A New Year, a new project

So did you enjoy the Pamela Monologues?  Did Ya? Didya?  Sorry but it’s done, finished, over.  Instead I have a new project.  I’ll post occasional short fiction on my main blog page, here https://lesleybown.wordpress.com/

Some will be funny haha, some will be funny peculiar and some will be downright creepy.  The first one is already there.  Try Snowflake and see which category you think it belongs in.  https://lesleybown.wordpress.com/


Hello Pam fans.  Here is her complete diary from the beginning, so you can read it all.


Wednesday 28th December 1995

10st 2 (post-Christmas, but still, not good) grey roots 0 fantasy cigarettes 0

 1.25 p.m. Spent all morning in the kitchen wrestling with Delia and produced a very creditable Thai Green Curry with Stir Fried Bamboo Shoots and Fluffy Rice.  C. comes in from garden, hair full of lawn mowings (in December mark you) and says ‘I thought we were having turkey sandwiches and pickle?’  After lunch took 30 mins to scrape burnt bits out of wok and consoled self with fantasy in which Hugh Grant confesses he prefers older women.

1.30 p.m. Have just endured 20 minute phonecall from Sylvia boasting about profusion of grandchildren, all gifted to the point of genius and another one on the way possibly twins.  Explained I was grateful to have healthy children who were enjoying their adult freedoms and building sound careers for themselves.

1.35 p.m.  Why haven’t I got grandchildren?  Why why why?  Am totally inadequate mother children never phone and will be lonely old widow once C. pops clogs (any day now since refuses to give up cheese).

6 p.m. Just back from two blissful hours at Maison Kevin.  Even the smell of a hairdressing salon is calming, and always enjoy a visit that does not entail touching in roots (had them done just before Christmas so photos would turn out nicely).  Feel much better now, and will give C. his turkey sandwiches and pickle which he can eat in front of the snooker video he got for Christmas with a glass of beer.  Will be perfect wife caring for grizzled husband taking well-earned retirement after lifetime of hard work.

Thursday 29 December

 10st 3 lbs scales must be broken.  Christmas cards sent 257.  Christmas cards received 255 (but gave cards to milkman and postman who can’t be expected to return the favour)

08.00 C. has ‘gone fishing.’  Demanded bacon and eggs at 4 bloody 30 a.m. and Thermos of hot coffee.  Gave him cornflakes and he pulled a face exactly like a two year old about to have a tantrum.  Went back to bed seething but couldn’t sleep so have just spent three hours checking Christmas cards against list and bringing list up to date for next year.  17 people have moved house since last Christmas and the Petersons have moved to New Zealand to help their son run an outdoor adventure centre.  Suggested move to C. on Boxing Day and he said ‘what for?  Channel 5 reception is perfect here.’

Friday 30 December

Scales definitely broken, cigarettes 5, fantasy grandchildren 17

 10.30 p.m. Went out to replace broken scales and unaccountably bought small pack of cigarettes on way home.  Ghastly day.  Will go to bed and pretend saw Hugh Grant on TV admitting preference for well-covered older women.

Saturday 31 December

10st 5, brand new scales also broken, cigarettes 0, fantasy cigarettes smoked with Hugh Grant 9

 09.00 a.m Flushed cigarettes down loo.  Cleaned loo, bath, sink and bidet.  Need cigarette.  I know, will go and clean kitchen window.

 1.45 p.m. Must iron cerise two-piece ready for Alconbury’s Turkey Curry Buffet.  What a bore, but C. does insist on going every year.  Will just phone Una and check what colour she’s wearing.

1.49 p.m.  Una wearing fuchsia despite draining effect on older skin.  Will iron lemon dress and jacket instead of cerise.  Plus Una reminded me appalling Darcys were coming.  I did tell Bridget but was she listening?  Will just phone and remind her about hideous afternoon when their horrid boy made her cry in paddling pool.  And now he’s divorced – always knew he’d come to no good.

4.15 p.m. Why is Bridget always so keen to get off the phone?  I am her mother after all.  Reminded her about ghastly Mark Darcy, she made impatient noises and said she had something on the hob.  Reminded her he was divorced.  Sure she wasn’t listening.  I know, will get Colin to tell her.  She always was a daddy’s girl.



buy magazines with photos of skinny models

pretend to be natural blonde

keep reminding Colin about state of garage

have pointless fantasies about younger men

criticise Una’s clothes

believe anything ever said by charming young politician


lose 10lbs

get roots done every 6 weeks

use pasta maker (or at least get out of box)

start spending savings as can’t take it with you

spend more time with Bridget

devote self to family

buy only organic food

find out what organic means

learn to get computer going myself instead of making Colin do it for me.

Sunday January 1st 1996

10st 4½ (wasting away due to maternal worry), fantasy grandchildren admired by Hugh Grant 3 (but resolutions never start before January 2nd), fantasy victory on Countdown 1.

6.30 p.m. We are going to be late, even though I got Colin into his freshly pressed casual slacks and new Argyll sweater over an hour ago.  Instead of quietly reading the newspaper he (and I quote) ‘just thought he’d check the spark plug on the lawnmower.’  Result – grease not only on the slacks but on sweater too.  Got him into his second best and put the nice clothes in a strong solution of biological powder to soak.

8.30 p.m. Where is Bridget?  She promised me faithfully she would be here on time.  I promised Una she would be here.  If she doesn’t come it’ll look as if she doesn’t love her mother.  Oh to hell with it, will just have another small sherry and… oh, they’re playing Elvis.  Must dance.

1.30 a.m. Ooh, feel 16 again (but no acne).  Danced all night, I think.

Monday 2 January

New scales too high, produce vertigo, hot flushes 3 (why?  Menopause at least 10 years ago), fantasy grandchildren 0 (too noisy)

11.30 a.m. Everything is weaker these days.  Even Alka-Seltzer not as strong as it used to be.  Will just pop back to bed.

2.30 p.m. It’s all come back to me in ghastly clarity.  Bridget came late and dressed for funeral as usual, in black (but skirt far too short for funeral.  Why doesn’t she listen when I tell her to maximise her assets and hide her flaws, legs like tree trunks, not from my side of the family).  And I told her about dreadful Mark Darcy and his divorce and what did she do but pin him down over a vol-au-vent when there was a perfectly good young doctor all alone on the other side of the room.  Aargh, phone.

2.35 p.m. Mavis on phone.  Apparently women can have hot flushes well into their seventies.  Her mother had one at 93.

2.37 p.m. Phoned Una with hot flush query.  She pretended to be too young for menopause.  Hah!  Then she said ‘never mind all that Pam, I’ve just returned from the travel agents and it’s booked!  We’re going to Albufeira!’  Expressed astonishment that she could drag Geoffrey away from his easy chair.  She did that annoying little laugh of hers (tinkle tinkle) and said ‘oh Pam, you’re so funny, this is just for us girls.’  Hung up and retrieved vague memory of promising to have holiday with Audrey Coles and Una.  Will never touch sherry again.  Phoned back and explained couldn’t go, as am devoted wife and potential grandmother.

Tuesday 3rd January

Scales in bin.  Will start again when Christmas cake finished. 

 3.17 a.m.  Woke up suddenly when C. stopped snoring – but still breathing.  In the silence I can hear Bridget’s biological clock ticking.  Will have to rely on James for grandchildren.

3.18 a.m.  What if he’s gay?  All these girlfriends just a cover for his true nature.  Is that what Una meant when she said ‘how lovely it is to see how fond James is of his mother’?  Thank God am not enduring non-stop Una in Albufeira.

11.30 a.m.  Spent morning being devoted, made shortbread to have with morning coffee.  C. said ‘what no gingernuts?’  Then demanded packed lunch as is going out with new friend Roderick from golf club.  Meeting in Kingsford Woods for male bonding round camp fire, latest thing apparently.  Staying out all night may be involved, also nudity.

11.31 a.m.  All night?  Nudity?

11.32 a.m. Must buy new swimsuit for Albufeira.

Wednesday 4th January

Bruises from crowds at sales 15, money spent £247.39, money saved £56.22, arguments with husband about money 3.

 08.30 a.m.  Do not believe in undignified scramble at Sales.  Have left sandwiches for Colin, caught early train and am watching scenery go by in serene fashion.  Will still be plenty of bargains left, am thankful to be old enough and wise enough not to get caught up in Sales fever.

1.33 p.m.  Speedy lunch in cafeteria, need protein (ham sandwich) and sugar to replenish energy (currant bun).  Am like highly trained member of SAS, have got corner table, back to wall, can see everyone who enters cafeteria.  Carrier bags under seat, nice and safe, will repack them in rucksack (half price as zip a bit dodgy) in a moment so can move through crowds like knife through butter.

4.30 p.m. Home, triumphant.  Showed Colin his new underpants, half price, he said ‘what flag is that?  Looks like one of those new countries – couldn’t you have got me some plain white?’  Gritted teeth and showed him my new swimsuit, snatched from under nose of feeble woman who was clearly too fat for it.  He said ‘that will never fit you.’

8.30 p.m. Swimsuit clearly a factory second – it doesn’t stretch properly.  Manicure set in faux leather case will be very useful though, good that I got a second one for Bridget.  Too tired to cook, Colin of course most put out at having sandwiches twice in one day.  Am now luxuriating in new housecoat (only one button missing) with feet in new foot spa.  Most bizarre sensation.

Thursday 5th January

 10 st 3, new electronic scales most satisfactory.

 09.30  Will take foot spa to charity shop this afternoon, always nice to give a little something to others.  New diet book recommends glass of water before each meal and using kiddie size plate for meals (damn, could have got one in Sales).  Decide to stock freezer with low cal meals.

11.00 a.m. Stop for coffee with Colin, who has been mysteriously busy in shed all morning.  He says coloured underpants make him feel radioactive and could I bleach them.  Also complains about lack of biscuits, I explain about diet and he promptly helps himself to last of Christmas cake that was saving for later – definitely mine as he had three pieces yesterday.

6.07 p.m. Back from weekly stint in charity shop, doing something for others always makes one feel better.  Manageress rejected foot spa on grounds they already had three in the stockroom, I said in that case they were clearly overpriced and she said No, we can’t give them away.  No customers, but Una came in for long chat about Albufeira – apparently she is worried that Audrey will ‘get out of hand.’  What can she mean?

Friday 6th January

10st 2, time wasted phoning Bridget 37 minutes, fantasy grandchildren 3 (triplets).

 07.30 a.m. Woke up feeling full of beans, wonderful night’s sleep.  No sign of Colin.  Found him asleep in the spare bed, complaining of bad dreams brought on by new multi-coloured underpants.  Said he didn’t want to disturb me so crept down to spare room, then promptly fell back asleep.

10.30 a.m. Astonishing, supermarkets all empty first thing in the morning.  Must get up early more often.

11.00 a.m.  Colin didn’t want coffee as breakfasted so late.  Lunch organised.  Dinner ditto.  What on earth shall I do next?  I know, will phone Bridget in line with New Year’s Resolution.

11.17 a.m.  Bridget apparently never at desk – tried three times.  Each time phone answered by charming girl Perpetua. Parents live in Surrey, father retired but still dabbles when not playing golf, P. has flat in Pimlico with boyfriend who is IFA (wonder what that is) but they are moving upmarket.  Very interested in my thoughts on curtains, and clearly thinks the world of Bridget, wanted to know all about her A levels and how she got on at uni.

16.50  Still no sign of Bridget at her desk, they are working her too hard, suggested to Perpetua perhaps she could share the load – I think she took it to heart.

Saturday 7th January

 10st 5, 10st 4, 10st 5, 10st 7, 10st 3, new scales different each time you stand on them.

 10.30 a.m. Terrible night.  Woken in middle of night by strange buzzing sound in bedroom.  Thought it was C snoring and kicked him but bed was empty – he was in spare room again.  Ended up hunting manically through room tossing underwear out of drawers until eventually found it underneath bath salts in decorative box (present from the Enderbys, sure I saw it in tombola at WI Summer Fayre).  It was the mobile phone James gave me for Christmas, despite my making it perfectly clear that what I really wanted was a voucher for Harvey Nicks (even James hopeless at choosing presents like all men).  Thrust it into the linen hamper and eventually managed to get back to sleep.  Must get some coffee and try to wake up.

18.27  Have just cancelled dinner date with Colin – I feel absolutely drained following sleepless night and harrowing phonecall with Audrey.  C. said ‘oh good, now I can watch my video of England winning the Ashes.’  Have retreated to dining room to mull over Audrey’s remarks.  Apparently both she and Una are worried because, and I quote, ‘alcohol is freely available in Albufeira.’  I said personally I only ever had a single small sherry but if she and Una had trouble with their self-control then I really couldn’t help them with it.  Audrey said she thought the best thing was if we all agreed to be teetotal, so naturally I agreed – wouldn’t want the poor things to struggle.

Monday 9th January

 ? st  ? lbs (see below), fantasy grandchildren 17, fantasy TV appearances 6

 11.15 a.m. Oh dear, how long the weekends seem now.  When I think how manic they used to be, rushing James to rugby and Bridget to tap and ballet (not that she ever got the hang of either), now it’s all Colin and me and TV suppers.  On Sunday he had my new electronic scales in bits all over the dining room table because, apparently, ‘they are fascinating.’  Ended up doing some washing.

And I found my new mobile phone in linen hamper.  Tracked down instructions in spare room, under paperback copy of celebrity biography – Bridget must’ve left it behind.  As soon as I turned it on (phone not biography) it leapt into life and told me I had ‘one message.’  Pressed a few buttons and got this:

Yo ma wlcm to C20 🙂 g8t! cul8r. J.

Will tell James to take it back and get refund – it’s obviously broken.

Wednesday 11th January

66 (whatever that means – C has put new electronic scales back all wrong)

 1.15 p.m.  Lunching alone – Colin and Roderick have gone to Probus.  Wives not allowed apparently.  Phoned James last night, left several messages and he called me back when he was free (what a lamb).  I told him sorry tale of new mobile phone, he said ‘oh ma, you are funny, I left that text on there to get you started.’  Apparently all that gobbledegook means ‘Hello mummy, welcome to the twentieth century, smiley face, great!  See you later. James.’  I said ‘I’ll have to take your word for that James.  How is er…?’  For the life of me I couldn’t remember the current girlfriend’s name.  He just laughed again and said ‘must dash, bye.’  Anyway, will not be defeated by mobile phone, have got instruction book out and am reading it through Colin’s magnifying glass (hidden in his desk drawer, as he pretends he can see perfectly).

 Friday 13th January

Refuse to look at scales, text messages 17.  Bad luck 0, it’s just superstitious nonsense.  Anyway had mother’s lucky rabbit’s foot brooch on all day.

4.47 p.m.  Texting is easy!  Looking through address book I saw almost everyone has a mobile.  Why are we always the last for everything?  Texted Una, Mavis, and Audrey to say Hi.  Then texted them again to say It’s me, Pam, I sent the text that said Hi.  Texted the Petersons to say How’s life treating you in New Zealand.  Texted Una and Audrey to say Have got new swimsuit for Albufeira.  Petersons texted back!  And no gobbledegook, as plain as you like it said New Zealand not all it cracked up to be, no Radio 4 and nothing to compare with Waitrose, will be home in February.  Mavis texted back to say Hi who are you? And then texted again Oh it was you Pam was it this is fun don’t you think?  Must get more mobile phone numbers.  Oh the joy of text!

 Sunday 15th January

 67- Colin has definitely ruined the scales, fantasy texts with Hugh Grant 6

 09.57  Was so far ahead with the lunch (roast pork with stuffing, broccoli and apple crumble with cream) I thought we could have a nice walk – with the oven set on auto-timer it practically cooks itself.  Asked Colin if he fancied an amble round the village but he muttered something about being busy and disappeared into the garage.

10.03  Texted Una What are you having for lunch?  She texted back Sorry can’t chat Darcy’s due for lunch and can’t find coffee filters.  Texted Sylvia What are you having for lunch? She texted back Snrry cant cgat lookng fter grdkids.

1.32 Served lunch on the dot of one, Colin threw it down his gullet, stood up, wiped his mouth and said ‘boys’ll be here in a minute.’  Insists he told me he was playing golf this afternoon with the ‘lads from the Duck and Dressing Gown.’

2.03 Washing up done.  Bored.

2.04.  Phoned Bridget – got answering machine.  Didn’t leave a message.  Phoned James.  Ditto.

5.45  Well that’s Four Weddings and a Funeral, again.  Will wear out tape if I’m not careful.  Will have some tea and go to bed early.

Monday 16th January

 65, won’t last as had two helpings of apple crumble and cream at dinner, then finished leftovers for tea plus last of chocolate biscuits, fantasy meetings with Hugh Grant while pushing grandchildren in double buggy 45

 09.28  Colin in spare room again last night.  Seems to have set up camp in there – noticed biscuit crumbs on bedside table, also he is sleeping in his socks.  Two copies of Lawnmower Monthly under the bed, and the little radio from the shed – what’s the betting that is tuned to Radio 5Live?

10.17 No chance to text yesterday, too much ironing (surely should be fewer white shirts now Colin’s retired?).  Rushed back from shops to get texting today.  Texted James to say thankyou for phone.  (NB must get Bridget’s mobile number, could text her every day!)  Texted Mavis and Una to say See you at WI this afternoon.  Texted Una again with story of scales, told her Colin was a clot, clearly I don’t weigh 67 stone and even Twiggy was never 67 lbs.  Una texted back Must be measuring in kilos 67 kilos about 10 and a half stone Hope that helps.

1.36  Should be leaving for WI but feeling nauseous. Plus  Una knows what I weigh. Una cannot keep her lip buttoned.  All those faces turned towards me as I walk in, all knowing the shameful truth – and it’s only a little bit of post-Christmas temporary plumpness.

6.19  Text from Una Missed you at WI are you OK?  Have just worked out am 73 kilos, much prefer good old stones and pounds U.  So Una is heavier than me – she kept that under her hat. Oh, nausea gone – will send Colin out for pizza.

Friday January 20th

 68, but what do you expect when chained to the stove and constantly tasting?

