Millennium Post

With Bridget by my side

April 8 2001

27 years old (feel at least 100), 6st 10 (fashionably waif-like, but  so what) , alcohol units 0 (might hit the bottle yet), husband 1, corpse of stellar television career 1, dreadful new job 1, friends and family within running distance 0, unhappiness index (unquantifiable), new fictional friend one

Hello Bridget, welcome to my bleak new world. I discovered you in the attic of the man I married seven dreary months ago. He doesn’t like books so you belonged to someone else, probably another woman. I am glad she was here before me because she left you behind. You were my friend through the long frigid months of my first English winter, as I struggled daily to weather the bone-chilling blast of wind and rain they call a drizzle. You gave me a reason to smile on my dreary way to work on the outskirts of this grey Northern city. After reading your
I bought the sequel, The Edge of Reason to keep me chuckling because the man I had married, so inexplicably changed, didn’t anymore.  The ‘Is skirt off sick?’ scene made me titter but my most uproarious laughs (and the most censorious glances from co-passengers) were reserved for the interview sequence with Colin Firth in Rome. And today, you lifted my spirits once again when I watched you and your heavenly leading men, Hugh Grant as Daniel Cleaver and Colin Firth as Mark Darcy, light up the screen in Bridget Jones’ Diary. So what if my husband glowered through it because no-one had been hacked to pieces with a blunt chainsaw, I enjoyed every feel-good moment of your first cinematic journey.  The funny thing is; this man scowling beside me had been my Mark Darcy, just seven short months ago, when he had taken me on a glorious adventure across a new c ountry and then, proposed marriage on one knee with a touching little speech. As it turned out he was no Darcy, nor a deliciously devilish Daniel Cleaver, just a common boor. I know you understand why I want a place in your world, Bridget; your life’s a lark compared to mine. I don’t struggle with weight or booze and nicotine addiction but your love life is almost tidy in comparison (at least, you didn’t marry your Love Rat).

Like you, I am as stubborn as a messed-about-mule and refuse to run home with my tail between my legs even though I have made a hash of it. I will have my happy ending.

26 November 2004

31 years old (feel like 21), 7st 7 (hurrah), alcohol units (a few, hic),  freshly signed divorce decree 1, husband 0 (!), career on the up 1, friends (a whole brace), interesting new fella 1, my very own self-bought home 1, happiness index (dizzyingly high)

Well, here we are again, Bridget, but in very different circumstances. It’s almost Christmas and freezing but I don’t feel it. Sitting with friends in this snug movie hall watching you on your second celluloid outing,
The Edge of Reason,
I am warm and happy and if I’m on the edge of anything, its glory. Occasionally, my friends and I exchange glances because this movie is sillier and more over-wrought than the first, but you have seen me through difficult times (as have they), and I will allow you your pratfalls and grating idiocy because I am too grateful for the turn my life has taken to carp. After the movie, we will raise a toast to friendship and to your continued presence in our lives, because although we don’t identify with you much anymore ( we still love Colin Firth, experience the odd wardrobe malfunction and make gloopy blue soup on those first bring-him-home dates), you still entertain us. Not least, because you allow us to feel superior to you and therefore, rather good about ourselves. We are nearly a decade younger than you (you were born in 1962), are slimmer, addiction-free, financially solvent, and dare I say, much brighter? And for the first time, there’s a snaking queue of suitors outside my door.  Terribly flattering though it is, I’m in no hurry to let anyone in, but I will eventually agree to a R.E.M concert date with the most interesting one, a bright and dapper young fellow. He’s not Mark Darcy (thank God) but he is nearly perfect. He will wait.

28 November 2012

39 years old, 8st 5 (well-padded post-pregnancy figure), R.E.M concert 1, husband 1 (but wonderfully different), Facebook friends 230, real friends (same as before, if not a few more), family (constantly connected virtually), absolutely gorgeous children 2, finally pursuing dream career

My goodness, Bridget, it’s been a while! And there’s a glow about you I haven’t seen before. You’re a mother too now, I hear. I’m sorry I haven’t kept in touch with your adventures in Helen’s column in The Independent in 2005-2006, but I have been busy too, living my life as I always meant to.  I heard the rumours that you ‘accidentally’ slept with Daniel Cleaver while you were with Mark Darcy (and still in love with him). And then you had Daniel’s baby and moved in with him although Mark remained the love of your life. I am not a prude, but isn’t that just sloppy for the mature forty- something you are now meant to be? Perhaps I have become the stereotypical Smug Married or maybe I’ve just grown up. I think I may have outgrown you. I hear there’s another book and new film in the offing next year, and I don’t know if I want to see or read about you reliving your youthful mistakes in the same ditsy fashion, ad nauseam. Because I love you, I would rather not watch while you age ungracefully, make a fool of yourself with men you should have got the measure of, and steadily diminish in my eyes till I forget what you once meant to me. I think it’s time for Helen and Hollywood to put you to bed, Bridget, (with Mark or Daniel or both, if you wish), and in so doing, let you live in my heart; forever young, forever dizzy, and forever the friend of my early unhappy years in England.

Shreya Sen-Handley is a writer and illustrator. She now writes for The Guradian and other UK newspapers
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