Wednesday 8 November

9st 7 (from where? seem exactly the same size, but evidently denser or have eaten something heavy), alcohol units 4 (fair), Instants 2 (excellent)

8pm Off to dinner party. All the Smug Marrieds keep inviting me - now I am chucked in manner of orphan at Christmas - and seating me opposite bizarre single men. Unfortunately, the work-free hot meals mean I must eventually host a return event involving horror hours frenziedly shoving Jackie Collins novels and storage jars with bunnies on under the sofa, purging the bathroom of embarrassing creams and contraceptives and treading in pans of risotto on the kitchen floor, so by the time the guests arrive I feel like shouting: "Oh, go screw yourselves."

Midnight Humph. Everyone was trying to cheer up the spare man (37, newly divorced by wife. Sample view: "I have to say, I do think Michael Howard is somewhat unfairly maligned"). "Don't know what you're complaining about," Magda's husband, Jeremy, was bellowing. "Men get more attractive when they get older and women get less attractive so all those 22-year-olds who wouldn't look at you when you were 25 will be gagging for it."

I sat, head down, quivering furiously at their inferences of female sell- by dates and life as game of musical chairs where girls without a chair/man when the music stops/they pass 30 are "out." Huh. As if.

"Oh yes, I quite agree it's much the best to go for younger partners," I burst out, airly, "Men in their thirties are such bores, with their hang-ups and obsessive delusions that women are trying to trap them into marriage. These days I'm only really interested in men in their early twenties. They're so much better able to ... well, you know ..."

"Really?" said Magda, rather too eagerly.

"Yeah, you're interested," snapped Jeremy quickly, glaring at Magda. "But the point is they're not interested in you."

"Um. Excuse me. My current boyfriend is 23." I said, sweetly.

There was a stunned silence.

"Well in that case," said Alex, smirking, "you can bring him to us on Friday when you come to dinner, can't you?"

Bugger. Where am I going to find a 23-year-old who will come to dinner with Smug Marrieds on Friday night instead of taking contaminated Ecstasy tablets? Cannot ask Matt from work as have sworn never again to have affair in office and cannot trust self alone in taxi with divine young whippersnapper. Hmm.

Friday 10 November

9st 0 (heavy internal mystery. Weight gone - but where?), cigarettes 19 but merely smoked half of each (vg new no smoking scheme similar to Half Plateful Diet), so effectively, 9.5

Marvellous article by Germaine Greer on how annoying it is for we working women shopping in Sainsbury's. I love the sense Greer gives of my maturity and feminist gravitas, since when I was younger I considered her inaccessibly, aggressively feminist, whereas now that I have suffered, I totally relate to her. Quite agree, for example, that there is often a long way for us to walk from the car to the entrance and trolleys are hard to steer. "This working woman," Greer argued, as I nodded, thinking, yup, yup, that's me, "who has her own eggs from her own hens." I looked up, startled. Was this something I had missed? Career, hatchback, own flat, tampons, Gold Blend, workouts ... and hens? Hmmm. Best ring Sharon.

Later. Office Hateful conference with bully boss Richard Finch going, "Right. Harrods pounds 1-a-pee toilets. I'm thinking Fantasy Toilets. I'm thinking studio Frank Skinner and Sir Richard Rogers on furry seats, armrests with TV screens, quilted loo paper, New Labour Dole Clampdown. I'm thinking the North. Bridget you're loafing about - live down the line."

"But ... but," I stammered.

"Patchouli!" he shouted, at which point the dogs under his desk woke up and started jumping about and barking.

"Wha?" yelled his Lycra cycle-shorted assistant above the din.

"Where's the Dole Youths' OB?"


"Liverpool. OK, darling. OB crew outside Boots in the shopping centre, live at 5.30pm. Get me six Dole Youths."

Later, as I was leaving to get the train, Patchouli yelled casually:"Oh yeah, Bridget, it's not Liverpool, it's Mancester, right?"

Manchester 4.15pm number of youths approached 44, number of unemployed youths agreed to be interviewed 0.

By 4.45pm, I was running hysterically between concrete flower tubs, gabbling, "Scuse me are you employed? Never mind" Thanks!"

"What are we doing then?" asked the cameraman, with no attempt to feign interest. "Ahm, unemployed youths," I said gaily. "Back in a mo!" then rushed round the corner and hit myself on the forehead. I could hear Richard over my earpiece, "Bridget ... where the hell? Dole Youths." Then I spotted a cashpoint.

By 5.20pm, six youths claiming to be unemployed were neatly lined up in front of the camera - a crisp pounds 20 note in each of their pockets while I flapped around, trying to make oblique amends for being middle class. At 5.30pm, I heard the signature tune bonging and crashing, then Richard yelling.

"Sorry, Manchester, we're dropping you."

"Urm ..." I began, to the expectant faces. The youths clearly thought I was a madwoman with a syndrome that made me want to pretend I worked in TV. Worse, with coming up to Manchester I had been unable to do anything about the no date trauma tonight. Then suddenly as I glanced across at the divine young whippersnappers, with the cashpoint machine in the background, the germ of a sick and morally suspect idea began to form itself in my mind.