More adventures of a serial self-reformer

Bridget Jones's Diary
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The Independent Online
Monday 6 January

9st 5lb ( aargh aargh, post-Christmas horror); number of jeans can still fit into 1; alcohol units 5; Milk Tray 8, cigarettes 19 (best to cut down gradually so as not to go into cold turkey)

Awoken by panic phone call from Geoffrey Alconbury. Instantly assumed it was something to do with the feud between Mum and Geoffrey's wife, Una, who both turned up on Christmas Day in the same purple Country Casuals two-piece in the paisley sprig even though Una had promised to check with Mum before wearing hers because Mum saw it first.

"Bridget," quavered Uncle Geoffrey, in a broken, uncharacteristic voice. "Have you seen the papers this morning?"

Sometimes I think Geoffrey has lost all grip on reality. It was only 8 o'clock. How could I somehow have got out of bed, washed and dried my hair, done my make-up, decided what to wear, located and put on all the individual items, then gone all the way to the paper shop when it wasn't even morning yet?

"Oh God," he moaned.

"It's Mum, isn't it?" I whispered. What could have happened? Maybe Mum had burst through their French windows and cut the armpits and a big circle over the bottom out of all Una's two-pieces then thrown them out of the window. Maybe she had simply gone to the papers to expose Una. But is that the sort of story the papers would want to print in the run-up to an election? I suppose, you know, in a way you could see it: all about the breakdown of social structure under the Tories - first the inner cities, then the family, and finally, cataclysmically, the middle classes, so infusing everyone with a grab-what-you-can-when-you-can, dog-eat-dog, every-man-for-himself mentality that a woman can't even turn up to celebrate the birth of our Lord in a paisley two-piece without finding her best friend in the identical outfit.

"No, no. Its nothing to do with your mother or Una. Oh God ..." His voice tailed off. "It's this ... this boy, and the Tory MP."

"What boy?"

"A boy, a youth who says he's been having an affair with Jerry Hayes, and ... oh Bridget, I'm so frightened," there was a strangled sob.

Suddenly, through the clouds of my hangover, the penny started to drop. Not two months ago, I popped into a pub in Portobello to buy fags only to find Uncle Geoffrey wearing a black see-through nylon T-shirt holding hands with a beautiful youth in a black leather jacket.

"Ruined, ruined, everything I worked for ... Una, the Rotary, my local party deputy-Treasurership, the rockery..."

"But Uncle Geoffrey ... was it the same boy?"

"No, no. But don't you see?" Bleatingly Geoffrey explained about Max Clifford and the anti-Tory vendetta. "Bridget, you're the only member of the media I know, you must advise me."

For a moment, I was distracted by the idea of myself as a member of the media, wearing a trilby hat with a press-card in it, like in New York in the Thirties, and braying at press conferences, instead of spending all day being shouted at in a daytime TV office while half-heartedly trying to get hold of celebrity chefs on the phone.

"Maybe all these boys are connected," Geoffrey continued in a paranoid whisper, clearly convinced that Max Clifford was running a fleet of boys like Oliver Twist's Fagin and that he was going to open the next local Tory party newsletter to find himself exposed. "I wrote him letters. I told him I was going to leave Una for him. Oh, what shall I do, what shall I do?"

My mind went completely blank. When I spotted Geoffrey in the pub with the boy, I thought it was none of my business really, and actually in a twisted selfish sort of way, I was quite pleased that Uncle Geoffrey was as f***d up as everyone else so I wasn't a complete failure for not living with a rockery and nuclear family in Grafton Underwood. I agreed that I wouldn't tell everyone as long as he stopped two-timing Una with the boy and stopped lecturing other people, ie me, all the time for not fitting in with some narrow idea of how everyone was supposed to live, which he was only pretending to do anyway. But what if ...

"Oh my God, I've got to go," he said suddenly, and slammed down the phone.

7pm V. depressed. Jude just rang. She has got a new self-help book called Emotional Intelligence. Apparently, success in life is all to do with being able to control impulses and delay gratification. A test was done on four-year-olds where they were left in a room with a marshmallow and told if they didn't eat it for 20 minutes they could have two marshmallows. The four-year-olds who ate it immediately were all disasters in later life. Know for fact, could not sit in room with marshmallow for 20 minutes without eating it now, let alone when I was four. Am doomed, doomed. Have not heard back from Uncle Geoffrey, who certainly could not have sat in the room with the marshmallow without eating it.

8pm Mum just rang. "I'm afraid I've got some bad news, darling. Uncle Geoffrey has disappeared. Of course, I'm standing by Una, but frankly after the way she behaved over the paisley on Christmas Day, I'm not in the least bit surprised. I only hope he hasn't done anything silly."

8.30pm Oh my God. Just had Geoffrey on the phone. He is in Albufeira and has charged me with telling Mum and Una he is safe and has gone into hiding "till the storm has passed". What storm? There isn't any storm. Uncle Geoffrey has gone mad, and I am unwittingly involved as a conduit