8st 13 (fat drained out through shock), cigarettes 10 (but only 4am), alcohol units 3 (ditto), calories 0.
4am Just back from long-dreaded rich-but-rude Mark Darcy's ruby-wedding bash for his parents. Shocked, bamboozled and alarmed. His house was gigantic wedding-cake-style mansion: trees filled with red hearts and fairy lights inside, instead of Jaeger two-piece gherkin hell it was glamorous champagne heaven. Mum and Una, however, both looking as though they had eaten a lemon, started steaming down on Dad and I from opposite directions.
"Bit showy, isn't it?" bellowed Una as soon as she was within earshot.
"Don't be absurd, it's a sensational party," said Dad.
" 's, bloody fantastic," I agreed through a mouthful of canape and champagne. "No one's even asked me why I'm not married yet."
"Bridget," yelled Mum, "have you said hello to Mark?"
Suddenly realised both Una and Mum must be approaching their own ruby weddings (there is no way Mum will let a trifling detail like leaving her husband get in the way of the celebrations): sacrifice of harmless daughter to rude egomaniac would be small price to pay to avoid being upstaged by Elaine Darcy.
"Dandruff!" trilled Mum, brushing Dad's back. "Bridget, stand up straight, darling. Why on earth aren't you talking to Mark?"
"What do you think, Pam?" hissed Una nodding at the party.
"Showy," mouthed Mum, exaggerating her lip movements like Les Dawson. "Exactly what I said," mouthed Una triumphantly. "Showy."
"Shud-urrrrp," I said out of the corner of my mouth, glancing around, and then jumped. Mark Darcy, unnervingly sexy in white tie was three feet from us. He turned disdainfully and strode away.
Later I found myself behind him in the queue on the stairs up to dinner. "Hello," I said, hoping to make amends. He completely ignored me. "Mark," I said again, "it's a very nice party. Thank you for asking me."
"Oh, I didn't," he said brusquely. "My mother ... um. Anyway, must see to my, er, placement."
As I looked for my name on the seating plan, a familiar voice piped up. "Aren't I the lucky one? Right next to my little Bridget! Una tells me you've split up with your feller already. I don't know! Durr! When are we going to get you married?"
"I hope, when we do, I shall be the one to do the deed," said a voice on my other side. "I could do with a new vimpa. Mmmm. Apricot silk." Bloody Mark Darcy had placemented me between Geoffrey Alconbury and the gay vicar. After dinner, fearing having to do the twist with Brian Enderby, I nipped outside for a fag. It was a nice night with the moon lighting up all the rhododendron bushes as I ambled tipsily down some stone stairs. Then suddenly I heard a noise above. A figure was silhouetted against the French windows: Mark Darcy.
"Hello," I gabbled guiltily. "It's a very nice party. Thank..."
"Yes, I think you've said that," he said, striding distractedly down the steps.
"I..." he began, sighed and started to pace around. "I've tried," he began again, and then stopped. "In spite of the determination of your mother, of Mrs Alconbury and of my own mother to thrust you into my path at every turn, it was blindingly obvious to me that a relationship with you could never work. You drink, you smoke, you behave eccentrically, and I could not imagine introducing you to any of my colleagues or clients without alarm as to what you might do or say. Your mother's behaviour is a constant embarrassment and her boyfriend an obvious rogue. Nevertheless since the first moment I met you..."
"What, in the paddling pool?"
"No. At the Turkey Curry Buffet," he said impatiently. "In spite of my better judgement, my sense of what is seemly and appropriate, I have begun to feel a deep, a growing, an intense..."
I kicked at the side of the rockery sulkily.
Shaking with indignation, I lit a cigarette from one of the garden flares, stuck out my chin and puffed smoke in the air.
"So...?" he said.
He stared at me incredulously. "Is that all you have to say?"
"You're not going to make any attempt at civility, to offer a response?"
"Civility? It's you who's been bloody rude."
"You've insulted my mother, her lover, my habits, my conversation, my brain and my whole character. If you'd managed to be a little less arrogant and more polite I might have been a bit more grateful. But as it is, thanks for the lovely party, but you can sod off. I don't know who you think you are saying I've got to stay at home reading books to make myself fit to talk to you."
He rubbed the back of his neck, looking anguished. "You haven't been so discerning in the past."
"What exactly do you mean?" I bristled.
"Daniel Cleaver treated you appallingly, I heard."
"And I heard how you treated him."
"Markee," one of his glamorous lawyery women friends called through the French windows.
Mark Darcy hesitated. Then he said, "I shan't bother you again. Goodnight," abruptly turned on his heel and headed back up the stairs.
It's the only time I've ever smoked two cigarettes both at the same time.Reuse content