 10.58  Spent all of Monday and Tuesday cooking, filling freezer with tasty meals so C doesn’t starve while I’m away.  All packed in individual portions in little foil dishes – shepherd’s pie, chicken curry, even some chilli which I never normally make for flatulence reasons but since he’ll be on his own, well, why not.  Plus some stewed fruit, and a chocolate cake already cut into individual portions.  If I stock the fridge with apples and cheese for his lunches he should be fine.  Will just make a coffee and talk him through the reheating instructions.

11.39  Explained at length, also ran through contents of airing cupboard and how washing machine works in case of laundry emergency.  Could tell he wasn’t listening, but watching robin on bird feeder, so I stopped talking.  C said ‘OK.  I’ve been asked out for dinner actually – Roderick’s partner Gerald is a chef you know.’  Gerald?  I didn’t know there was a Gerald.

14.15  Texted Una ‘sorry, Albufeira off, Colin needs me here.’

15.14  Ear throbbing from long call from Una, on landline so she suddenly said ‘must go, we only get one free hour with our package.’  But end result am going to Albufeira as girls need me, Geoffrey is going to Scotland for golf and Audrey’s Nigel is in towering rage and has banned her from going away without him.  As Una says, this is not to be tolerated and we must go.

Saturday January 21st

 60-something, whatever, no time as busy packing.

 16.46  Phew, what a marathon, but at long last everything is pressed and folded in tissue paper and laid out on the spare bed.  Hard work, but as my mother used to say, Pamela, if you pack properly you will never have to spend your holiday ironing (have packed travel iron just in case though).  Have managed very nice capsule wardrobe with last summer’s basics plus a couple of extras from the Sales.  Navy as the base colour (slimming) with a few touches of soft apricot.  Have even found a turban that co-ordinates as sun wreaks havoc with my hair… oh my godfathers, my hair!  My roots!  Cannot go to Albufeira with roots showing, which they don’t now but hair will inevitably grow an inch while I’m snoozing on the plane – must phone Maison Kevin, I know it’s Saturday but I’m a good customer and they will fit me in, I know they will.

16.48  Disaster.  Total disaster.  Kevin has swine flu and they’ve closed the salon as a precaution.  Could get Colin to run me into town, if he were here, which he isn’t as he’s out ‘giving Roderick a hand with his lawnmower.’  Can’t go to Albufeira.  Must go.  Will spend entire holiday in turban.  Will pretend have earache.

Monday January 23rd

 No scales in Alubfeira, so to hell with it, Hugh Grant fantasies 0, Colin Firth fantasies 2, murdering Una and Audrey fantasies 17

 10.28  Still in bed, no sleep again last night, Audrey and Una giggling like schoolgirls till the early hours.  Villa has one double room and one tiny single, which I have because, Una said ‘we know you like your privacy Pam’.  Double room opens on to the balcony, single doesn’t, but don’t care as there is no view.  Plus also no swimming pool, apparently we are going to swim in the sea.  And apparently ‘we’ i.e. Audrey and Una decided not to hire a car, instead we’ve got bikes.  Have not ridden a bike since school and don’t intend to start now.

12.37  Lunching in the villa off dry bread and apricot jam, which I also had for breakfast.  Audrey and Una have gone down to the café at the end of the road (‘no point in spending the holiday cooking Pam’).  Well I tried it last night, never again – all they had was a freezer full of burgers and chips.  No call for anything else in January apparently – the owner is a retired bus driver from Birmingham and burger and chips is the only thing he can ‘cook’.  Apparently in summer he employs a local cook but, you guessed it, not worth it in January.

15.53  Curled up on bed with a Maeve Binchy – very comforting.  Have brought all the wrong clothes and can’t get warm.  Heating in villa doesn’t work of course.  Audrey and Una have cycled to the beach to meet up with two new ‘friends’ they met at the café – a taxi driver and a waiter, both with nothing to do at this time of year.  Hero of Maeve’s book is just like Colin Firth in the in-flight movie.  Best thing about the holiday so far…

17.46  No sign of Audrey and Una.  Tried to phone Colin on mobile but it doesn’t seem to work here.

17.48  I mean my Colin, not Colin Firth, although possibility of misdial or crossed line leading to long talk with Colin Firth is rather fun.

18.03  Tried from the phone in the café.  No answer.

18.17 No answer.  Oh, I can see Audrey and Una outside.  On their own and pushing their bikes.

19.12  Still no answer.  Audrey and Una insist I stay for burger and chips – Audrey has wine in her saddlebag.  Why not.

22.34  No answer.  Who cares?

23.19.  An answer!  Curry house in Nottingham never heard of Colin Jones.  Charming though, very nice people.  Long chat.  Bedtime now though.

Wednesday January 25th

 Wish there were scales here, have barely eaten a thing for 24 hours due to wifely worry, Maeve Binchy’s finished 2, husband dead in gutter fantasies too many to count.

 07.14 a.m. What a terrible 24 hours.  Spent all day yesterday trying to get in touch with Colin.  Goodness knows what they thought of me in the café, constantly phoning.  In the end in desperation I phoned Mavis Enderby and asked her to go round there.  She said it was a bit late and she’d go in the morning.

10.47 a.m. Text from Mavis.  ‘Colin fine, drank too much so stayed night with Roderick and Gerald, then spent the day at the driving range.  Says you left 38 messages on the answering service and no need to fuss.’  What a relief.  Colin is OK.  Must have some breakfast.

11.02 a.m.  Mmm, must admit the coffee here is good, and someone left a cake out in the kitchen.  Need comfort food after what I’ve been through… wait a minute, stayed the night?  STAYED THE NIGHT!!!  And Mavis knows – I can just imagine what that mucky little mind of hers will make of that.  It’ll be all round the village before I get home.

11.07 a.m. No need to fuss?  NO NEED TO FUSS!!!

11.08 a.m.  That’s it.  Have had enough.  Will get bike out and find Una and Audrey, must be on the beach somewhere.

00.17 p.m., or a.m.?  Thursday really, but who cares.  Got lost, missed beach entirely and ended up with puncture by ruined castle inland somewhere.  Rescued by knight, no shining armour, shining Mercedes though.  Scooped me up, took me to lunch, showed me round local area, took me to dinner in quiet little place only the locals use, with live music.  A bit screechy (fardo? farder?) but probably an acquired taste.  Dropped me back here a few mins ago, Audrey popped head out of bedroom and said ‘there you are – we missed you at the café.’  I said ‘burger and chips?’ she said ‘yes’ and closed bedroom door.

Friday January 27th

 No need of scales, am perfect woman apparently, Hugh Grant fantasies 0, Colin Firth fantasies 0, real life events many.

 08.33 a.m. Spent yesterday with Julio.  Looked out of window after breakfast and there was his Merc, with him leaning casually against bonnet, immaculately dressed with lemon coloured jumper slung round his shoulders.  Looks just like Louis Jourdan in Three Coins in the Fountain.  Wonderful day, but at the end told him I was happily married woman and not to come round here again.

08.47 a.m. Will just see if Audrey and Una are awake.  Will spend the day with them and try to mend a few bridges.

08.48 a.m. Found a note in the kitchen ‘gone to the beach – enjoy your lie in.  We’ll be near the beach café, do come and join us.’  Oh dear, really don’t fancy playing gooseberry to the pair of them with the waiter and the taxi driver.  And look, there’s Julio waiting outside.  Naughty boy.  Will just go and tell him to give up, since I belong to another.

11.36 p.m. Another perfect day with a perfect gentleman. He calls me Pamela – not Pam or Pammy (sometimes catch Colin staring at me with puzzled expression, as if not entirely sure what I’m called).   Julio opens the car door for me and helps me into my coat.  We found a deserted beach and walked on it, holding hands.  He gently removed my turban and somehow I didn’t care about the roots (hardly show anyway).

11.37 p.m. Am a scarlet woman.  Just like Una and Audrey.

Saturday January 28th

 Weight unknown, but must be huge after living off burgers and cake for a week.  Guilty conscience alone must weigh several stones.

 04.12 a.m.  Can’t sleep.  Can’t bear the thought of having to face Colin.  How will Una face Geoffrey and Audrey face Nigel?  We have all thrown away decades of dutiful wifely behaviour, and for what?

04.17 a.m. It was rather nice actually.

04.18 a.m.  Is holding hands adultery?  Is it grounds for divorce?

06.53  Have just realised I didn’t catch the sun at all.  Can’t go home looking like I haven’t had a holiday – luckily brought some fake tan with me.  Will just slap some on before we leave.

10.43  Have retreated to Ladies room at the airport to hide head in shame.  Una has been showing me the photos on her digital camera, her and Audrey on the beach with the taxi driver and the waiter.  And their wives.  And their children.  Their whole week has been perfectly innocent, all because they missed their grandchildren.  They even babysat one evening so the waiter and the taxi driver could take their wives out, while I was, I was… can’t bear to think about it.

10.59  Have just spend 10 minutes trying to hand in book I found in the Ladies.  Could not understand rudimentary English of person on the help desk, until American behind me said ‘excuse me ma’am, but what you have there is a Book Crossing book – the idea is you read it then leave it somewhere for another reader to find.’  So I have to keep it.  Am not interested in football (or any other sport – with a title like Talking Balls who can tell?) but it will distract me on the flight.

18.12  Nearly home.  Fake tan has turned orange.  Will just have to brazen it out.  Colin will only talk balls at me anyway – it’s what men do apparently (book was about feminism, not football).  And apparently I need some Me time after years of being enslaved to men.

18.14  Have texted Julio.  Would be nice to see him next time he’s in England.

Monday January 30th

68 kilos.  Could be worse.  Julio fantasies 4, they gave me the wrong baby fantasies 6.

 09.23  So.  Home.  Laundry basket over flowing (C. ‘too busy for laundry’), larder empty (‘too busy for shopping’), house filthy (‘too busy for housework).  Am contemplating day of putting this all to rights.  Except.  Why should I?  Will just pop to hairdresser first and get roots done.

12.49  Back to normal at  Maison Kevin.  Swine flu was actually panic attack brought on by worrying he is 30 and still hasn’t got a wife, children etc.  Funny, always assumed Kevin was gay but it appears he’s just shy.  Not so sure about the Vicar, who does seem to love dressing up.  Anyway am still smarting over ghastly visit from Bridget yesterday who was in the strangest mood.  Toyed with her food and sulked, just like when she was 16, but she is the same age as Kevin and should have grown out of it.  (Thought – should I introduce them?  Might be useful to have a hairdresser in the family).

14.17  Colin bolted lunch and rushed out to, well not sure, but some activity that involves green wellies and his swimming shorts (mud wrestling?).  Can’t stop brooding about yesterday – in the end was so irritated with Bridget I found myself repeating something I read in Talking Balls.  I said being gay was just laziness, and having said it I went on to justify it.  Can’t believe I did that, just because B was winding me up.

18.36  Colin back from working party in Kingsford Woods, clearing the undergrowth.  Picked up swimming shorts in error as they are the same colour as his woolly hat.  Is watching recorded tennis from yesterday while I do the ironing.  There must be more to life than this.

Wednesday February 1st

 Won’t weigh self today – book says weight obsession is function of patriarchy and not to be tolerated. Will compromise and cut down to once a week weighing.

 19.33  Home alone all day.  House is sparkling, laundry all done, kitchen back to rights.  Opened freezer and found it still full of dinners I made for Colin to eat while I was away.  Wept.  Opened dustbin to dispose of kitchen rubbish and found it full of empty take away boxes.  Threw kitchen rubbish at house in temper.  House now has tomato sauce stain to left of kitchen door.

20.17  Braced myself and went into lounge to talk things through with C.  Have spent all day rehearsing list of complaints – feel downtrodden, unloved, housework a bore, life no fun, Colin ignores me, no grandchildren, hate being old.  At the end he said ‘but you know we can’t afford to run a second car’ and turned back to the TV.

20.19  Phoned Bridget.  No answer.

20.21  Still no answer.

20.37  Still no answer.  Will have a bath.

23.46  Finally got through to Bridget, who was crying because of something someone said at a dinner party.  I said ‘you should count your…’ and she shouted ‘you never understand I’m going to phone Sharon’ and slammed the phone down.

Saturday February 4th

Managed to resist scales, although the morning feels all wrong without ritual weigh in.  No interest in fantasies of any sort.

 Was totally fed up with Talking Balls, full of strange words like hegemony and zeitgeist but is there anything about what to do when your husband has gone African Drumming with Roderick and Gerald, refuses to talk about issues (if that’s the right word) and instead tells you not to be such a ‘moaning Minnie’?  No there is not.  So got rid of it – left it in the Ladies at WI.

WI was a nightmare as it happens, Una full of stories about her grandchildren making a huge banner reading ‘Welcome home Nanna U’ and Audrey very strange, all pink and giggling.  And when I was asked what I did on holiday I blushed and said ‘oh, it was a week ago, can hardly remember.’  Sylvia replied ‘Well Pam you are a little young for short term memory loss, anyway I hear Colin enjoyed himself.’  Before I could say how glad I was that my husband didn’t fall apart just because I had a little holiday she called the meeting to order and introduced the speaker – something about the History of the Doily, which normally I’d be interested in but was too mortified to listen.

Tried to phone Bridget again, must talk to someone but no answer, again.  Where can she get to, no wonder her flat is always untidy.  Phoned Una who did listen but then said grimly ‘count your blessings Pam, at least he’s not at you all the time.’  Phoned Audrey but she was rather breathless and I heard her whisper ‘in a minute darling, in a minute.’  So phoned Una again and she said ‘oh yes, I believe Nigel has rather come to heel since we went away.  Look, why don’t you phone Elaine Darcy, that son of theirs is divorced, she may know what to say to you.’

Divorced!  Surely she doesn’t think we.  But then on the other hand.  I really don’t know if I’m coming or going.  And what am I going to do about all these texts from Julio?

Monday February 6th

Calories almost zero, in fact was sick at bedtime yesterday so calories a minus figure.

 08.27  What a terrible day yesterday, just terrible.  Started well – sent brief text to Julio asking him to desist texting as I had to concentrate on rebuilding my marriage.  Sure this was the right thing to do despite Colin being so emotionally distant (and grass clippings all over hall carpet yet again).  Thought this would be the end of it and was in kitchen trying to recreate the fish stew Julio and I had in that little restaurant in the hills.  Thought it would help C. feel included in the holiday (cockles the very devil to find locally, so left them out).  Anyway C. was back in the house for something (see grass clippings above) and he heard my phone beep so picked it up.

Well they say an eavesdropper never hears anything good about himself and the same is true if you look at a person’s personal texts.  It was a long one from Julio, professing his undying love for me and including ‘why you stay with that bad man?  He no love you like I do’ which was very odd as Julio ’s English is usually better than that, pressure of emotion I suppose.

And suddenly we got emotion from Colin too, stormed into the kitchen in a towering rage, picked up the fish stew and threw it out onto the daffodil bed by the back door.  Said he wasn’t going to eat adulterous food.  I maintained, I am pleased to say, both calm and dignity, although inside I was seething.  I said ‘so you completely ignore me when I tell you I am unhappy but at the first whiff of another man treating me like a human being instead of a doormat you turn into a raging bull.  Well you can get your own lunch – I expect you can manage some choasted teese.’  I meant toasted cheese of course but by then the emotion was getting to me too. I said ‘choasted teese?’ and at that moment the phone rang – Bridget. I let Colin answer it while I went outside to try and save the daffodils – just coming into bud too. He followed me outside and said ‘Bridget wants to come for lunch.’  I said ‘fine, you are cooking’ so he went back in and put her off.

Silence for the rest of the day.  He went out for fish and chips, I reheated one of the frozen dinners I made for him to eat while I was away.  Too salty – from my tears.

Still not speaking this morning.  Where will this end? 

Thursday February 9th

07.30  Colin has been avoiding me.  Spent most of Tuesday driving the Community Bus – very praiseworthy but hardly likely to save our marriage.  I did an extra turn at the charity shop to take my mind off it. Was determined to catch him on Wednesday but he slipped out before dawn.  Left a note saying he’d decided after all to go on the Probus trip to Chocolate World.  Pure cowardice, he doesn’t even like chocolate, he’s left half a Snickers in the fridge since before Christmas.  So I went shopping to cheer myself up – totally failed.  Still I’ve foiled him today – I’m up first.  The car keys are in my apron pocket.

09.12  After breakfast C. made a break for the shed, muttering about the state of the grass (shaved nearly bald actually) but I got between him and the back door and stared him down.  He said ‘it’s that dripping tap, isn’t it, I’ll do it tomorrow I promise.’  I said ‘go in the lounge and sit down.  I’ll be in in a minute.’  That was ten minutes ago.  Am trying to nerve myself up to it.

18.37.  Have been talking all day.  Voice has gone.  Both exhausted.  C asleep on the sofa.  Didn’t even stop for lunch, ignored phone. Will have another frozen shepherd’s pie.  It isn’t really convenience food, since I made it in the first place.

21.16  Phone kept ringing and ringing.  Finally thought I’d better answer, didn’t want anyone coming round to check on us, but it was Bridget.  Made an excuse and hung up.

Saturday February 11th

 65 kilos.  Can’t eat, keep throwing half my portion in the bin.

 10.42  Yesterday morning C. suddenly said he was ready to talk.  Sat him down and opened my mouth to repeat my list of complaints (it goes round and round in my head all day) but before I could make a sound he started.  He said ‘I said talk, not listen, it’s my turn now.’  Can hardly bear to think of it.  The things he said to me.  Hang on, need a tissue.

10.44  Apparently he knew as I walked up the aisle it was a mistake, but ‘didn’t like to make a fuss.’  All very well, but he’s forgetting that I was there that day.  He was so hungover from his stag night he had trouble standing straight and certainly was in no fit state to know anything.  Was sick round the back of the church as soon as we got out, and looks like death in the photos.  Need another tissue.

10.46  Accused me of micro-management.  I said ‘and what, pray, might that be?’  He mumbled something.  Obviously didn’t have the first idea what it was.  Tissue.

10.49  So the upshot is we are to have a trial separation as he ‘needs some space.’  I said I wasn’t leaving the house, my conscience was clear and I’d kept my hand on my ha’penny all through the Julio business.  When I think of the fun I could have had, it makes my blood boil.

