldn't be any less sick to death of me. At which Una, after rolling her eyes putting a hand to her bosom and giving a gay tinkling laugh abandoned us to a hideous silence.

"Have you been staying with your parents over New Year?" I ventured.

"Yip," he said, looking over at the rest of the room. "You?"

"No, I was at a party in London last night. Bit hung over, actually."

He didn't say anything.

"Yes," I gabbled nervously so that Una and my mother wouldn't notice Mark Darcy was refusing to speak to me. "But then I do think New Year's resolutions can't technically be expected on New Year's Day, don't you, since, because it's an extension of New Year's Eve, smokers are already on a smoking roll and cannot be expected to stop abruptly on the stroke of midnight with so much nicotine in the system? Also, dieting on New Year's Day isn't a good idea as you can't eat rationally but really need to spontaneously consume whatever is necessary, moment by moment, to ease your hangover. I think it would be much more sensible if resolutions began generally on Jan 2nd."

One corner of his mouth almost twitched and he stared at me with an expression of intense puzzlement. I noticed his hair was slightly more untidy than you'd expect.

"Yes, I really must get something to eat," he said, half nodded then headed off towards the buffet, leaving me standing on my own, by the bookshelf while everybody stared at me thinking "So that's why Bridget isn't married - she repulses men."

Mark Darcy didn't speak another word to me for the rest of the evening which was frankly neither a great loss nor insult as he seemed to be doing his best to avoid speaking to anybody, but Una Alconbury and Mum were beside themselves and kept making me walk round with trays of gherkins hoping we'd get talking. In the end they were so desperate that the second I got within 4ft of him with the gherkins Una threw herself across the room like Will Carling and tinkled, "Oh Mark you must take Bridget's telephone number before you go, then you can get in touch when you're in London."

I couldn't stop myself turning bright red. I could feel it climbing up my neck. It was as if I'd put her up to it, as if she was my school friend going, "My friend wants to go out with you."

"I'm sure Bridget's life in London is quite full enough already," he said, not particularly graciously, and turned back to his conversation with Brian Enderby helping himself to a gherkin as he did so. Rude pompous git, I wouldn't give him my phone number if his cruel-faced ex-wife did water-torture on me. Huh.

2am. Oh why am I so unattractive? Why? Just had hateful dream where Mark Darcy, beautiful and gleaming in gold leaf on a statue in Trafalgar Square was dangling me on end of a big gun wearing no pants and dropped me into the pigeons with a cruel laugh. No one loves or cares about me. Hate 1996. Hate everyone ... Anyway have got giant tray-sized bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk left over from Christmas on dressing table, also amusing joke Gin and Tonic miniature. Am going to consume those and have fag. I wonder how old Mark Darcy is?