THE DIARY OF BRIDGET JONES

Wednesday 12 April

9st, alcohol units 7, cigarettes 23, calories (cannot bear to think about it: pizza, chocolate bombe. Oh No.)

Why oh why can I not deal with parties? They say that Tina Brown from the New Yorker has it to a tee, gliding prettily from group to group going, "Harold Brodkey! Martin Amis! Nelson Mandela!" in a tone that at once suggests, "My God, I have never been more thrilled to see anyone in my entire life! Have you met the most interesting person at the party apart from you? Talk! Talk! Must network! Byee!"

This is what happens to me at parties.

1. Enter room, cannot see single person I recognise. Want to go home.

2. Spot person I know. Attempt to join group but find them deep in unintelligible conversation. Stand wearing unconvincing grin. Notice someone else I know and shamble off to repeat sorry performance. Want to go home.

3. Get stuck with dull person, meanwhile noticing 12 people would rather talk to. Fear of being the sort who looks over shoulders all the time and pretends to fetch drink then never returns forces me to stay. I then get dragged into conversation of an intensity totally inappropriate to party setting and my desire never to see dull person again. Want to go home.

4. Nice person joins us just when dull person has reached most excruciating moment in account of slow death of mother. Feel like Newsnight presenter chairing studio row with producer yelling in ear, "Wind it up! Get them to shut up! Get the stupid f***ers to shut up!" Cannot bring self to interrupt dying mother story in middle of death throes to acknowledge nice person. Situation becomes untenable so blurt, "Oh hello! Have you met Brian? He was just telling me about his mother dying." Appal both people. Want to go home.

Tonight's party was complicated by the presence of Daniel. Our relationship remains agonisingly unclear. We have slept together five and a half times but a next meeting is never scheduled in advance. The situation is further complicated by the looming threat of Easter bank holiday with nothing arranged: both parents separately away, Sharon and Tina mini-breaking with men, and Tom in a work crisis. Cannot free my head of weekend-in- Prague-with-Daniel fantasies: walking hand in hand surrounded by bunnies, Daniel slipping me chocolate eggs containing emerald ear-rings.

Tonight was the perfect opportunity to resolve things but every time I looked he was telling some amusing story to a circle of girls wearing no skirts to speak of, who were falling about with laughter and jiggling their Wonderbras at him. My spirits sank lower and lower. And then a tiny miracle happened. "Don't you just hate parties?" said a voice. It was Dr Rogers, the not-at-all-bad-looking doctor from our health centre. (No stirrups embarrassment or anything; he'd only treated me once when I got my contact lens stuck on my eyeball.)

"What's up with you?" he said. That's doctors for you. Naturally I couldn't think of an amusing diagnostic quip, so I told him the truth. "Fancy a pizza?" he said. It felt like being with a fatherly yet strangely attractive duvet. "Don't even think about saying good-bye," he murmured, seeing me glance across at Daniel. "I bet he hasn't got round to saying hello yet, has he?"

It was just so great seeing Daniel's face when we left. I couldn't smoke during the pizza, obviously, him being a doctor and everything. I couldn't even flirt because of the hypocratic oath. So I just listened quietly and sensibly to Dr Roger's advice as if he were telling me not to tug the cornea. It was the old see-saw theory, of course. "As long as he knows you love him he'll be so full of himself he'll keep wondering if he can get someone better," he said. "You have to keep him thinking he's not quite good enough for you. You have to be the ice queen."

"But I'm not an ice queen."

"No, you're not," he said, with something like tenderness. "Ice-cream, maybe?"

I glowed, then realised he was looking at the dessert menu. "I can't bear love to be such a joyless game," I cried.

"It isn't," he said.

"So what's the answer?" I said.

"Don't fall for good-looking gits who think it is. You're nicer than that. How do you feel about the chocolate bombe?"

He drove me home. And he asked me out for dinner next Tuesday. Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? It is. He lives with someone called Gerrard. And he calls him she.

Easter Sunday

Midnight. Watched the BBC's Persuasion alone, considering Anne Elliot too wet, Wentworth too louche and the best bits bungled, but now I think I am Anne Elliot anyway. I noticed it was only when someone else was after Anne that Captain Wentworth came running. How can men be so obvious?

I have had three answerphone messages from Daniel this weekend and ignored them all. La! Let him think I have gone to Lyme, fallen on my head and am being tended by Dr Rogers. But then wait: Anne Elliot did not play games but was modest, honest and true and certainly did not sit smoking and smirking at the answerphone.

Hmm. Maybe Dr Rogers is an over-prudent Lady Russell figure persuading me to give up the love of my life whom he doesn't even know. Oh sod it. Is midnight on Easter Sunday too late to call someone you care for?

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