2.00  Can’t settle to anything.  Phoned Bridget, out as usual, but left message I would bring her lunch tomorrow.  Salmon,  always her favourite.

Monday February 13th

64 kilos.  Amazing what stress does for calorie burning rate.  Silver lining in every cloud it seems.

 21.13 Life is so strange.  Ever since Colin retired I’ve felt I was living in slow motion, now suddenly these last few days have been at warp speed.  First thing Sunday morning Colin announced he was going to visit Bridget for lunch.  I said I was going to visit Bridget for lunch.  He said she was his daughter.  I said she was my daughter.  I said well I don’t care I am going anyway you may do as you please you usually do.  While I was saying this he grabbed the car keys, ran out of the house and roared off in a cloud of exhaust.  Phoned for a taxi to get to the station, none available.  Thought of asking Una for a lift.  Too humiliating.  Phoned Bridget to cancel.

Found myself contemplating the long day ahead – too wet for gardening, nothing on TV, can’t face watching Four Weddings yet again.  Sent a few texts, but everyone having lunch with everyone else apparently (strange that we are never invited.  Still, aren’t a we any longer, so not relevant).

Suddenly decided to text Julio – just ‘hi how are you?’  Phone promptly made strange burbling noise, stopped, then did it again – eventually twigged it was ringing, so answered it – Julio!  In London no less!  Said he’d had a strange feeling that I needed him and besides, had to come to London on business anyway.

Wonderful lunch with him this afternoon wandering round London.  Everything looks so different when you’re in…  let’s just say when you’re happy.  Definite signs of spring in Hyde Park, sun shining, birds singing

 Tuesday February 14th

63.7  Just not hungry.

 Back to earth with a bump this morning, with Colin mooning helplessly round the house (raining), saying he would move out if he could, but where could he go?  Roderick and Gerald apparently had offered their spare room but that didn’t appeal as there is a tarantula in a tank in the corner.  Suddenly hit me that he had told them, and we would have to tell everyone else.

Braced myself and started phoning round.  You either tell one person, (i.e. Mavis) and let them spread it, with embellishments, or tell everyone yourself.  Went for the latter option, leaving Mavis till last.  After a harrowing hour and a half I’d done it.  Phone rang – Una, offering Colin the use of their redundant granny flat.  Just give them a couple of days to tidy it up, full of items earmarked for charity shop plus garden furniture in winter storage, apparently.  He brightened up no end when I told him – said ‘I’ll be able to do something about that lawn of theirs.’

 Never crossed my mind that it was Valentine’s, far too busy being unhappy, but suddenly florist van arrived with enormous bunch of red roses.  Little card just had a big curly letter J.

Put flowers in lounge and card in pinny pocket.  Colin will assume I bought them myself, just as I do every year, so that everyone thinks I have an attentive husband.  As if.

Sunday February 19th

Weight unknown, calories unknown, alcohol units 16 (but have 35 years of catching up to do), fulfilled fantasies just the one, but what a one.

 16.35  What a weekend.  Started in dutiful parental mode, lunch with Bridget, at her most annoying too.  Really she hasn’t changed since she was 6 so I had to sit through her endless complaints about work, boyfriends, her flat, while watching her chomp through all the most unhealthy things on the menu.  Hang on, phone is bleeping.

16.40  Text from Julio.  Silly boy.  Where was I.  Oh yes, I had intended to tell B about Julio but when she eventually got round to asking me how I was and what happened in Albufeira I was so irritated with her I simply didn’t want to confide, so denied everything.  And all the while Julio was waiting patiently outside the coffee shop!  Oh, phone again.

16.50  Julio again.  Rather lovesick it seems.  Anyway finally got away from loving daughter for wonderful afternoon, evening and, no more lies, all night, with J.  Phone.

17.20  Called him back this time.  Only so much you can say in a text.  As soon as I got home this morning B was on the phone accusing me of mistreating Colin and taking a lover, etc etc.  Quite something coming from a girl who has had more boyfriends than – well not hot dinners in her case, but let’s just say a lot of boyfriends.  Trouble is, once you start telling little fibs they do start to grow.  Pretended I had bumped into J. accidentally and anyway he was just a friend.  Oh, can hear Colin’s car.

19.07  And why I wonder is it always mum’s cooker and  dad’s car?  He also over the years has owned the stereo system, the settee and the side of the bed with a reading lamp.  I am allocated the contents of the kitchen, whoop-de-doo.  Specially the washing machine, which is so much mine Colin dare not touch it.  No doubt that, rather than laziness, is why he’s just asked me to wash the filthy clothes he came home in – has been helping Geoffrey Alconbury clear out the granny flat, painting ceilings etc.  I refused, which seems to have upset him more than our relationship breakdown.  Let Una do it, since she is so keen to have him. 

Tuesday February 21st

Weight unknown, items ironed uncountable but must be in three figures.

 8 pm.  Have spent last two days ironing everything Colin owns and checking for lost buttons, broken zips etc.  Do not want Una thinking he left me due to incompetent man maintenance.  Have also bought him new toothbrush and cord for dressing gown (currently he ties it up with the starter cord from the old lawnmower, handle dangles down in front most unpleasantly).

Will Una ever see him in his dressing gown?  Quite likely, as he is currently getting out of bed at lunchtime and watching TV for several hours in his pyjamas.  Once dressed he goes to the shed with the cordless phone and a torch so he can phone Bridget and tell her what a terrible person I am.  Meanwhile I am steaming creases into his underpants and checking that he’s got razorblades, just in case he ever starts shaving again. Back aches now, will just have hot bath.

9 pm. Bath used to be simple matter of hot water and a few bubbles.  These days have to put hair in rollers, put on face pack, scrub feet to remove hard skin and drench entire body in moisturiser once dry.  More like military operation than relaxing soak.  Exhausted.  Going to bed.

Friday February 24th

What a week.  Slipped out on Wednesday for a delicious lunch with J while C moved out, came back to find C trying to wrestle the lawnmower into the back of the car.  That was the extent of his packing.  I was tempted to say ‘won’t you need a few clothes?  Is Una supplying pots and pans?  Tea towels, washing up liquid?  Loo roll, shampoo, carpet sweeper?’ but I thought no, let him find out the hard way that I’ve been a one-woman supply line all these years.

Sure enough, just before bedtime he was back for toothpaste, and half an hour later he popped back to ‘borrow’ a teaspoon of Horlicks.  Next morning he wanted an egg, then rushed back for bread for the soldiers.  After he left I got the butter from the fridge and left it on the doorstep – 10 minutes later it was gone.

Sunday February 26th

66 kilos, must be right as have checked several times as way of passing the time, and very odd as have hollow feeling inside so should weigh less.

 6 pm  Have had a very strange day, wandering round half-empty house looking at all the stuff that used to mean so much to me.  Means nothing now.  Phoned Una to check that C was OK and she said ‘he’s with Geoffrey, they’ve gone to Homebase for a lawnmower sparkplug.  I don’t know how you stood it all those years Pam.’  Put the phone down quickly before I said anything disloyal to C.  Feel bad enough already.

Spent last night with Julio again.  Over dinner he gave me that smile of his, the one that makes the skin round his eyes crinkle up so charmingly, so back I went to his hotel.  Not quite so, what shall I say, special as last time.  The thing is, Colin was never very… and then in recent years he’s barely… so the upshot is I simply don’t have a frame of reference.  Anyway as soon as it was over he said ‘oh I have just remembered, it is my mother’s birthday on Wednesday’ which rather put a dampener on things.  Then this morning when I woke up he was already showered and shaved and just putting his socks on.  Business meeting apparently.  I said ‘on a Sunday?’ and he said ‘they are Japanese.  I will tell room service to bring your breakfast.’

Feel discarded like an old glove.  Found myself thinking of Bridget.  I don’t suppose the modern young woman stands for that sort of treatment.  Most likely she’s in bed right now with some man who wouldn’t dare put his socks on without her say-so.

Tuesday February 28th

 10.30 am  Nothing from Julio all day yesterday.  Big panic at lunchtime when I realised the mobile was flat – charged it up, but no texts and no missed calls.  And nothing to do.  It seems that most of my day was taken up with Colin – cleaning, organising, cooking.  I never make any mess and it hardly seems worth cooking just for one.  Half ten – might as well get up.

12.30 Had muesli for breakfast – delicious.  Might as well have it for lunch – eating out of the box saves making a dish dirty.  Ooh, time for Loose Women.

16.00 Daytime TV has some really interesting stuff, seems vastly underrated to me.  Heated debate just now on the future direction of nail polish – is red old fashioned or coming back in?

16.05 Will just sort through mail.  All for Colin, will forward – oh one from the tax office.  It’s my money too, will just have a look.

18.23  Exhausted – enormous form from tax office makes no sense at all.  Accompanying notes incomprehensible.  Am going to bed with Vanity Fair.

Wednesday March 1st 1995

 Keep forgetting to weigh self. Rerunning Julio scenario 57 at least.  Plans to follow Vanity Fair advice and invest in quality underwear plus this season’s must have colour (yellow) 1, but really mean it.

 11.00   J. just phoned – lunch?  I said I wasn’t doing anything until I’d got my head round this tax form.  He hung up – how can anyone be jealous of a tax form.  Ridiculous. And now I am going to get to grips with it.  Watch me.

13.07  Oh oh oh, brain has gone to mush.  When I think I was the fastest girl in that typing pool and when they got the computer Mr Watson put me in charge of the card punching machines. What was it he said, ‘Pam you are the only one I can trust with this new-fangled nonsense.’ Of course he was quite old then, 50 maybe, and none of it made any sense to him but where am I now?  Weeping over Box 93b into which I have to enter my gross something not including my, something, whatever.  Oh will just get a sandwich and watch Loose Women.

17.26 Well, how about that.  Finally gave in and phoned the Tax helpline in tears and got some young know-it-all, very impatient with me, reminded me of Bridget somehow, anyway I let rip, asked him if his mother still did his laundry and could he by any chance make a brioche?  (Did not tell him I only tried once, on that disastrous cookery course in 1982 and ended up with half in the mould and the rest in crumbs on the worktop).  Very contrite, helped me with the form and turns out his mother was at school with Colin’s cousin, small world, and we are having lunch on Saturday so he can show me some old photos.

Friday March 3rd

65.237 kilos, calories zero.

 09.05 Skipped breakfast, on account of appointment with Health and Beauty Consultant at new place in the Precinct, includes precise weight, dietary advice and makeover all at bargain prices due to March being the quietest month.  Will follow up with shopping splurge based around quality underwear and yellow something.

21.14 Grr!  But also Hurrah!  Very strange roller coaster day.  Weight disastrous but beauty treatments amazing – have been scraped, exfoliated, buffed, plucked, packed in mud, massaged and made-up with subtle new products suitable for older skin.  I say it as shouldn’t but I do look 10, nay 15 years younger.  Makeup cost vast amount of Colin’s money but what do I care?  Decided to skip lunch and starve self back down to a size 12 in time for late-night lingerie/yellow shopping.

Got to new boutique on High St with half an hour to spare, told girl firmly I was a 12, and lo, the 12s fitted a treat, felt triumphant till she informed me all sizes were adjusted a couple of years ago to account for modern girls being more buxom and thus current 12 is same as old 14.  So am still a 14 in the real world.  Devastated by this news, feel as if every time I get near to being a 12 they will move the goalposts again and I’ll have to be buried in a shroud with 14 on it in large black numbers.  Reaction to this thought caused strange feeling of faintness, sat down heavily on tiny chair (at least it didn’t break) and salesgirl yelled out ‘Mrs Smith!  Madam is having a hot flush!’  Horrified hush descended on shop (crowded, but no one I knew). To my relief Mrs Smith was well-preserved (if over made-up) older woman who brought glass of water and whispered in my ear ‘HRT ducky, solves everything.’

So upshot is I look wonderful, adore the new clothes but feel, well, a tad confused.  And hungry.

Saturday March 4th

64 kilos (Beauty Parlour scales must be wrong), size 12 (why not, I don’t make the rules)

07.42  Must get ready for lunch with tax man.  Or rather tax boy.  Can’t say I fancy it but can’t really cancel, wouldn’t be right and besides, he might not be married and there’s always Bridget to think of.  Could be useful to have a tax man in the family.  Won’t dress up. Keep it casual.

08.19  Right, that does it, where is lemon two piece and new makeup bag?  Am seething (brings a nice tinge to the cheeks actually).  MEN!  Just now Colin appeared on the doorstep asking for the slides of our holiday in Minehead to show Una and Geoffrey.  I said ‘but I was on that holiday, you can’t show them without me’ and he said ‘it’s alright, I only want the shots of the steam train.’  I was just about to say ‘Colin isn’t this all getting a bit out of hand’ when my mobile trilled, and as I turned to look for it Colin snatched the slides out of the sideboard and ran away.  It was Julio, roaring down the line ‘You woman, you break my heart, you play with tax person, you come lunch with ME, you hear me woman, ME!’  Well I’m not having that, I hung up on him.  And the tax man gets the full works.

08.23 Oh why is it all so complicated?  Colin… Julio… tax man…  I know, will phone Audrey for advice.

08.24 Engaged.  Wonder who she is phoning at this early hour.  I know, will get early train and go to Bridget’s.  She’s a modern girl, she’ll know what to do.

Sunday March 5th  

 65 kilos, how can I have put on a kilo since yesterday, what’s more scales look at me funny every time I go in the bathroom. Am now keeping scales in bottom of airing cupboard for tidiness.

10.16 Bridget about as much use as chocolate teapot.  Less, at least you can make the tea in a mug and eat the teapot.  Yesterday found her lurking in her flat like some unappealing nocturnal mammal, last night’s makeup all over her face and wearing pyjamas with muesli all down the front.  Swallowed my irritation and started to confide my man problems but the more she stared up at me with those uncomprehending panda eyes the more I wanted to smack her face, and somehow I ended up pretending everything was fine, or rather Simply Sooper.  As if.

So toddled off to the lunch full of pretend happiness, like clown with tears on the inside.  Anyway tax man hopeless, married with 5 kids (for the Family Allowance presumably) and showed me photo of glossy cheerful looking wife, not even plump (adopted kids maybe?)  I can see now Bridget will never get married, I will never have grandchildren, Colin is gone, Julio is on his way, what on earth am I left with? Feel utterly utterly powerless to change anything.

Anyway am determined to set Bridget a better example – started last night, got out cleanser, night-time face and neck cream, night-time eye cream, removed makeup scrupulously, creamed face neck and eyes, put cleanser and creams away.  This morning got out cleanser, day creams, makeup, cleansed, creamed and made self up, put cleanser, creams and makeup away.

16.03 Just woke up from little nap, fell asleep in front of TV.  Since when was I old enough to need afternoon nap?  Tottered to the downstairs loo, caught sight of self in mirror.  Mutton dressed as lamb with smudgy old lady makeup.  Will phone James and remind him his mother needs him to produce an heir.

16.04 No answer.  Feel desperate.  Must do something.

Monday March 6th

 Weight unknown, scales have disappeared

11.27.  Just woke up.  Feel dreadful.  No one was answering the phone yesterday, no one, all out having fun no doubt, so rushed back to Bridget’s, took my key in case she was out too (bet she’s forgotten she gave me the key when she first got the flat in a rare moment of daughterly affection).  Anyway she was there, looking if anything even more seedy than Saturday, but I couldn’t contain myself, burst into tears and sobbed out the whole story.  Instead of listening (does no one listen these days?) she told me some long garbled story about Smug Marrieds and Competitive Parenting.  I said Well there’s nothing smug about me and I’d hardly win any parenting competition with you as my entry.  A horrid silence descended on us.

Suddenly she leapt up and asked me if I thought her old yellow t-shirt would do as her yellow for this season and I found myself going through her wardrobe, ghastly collection of too-short skirts and too-low tops.  Told her so.  Another silence. Pretended to phone J and arrange to meet.

Got the last train home.

Cried myself to sleep.

Must pull myself together.

13.00.  Lunch.  Sitting at the table, eating a proper meal (still working my way through the frozen meals I made for Colin, but at least it’s on a china plate).  Spent the morning cleaning – got out the vacuum, duster and polish, dusted, polished and vacuumed, put away the polish, duster and vacuum.  And when I’ve finished eating I shall wash up, and dry up, and put the plate away.  And the knife and fork.

23.01.  Came upstairs a minute ago.  Got out etc etc cleansed etc put etc etc away.  Is that it?  Life is all about getting things out and putting them away again?  I’m going mad.

Tuesday March 7th

 What the hell, I so don’t care anymore what I weigh.

10.18 Got out breakfast things, had breakfast and deliberately did not put anything away (but know that later on I’ll come in the kitchen and find a plate with remains of congealed fried egg and coffee cup with horrid brown stain in the bottom.  Not to mention the frying pan.)

10.20 OK, won’t mention the frying pan.  Am going to have one last try at getting help.

10.27 Phoned Una.  She said I can’t talk now Pam, I have to stay on guard because Colin and Geoffrey keep trying to use the dining table to dismantle their new bikes.  Yes Pam, they’ve bought themselves bikes even though the spare room needs painting.  Phoned Audrey and Mavis, they both said the same thing. Not the same as Una, the same as each other. They said Pam, go and see the doctor.  Do it now.

17.12.  And they say the NHS is a mess.  Well not round here it isn’t.  Nice young receptionist fitted me in straight away – remembered Bridget from school apparently, one of the Big Girls (I’m saying nothing).  And apparently I have a new doctor, they sent an email but Colin must have dealt with it.  New doctor said ‘Hi I’m Laura how can I help you?’ I said ‘You look about 12’.  She laughed and said ‘Most days I feel more like 112.’ Turns out she is same age as Bridget and is married to a New Man who works from home and looks after their kids.  So you see it can be done.  Anyway upshot is I have prescription for HRT and am down on the list for their counsellor – long list though, she says.

Wednesday March 8th

 Can’t find scales anywhere.  Very strange – maybe Colin has been here when I’m out and hidden them?

10.12 Just phoned Colin and demanded to know whereabouts of scales.  He feigned ignorance, of course, and then started wittering on about loneliness and something about his heart feeling blanketed – have told him umpteen times to eat less cheese, next thing we know he’ll be on Warfarin and oxygen and I’ll be a widow.  I said ‘Best take it easy on your new bike then’, and hung up.

