Saturday 20 May

8st 131/2, alcohol units 4, cigarettes 12 (vg), calories 1,500 Vg

My mother has become a force I no longer recognise. She burst into my flat late on Saturday morning as I sat slumped in my dressing gown, sulkily painting my toenails and watching the preamble to the racing.

"Darling, can I leave these here for a few hours?" she said, flinging an armful of carrier bags down and heading for my bedroom.

Minutes later, in a fit of mild curiosity, I slobbed after her to see what she was doing. She was sitting in front of the mirror in an expensive- looking, coffee-coloured slip, mascara-ing her eyelashes with her mouth wide open. (Why is it only possible to put mascara on when your mouth is open?)

"Don't you think you should get dressed, darling?" She looked stunning: skin clear, hair shining. I caught sight of myself in the mirror. I really should have taken my make-up off last night. One side of my hair was plastered to my head, the other sticking out in a series of peaks and horns. It is as if the hairs on my head wait till I drop off to sleep and say, "Now what shall we do?"

"You know, darling, all these years your father's made such a fuss about doing the bills and the tax - as if that excused him from 30 years of washing-up. Well, the tax return was overdue, so I thought, sod it, I'll do it myself. Obviously, I couldn't make head nor tail of it so I rang up. The man was really quite overbearing with me. 'Really, Mrs Jones, I simply can't see what the difficulty is.'

"I said, 'Listen. Can you make a brioche?' He took the point, talked me through it and we had it done inside 15 minutes. Anyway, he's taking me out to lunch today. A tax man! Imagine!"

"What?" I stammered, grabbing at the door-frame. "What about Julian?"

"Just because I'm 'friends' with Julian doesn't mean I can't have other 'friends'," she said sweetly, slipping into a yellow two-piece. "Do you like this? Just bought it. A lovely lemon, don't you think? Anyway must fly. I'm meeting him in Debenhams coffee shop at 1.15."

After she'd gone, I ate a bit of muesli out of the packet with a spoon and finished off the dregs of wine in the fridge.

I know what her secret is: she's discovered power. She's got power over Dad, he wants her back. She's got power over Julian, and everyone else is sensing her power and wanting a bit of it, which just makes her even more irresistible. So all I've got to do is find someone or something I have power over and then ... oh, sod it. I haven't even got power over my own hair.

Sunday 21 May

Find myself snorting at Virginia Bottomley's plan to put alcohol units on display in pubs. I suppose it's the same thing as putting calories on food, but then sometimes I find myself confidently tucking into seven Shape yoghurts simply because they only have 50 calories each and then spend the day with vats of yoghurt fermenting in my stomach like a ginger beer plant. Anyway, you don't eat food in order to get fat, but you do go to pubs in order to get drunk. I bet half the people in the pub choose the most alcoholic drinks to get plastered immediately and the others choose the lower alcoholic ones so they can drink three times as many and end up with stomachs like barrage balloons squelching and bumping into each other.

Next, Sharon rang saying she was worried about Tom because she'd seen him from the window of a taxi last night, wandering along Tottenham Court Road holding his head and, she thought, bleeding, but by the time she'd gone back, he'd disappeared.

Frantic phoning ensued. Tom wasn't in, so I rang Jude who rang Simon and got him to go round. Not there. Then Sharon rang again. She'd spoken to Tina who thought he was going to Michael's for lunch. I was just calling Michael when the doorbell rang. It was Tom, with a huge bump on his head and more depressed than I'd ever seen him, saying he'd started an affair three weeks before with a 22-year-old "freelance film-maker" called Jerome who'd dumped him last night and Tom had got blind drunk, fallen over and hit his head.

"Nobody loves me," he said. I told him to ring his answerphone where there were 22 frantic messages from his friends and said, anyway, how could one moody git with a stupid name make him think nobody loves him?

Two Bloody Marys later, he was laughing at Jerome's obsessive use of the term "self-aware" and skin-tight, calf-length Calvin Klein underpants. Meanwhile, eight of his friends had rung to see how he was. "I know we're all psychotic, single and completely dysfunctional, and it's all done over the phone," he slurred sentimentally, "but it's a bit like a family, isn't it?"

Two minutes later there was a ring on the doorbell and my mother collapsed into the hallway in floods of tears.

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