Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
Tuesday 3 January: 9am. Ugh. Cannot face thought of going to work… It seems wrong and unfair that Christmas, with its stressful and unmanageable financial and emotional challenges, should first be forced upon one wholly against one’s will, then rudely snatched away just when one is starting to get into it. Was really beginning to enjoy the feeling that normal service was suspended and it was OK to lie in bed as long as you want, put anything you fancy into your mouth, and drink alcohol whenever it should chance to pass your way, even in the mornings. Now suddenly we are all supposed to snap into self-discipline like lean teenage greyhounds.
10 pm…Mmm. Daniel Cleaver [work colleague], though. Love his wicked dissolute air, while being v. successful and clever. He was being v. funny today… asked if I got anything nice for Christmas in rather flirty way. Think might wear short black skirt tomorrow.
Thursday 5 January: 11 am Office. Oh my God. Daniel Cleaver just sent me a message. Was trying to work on CV (in preparation for improving career)… I instantly thought he had been able to tap into the computer and see that I was not getting on with my work. But then I read message:
You appear to have forgotten your skirt. As I think is made perfectly clear in your contract of employment, staff are expected to be fully dressed at all times. Cleave
Hah! Undeniably flirtatious.
observations: As Bridget cheerfully says on the next page, this is pretty much sexual harassment – she enters into it whole-heartedly, and the two of them are messaging away all day about the very short skirt, cheering up her New Year somewhat, though we all know that Daniel (Hugh Grant in the film) is a mere distraction on the way to true love with Mr Darcy (Colin Firth).
The films are funny and a pleasure to watch, but the books are much cleverer, and very much more than just entertainment. In an earlier entry we made our case for Helen Fielding being the Edith Wharton of our age – this book resembles House of Mirth much more than its stated template of Pride and Prejudice. And is there a better description anywhere of why Christmas is annoying than that paragraph above? Plus, she is excellent on office life generally, whether it’s going back to work after the holiday, or annoying colleagues, or hiding in the ladies – not many novel-writers actually work in offices so good work-descriptions are rare. As Clothes in Books said a while back:
If this world disappeared, you could re-create the past 30 years in the UK from the combined Adrian Mole and Bridget Jones books.
Links on the blog: Bridget Jones is mentioned frequently, click on the label below, and has an entry here.
The picture is from a 1980s fashion magazine.