10.15 Better get ready for single life, there’s a new (free) computer course starting at the Further Ed College this afternoon.  Saw the poster at the surgery.  Colin has never let me near the thing and probably those few weeks on the punch card machine don’t count for much.

18.41 Well really, what a lot of fuss about nothing.  This morning didn’t even know what a mouse was, now can use one to play Solitaire.  Easy Peasy as James and Bridget used to say when they were little.  I could see that the course was only free (or FREE!!! as the poster put it) because they were hoping to sell you a computer the same as you trained on, but I’m wise to that sort of marketing ploy.  Have a perfectly good computer at home, thank you very much, but won’t tell them that.

18.42  Will just turn Colin’s computer on, why not.  Or rather our computer.  Or even my computer, since he isn’t here.

00.17 Oh woe, turned it on and was delighted when everything appeared on the screen just as expected, used the mouse to ‘click’ and all sorts of things popped up including emails, but how to make them go away again? How to get it to stop?  Presumably if I just switch off the power then everything will be wiped out or messed up, you must have to do something to make it stop properly and save everything or whatever it does.  Will just have to go to bed and leave it running and phone Colin in the morning.

04.26 Hah.  Woke up from a dream in which Colin came rushing round and wrapped the computer in a blanket before loading it into an ambulance, with the sudden memory of the leaflet they gave out at the end of the afternoon.  Retrieved same from handbag and lo, there was the answer – to make it Stop you have to ‘click’ on Start.  Ridiculous.

04.28 Their computer is actually much nicer than ours.  Wonder what colours they come in?  Thinking of a soft green, to go with the study curtains. Will ask next week.

Saturday March 11th

 Weight unknown, fantasies re new career in IT ongoing.

11.12 Spent all of yesterday gingerly exploring the computer, opening one thing at a time and closing it carefully before trying the next one.  Most of it quite incomprehensible, apart from Solitaire.  Good fun though.  Frightening moment when I found myself on the Internet, felt like a new driver who somehow finds themself on the motorway, i.e. terrified.  Turned it off straightaway and watched TV instead.

11.13 Still, that was yesterday.  Time for another go I think.  Feel ready to face email.

12.49 Well.  Really.  First of all, I worked out which were the new messages – Inbox is clearly much the same thing as the In Tray where we used to put the letters back in the old days.  ‘Clicked’ on it and found there were 743 messages in there, going back months and months and months.  Started to look through them, found the one from the surgery about the new doctor, and another from the Tax Man reminding C. to do the tax return.  But also several rather disturbing ones, in very bad English.  It turns out C has a bevy of Russian girlfriends, all pledging their undying love for him.  Seems most unlikely. Perhaps meant for another Colin Jones?  Or maybe standards are lower in Russia.  But why has he kept them?  Deleting them is perfectly straightforward,  I worked it out in no time.  The whole idea of Colin with a string of foreign floozies is perfectly ridiculous.

 13.22 Oh Oh Oh, what has happened, I only wanted to get in touch with those girls and warn them Colin was an old married man, just ‘clicked’ on something and found myself back on the horrid Internet, turned off quickly but something has really upset the computer, it’s gone mad, if it had ears there would be steam coming out of them.

13.58 Feel dreadful.  Just dreadful.  Phoned Colin and demanded to know about Russian girls.  He said ‘Have you been messing with my computer?’’  I said Never mind about that, why are those Russian tarts sending you messages’’?  He said Please tell me you didn’t ‘click’ on anything’. I didn’t know what to say.  He said ‘Pam, please, is my computer alright?’  I said ‘Our computer, or rather mine, since I’m here and you are not.’  He yelled ‘PAM HAVE YOU RUINED MY COMPUTER?  HAS IT GOT A VIRUS?’ I said ‘Colin I will not be spoken to in that tone of voice’ and put the phone down.

17.00  Hah.  Necessity is definitely the mother of invention.  Phoned the girl who runs the computer course, she came straight round and sorted things out, only took her 3 hours, at a very reasonable hourly rate, it is Saturday after all.  Charming girl, trained as a florist but more money in IT, going out with another IT bod.  I phoned Una and said ‘Please would you be so good as to tell my husband that MY computer definitely has not got a virus.’

Sunday 12th March

 67.7 kilos.  Wish I’d never found scales.  Wish scales had never been invented.

Late morning.  Probably.  Yesterday found scales in bottom of airing cupboard underneath old shower curtain (was planning to cut it up for something, no idea what).  Phoned Colin in a rage but he denied all knowledge of it.  Woke up this morning with memory of hiding scales there myself.  And then forgetting.  According to James it’s called a Senior Moment – the fact that I perfectly competently emailed him the story meant nothing of course.  Still, lovely of him to reply so quickly, email clearly the way forward.

Weighed self.  Where did all that extra come from?  I eat like a bird, and it’s not as if I get heaps of fancy restaurant food.  Phoned Bridget at work but only got Perpetua (house purchase going through, needs new curtains but at least carpets are neutral).  Too upset to face the day, crawled back to bed with a cup of coffee and a couple of biscuits.  Well maybe 3.  Hardly seems worth worrying.


13.13 Wandered downstairs in search of lunch to find mobile beeping forlornly on the hall stand.  Text from Julio.  Would I like to go away for a little trip to Paris with him?  Would I!  Did pass through Paris once but all I saw was the Gare de something or the other as we switched to the overnight train down to Avignon.  Texted back to say Yes and got the answer ‘pick you up tomorrow at 08.00’  What!  Must go and pack.

23.12 I have nothing to wear, literally nothing.  Spare bed is covered with clothes all horrible and several too tight for new fat self.  Did phone Bridget for advice (desperate, and couldn’t really tell Una etc that I was going away for a naughty Parisian break) but yet again she was not at her desk.  Perpetua said ‘what you need to understand Mrs Jones is that Bridget is very much a favourite with our Mr Cleaver and I really cannot keep fielding her calls for her.’  Thought she sounded a tad stressed.  Also B. not at home, at ten past seven, half past nine and five to eleven.  Wonder if Our Mr Cleaver is married?

Tuesday March 14th

No scales in hotel bedroom, but French women all thin as whips and totally elegant, and all look like Kristen Scott Thomas.

 07.30 Paris.  Yes.  Probably everything it’s cracked up to be, but one Exhibition Centre is much like another.  We are on the outskirts somewhere, in bleak modern hotel chosen by Julio’s clients (Russian this time).  Yes, clients.  This is not a naughty trip at all and I am in the role of hostess to the clients.  Apparently Russians like a bit of flesh on a woman and my bottom is pinched black and blue.  Complained to J. and he said ‘excellente, they like you,’ and kissed me.  First last and only kiss of the trip so far.

19.30  Another day of trying to look interested in small plastic gizmos on display in Exhibition Centre, smile fixed on face, feet aching, while Russians haggle with J. and I have no idea what they are on about – he could be bargaining over selling me to them for all I know.  And now I have to dress for another dreadful dinner, (is that why the women are all so thin), we must be in the worst hotel in Paris.  Yesterday one course consisted entirely of lukewarm green beans with a miniscule knob of something that may have been butter but probably never saw the inside of a cow.  Thank the Lord we are going home tomorrow.

Wednesday March 15th

Will weigh self tomorrow, too fed up  today…

 17.26 At long last J. has dropped me off at home – I very pointedly did not ask him in for coffee and swept in, slammed front door and collapsed in a heap on the sofa.  Exhausted.  Will just open box of handmade French chocs J. gave me as a thank you.

17.44 That’s better – they don’t keep anyway.  What a ghastly trip.  Although there was one small moment of satisfaction. Yesterday I was making my way through the hotel lobby, heading for what passed as dinner, head high and clown smile plastered on face, when I noticed a little group – cameraman filming a dozy looking girl and some sort of media type trying to get her to do it right.  Naturally I edged closer and just at that moment one of the Russians sidled up behind me aiming, of course, for my poor old backside.  Managed to turn to face him just in time, cranking up smile and saying, or rather simpering, ‘Oh you go first, do please lead the way’, giving him as far as I could the impression that I needed a caveman to help me find the dining room.  As I followed him the media type ran after me and whispered ‘That was wonderful, give me a call sometime.’  And pushed a little card into my hand.

17.55  He looked younger than Jamie.  Ridiculous.  It’s still in the pocket of the lemon suit I think.  Will just go and look.

17.59 It’s some sort of TV company.  News and Features.  I wonder if he’s married.  Might do for Bridget maybe?  Will call him tomorrow – a mother’s work is never done.

Thursday March 16th

Still fed up. Weight irrelevant.

11.12 J. phoned first thing, thanking me, as got the Russian contract.  Sounded jubilant, wants to celebrate.  Told him I was going down with a cold.  Can’t face dressing up yet again in too tight lemon suit.  Can’t face breakfast either.  Or getting dressed.  Will just stay here in the warm.  Wish there was a TV in the bedroom.

13.37 Brainwave.  Took duvet and pillows downstairs to sofa, cosied up in front of TV.

15.12  Daytime TV really very interesting.  Didn’t know for instance that you can keep llamas in this country.  Or that you can grow tomatoes by hanging them upside down.  Ooh, what’s that down the side of the cushion – oh the media guy’s card.  Might give him a call in a moment.

15.28 Oh woe.  Was gobsmacked when media guy asked me to have lunch with him tomorrow, said yes (thinking of Bridget) and then he said, not sure of the exact words, but he said something about ‘We really need to plug into the older woman demographic I’m hoping you’ll let me pick your brains.’

15.29 Can’t face being an older woman demo-whatsit.  Can’t face lunch.  Will stand him up.

15.30 But what about Bridget?  Once I’m his mother-in-law I’ll train him up to be a bit more tactful.  Will just have to squeeze into lemon suit and go.

Friday March 17th

 66.2 kilos – amazing effect of stress, misery and bad food. 

 08.30 Funny, losing some weight always used to cheer me up, but now I’m an older demo-something it isn’t working.  Never mind, must get ready for lunch out – will give him the works, just so that when he meets Bridget he’ll have hopes of her turning into her mother.

 15.12 Stunned.  Absolutely stunned.  Speechless in fact.  Must phone someone.  Must tell someone.

16.05 Una engaged.  Got Audrey, said, ‘I’ve got a job’, she said, ‘I saw they needed shelf stackers, you’ll enjoy the staff discount, must go, due at the dentist.’  Tried Sylvia, said, ‘I’ve got a job’ she said,’ Lovely, must go, the twins are screaming’.  Thought of phoning Colin but maybe should start job first?

16.06 Hope Colin doesn’t see Audrey.  I am very much not shelf stacking.  I am an older-woman-demographic and apparently that means something these days.  More of me need to be seen on our TV screens and I, little old I, am a shining example – apparently anyone who can fend off Russian lecher without giving offence and while still smiling is a shoo-in for TV.  Must find out what shoo-in means. Oh look at the time – it’s my Maison Kevin appointment.  Hope they’ve got time to do my roots!

Saturday March 18th

66.1 kilos – had salad at yesterday’s lunch, only thing on the help yourself buffet type set-up that I could recognise.

 07.15 Right, must hit ground running.  Need new outfit for Monday’s camera test.  Job may only be temporary but this is my big chance, don’t want to blow it.  Won’t make the same mistake twice – when they wanted to move me from the typing pool and made me a Director’s Secretary Colin put his foot down – he wanted me home in time to make the dinner.

07.28 Have decided on pink, need to put the lemon suit behind me.  Have remembered that Nancy Reagan always wore pink for the cameras, flattering to the older skin and shows up well against all the men in grey and navy.  Not a two-piece though, a dark skirt to minimise the hips.  Must rush and get the early train.

17.19 Phew, feel worn out and feet are killing me.  Trawled all the shops and ended up in little boutique-type thing down a backstreet in Kensington.  Spent a fortune on pink jacket, looks a million dollars though.  Will wear it with old black skirt (still fits) and black top.  Pearls maybe?

17.22 Not sure about the pearls, make me think of my mother (but everything comes round again sometime – could be a trendsetter perhaps?)

17.30 Definitely no pearls.  Just earrings, the big black studs.  Between shops I popped in to Bridget’s to tell her the news, found her lurking in her flat, greasy hair, still in her dressing gown and slippers (teddy bears, I ask you).  Made her a coffee and sandwich, in the hopes that they’d revive her a bit, told her my news, no reaction of course. 

Sunday March 19th

65.9 kilos, skipped lunch entirely yesterday due to shopping

 10.30 Have just cleaned house from top to bottom as there won’t be so much time once I’m working.  Doesn’t take long if you keep on top of it (unlike B., dirty plates everywhere, clothes spilling out of laundry basket etc.  Distinct possibility they gave me the wrong baby).

10.35 Wonder what she’s doing for her birthday?

10.42 She’d like to come home, I’m sure.  Of course it’s a weekday, but she could have the next morning off work, or go in late.  I’ll cook her favourite, it’ll be like old times, maybe even James will… probably not.

10.43 Rats. She’ll want her father to be there.  Maybe I’ll just give him a call.  I can tell him about the job over the meal.  It’ll be like old times.  Apart from me having a job of course.

11.03  Humph.  B. told him she was spending her birthday with friends, some sort of dinner party.  Isn’t that just typical?  Pretended not to care and got off the phone – will tell him about job another time.

Monday March 20th

No time for scales, takes forever to put face on these days.

 13.42  Arrived bang on time as requested for 10.30 start with Gavin my – boss? Co-worker? Camera test – TV presenting is easy – you just look at the camera, smile and talk when they give you the signal.  He said ‘Just tell us something about yourself Pam’, so I did.  Left out the grandchildren (lack of) and the husband (temporary absence of).  Talked about WI, the charity shop, dinner parties and the complexities of running a house.  Gavin said ‘Well we certainly won’t have to teach you to make love to the camera will we Pam.’

The office is full of skinny young things, so far I’ve got Gavin, of course, Tarquin, Tamsin, Skye (what were the parents thinking of) and two Sams – possibly one of each sex, hard to tell if I’m honest.  All dressed identically in denim and black t-shirts, with huge fringed scarf engulfing neck.  Fancy hiding neck when it’s still young and firm.  All seem techno savvy and totally impractical – just found one in the kitchenette struggling with the film on their microwaveable all day breakfast. Showed him or her (truly impossible to tell) how to do it and offered to bring in some of my home cooking – they all need feeding up. Will be a sort of mother hen to them.

 19.17 Feel terrible, just terrible.  Bridget phoned just now and said crossly ‘So how was your first day,’ and I said ‘Wonderful darling, I’m in the autumn of my days and savouring every one.’  I was going to tell her how women of my generation never had the chance of a career but I suddenly remembered Mrs Thatcher, (several generations older than me) and anyway B. had to go.

But the thing is, it wasn’t wonderful at all.  After the camera test there was something called Induction, lots of stuff to read through about Health and Safety and Terms of Employment, was just taking it across to the window so I could see it (using small type is just being mean with paper in my opinion) when one of them, probably male, said cheerily ‘My grandmother just got reading glasses, she went for an elderly assessment and got them free – maybe you could try that?

19.25  Never want to go near that place ever again.

19.26 Have to go back.  Told B. it was wonderful.  B. will tell C.  C. will tell Una. Una will tell the whole world.  Can’t back down now – but thank goodness I don’t start properly till next week, at least can go back to computer course and, get myself ‘in the know’ on all that stuff.

Tuesday March 21st.

65.7 kilos, fantasy careers 0 (have real career now) nostalgic memories 1

 06.12 Woke up thinking of Bridget.  Born in the early hours 30 years ago today.  Don’t remember much about it to be honest, from the moment I screamed ‘Give me the sodding drugs’ to later on when I got to hold her it’s all a haze.  Asked Colin the next day but he confessed it got too much for him and had to go and sit in the corridor with his head between his knees. Was a  big thing back then for the father to be present at the birth.  Now it’s more like a party, with grandma holding your hand while your best friend takes photos and the father phones his mates on the mobile to give them a blow by blow (or scream by scream?) account.

18.12 Just phoned B. to say ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘Your present is here waiting for you’ (selection of face creams, she needs to start taking care of her skin) and she burst into tears.  I said ‘Yes thirty is a difficult age’ and she screamed ‘I’m COOKING I can’t talk now!’ Then she hung up.

18.15 So I phoned Colin and said Do you remember what we were doing 30 years ago today and he said Can’t talk now Geoff needs me in the attic.  Well at least he didn’t burst into tears.

Wednesday March 22nd

Too busy for scales – will weigh self weekly as per advice in Take a Break

09.51 Overslept.  Was nicely asleep last night, well past midnight, when phone rang – Bridget.  She said ‘Mum I love you, I really love you.  I said ‘thank you darling, I know you do, did you…’ She said ‘No, I really love you, I really do, and my friends, my lovely lovely friends, and dad, and Jamie, I love you all’.  I said ‘Wonderful, Bridget, can I just… ‘I was about to tell her all about my ghastly day at work, but she was gone.  Ooh, was that the postman?

10.12 Good grief.  Letter from the TV company. Job is permanent. They only want me two days a week, Thursday and Friday (so can keep up computer course) and they are paying me, well, rather more than Colin’s ever given me for housekeeping. Amazing.

10.13 Could be their grandmotherly figure I suppose.  Could teach them how to dress nicely and show them how the older demographic is still ‘cool’. Yes, will do that.  But today will just relax with this month’s Saga magazine.

Thursday March 23rd

Still not weighing self.  Need time for doing face. And hair.

 07.30  First day of work.  Tra-la-la!  Thank goodness I never broke the habit of getting up early.

08.44 Mind you the train fare is horrendous.  I suppose I could stay with B. on Thursday nights, save the cost of one return.  Would I get any sleep though?

10.17 I will never, if I live to be a hundred, never, get used to unisex toilets. Am skulking in the cubicle having run the gauntlet of a mixed gaggle of young things all clustered round the washbasins. Screaming with laughter, but a deathly silence fell when I walked in.  Talking about me obviously.  Glad they found me amusing.

