I’ve had a bit of a love affair with Bridget Jones ever since one night in 2001 when I sat convulsed with laughter near the front of the cinema. Perhaps it was because I didn’t get out a lot due to the difficulty of finding a free night and a babysitter to match, but whatever the reason, I found the film refreshingly funny. It wasn’t just the liberal use of the ‘F’ word and Colin Firth either. It was the heroine. Bridget wasn’t perfect she was hilariously flawed and her obsessions and fears were something I could easily associate with. From her struggles with losing weight and finding a partner to mastering the skills of turning on a microphone, public speaking and riding in a soft top… I’d been there and loved it. The film became a much quoted script that was so versatile, “something to go with anything for any occasion!’ Each time I had to stand up in front of a training session or meeting where there was a speaker system, I was so tempted to tap the mic and shout…”the mic’s not working properly!” On my 40th birthday, such was my love of the film, that my husband shamed me by hanging out a huge pair of knickers on the fairy lights greeting guests to the surprise bash. Thankfully my time as a local reporter had passed so there was no danger of me doing a Bridget down the pole of my local fire station, even if I did have a bottom the size of Brazil! When Bridget Jones: the Edge of Reason, or Bridget Jones 2 came out it had lost a little of it’s appeal and freshness, so 15 years on, I was intrigued to see how the latest film, Bridget Jones’ Baby would fair.
Instead of watching it with an embarrassed husband disappearing into his seat in a cinema full of women, I went on a girls’ night out with fellow military wives to soak up the new Bridget and all she had to offer. Unfortunately, although it was funny, my dreams were shattered. Bridget and Mark Darcy had changed… what had happened? They had got older, more wrinkled and Oh, I don’t know, it was just all wrong. Suddenly, Bridget’s dizzy moments didn’t seem quite as funny third time around and her muddy face plant at Glastonbury not so endearing. As we left the cinema one of the girls googled Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth’s faces from 2001 and we all sighed with relief… so those were the people we knew, not these strange new faces that had appeared on our screen in episode three. For me the producers had waited too long to make this new film and perhaps we should have let Bridget rest where she was, safe in the arms of Colin Firth in her cardigan and knickers in a snowstorm.
One of the disturbing things about my reaction to an ageing Bridget Jones is the fact that I’m even older than the actress who plays her and yet I still feel pretty much 35. So, is my dislike of the new Bridget a sign of my own uneasiness about growing older and coming to terms with all that goes with it? It was Bridget’s imperfections in the first film that made her so endearing and felt like a breath of fresh air from the perfect heroines in many mainstream films. So, if imperfections are Ok, why not the imperfection of ageing too? Perhaps Bridget Jones Baby is a my wake-up call… I’m not going to be 35 forever, but that’s OK isn’t it?
It’s only Tuesday and it’s already been a week of awkward moments. This is largely due to not thinking it through and the fact that I’m not at my brightest first thing in the morning.
Yesterday I woke to a beautiful blue sky and the sun streaming in through the gap in the curtains. Someone was busy dragging a suitcase down the stairs and bustling in the kitchen…where is my cup of tea I wondered? It wasn’t long before it arrived and I was duly kissed farewell by a man in combats saying, “see you in a week.” I snuggled further down under the duvet, glad I didn’t have to get up quite yet. But as I heard the back door bang, I glanced across at the other bedside table (not actually a table, a tall piece of wood which balances a lamp and half a cup)… but there was a large black watch on its back in place of the cup.
His watch. He’d be needing that this week. Moral dilemma: do I dash down and try and catch him with it or ignore it and say sadly, “Oh dear,” when he calls later and says, “I’ve forgotten my watch”? It was sunny, so I decided to at least try and see if he was still in the car. Jumping out of bed I snatched up the watch and ran down the stairs. The car was running but it was still in the drive. I yanked open the backdoor and half ran, half tiptoed towards the car. The pavings were cold on bare feet. The next second I banged straight into a tall man in uniform and heavy boots.
“What are you doing?” he was half laughing though.
“Your watch – you forgot your watch!” I said and then looked down at what I was wearing. Small pants and a strappy top. It might have been fine in Cyprus, but a frosty November morning in England? I don’t think so. Dashing back inside, he followed me in still laughing and asking if I’d seen the group of schoolboys walking down the road past the house. The final scene in Bridget Jones’ Diary popped into my head. “Crazy girl!” The trouble was I hadn’t thought it through.
This morning was another case in point. I had timed the trip to London carefully, allowing time for traffic and buying a ticket at the station, as well as collecting my train ticket from the machine. I parked the car at the far end of the car park, away from other cars because someone is worried it might get scratched (it’s newish). I was hoping I would have enough change for the parking machine, which was back into the centre of the car park. I stared hard, hunting for coin slots…card slot? Then I read the sign – pay on line or with an app or by phone. Great. Would the other machines take cash? The time was ticking. I hadn’t allowed time for this. The other machines were a lot further down the car park so I decided to phone the number to pay for parking by phone. How hard could it be? I listened while a nicely spoken robot man asked me for information. Next I needed to tell him the car registration number – which I didn’t know. Phone at my ear, large bag and a carrier bag full of advent calendars (the Real one ofcourse) in each hand, I trotted back down to the other end of the car park towards the car, reading out the number just in time. But now the demanding but polite robot man wanted the car park location code… which was on the machine. I scooted back towards the parking machine, rushing past a bemused school boy in a half jog with my rustling bags and a phone still pressed to my ear. I was desperate to reach the machine in time to impart the next piece of information and glanced up nervously as I spotted a train had just slid in beside the platform. “Crap, I’m going to miss my train at this rate…” and other such sentiments were going through my head. But I was now being asked to key in numbers from my credit card and I hadn’t even picked up my train tickets yet. The voice was still talking to me…”press 1 for ‘yes’ and 2 for ‘no'” but I’d completely forgotten what he was asking! After another tricky moment with the train ticket machine and more codes to key in, I eventually received a text to confirm I had paid for parking and train ticket in hand, I headed for the platform. Miraculously I did catch the train.
Apologies to all schoolboys who may have been disturbed by these morning mishaps – as ever, I didn’t think it through.