9st (excellent), cigarettes 24 (war zone pressure), alcohol units 5 (keeping home fires burning, etc), calories 3,457 (pre-rationing stock-up).
7pm Just heard distant repeating booming noise. Phone rang immediately. "That was a bomb," said Tom in a terse, just back from Bosnia, seen it all before, Don McCullin sort of voice.
"I know. Sh*t. Sh*t," I said - in a knowing, all too aware of the implications, having been closely and personally involved in forging the peace process for 20 months sort of voice.
After the TV newsflash, the phone rang four times: Una Alconbury, Auntie Joan from Peebles and Merle Fisher, a friend of Mum and Dad's who went to live in Macclesfield two years ago, all worried as to whether I was safe - although I live five miles away and never go to Docklands - clearly seeing the entire Greater London area showered by glass and falling masonry.
"Life will just go on much as normal," I told them. "It's rather like when you see wars on the news - you imagine fighting is everywhere, but in fact in the next street people are buying potatoes. You just have to be alert and careful where you go," realising as I spoke that I was beginning to see myself as a brave, rather beautiful girl from Sarajevo, dodging Sniper Alley to buy bread rolls and carrying on wearing nail varnish in spite of everything.
As the evening wore on and Dad, Mavis Enderby, Geoffrey Cole's wife, Audrey, and finally even Mum rang to see if I was OK, I was in a paroxysm of smugness about living in a war zone and being cool about it, sensing new depths being added to my character with news bulletins flashing up on the screen.
Monday 12 February
Sick of the bomb now. There is nothing in the papers or on the news except more and more pictures of weirdly flapping windows. Cannot help feeling TV interviews do not help nation in its attitude to dealing with adversity. Feel certain - though was not even egg at the time - that in the War people thought the idea was to show how brave you were being, making light of Jerry's effect on your indomitable spirit. Now, however, people think idea is to sound as morbidly self-pitying as they can, break down whenever possible, blame everyone in sight and magnify the emotional impact of a slight booming sound five miles away out of all proportion in order to please the important-looking TV man holding the microphone.
Said this to Tom, who said I was a callous lucky bitch with no sympathy for those directly affected by the blast, then admitted he agreed with me.
Also fed up with the ministers saying "Ballot diplomacy, not Bullet diplomacy" over and over again as if so delighted by thinking up a pun that they cannot say it often enough. Fear copycat punning soundbite outbreak with Tory ministers demanding lottery grants be Ballet led, not Ballot led; food policy Bolly led, not Belly led; the Newbury bypass Bullion led, not Bulrush led; and the Scott report declared Bally Bullying Ballastless Bullshit Bollocks.
Tuesday 13 February
Oh, no. Dreading Valentine's Day. Part of global conspiracy to constantly make people not having a romance feel stupid. Matter of supreme indifference to me, anyway.
Wednesday 14 February
8am Wonder if the post has come yet. Maybe there will be a card from a secret admirer of some kind. Or heart-shaped chocolates. Quite excited, actually.
8.30am Wild joy. Roses in hallway. Gleefully picked them up just as downstairs flat door opened and Vanessa came out. "Ooh, who are they from?" she said enviously.
"I don't know!" I said with a smug tinkling laugh, glancing down at the card. "Oh, they're for you." I tailed off.
"Never mind. Look! This is for you," said Vanessa, encouragingly. It was an Access bill.
On the way in on the Tube you could see who had had Valentine cards and who hadn't. Everyone was looking round to catch each other's eyes and either smirking or looking away, sulkily. Got into the office to find everyone else except me had cards and bunches of flowers the size of cows on their desks.
"Oh, like, hi Bridget!" bellowed stupid Patchouli so that everyone could hear. "How many did you get?"
"The whole thing is a ridiculous and meaningless commercial exploitation," I muttered.
"So you didn't get any," crowed Patchouli, just as charming young whippersnapper Matt walked past, perfecting my humiliation.
8pm Got home to find an envelope on hall table - no stamp - which said, "To the Dusky Beauty". For a moment I was excited, suddenly seeing myself as a dark, mysterious object of desire to men out in the street. Then I remembered bloody Vanessa and her slinky dark bob. Humph.
8.30pm Card is still there! Obviously, it is like eating the last Milk Tray. Both of us are too polite to take it.
9pm Still there!
9.30pm Went down again. It was still there. Could stand it no longer. Knocked on Vanessa's door.
"I think this must be for you," I said, holding out the card.
"Oh, I thought it must be for you," she said.
"Shall we open it?" I said.
I handed it to her, she gave it back to me, I gave it back. I love girls.
She pulled it out - it was a cool arty sort of card.
"Means nothing to me," she said. I took it. Inside it said, "A bit of ridiculous and meaningless commercial exploitation as a token of my esteem and enormous lust."
I let out a high-pitched noise. Matt.Reuse content