10.18  Need to repair makeup but don’t want anyone to see me so will just use my compact mirror in here.  New foundation doesn’t take kindly to tears.  Gavin grabbed me first thing, full of pep, said ‘Now then Pam, for your first piece we’ve found something on your wavelength, we’re sending you off to an EPH’.  I assumed that was some sort of technology but gave him a big smile and said ‘Well I’ve mastered texting and emailing, how hard can EPH be?’  ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘No, EPH means Elderly Persons’ Home.  Some old duck has reached 100, so could you pop down there next week and give us a little feel-good piece?  Thanks so much.’

10.19 EPH.  That’s no doubt what they were all laughing at.  On my wavelength indeed.

16.59 Was just packing up to go – and was one of the last mark you – when someone, possibly one of the Sams, edged up to me and said ‘Sorry it was a bit awkward in the lavs, it’s just that, no one is quite sure how you are with the F word, are you OK with the F word Pam?  I said briskly ‘Of course I am, I wasn’t born yesterday, as you all seem to be perfectly aware.’ And left with my head high.

17.16 Oh dear, that little crestfallen face.  Suspect I’ve really upset whichever Sam it was.

Friday March 24th

 Still not weighing.  Face seems beyond salvation but am not feminist enough to abandon lipstick.  Or roots.  Roots are sacrosanct.

 07.00 Have just raided freezer for home-made profiteroles, enough for everyone at the office.  Will use them to placate the Sam.

19.00 What goes round comes round, as my mother used to say.  Profiteroles, taken in with the hope of mending bridges, have yielded unexpected bonus.  Took them round at coffee time (actually they all drink coffee continuously) and as I approached the Sam (fairly sure it was the right one) said ‘Sorry about yesterday, didn’t mean to snap at you.’  She (almost sure about that) said ‘Oh never mind, I was pretty strung out myself, boyfriend trouble.’  And she launched into a long heart-to-heart about said boyfriend finishing with the immortal line ‘We are all so in awe of you Pam, you have life so sorted.’  So told her about acting, and the clown smile, which is the same thing as a brave face, and how Colin and I were living apart and so on.  (Didn’t mention Bridget or the non-existence of grandchildren though).

At which point she begged, positively begged, to swap assignments with me.  She’s been lumbered with a new feature called Suddenly Single and has no ideas how to handle it seeing as she isn’t single, and she would love to do the EPH as it’s an easy one and she’s got enough on her plate with the boyfriend.  Sorted, as I believe we say nowadays.

Sunday March 26th

66.9 – must have been the profiteroles. This is what happens when you take your eye off the scales.

11.26  Oooh, lovely lie in with Radio 2 and the Sunday papers all over the bed.  Could never do this when Colin was around, somehow he always wanted an early breakfast on a Sunday.  Una tells me he seems to mainly skip breakfast now, or rather combine it with lunch.  She found him the other day eating cornflakes in his pyjamas at 3.30, with a ham sandwich and an Eccles cake waiting on the coffee table.  Long talk with Una yesterday, says she’s got used to C. being around and at least he takes Geoffrey off her hands.  Bath next, I think.

12.57 Long talk with everybody yesterday it seemed, I was strangely tired and just wanted to do nothing all day but the phone kept ringing.

Audrey: bored, wants to meet up for coffee on Monday.

Julio: back in the country, wants to take me to dinner, I said sweetly ‘With clients?’ And he said ‘No, no, Pamela darling, just the two of us, just how it used to be.’  Fixed it up for Tuesday evening.

Jamie: briefly, asking me to post him his rash vest.  No idea what that is but it’s red and in the second drawer down apparently.

Bridget: cross because, and I quote, ‘You are always engaged when I want you.’  Then she launched into long thing about men and New Year’s Resolutions and her birthday.  Must have dozed off but woke up when I heard her say Emotional Fuckwittage.  Just said ‘Oh yes darling I quite agree.’  Well I have to get used to that sort of language now.

Monday March 27th

 66.1 Well worth starving self yesterday, and cottage cheese is perfectly palatable.

 13.13 Was rather looking forward to coffee with Audrey.  I’ve always like The Copper Kettle, which is cosy without being pretentious, the perfect place to take someone down a peg or three. Shelf stacking indeed! But of course she was there ahead of me (thanks to Una and the gossip circuit, which moves considerable faster than the Inter-thingy and far more mysteriously).  ‘Oh Pam,’ she said, easing herself cautiously onto the chair, ‘it’s such a shame you have to go out to work.  Won’t Colin let you have any money?  I mean I’m so lucky, Nigel is so generous’ (here she winced as her full weight finally descended onto whichever bit of her was sore.  As if I didn’t know.)  I picked up an éclair, gave her my best smile and told her I was not going out to work, I was pursuing my career.  In the media.  She looked blank.  ‘On television’ I said,’ I am going to be on television.’  She had the good grace to look impressed, she even smiled.

When I got home I found there was cream and chocolate topping all down the front of my new blouse.  She might have said something instead of just smirking.

Tuesday March 28th

 66.3  One measly éclair, that’s all, just one, and half of it went down my front.

 22.44 Well I can say for certain Julio is nothing like Colin, who wouldn’t notice if he found me naked in the kitchen with the plumber – would probably just say ‘I told you I would fix that tap’.  Anyway just as I was about to relax and enjoy the meal Julio started quizzing me about the tax man.  I explained he was much younger than me and married with children.  He said glumly ‘Oh Pamela, to all men you are irreseeestible.’  I said I only met up with the tax man because he was distantly related to Colin.  Julio said bitterly ‘Oh Pamela, you are so loyal, so sweet, how can this Colin he deserve to have you?’  I said firmly that Colin didn’t have me and could we please just eat our food?  After a long pause Julio started all over again, this time about the men at work.  I told him they were all unisex and he brightened up considerably. The Latin temperament is certainly exhausting.

Wednesday March 29th

 Note to self, look for new pillows.  Ours are far too soft, which is why I’m sleeping so badly.

 19.05 Feeling slightly queasy, must have been Colin’s chilli from the freezer.  Anyway, work tomorrow, not nervous or anything but what on earth do you ask someone who is suddenly single?  I know, will watch a chat show on TV, get some tips.

22.48 Oh where is Parkie when you need him?  All I could find was Alan Partridge, and his idea of interviewing seems to be as rude as possible and talk about himself a lot.  I know, will ask them what people have asked me.

Bridget (crossly) – How can you be so horrid to poor old Dad?

Colin – How do you boil an egg, remind me?

Una – How did you stand it all those years Pam?

Audrey (blushing)- Don’t you find you miss, you know, you miss, you KNOW Pam, don’t you miss it?

Julio – Why no love me Pamela?  Why why why?

Sylvia – Do you still need that enormous slow cooker now you’re only cooking for one?  Could you let me have it for the grandkids?

So I can ask if the children take sides, if your ex is helpless, if your ex is living like a pig, if your friend is nosy, if your boyfriend is demanding and if your other friend is on the scrounge.  There you go, all done and dusted.

Ooh, fancy a piece of cake.  Maybe a glass of wine.

 Thursday March 30th

Might need new mattress as well as pillows, something is keeping me awake half the night.

 06.15 Up nice and early for work. Not nervous at all. Nothing to worry about, the camera loves me.  Or do I love the camera?  Maybe both. Don’t fancy breakfast, will spend extra time on face.  At least hair is holding its set nicely. Suppose the train will be crowded, now I’m a worker have to face the rush hour.  At least I know where I’m going, church hall in north London, very close to Tube which I suppose is why they chose it.  Funny, always thought TV stars got picked up in a limo.

13.43  Very strange morning.  Reached the church hall bang on time at 09.30.  No sign of co-workers, but spotted through the window a group of women sitting on hard chairs, chatting.  Clearly some sort of meeting.  Tiptoed in and said ‘excuse me, I’m looking for Suddenly Single?’  The ringleader, smartly dressed in navy two-piece and turquoise scarf, jumped up and said merrily ‘you’ve found us, here’s a chair, what’s your name?’  Soon got chatting and boy what interesting stories they had to tell.  Wandering husbands, boring husbands, husbands with floozies and endless stories of what Bridget calls emotional fuckwittage.

Things were getting really interesting when suddenly Tarquin appeared and said ‘oh there you are Pam, we’ve been waiting for you in the committee room.’ A hush descended and they all stared at me, the ringleader said accusingly ‘Oh, we thought you were one of us!’  ‘I am’ I said over my shoulder as Tarquin propelled me out of the room, ‘I really am’.

Soon we were filming and the women, who apparently had answered an ad in the local paper, were sent to me one at a time to be interviewed.  One or two were terribly camera shy but most were happy to chat. After a few Tarquin pulled me to one side and hissed ‘this is all a bit tame Pam, can you get me some drama?  I don’t suppose we’ll get a Wayne Bobbit but there must be a suicide attempt at the very least.’  So this afternoon I have to ask more ‘challenging’ questions. Oh dear.

20.05 Looked up Wayne Bobbit in the inter-web-world-whatsit.  His wife cut off his appendage while he was asleep apparently.  I’m quite sure none of my ladies would have done such a thing. And they didn’t much like the questions I had to ask, although I must admit the answers were interesting.  Next week apparently I’m doing men, and Tarquin said, warningly, ‘No agendas now Pam.’  No idea what that means.

 Saturday April 1st

 66.2 Took pillows off spare bed and slept like a log.

 10.44  Too exhausted for diary yesterday.  Spent all day in the editing suite, watching my little interviews over and over again until they were meaningless – you know how children like to say a word over and over till it changes to nonsense?  Like Pamela Pamela Pamela Pa MelaPam ElaP Amelap.  And so on.  I was there to observe so that, they said, I wouldn’t make so many mistakes next time.  I will certainly remember to take the little hand mirror Bridget gave me for my birthday when she was about 12, so I can check lipstick, hair etc.

Anyway the technician said wearily at the end of the day ‘I think we’ve managed to cobble something together.’  Apparently the trailer goes out over the weekend, must just phone Colin and tell him.

13.13 I swear Colin never listens to a word anyone says.  I told him about the trailer, he said ‘no, no, no, we haven’t got a tow bar.’  So I got him to put Una on the phone, told her, and asked her to please keep mentioning until she saw some sign that it was going in.

She said cagily ‘you need to understand Pam, Colin’s a bit distracted at the moment.’  I suppose he’s got the lawnmower in pieces again.

Sunday April 2nd

 Wish knew how to work video.  Want to record future trailers and all appearances.

 20.00 Watched TV all day, trailer only went out 3 times.  And they chose the worst bit, where I’ve got a mascara smudge under my left eye and the stupid clip-on microphone is making my jacket lapel all crooked.  Plus poor Jean got herself in a bit of a tizz about the whole thing and froze on camera.  I hope she hasn’t seen it. Phoned Colin to see if he noticed the smudge but Una says he’s ‘not able to come to the phone at the moment’.  Very odd.

20.59 Long phone call from Jean (I only gave my number to Iris as she wanted my recipe for Beef Wellington but apparently the group are planning to meet monthly for lunch and all phone numbers have been swapped).  Anyway Jean very excited at being on TV, said my smudge hardly showed at all and her grandson has videoed it so they can watch it over and over.

Wednesday April 5th

 66.2 Brainwave – got theThomson boy to come round after school and programme video in return for large slab of fruit cake.  Also wrote out simple list of instructions in return for rest of cake. Hurrah!

 16.32  The oddest experience at Maison Kevin.  I’d booked Wednesday afternoon solely because I need to look smart for work on Thursday, only to discover it is Pensioner’s Special Deal Day! Rather humiliating, but on the other hand the receptionist said ‘I’m sorry Mrs Jones, you do have an appointment but obviously you don’t qualify for the pensioners’ discount.’ Was just wondering whether to accept the compliment and pay the extra when a voice carried across the entire salon ‘oh yes she does, don’t you try and wriggle out of giving Pam what she’s entitled to.’  Woman just putting her coat on, after a long moment I recognised her – Linda Peterson, back from New Zealand and staying temporarily with her daughter (younger than Bridget, still lives locally and three lovely grandchildren.)

I said ‘lovely to see you Linda, it must be wonderful to be back with the family, I can’t think why you left in the first place.’  She said, a little shiftily I thought, ‘Oh it was Barry, he fancied it.’  Took me a moment to realise she meant her husband, I’ve only ever known him as ‘Pete’ Peterson.  Apparently he’s struggling to tear himself away so she’s come back ahead to scout out a house for them, or maybe a flat.

I thought I’d better mention Colin, so I started to say, lightly and with a smile, ‘I suppose you’ve heard about…’ just as she said ‘I was so sorry to hear about…’  then we both blushed, and  she looked very awkward. Then she said ‘cheerio chook, gotta run’ and fled. Dreadful how she’s let herself go in just a few months, wearing jeans, and appalling Kiwi accent.

Thursday April 6th

 66.4.  Mistake to keep slice of cake back for self. New York film fantasies 1, ruined tights 1, men subdued by channelling inner PE teacher 6.

 12.47  What a dreadful morning. Raining so had to wrap new hairdo in scarf and find umbrella, so missed train.  Actually caught up time quite nicely by running through station, weaving through the crowds like New York detective chasing crime suspect, but somehow unaccountably missed stop on Tube and had to double back, arriving late with mud splash all down new sheer tights.  Peeped through window, and saw group of men sprawled on chairs (why do men sit like that?  So ungainly).  So, rushed in saying ‘are you suddenly single?’  Loud guffaws all round and the alpha male, blue blazer and cravat boomed ‘no no my dear, this is for men. Men only.’

‘Well,’ I said, ‘I’m your interviewer.’  Puzzled silence so I tried again.  ‘You’ll be talking to me,’ I said, ‘I’ll be asking the questions.’  ‘Now look here,’ blue blazer said, standing up and towering over me ‘we were led to believe this was a serious documentary.’

‘Yes,’ said one of the others, ‘if it’s some rubbish for Woman’s Hour then I’m out of here.’ And they all stood up and started on at me.  I could feel myself blushing and stammering, water was dripping off my brolly making a puddle on the floor, and just then Tarquin rolled in.  ‘Sorry I’m late’ he said, and then the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere must have hit him in the midriff because he froze.  And then he hid behind me.  Honestly he did, the little unisex twerp.

Well what could I do.  They were only men after all.  ‘Tarquin,’ I said, ‘let’s not hang about.  You go and get set up and I will organise the interviewees.’  He scurried off to the committee room and I rounded on the men.  Summoned up memories of the PE teacher at school ‘Form an orderly queue,’ I barked , ‘now, who’s brave enough to go first?’  They all sort of shuffled about until blue blazer was at the front.  No more talk of leaving at any rate.

19.23 Exhausted.  Men will talk about anything it seems apart from their relationships.  For example:

‘So did she leave you?’


‘And how did you feel about that?’


‘And how long had you been married?’


‘And what are you doing now?’

‘Well, let me see, I’ve bought a new car, red, the wife would never have red, she’s a bit pokey I must say, the car not the wife, she cuts the journey to the golf club by twenty minutes, they do a nice steak pie at the club, pretty waitresses too, life in the old dog yet ha ha ha.’

‘And why do you think your wife left you?’

‘No idea.’

Really they made Colin seem like a saint.  And Julio suddenly seems even more desirable.

23.17 Just thought – is this what I want for Bridget?  Really? Thirty years of slavery to an emotional fuckwit and then starting again all on her own?

 23.19  I wonder if she’d have a baby on her own, lots of girls do now, I could help her, could be doting granny while she goes back to her career.  Must suggest it next time we talk.

 Friday April 7th

 65.9. Moving in the right direction at last.

 18.37 Was rather dreading day in the editing suite but as I headed that way Gavin grabbed me.  ‘Now then Pam,’ he said, ‘what’s next?’ I gestured at the editing suite door and said ‘Well I was just…’ but he interrupted ‘Meeting. My office. Ten minutes. And I want at least 3 good ideas for your next spot. Time you pulled your weight.’

Meetings are just like Bridget’s Play Group.  It takes ages to get everyone sat round the table and then they all talk at once.  Gavin has no control whatsoever, he just lets them keep on till they run out of steam.  And when silence did fall he said ‘Well.  Pam?’  I suggested doing a Suddenly Single for thirty year old career girls whose biological clock is ticking.

Silence.  They all looked at each other.  Long story short, Suddenly Single is old hat, yesterday’s news, been there done that and used the t-shirt to mop the floor.  Had no idea it was my job to come up with ideas.  Oh dear.

Spent the rest of the day scratching my head (not literally!) and scribbling notes.  Finally came up with:

  • Motherhood options for thirty year old career girls whose biological clock is ticking.
  • Sperm clinics for thirty year old career girls whose biological clock is ticking.
  • Potential grandmothers’ opinions on thirty year old career girls whose biological clock is ticking.
  • Options for older women with no grandchildren.

Left the list on Gavin’s desk.

Saturday April 8th

 66.2 How did that happen?

 14.12 Never normally go shopping on a Saturday but have run out of eggs and need some more tights.  Wish I had the figure for leggings like the girls at work, so much easier.  Anyway was in the High Street with bag of things I never meant to buy – root ginger (why? Never use it), small pansy in pot (from charity stall so not extravagant and doing good) and lovely paisley scarf (am worth it, am working girl now) when I saw Colin outside the Estate Agent.

Was shocked, and then realised he lives here too. Too late to cross over and avoid him so summoned up dazzling smile and said Hello.  Thought he looked rather seedy, has put on weight, hair needs a trim, stubble most unbecoming and he wouldn’t make eye contact.  Not that he ever did, much.  Anyway was just taking the opportunity to tell him about work (have sat through enough of his work-based monologues in the past) when I noticed, through the window, that Linda Peterson was in the Agent’s.  She was actually just in the act of waving to Colin when she spotted me, blushed and stopped waving.

‘Oh look,’ I said, ‘there’s Linda, back from New Zealand.  I must dash but no doubt she’ll tell you all about it.’  ‘Um, no doubt,’ he said.

Sunday April 9th


 10.30 Woke up in the middle of the night with the awful realisation it wasn’t that sort of wave, the sort that says ‘oh I recognise you, we were friends before I left the country, how nice to see you again.’  It was more the sort that says ‘nearly done sweetie, be out in a mo, kiss kiss.’  That sort of wave. From Linda Peterson to Colin.  No wonder he was looking shifty.  Must phone him and get to the bottom of it.

 11.05 Una says Colin is ‘not available.’  Humph.  Coffee time I think, need cake for consolation.

11.25 That’s better. Will ask Una what’s going on.

13.23 Una very cagey at first.  In the end I said ‘look, I know there’s something going on between Colin and Linda Peterson.  I am his wife, I have a right to know.  And we girls should stick together.’ Una said ‘I know, but you must admit it’s difficult Pam.  I mean, would you tell me if you knew Geoffrey was having a fling with Linda Peterson.’  I said ‘so he is seeing her then?’  ‘No no,’ she said, ‘Geoffrey isn’t seeing her, he knows I’d kill him if he ever looked at another woman.  It’s Colin, she’s got her claws into Colin.  You know what she’s like.’  ‘I do now,’ I said.

13.25 Texted Julio.  Apparently in Japan ‘doing the busyness.’

16.52 Emailed Gavin ‘forget the list, next week I’m doing ‘my old friend stole my husband.’

21.03 Wonder if I should tell Una that Geoffrey never stops looking at other women?  She must know surely?

Tuesday April 11th

66.3. No comment. 

 07.23  Cup of tea in bed with Jammy Dodger.  No idea why I bought Jammy Dodgers, and they seem smaller than they used to be.  And sweeter.  Still, might as well finish the packet. Now to make a plan for Thursday’s filming.

07.24 How am I going to do my filming with, as far as I know, no venue, no participants and no approval from on high (Gavin).  Another bright idea bites the dust.

09.32 Except, why should it?  Will just phone Tarquin and see if he’s down to work with me.

09.47 T. most obliging.  Says he is mine for the foreseeable on a Thursday, he was told to put it in his diary so he did.

13.02  Have been at full action stations.  Checked online weather forecast – very impressed with self, but no time to give self pat on back.  Anyway, day is dry, that’s the main thing.  Phoned Iris and asked her to bring the Suddenly Single Lunch Club to the church on Thursday, so they could be filmed in the graveyard.  Asked her to confirm ASAP.

14.15 Iris says all are very keen to be on TV again, happy to make up stories if truth too tame!  Also says she will bring ‘the boys’ as the Suddenly Single men have joined the group.  Humph.

 Wednesday April 12th

 Scales have gone blank.  Know how they feel.

 17.45 Astonishing afternoon at Maison Kevin (no sign of the Peterson woman, avoiding a showdown no doubt).  Apparently everyone wants to be on TV and they all have ideas for topics.  Came away with:

  • Is Pensioner Special Price surrendering to an ageist hegemony? (suggested by teenager having a trim during college free period)
  • Should a feminist dye out the grey? (butch woman with short crop)
  • Why can’t a feminist be well groomed too? (Kevin)
  • Is blow-drying over rated? (old lady who prefers rollers)
  • What do we pay our council tax for? (even older lady who’d tripped on broken kerb outside hairdressers)
  • Where’s my tea? (oldest lady who reminded me strangely of Colin’s mother).

Probably none of them what Gavin calls ‘sexy ideas’, by which I suppose he means there isn’t any sex in them.

Saturday April 15th – Easter Saturday

??? Waded through troubleshooting page of scales instruction booklet.  Apparently scales need new battery.

 08.12 Seem to have got the hang of filming.  Suddenly Single girls were much more lively with the men around, and the men, despite some harrumphing, were more willing to talk. All came up with sad stories about losing spouse to a friend, and therefore, of course, also losing the friend (I can survive very nicely without Linda P fortunately).  Two of the ladies offered to pretend that A had stolen B’s man with confrontation on camera possibly, if they could nerve themselves up to it, a fight with hair pulling.  But I decided no, better to maintain dignity.  Will be the last bastion of good behaviour on daytime TV.

08.44 Heard the letterbox so skipped downstairs in housecoat (Bridget calls it the Passion Killer but really, so practical, and warm, and there’s nothing wrong with floral quilted).  Not the postman, a hand delivered note.  Thought it might be Colin demanding clean pyjamas but no, the Residents’ Association wants to ‘tactfully remind me’ that the grass on our frontage seems to have been ‘rather neglected of late.’  Peeped out of window, but nobody loitering on drive so popped out for a proper look.  I suppose it is a little longer than usual.  Will give Colin a call.

08.47 Seething.  Colin answered on first ring (not Una.  Not Geoffrey.  Colin answers their phone now) and said ‘oh it’s you.’ I said ‘could you come tomorrow and cut our grass?’  He said ‘no sorry, I’m off to Broadstairs for a mini-break.  Back Tuesday.’  I said ‘Broadstairs?’  He said ‘oh yes, it’s all the rage now, bye bye chicken, gotta run.’

So we know who he’s going to Broadstairs with don’t we? Linda ‘cheerio chook’ Peterson.  And how typical of Colin to get it wrong.

12.28 Suddenly tears replaced the anger.  After all I never got an Easter mini-break in Broadstairs and I’m the one that made his packed lunch every day for nearly 40 years.  Made chip butty (oven chips so fewer calories) to cheer self up.

 Monday April 17th

66.3  New battery slightly awkward to fit but seems to work. But why is traditional food always so calorific?

18.26 Now that’s a turn-up for the book. Had just decided to skip church on Sunday, couldn’t face all those cheerful Easter faces, when there was a rap on the door – Julio! Bearing, of all things, a carrier bag full of food.

‘Come, Pamela,’ he said, ‘we go to the church, and after I cook you all the Portuguese traditional foods. Today you will be the queen, no?’

And I thought well, why not, Colin is in Broadstairs, so he definitely won’t be in church, and everyone can see how well I can manage without him.

Church was a little odd, I must admit, with everyone looking over their shoulder at Julio, and he couldn’t follow the service at all of course.  Afterwards, outside, he made a beeline for Una exclaiming ‘ah Pamela it is your beau-tiful friend,’ I could see Geoffrey turning purple but without missing a beat Julio turned to him and said ‘you English mens you are so lucky to have the beau-tiful English womens.’ Before I knew it Una was inviting him for ‘a proper English roast dinner’ the next time he’s here (must warn him to avoid her gravy) and Geoffrey was explaining his special route to the airport using the back lanes.

The roast lamb was delicious.  It’s very strange to be with a man who not only cooks but washes up too.

By lunchtime today he was gone, and the house seems very quiet.

Tuesday April 18th

 Have decided to opt out of modern obsessions with weight.  Too silly for words and besides everyone is a little heavier after a Bank Holiday.

 10.30 Wrote short polite note to Residents’ Association referring them to Colin. Even took the trouble to give them his new address.  And what do I get for my pains?  An instant response saying ‘since by your own admission Mr Jones is no longer a Resident we respectfully repeat our request that you deal with your lawn issues.’ I am an abandoned woman, how can they trouble me with such trivia?  Ooh, time for This Morning.

12.46 Emailed Gavin.  Suggested ‘Residents’ Association – my ongoing hell’ as a suitable topic for filming.  Wonder if any of my Suddenly Singles have had problems with their unfeeling uncaring Residents’ Association?

Wednesday April 19th

 Am independent liberated woman!  Can manage computer and cut own grass!  Who needs men anyway?

 14.12 Texted Jamie ‘grass needs cutting, will you be home soon?’ for once reply came at once ‘sorry Ma, am in Florida, work trip.’  Texted Julio ‘darling could you help me with the grass next time you’re here?’ Reply after short delay ‘ah beloved, is no possible, the back she is so bad.’

18.39 Am up to chin in hot bubble bath.  My back she is also bad but at least the grass is cut.  Was so fed up with useless men I got the old push mower out of the back of the shed and did it myself.  Quite quickly wished I had never started but the trouble with front gardens is that everyone can see you.  Curtains twitching all up and down the street.  So I had to finish.  Am in agony.

18.45 Aargh, phone in bedroom. They can just leave a message.  Or text me on mobile.

19.19 Message on phone from Residents’ Assoc.  At committee meeting yesterday discussion of my grass all got rather heated apparently.  Because all our front gardens are open plan (fences, hedges etc forbidden in house deeds) several people have always felt grass is communal responsibility. Several others disagree.  Upshot is, for a few pounds a week the Thomson boy will cut the grass. Saving up for school trip to Tunisia apparently.  Tunisia!  All we ever got was a day on a dairy farm.  And we had to walk there.

 Saturday April 22nd

 Am not independent liberated woman.  Am Gavin’s puppet.

 11.19 Hideous appalling horrid time at work this week.  Gavin not impressed with dignified singletons mourning loss of both spouse and friend.  ‘Pam Pam Pam,’ he yelled furiously across the table while the unisex youngsters all sat with heads bowed staring at their laps and avoiding eye contact, ‘what’s going on, have you lost your mojo already?  Not a single suicidal thought in your entire piece!  Come on come on, we need more Suddenly Single tragedies.  Get your arse in gear.  Move it!’

I scuttled out of the room, moving it, but apparently he didn’t mean it literally.  But at least Tarquin, who is turning into a dear boy, followed me and timidly offered a tissue.  ‘Never mind Pam,’ he whispered, ‘Gavin is always jealous of success.  Your viewing figures are through the roof.’

Which is lovely, of course, but apparently means am doomed to spend every Thursday asking sad people if they are suicidal.  As soon as the meeting was over Tarquin and I headed south of the river, where another group of potentially suicidal suddenly single students had written in asking to be filmed and were assembled in a trendy coffee place.  Am on a treadmill.

 Monday April 24th

 59.7 What?  What?  What?

 07.53 Ooh, have lost weight!   Quite a lot of walking in my commute, and then there’s those grass edges, quite a lot of bending and straightening up again (had to collect them all up into a green waste bag).  Anyway something has made me, at a guess, a whole dress size smaller with a much more defined waist.  Will go shopping.

16.22 Feet ache but overall most satisfactory.  Very sweet navy skirt suit in my (new) size, lime green blouse with fine navy stripe and new navy court shoes (feet are still the same size but shoes were reduced and not to be resisted).

 Thursday April 27th

59.6 Yes! Yes! Yes!

17.22  I am on the train.  Business types all barking importantly into mobile phones. Young unisex person having mournful conversation about something or someone called Puddy.  Young people are incomprehensible.

Wore new lime green and navy ensemble to work, but no one seemed to notice.  I am the only one with even a hint of colour about them, I don’t know what’s the matter with young people.  You couldn’t buy cheerful clothes when I was their age, everything was grey, and now that seems to be the only colour they’re interested in.

Filmed a group of Suddenly Single young mums, apparently you are never suicidal when you have your kids to think of but you are quite likely to be ‘desperate for a shag.’  Will get that bit edited out.  Oh, turns out Puddy is a kitten and it’s gone missing.  Everyone v. upset.  Maybe they aren’t so different after all.

 Saturday April 29th

66.1! Rats.  My own fault for stepping on scales in carefree confident manner. Normally I edge on, one foot at a time. 

14.54 Ghastly day at work yesterday.  Gavin in the foulest mood, refused to edit out the shagging bit, said ‘you managed 30 good seconds Pam and that was it, so it stays.  The rest is crap.’  Was about to burst into tears then remembered when Gavin is obnoxious it means my viewing figures are high, but being shouted at sure takes the shine off it.

All the unisexes depressed about the weekend.  It never used to be like this I’m sure, Friday was the highlight of the week.  By six ‘o’ clock you were home getting dolled up and trilling ‘the weekend starts here.’  Colin and I always went to a dance on a Friday, OK usually the Young Conservatives but better than nothing, and Saturday evenings we went to the cinema.  I’d shop on Saturday and Sunday was for laundry, then back to work on Monday.  Now all they seem to do is have drunken sex and come in on Monday even more miserable than they were on Friday.

14.58 I sincerely hope Bridget isn’t up to any of that nonsense.

14.59 I suppose she must be, she always did follow the crowd.

Sunday April 30th

Omitted weighing.  Will let scales have a little rest.

 20.44 Thomson boy turned up just as it was getting dark, has never seen a push mower before and made a considerable fuss so I offered him an extra fiver.  He whizzed round at top speed, missing quite a few chunks, and didn’t do the edges.  Still when I went to pay him he said ‘cheers for that Mrs J, but I won’t take the extra, turns out it’s a really good workout and I’m trying to build some muscle.  Girls don’t like you if you’re scrawny’ and off he tootled.  I went out with a torch and did the edges, also it turns out quite a good workout.

Monday May 1st

66.1 Ate nothing yesterday, well just salad and an apple, plus the doing the lawn edges workout, but weight hasn’t changed.

 19.12 Finally ‘found time’ to pop round to Mavis for coffee.  Truth is, I’ve been avoiding her ever since that time I phoned her from Albufeira. And as I feared, she only wanted to talk about that, and Colin’s possible ‘latent homosexuality’ given his friendship with Roderick and Gerald. I heard myself saying ‘well what does it matter Mavis, as long as he finds happiness.’  I’ve picked this nonsense up at work, no doubt about it.  Never thought I’d end up defending Colin, but I got my reward because it literally rendered her speechless.  For a few seconds anyway.  And I got away quickly before I could hear myself telling her about the Peterson woman and suggesting he is possibly bi-sexual.  (Unlikely since at the best of times he was barely sexual.  Seven years between our two children!)

Had a dreadful fright when I got home, was just putting the car keys on their hook in the hall when I heard a noise in the kitchen! Before I could decide whether to grab the phone and call for help or just run back out of the front door a bearded man appeared out of the kitchen.  I froze.  He gave me a look of pure hatred.  ‘Who’s been messing with my grass,’ he hissed.

Colin! In my house!  But as he pointed out it was his house too, and he wanted the Union Jack apron for the VE day garden party at Una’s. Also he wanted to discuss custody of the car.  His car too he said, really more his than mine (Huh).

Upshot is, I’m to have it Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning, he will get it the other days.  How will I do my midweek shop? How will I get to Maison Kevin?  Still at least I managed to avoid telling him that the Union Jack apron is still in its wrapper in the airing cupboard.  Also refused to sack Thomson boy who is showing exemplary work- and saving up- ethic.

What a terrible day.  Exhausted.  Going to bed.

Tuesday May 2nd

 66.1 Could be worse.  After to do with C. yesterday ate two portions of lasagne from the freezer. Put extra cheese on top too.

 11.09 Feeling bad today.  Should have given Colin that apron, I won’t need it at the VE Day street party in Cheltenham.  Even if I did have a vision of appalling Linda P. pressing herself up against it while ‘helping’ C. to flip a burger, I was still wrong.  Seem to have a bitchy streak a mile wide.

11.15 Maybe it’s a good thing I don’t have any grandchildren.  Will tell Bridget not to bother.

11.16 I know, will phone Julio to get some reassurance – he likes me after all.

11.23 Oh woe, worserer and worserer as the kids used to say. Julio very short with me, ‘doing the busy-ness’ and when I asked him to fly over and escort me to the street party on Saturday he said ‘but Portugal is neutral in your silly war, and besides I am in Moscow.’

Silly war?  Enough! Told him it was over.  Am Suddenly Single with a vengeance.

Joan Collins on TV this evening looking 20 years younger than me, which she isn’t for sure.  How does she do it?  If I’m not going to be a grandma why do I have to look like one?

Wednesday May 3rd

 66.1 maybe am seeing the benefit of a properly balanced diet as recommended by Good Housekeeping Magazine. So why do I look so old?

 20.13 Dragged self miserably to Maison K.  Leafing through magazine during ridiculously long wait (pensioners everywhere) I came across horrendous picture of Sophia Loren.  Or rather amazing picture, she is so beautiful still.  We are near enough the same age and I can hardly bear to look in the mirror.  Asked Kevin to Do Something and he recommended new product that ‘restores hair to youthful thickness and sheen.’

Thursday May 4th

 66.1 Fixation with weight is ridiculous.  Am eating sensibly, we all need our carbs after all, and body is responding gratefully with stable weight. Wish it would also respond with less sensitive skin.

07.10 Morning routine = get up, have shower, weigh self, breakfast, before doing makeup.  So it was a while before I looked in the mirror and saw the full horror.  Face is bright red, and looks likely to peel round my hair line.  Scrambled in bag for leaflet Kevin gave me yesterday and sure enough ‘in rare instances people with sensitive skins may experience an adverse reaction to this product.’ Kevin did mumble something but wasn’t listening, was still too stunned by Sophia.

07.19 Did the unthinkable and phoned Gavin on his home number to explain why I couldn’t film today.  Was astonished when he said, kindly, ‘don’t you worry about a thing, we’ll find something office-based for you till it wears off.’  Was so relieved I said thanks and hung up, only to realise I’ll have to brave the train and the Tube looking like this.  Headscarf and dark glasses I suppose.

 Friday May 5th

 67.3!!! Thought scales looked funny so gave them a shake, the screen shuddered and went blank.  And when I stood on them, disaster!  Clearly the screen was stuck.  So much for balanced bloody diet.

 15.03 If yesterday was bad today was 10 times worse.  Face still looks like a tomato and it turns out Gavin’s ‘kindness’ was anything but.  I’ve spent two days putting together the worst of my outtakes for a piece called ‘Pam’s Pretty Big Bloopers’.  It includes the one where I’m trying desperately not to scratch an itchy scalp not realising that a huge spider is clambering through my curls.  Oh how they laughed.  All of them.  The first time I’ve seen them happy on a Friday.

Yesterday tried to phone B. to share my suffering and see if she knew what to do to mask red face and tell her not to worry about grandchildren, but no answer of course.  Left a message that I too was feeling suicidal.

Today by lunchtime I was at breaking point.  Literally broken.  Left work early, rushed home and was about to go to bed when I thought ‘No, sod it, am going to DO something.’

21.32 So here I am tucked up in bed at the Health Farm (only 10 mins from here, have always wondered what it was like and had voucher for half price).  Have already had wonderfully soothing facial and more treatments promised for tomorrow.  Didn’t fancy street party anyway.

Monday May 8th

 12.12 Spent VE Day indulging self in more ways than you can shake a stick at.  Is this what we fought a war for (oh, I remember some old chap saying that to Colin when he let his hair grow slightly over his collar).  Well yes, actually, the freedom to work hard and spend your money in ways that please you.

Watched the Royals celebrating on TV, while wrapped in mud with mashed avocado on face.  They sent to the kitchen for it specially.

When I’m old I shall live here permanently.  Something to look forward to, as long as lucky Lottery numbers come up.  Also as long as remember to buy ticket with lucky numbers on.

 Tuesday May 9th

 Not kilos, it’s BMI as explained at Health Farm. 23 is normal. 23 is healthy.  Was told sternly to only weigh once a month then look up BMI on internet.

 09.44 After another day of bliss at the health farm I got home to find the florist had left a large bunch of red white and blue flowers inside the porch.  Note from Julio with profuse apologies and explanation that he is suffering from ‘the very much stress’.  Poor boy, it can’t be easy being an international business man.  He seems to have his fingers in so many pies, and all of them mysterious.

Face is nearly back to normal and I have a complete set of Organic Spa Skin Treatments that will Pamper my skin and Restore Youthful Glow.  Certainly looking a whole heap better, just as well since Mavis is coming for coffee.  Will wear something snazzy to show her I’m perfectly happy without Colin.  Will put photo of Julio on sideboard, next to flowers and gift card.

13.12 Mavis swept in, entirely ignored sideboard and said ‘well, what do you think?’  Then she gave me a twirl.  Had to admit she was looking pretty good and asked her if it was a new corset.  She laughed, tossed her head and said ‘Oh Pam, you’re so funny.’

Turns out she’s been to a colour consultant and bought a whole new wardrobe because she’s a Winter and she was wearing all the wrong things.  She’s left me with a voucher for 10% off.  But since the Health Farm splurge I simply can’t afford it.

Then she settled down for a good old gossip about, of all things, Mark Darcy.  She met him at his parents’ house and said ‘he’s a complete sweetie.  He was up a ladder sorting out his mother’s hanging baskets.’  I said ‘but he made Bridget cry in the paddling pool’ and she said ‘Forget that Pam, he’s a catch and you need to get Bridget onto him toot sweet.’

 Thursday May 11th

Scales are strictly verboten.  Must wait one month.  June 11th.  Or maybe will do 4 weekly. June 8th.

 Was telling Tarquin about the Colours (waiting for a group of Suddenly Single students to turn up, late of course) and he said casually ‘well you could use the research budget Pam, you never seem to touch it.’  Turns out that I’ve been allocated a small weekly budget for SS, that no one saw fit to tell me about, and if I put it all together there is just enough to get my colours done.  Can do a Before and After piece and show how Singles can make the best of themselves.

Students had all found someone new and weren’t strictly speaking single any more, but we filmed them anyway.

20.17 Phoned Una to tell her what Mavis said about Mark D, expecting some support but she said ‘he’ll be perfect for Bridget, think about it Pam, he’s local, his roots are here and once the children come along they’ll need to get out of London, they could get a really decent house with a garden round here.  But you’ll have to get Bridget to raise her game, she’s not exactly a glamour queen these days is she.’

Friday May 12th

Weighing on a Thursday not good, am always rushed on a Thursday.  Will do it 4 weekly on a Sunday. Will start June 4th.

 14.24 Humph, am a Winter just like Mavis.  Surely I’m a Spring or a Summer?  Still, unisexes all agreed I was looking good when I came back from consultation with entirely new makeup and scarf in new Winter colours.

Might be just the job for Bridget.  She needs something to give her a lift.

19.52  Was just serving small portion of cottage cheese salad (do not want to spoil perfect BMI) when mobile chirruped.  Julio.  Back home in Portugal and very contrite.  Thinks maybe his drink was spiked in Russia causing him to ‘say the bad things.’  Also the ‘busyness’ didn’t go well and he missed me.  Said I might possibly forgive him, said I’d think about it.  Life is quite flat without him I must say.  Right, dinner.

20.17  Managed two mouthfuls and doorbell went.  Colin, still hiding behind beard and wearing a leather biker jacket.  Asked me if I wanted to ‘talk things through.’  I said ‘no, nothing to talk about and where did you get that ridiculous jacket.’  Shuffled his feet a bit and mumbled something about  Roderick having two and was I happy with things as they are.  I said, ‘yes, everything is fine thankyou.’  He said ‘Alright then but I’m coming round on Sunday to give that grass cutting boy some training’ and wandered off.

My guess is that Linda ‘Cheerio Chook’ Peterson is turning out to be hard work and he’d quite like to be back here on Easy Street.  I’ll think about that one too.

 Sunday May 14th

67.2.  Just had a quick peek.  It is a Sunday, Sunday is my new weighing day.

18.33 Have paid the Thomson boy double as C. took so long mansplaining everything.  This time he took the money.  Three hours with Colin was clearly hard going, but must admit the grass looks perfect.

22.00.  Have just phoned Bridget with exciting news re colours.  Of course she wasn’t in the least bit interested. Tried to explain to her how much difference it makes but somehow took a wrong turn and ended up at Mark Darcy. Had meant to broach the subject in easy stages, but apparently my subconscious had a different idea.

23.20 Have spent all evening with colour swatch spread out on bed, moving all non-Winter clothes into spare room wardrobe.  Not much left and no money for new clothes. Could ask C. for money I suppose.

23.23 No, too humiliating.

 Wednesday May 17th

Have not weighed self since Sunday.  Mornings are weirdly empty.

 11.37 Strange phone call from Mavis, whispering as if she were in a spy movie: ‘Pam, listen, Colin and Linda are on the rocks.  This is your chance. Get in there. It’s confidential so don’t tell anyone you got it from me.’

I said ‘who is this?’ She hissed ‘Mavis.  Just get into your glad rags and get him back.’

11.38 I am certainly not making an exhibition of myself.  Have too much self -respect not to mention dignity.

11.39 Still, could just phone Una and find out what’s going on.

11.40 Oh, but supposing Colin answers?

12.02 Had the bright idea of phoning her mobile, thinking that surely Colin wouldn’t answer that.  And I was right, because it lives in Geoffrey’s trouser pocket, down there in the dark amongst the fluff. Ugh. There’s always something repulsively warm and moist about Geoffrey.  Anyway he put Una on but I learned precisely nothing because I didn’t want to reveal my sources so had to skirt all round until Una got the wrong end of the stick and told me I could have the lawnmower back because Colin had got theirs working properly.

12.59 Text from Mavis ‘Too late, they made it up.’

Thursday May 18th

Not weighing is a blessing on a working morning, a minute saved is a minute gained.

 13.22 Was the merest tad late for work but the meeting had already started.  Sneaked into seat but of course that set Gavin off.  ‘Children!’ he roared, and everybody jumped and sat up straighter and looked at him attentively. ‘not you you bloody idiots,’ he screamed, ‘Pam!’  I mustered some dignity ‘I think,’ I said, ‘I am old enough to be classed as an adult.’ He put his head in his hands and groaned.  Then he said ‘Children!  Old biddies! Crumbling old bastards in blazers!  Is that all you can find for Suddenly Single?’  ‘Well,’ I said, ‘my students are hardly children and my young mums are hardly old biddies. You have to understand that most people are working midweek.’  But he wasn’t having it.  Upshot is, we have to film on Saturday because he wants Suddenly Single young professionals.

17.47 Spent the afternoon filming an unemployed man who was working for his wife’s father so lost both marriage and job in one hit.  Not entirely comfortable with this, poor chap was so sad and yes, suicidal.  Maybe Gavin is right, but who can we get at such short notice.

Gave sad single chap number of taxi firm I now use to get around London.  Always short of drivers apparently.

 Friday May 19th

Not knowing weight does add a certain frisson of anticipation.  Like knowing there’s something yummy waiting in the fridge at home.

 15.08 Gloomy day looking for someone to film on Saturday.  Several singletons in the office but not appropriate to film selves apparently, even though the whole thing started with me.

One of the Sams phoned a cousin, had a long chat but said ‘no good, she’s back with her bloke.’  Tarquin emailed his uni gang but they’re all doing a 10k on Saturday, and hadn’t even told him, poor boy very upset.  Gave him a slice of cake (always carry spares) and put thinking cap on.

16.00 Gavin just stormed in, got an update, and said ‘Idiots!  Just find someone to fake it! Pam you’ve got a daughter haven’t you? Rope her in!’

16.40  Before I knew it everything was arranged.  Nerved self up to phone B and got exactly the response I expected.  So ungrateful, and definitely lying when she claimed to have a boyfriend.  A mother knows.

 Sunday May 21st

67.5, but doesn’t count as weighed after a very late breakfast in bed.

 10.30. Still in bed.  Completely exhausting and upsetting day yesterday.  Have never seen Bridget’s flat quite so disgusting, there were plates and glasses all over the floor like the remains of a Roman orgy.  When I sat on the settee I could see the strap of a red lacy bra poking up between the cushions, but I shoved it down the gap quickly before anyone could see.  It took hours to rehearse Bridget, I’ve never known anyone so awkward on camera.  Oh, phone.

11.07 Mavis, apparently Mark Darcy is having lunch with his parents today and is Bridget around maybe we could engineer something?  I said ‘Oh what a lovely idea unfortunately Bridget is… Bridget is… terribly busy this weekend.  I had a lovely day with her yesterday so today she’s with her… with her… friends.’

The truth is, we had finally managed to start filming and Bridget was being entirely uncooperative when suddenly a man burst into the room!  From her bedroom no less!

She claims he is her boyfriend.  I do so hope not – oily good looks and creepy ‘charm’.  Team found the whole thing hysterically funny and we left in disarray.  I have never felt so humiliated.

As a result Bridget and I are Not Speaking.

 Monday May 22nd

Glad I only weigh on Sundays.  Ate an entire 4-serving lasagne yesterday due to misery over mother/daughter failed relationship.

 14.29 Email from Tarquin, apparently the few seconds of film we managed can be edited into something usable.  As we are protecting B’s identity by filming in shadow we only really needed her voice and guess what, he was taping while we rehearsed.  Says her obvious distress and downright rudeness will make quite a good piece after all.

14.35 Still, she is not forgiven.

 Wednesday May 24th

Three cakes with coffee.  Never mind, will cut back before Sunday.

07.15 For some reason it’s taken till now for the penny to drop.  Oily boyfriend is Our Mr. Cleaver.  Bridget is sleeping with her boss.  Feel completely confused.  On the one hand, she’s hooked a big fish.  Could keep her in very nice style if she lands him.  On the other hand, he looked like a wrong ‘un to me.  A heartbreaker if ever I saw one.

12.13 Just had coffee with Una and Mavis.  Una is sick to death of Geoffrey’s obsession with golf.  Mavis told long story about Sylvia’s grandchildren who are appallingly behaved and insist on taking their plates under the table and eating on the floor. Una said they are all like that these days, there is no discipline.

Suddenly I burst into tears.  Stunned silence.  I poured out the story of Bridget and that Cleaver man and the appalling fact that she has not phoned to apologise.

Una and Mavis agreed this is Not Acceptable.  Apparently I must phone B. and tell her so and insist on an apology.

19.12 No answer of course.  Did not deign to leave message. No doubt when I’m old she’ll shove me in the kind of care home where they leave you in your own filth and no one helps you eat.  Well over my dead body, that’s all I can say.

19.59  Phoned Sylvia planning to commiserate. I said ‘how are the grandchildren’ and was treated to a 20 minute monologue about their perfections.  I asked after their table manners.  She said ‘oh Pam don’t be so old-fashioned’ and hung up.

Saturday May 27th

Weigh in tomorrow, will only have lettuce today.  No problem.

 18.21  Text from Jamie, he’s coming for a visit!  Tonight! It’ll be so lovely to see him.  Must get something out of the freezer.  Ooh, must change spare room sheets. Better vacuum round quickly.  Will put the best towels out. Ooh, can ask him for advice about B., I bet he would never put me in a care home.  So glad to have a son.  Sons always love their mothers.

Sunday May 28th

Refuse to record ridiculous weight, just because I finished up the left over dinners yesterday.

 09.12 Well!  I’ll be… whatever, I don’t know, I’ll be something (my grandfather always used to say ‘bugger me backwards with a broomstick’ but I don’t fancy that thank you very much).

They arrived late and as I hugged Jamie the tears came.  So I sobbed out my story.  That girlfriend of his, Rebecca, stood there looking like a fallen angel (long white dress and some sort of flowery headdress) and said ‘I’m afraid that’s karma Mrs Jones, what goes round comes round you know.’

They didn’t touch a mouthful of my perfectly delicious Boeuf Bourguinon.  Jamie said ‘I did tell you Becca was vegan.’  Rebecca said ‘Meat disgusts me Mrs. Jones.’  I pointed out that there were 3 sorts of vegetables but she sniffed and said ‘they look frozen to me.  Did you get them from the freezer Mrs. Jones?  We only eat fresh organic vegetables.  Anyway we had a sandwich on the way.’

They were up at 6, meditating on the back patio, and then they produced two little tea bags – Organic Lemon and Ginger herb tea – for breakfast and ate a banana each.  I said ‘Jamie never eats bananas’ and she said ‘He does for me.’  And then they were gone.

So much for sons.

 Wednesday May 31st

Fed up with weekly weighing, creates psychological imbalance.  But am now scared to get on scales in case, well, who knows?

11.17 Completely bizarre encounter in Waitrose.  Was just reading the small print on some smoked salmon when someone tapped me on the shoulder.  Turned round to see beaming blonde woman (dyed) with substantial cleavage and large dangly gold earrings.  ‘Pam,’ she said, ‘how lovely to see you.’  Mind was racing to place her, so I just smiled in what I hoped was a ‘nice to see you too old friend’ fashion. ‘I can’t stop,’ she gushed, ‘I’m in a frightful rush, but I just wanted to tell you how grateful I am to Colin for everything he’s done for me. He’s a perfect lamb.’  Could feel my smile fading.  ‘Oh,’ I said, ‘well, no problem.’  And she was gone.

13.42  Cannot for the life of me think who she is.  Will have to phone Colin.

4.53 Talking to Colin is like wading through cold porridge.  I said ‘so who’s the over made-up blonde woman who thinks you’re a lamb?’  He said ‘what?’  I said ‘large, blonde, big earrings, big… you know what’s.  Come on Colin, she’s not the sort you forget.’  He said ‘what?’  I said ‘are you deaf?  Some woman in Waitrose tells me she wants to thank you.’  He said ‘has she got half an acre and a fruit cage?’  I said ‘what?’  He said, ‘apparently she couldn’t start the mower so I stripped it down and rebuilt it.  Runs sweet as a nut now.  And I sent the Thomson lad round there to help.’  Then he hung up.

15.12  Una just rang.  ‘I didn’t mean to eavesdrop,’ she said, ‘but he was talking about poor Penny.  Since Leonard died she’s all at sea so Colin and Geoffrey have been helping out.’  I said ‘well you want to watch that one Una.  Have you seen her lately?’

 Friday June 2nd

Too hot, no energy left to climb on scales, am floating round in flowery kimono and no underwear.  If doorbell rings will ignore it.

 13.46 Tarquin and I are on holiday.  Not together, obviously.  He’s taken his Significant Other away for a ‘rumpy-pumpy break’.  He saw the weather forecast and suggested we both take some time off.  It never even crossed my mind to think about holiday entitlement. Spent all of yesterday on the sun lounger reading a Joanna Trollope.

But now am feeling a bit guilty about Penny.  I suppose the idea of reinventing herself as a brassy tart was her way to cope with grief.  Who knows.  Will just give her a call and show some support.

 Sunday June 4th

Too ill for Sunday weigh in.  Anyway about to throw up so will be thinner tomorrow.

 10.?? Ooooh.  Feeling really ill.  Too much sun probably.  Will stay quietly in bed for a bit.

10.??+5 Water.  Need water.  Will get toothbrush mug from bathroom.

11.?? Aagh phone. Will just put head under pillow till it goes away.

11.?? +?? Phone again.

11.59 Not quite so nauseous so answered phone.  Explained to Julio I have heat stroke.

12.07 Julio was phoning from car parked on drive as I didn’t answer the door, clearly bell not working.  We are due at Una’s for lunch, as promised at Easter.  Has to be today as Colin is away (where?  No idea).  Explained again about heatstroke.  He said ‘nonsense, it is the hangover.  What are you drinking yesterday?’  Explained it was only something fizzy called Prosecco (?) that Penny brought round but we sat too long in the sun.

12.46 Feel better after long cool shower and strange drink made by Julio.  Special Portuguese recipe with egg and milk and soluble aspirin apparently.

15.49 Really couldn’t face much of Una’s lunch (that gravy!), I mean who does a full English roast at the hottest time of the year.  But Julio ate it all, praised the gravy, and was generally charming.  Thought he was staying the night, but he had to leave, early meeting tomorrow in Lisbon.

Very puzzling remark of Una’s – ‘I hear you’ve been more than generous to Penny.’  Letting her sit in my garden for a couple of hours is hardly ‘generous’.

23.12 Sudden memory from yesterday.  Inexplicably told Penny to ‘help herself’ to Colin.  I meant the grass cutting.  I think.

Tuesday June 6th

Recovered from heat stroke, keep forgetting to weigh self though. Odd, it used to be such an engrained habit.

 11.22 Nice call from Penny thanking me for Saturday.  Since Leonard died she says she’s felt like an outcast, and like ‘everyone thinks I’ll be after their husbands, well let me tell you I wouldn’t have their husbands if they came gift-wrapped in gold foil.’  I avoided mentioning how grateful she was to have the use of Colin, gift-wrapped or otherwise.

Anyway I had a sudden moment of inspiration – girls’ night out!  Bridget is always going out with her annoying friends, so why shouldn’t I?  Must get on and text everyone (friends all so behind the times, still texting – should be emailing!)

19.35 Just checked texts.  Apparently Una puts the grandchildren to bed Tuesdays and Thursdays which leaves her drained, but any other evening (apart from Saturday, all agree you can’t leave a husband alone on a Saturday), Mavis has her Players rehearsal on a Sunday, Audrey regrets that Nigel ‘needs her most evenings’, I really don’t want to go out Thursday or Friday after a long day at work, and I already knew that Penny was busy on a Monday with her Spanish conversation class, which she called ‘my lifeline’.  So that leaves Wednesday, but that is Elaine Darcy’s book group and while I didn’t invite her Una did.  Elaine also has a craft group, flower show committee and golf club Ladies’ committee.

19.37 Will not be beaten by this.  Promised Penny a night out and a night out she will have.

 Friday June 9th

No breakfast or lunch today, planning a blow out in the evening.

 12.33 Have managed a day off work – told Gavin I was doing research in the evening.  Well Penny is Suddenly Single if anyone is.  Must get ready for Girls’ Night Out.

What to wear.  Need some advice. We’re going for a quiet meal in the Rose and Crown so mustn’t overdo it.

18.17 Phoned Bridget at work.  She hissed ‘I’m at work, I can’t talk now.’  I said, ‘you can apologise later, right now I just want to know what to wear for a night out with the girls.’ She said, rather stiffly I thought, ‘just don’t be overdressed like you usually are.’

Slacks maybe, and a simple top.

Saturday June 10th

Oh dear.  Keep going in bathroom but not for scales.

11.52 Am not at all well.  Must have had the bad prawn, just my luck.

14.22 Strange night last night.  The Rose and Crown is now called The Pig’s Earhole. Or rather Ear ’Ole.  It is no longer quiet.  We were on a table next to a hen party, all wearing French maid outfits and all roaring drunk.

Only Una and Mavis turned up, both dressed to the nines with all the best jewellery on display – presumably showing Penny they were hanging on to their looks and their husbands.  Penny was dressed like Dolly Parton, low cut white top, tight jeans and little denim jacket, big hair, lots of bangles.  And me in my tartan trews and twinset.  What an odd group we must have appeared.  Certainly something kept sending the French maids off into screams of laughter.

Between that and the background ‘music’ it was barely possible to have a conversation.  Probably a good thing.

Maybe will give up Prosecco.  Delicious, but just possibly it doesn’t quite agree with me.

 Monday June 12th

Forgot to weigh again yesterday.  Still, clothes all fit, so why worry.

 10.23 Spent most of Sunday on the phone.  Mavis first:

Mavis: I don’t know, are we getting too old for going out at night Pam?  Incidentally did you know that Sylvia is 10 years older than she admits to?  I found out quite by accident, it’s a secret of course so don’t tell anyone.  You wouldn’t think she was in her late seventies would you?

Una: You were right Pam.  I don’t trust Penny at all.  I’ve told Geoffrey he’s not to go round there again.  Colin will have to fix her dripping tap, after all, it’s not as if you mind any more is it?

Colin: I’m just going to pop round for my adjustable spanner.

Penny: Only got a moment but I can’t thank you enough Pam, I had a lovely evening, but next time why don’t you and I go to the singles club?  We’re both on the market aren’t we? Better go, that sounds like Colin at the door.

Bridget: ‘Mu-u-u-m!  It’s wall-to-wall TV cricket here! I hate TV cricket!’ Told her that when he’s watching sport she at least knows where he is and what he’s up to, so be grateful.

10.46 Oh, phone.

10.53 Penny again.  Before she could say anything I grabbed the chance to ask her to be on Suddenly Single.  I was too late, apparently, as she’s already been filmed.  She said ‘Colin couldn’t do a thing with the video recorder, but he says yours works fine, so be a love and record it for me, must dash, thanks.’

12.19 Have spent an hour trying to programme the video.  Could phone the Thomson boy to come and do it but really too humiliating, last time he  wrote out the instructions and said ‘see how easy it is Mrs. J.? anyone can do it.’

12.25 Can’t find instructions.

12.26 I know, will phone Bridget and get her to do it.

Tuesday June 13th

 Phoned Penny and told her Bridget would bring the recording of Breakfast News when she comes for her next visit.  Penny said ‘not Breakfast News you dumdum, I’m on this afternoon, but never mind, the Thomson lad came round and sorted out the video so I’m good to go.’

 Thursday June 15th

Scared to weigh self, following Julio’s comment – ‘Ah, at last you are growing to be like a Portuguese woman.’

 19.17 Julio is here.  Turned up at work, bought me lunch then borrowed key to house – ‘so much more com-for-table than an ‘otel no?’  When I got home he was in the lounge with the curtains closed watching golf on TV.  I’m in the kitchen rustling up a sandwich. I must admit it’s rather peaceful and soothing to have another body around the place.

Later on apparently we’re meeting Audrey and Nigel for drinks at the Golf Club.  I have no idea when or how this was arranged, but at least it’s the one place I can be sure we won’t bump into Colin and Linda because she like me hates all sport.

20.17 Am just powdering nose, really taking a break from the two men.  Locked into argument about who has the best handicap.  Surely a handicap is a bad thing so it should be the worst handicap?  Anyway we don’t even use that word now, we say, according to the unisexes, ‘differently abled.’  I suggested that but only got screams of laughter from Audrey and Nigel and a blank look from Julio.  Maybe golf is more inclusive than I thought.

23.12 Ooh, Prose… Porces… Processo.  Very very nice. Just fizzy water really.

Friday June 16th

Was dehydrated apparently.  Horrible whatever it is.

18.45 Was woken at 7 by Julio bearing soothing special drink.  Needed it, can’t seem to take late nights any more.  But at least could face work.  Did entire filming session of Suddenly Single chartered accountants in a bit of a dream, but afterwards Tarquin said ‘you were really flying there Pam, I’ve never seen you so relaxed in front of the camera. How you kept a straight face when that chap explained his unhappiness as a percentage of his total emotional spreadsheet I do not know.’  Easy.  I wasn’t listening.  But did not tell T. that.

Saturday June 17th

Not eating.  Food too expensive.

 09.16 Huge credit card bill just dropped onto the mat.  How did that happen?  I only buy the barest necessities.  Nigel has taken J. to the airport.  He seems to be rather popular.

10.01 Interesting item on Radio 4 about hallmarks on silver.  I don’t suppose Mother’s old teapot is worth anything, it was a wedding present so isn’t that old.  Only 1931.  Will just have a look at it though.

12.23 Polishing silver is so satisfying, don’t know why I leave it so long.  And hallmark seems to be for 1892.  I wonder if Mother knew it was second hand?  Wonder if it’s worth anything.  I could do with a little more money now I’m paying a gardener to do Colin’s work and still need an entire new wardrobe of Winter colours.

12.25 I couldn’t sell it though. Could I?

12.31 It never gets used, and the children just snigger if they see it on the sideboard.

 Monday June 19th

Money problems solved, as Rebecca would say, it’s karma.

 14.14 Was just packing up mother’s silver to take to the Auction Rooms Free Valuation session tomorrow when the doorbell bonged.

Colin, weeping.  He said ‘I want you to know that you are alright.’  ‘I already knew that’ I said crisply, ‘how’s Linda?’  ‘This isn’t about Linda,’ he sobbed.  ‘I’ll make you a cup of sweet tea,’ I said reluctantly.  ‘Tea!’ he said, ‘this isn’t about tea!’

No it wasn’t, it was about tea, a cheese and pickle sandwich and two slices of my Devil’s Food Cake.  Suspect Linda doesn’t cook.  Anyway long story short, he’s found out that Leonard left the finances in a terrible mess, no proper pension provision, Penny will have to sell the house etc.  Whereas we are financially sound even though no longer a couple.

And, surfing a great wave of emotion, he has arranged for half his pension to go into my bank account, but quite rightly wants me to pay half the house running costs back into the joint account.

21.55 Spent all evening doing sums.  I’ll be rather well off, and no guilty feelings either.  Whoopee! Also can keep the silver, it’s an heirloom after all.

21.57 Hang on.  We now have a Financial Arrangement.  That’s what people do when they’re getting divorced.

21.58 Oh.

 Thursday June 22nd

Seem to be too busy to worry about weight.  Very strange feeling.

 Another lovely surprise visit from Julio.  Co-workers all rather impressed that my lover flies in on a whim and whisks me off to lunch.  We were in the middle of brainstorming, very relaxed as Gavin on his hols, but they insisted I should go.

And then the strangest moment in Harrods cafeteria, where luckily I was dining modestly on a salad – a couple came up to me, looking rather shy and awkward, then she said ‘excuse me, but aren’t you Pam from Suddenly Single?’  Managed not to choke on a piece of tomato, swallowed quickly, smiled and said ‘Er, yes, I suppose I am.’  Then he said ‘would you mind terribly giving us your autograph?’ Rather taken aback at this, but I signed their serviette.  Very nice couple, I was about to ask them which Suddenly Single they liked best when Julio interrupted – ‘Please, you have now the autograph, please you will allow Pamela the quiet lunch, no?’

With that they scurried away.  I suppose he was jealous of the distraction.  Sigh.

 Saturday June 24th


17.22 Lovely to have Julio here of course but not quite sure why I’m ironing his shirt for tonight (Mavis and Brian, drinks at their house).  I suppose it’s the price of having him here rather than in an hotel, and I do enjoy the company.

03.33 Can’t sleep, have crept into spare room. Colin’s transistor radio is still on the bedside table. Brings a tear to my eye.  Where was I.  Yes, can’t sleep.  Due to bizarre conversation with Julio on way back from the Enderby’s (no Prosecco so had one small sherry, and nibbles were out of a packet.)

J: Pamela, is time we talked.

Me: What about?

J: The marriage.  Is time we talked about the marriage.

Me: But you always knew I was married to Colin.

J: Not the Colin.  The marriage of Julio and Pamela. You would like this I think?

03.39 Would I?

Sunday June 25th

Overwhelmed with Portuguese fantasies.

 11.29 Finally fell asleep in the wee small hours.  Julio woke me with fruit juice in the middle of a dream about a Portuguese villa.  We could have our own orange trees.

 Over breakfast (on the patio, very continental but under sun umbrella as sky looks threatening) I said ‘could we have our own orange trees?  In Portugal?’  ‘Oh no,’ he said, ‘I am not going to take Pamela away from her beloved England with all her friends and the important career.  Also the reception of the television is perfect.  We live here of course.’

Am in kitchen, wrestling with Easy Portuguese Cookery.

 Monday June 26th

 09.17 Julio brought me breakfast in bed then had to leave for his flight – Brian Enderby is giving him a lift to the airport.  How does Julio do that?  I’ve never known Brian Enderby do anything for anyone.  I mean I understand why women respond to Julio, he is charming, and so attentive, but the men all seem to fall for him too.  Very strange.  But rather wonderful to be responsible for bringing him into our little world. Oh, phone.

10.12 Furious phone call from Una.  Family visited at the weekend and spent the whole time telling her she was an old fuddy-duddy because she used her china tea service instead of mugs.  I said ‘tell me about it, according to James our generation are to blame for everything.’

She said ‘well maybe we are but at least we were never a bunch of boring vegetarian whale huggers.  When I think how wild we were, how, how, cutting edge, Pam, do you remember I had the first pair of jeans in the village?’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘your dad hit the roof. ‘Oh he didn’t mind the jeans,’ she said, ‘but I wore them in the bath to shrink them to fit and I dripped all over the hall carpet.’

I said ‘it was all Marlon Brando’s fault. They put The Wild One on at the cinema and that was us done for.’  There was a long silence while we both remembered the beauty of the young Brando. Finally she let out a sigh. ‘Well Brando may have left us but we’re still going strong.  I’m throwing a party.  Put your thinking cap on, we need to show the youngsters how it’s done.’

 It was on the tip of my tongue to suggest an engagement party for me and Julio but maybe not just yet.  After all, not divorced yet, so can hardly be engaged.

Wednesday June 28th

Overwhelmed by jewellery fantasies.

 8.32 Excited call from Julio ‘Pamela, darling, I am sending you the gift, it is a little love gift from your Julio.’ I said ‘what is…?’ but he was gone.

Oooh, hope it’s jewellery.  Maybe not a ring though, too soon for that, anyway can’t get old wedding ring off finger.  Saw some exquisite filigree earrings when we were in Portugal, I do hope it’s earrings.

9.32 Excited call from Una ‘Tarts!’ she said and I said ‘oh we weren’t really Una, your dad was just a bit carried away when he called us that.’ ‘No dummy,’ she screeched, ‘the party, we’re all going as Tarts and the men can be Vicars and I checked with Elaine Darcy her Mark will be home that weekend apparently he craves for something light hearted as his work is so depressing anyway he can see Bridget being a Tart it’s ideal for her now she’s so buxom he’ll like that she can be the Queen of Tarts.’  She started to laugh hysterically but I said ‘I’ve got to go Una, there’s someone at the door.’

It was a delivery person with several heavy boxes.  They’re piled up in the hall.  The label says ‘amostras da telha do banheiro’. Probably not earrings then.

 2.13 Can’t sleep.  What on earth could be in those boxes?

2.15 Well it is my present.  Surely I can open it.

2.16 But that would spoil Julio’s surprise.  Better not.

Thursday June 29th

Too excited for scales!.

19.21 Brain wave!  Phoned Audrey and asked to borrow the Portuguese phrase book she took on holiday with her. Found it on the mat when I got home from work.

19.22 Under ‘Shopping’ are all the words for jewellery.  It isn’t jewellery.  Something for the garden maybe?

19.25 Ooh, little dictionary in the back.  No sign of ‘amostras’, ‘banheiro’ is bathroom.  Bathroom?  ‘telha’ is ‘tiles.’  Bathroom tiles?  What?

Friday June 30th

Too impatient for scales!.

 20.47 Waited all day for Julio but no sign of him.  Admittedly he’d never said he’d be here today but why did he send the present?  Oh to hell with him, I’m going to have a nice long soak in the bath.  Always feel slightly grubby after a day at work.

21.12 Aaargh! Noises downstairs!  Please not the shower scene from Psycho!

22.05 It was Julio, letting himself in, I had entirely forgotten that he’d kept the key.  Wanted my present, but finding me naked in the bath seemed to distract him. He’s asleep now.

Anyway whole point of scary Psycho shower scene is that girl doesn’t know he’s there.

Saturday July 1st

Cake.  Consolation.

 12.38 Thought Julio would never wake up, and normally he’s such an early bird.  Anyway it turns out that the boxes do indeed contain bathroom tiles, so we can have, apparently ‘the little piece of Portugal in the oh so English house.’  Except that each of the four boxes has a different pattern of tile.  Julio shrugs ‘is because they are the amostras, the, er, the samples.’

So my lovely filigree earrings turn into mismatched bathroom tile samples from one of his business contacts.  I agreed, reluctantly, that we could choose one pattern and have it on one wall, replacing the wall of  mainly plain tiles mixed with random spring flowers – I like them but can see they are maybe a little dated.  But nothing can be done until I have settled things with Colin, so we’ve hidden the boxes in the utility room.  Can guarantee C. would never set foot in there.

Sunday July 2nd

 07.15  Up early to make breakfast, Julio is playing golf with Brian Enderby.  To be fair he did bring me a cup of tea in bed, and it only took me a moment to rustle up a bacon sandwich while he was in the shower.  Will just take the papers back to bed for a bit.

07.30 Aargh! Phone!

07.40 It was Mavis gabbling ‘it’s all sorted Pam I just need the numbers so that’s you and Julio and Bridget, anyone else?’  I said I thought perhaps B. had a boyfriend. ‘Fine, fine,’ Mavis said, ‘let him come too, but he must be a Vicar and she can be a Tart and we can manoeuvre Mark Darcy into the firing line I don’t suppose the boyfriend is up to much but I need you to confirm, when can you confirm, can you do it now Pam, I really must have the numbers.’

Will have to phone Bridget, there’s nothing else for it.

07.50 Well!  I don’t know about not up to much, the boyfriend seems perfectly charming to me. Not really oily at all.  And they are coming, so can phone Una back and get a bit of peace.  Need to concentrate, am cooking for Julio, Audrey and Nigel, and Nigel fancies himself as a bit of a gourmet.  He gets it all off Masterchef of course.

Monday July 3rd

 16.13 Met Julio in London for lunch, I said why not dinner locally since I spend quite enough time on that train but he insisted on going to Harrods again.  Greeted me effusively with, of all things, a corsage!  The cafeteria was heaving and everyone turned to look as he embraced me and pinned the corsage to my jacket.  Luckily no autograph hunters this time!

 Wednesday July 5th

22.47 Julio still here, says he can’t bear to leave ‘his little Pamela’.  Brought me flowers again today, a girl could get used to all this attention.  All I ever had from Colin was an African violet in a pot when James was born.  It was still lurking in the bathroom when Bridget was born so he didn’t feel the need to buy another.

And I got my wish, dinner locally.  Julio had booked it and we had the best table, although I think they’d somehow got the idea it was my birthday or something.  Anyway the staff were most attentive, only slightly spoiled by two of them asking for my autograph, which set the customers off and I ended up signing everyone’s serviettes.

Thursday July 6th

 17.23 Julio’s gone, feeling a bit down truth be told.  Dull day at work, TV isn’t all that glamorous.  Told the unisexes about the autographs and they advised me to get some small photos printed up for handing out.  Also to wear sunglasses when I don’t want  to be recognised.  Certainly don’t want to be recognised on the commute home, when I feel like a lump of chewed string.

19.10 Letter waiting for me on the mat, first appointment with counsellor.  Really don’t need counselling, have fab job, nice house, sexy boyfriend.  OK kids are a bit lacking in some departments and it would be nice to have grandchildren but really I am fine.  Apart from feeling completely miserable.

19.12 Maybe I will go along, just to see what it’s like.

 Saturday July 8th

12.32 Popped into opticians to see about sunglasses and ended up having an eye test.  Need reading glasses.  Perfectly ridiculous.  And yet when they gave me a copy of Vogue to peer at everything came up crystal clear.  So agreed to get some, will keep them in the bottom of my bag and only use them when in dire straits.

Also bought huge sunglasses with diamante on the sides.  That should help me stay anonymous.  (When I explained to girl why I needed them she said ‘oh my mum loves you’ and got me to sign one of their business cards).

 Monday July 10th

 11.25 First meeting with counsellor was at 10.30.  Grim looking woman in beige twinset and large rope of amber beads.  Rather like my old headmistress, possibly her daughter?  Tried asking her maiden name just in case but she said ‘I won’t be sharing any personal information with you Pamela.’  She also said:

‘I am person centred.’

‘What is said in this room stays in this room.’

‘You have complete confidentiality.  If for instance I should see you in Tesco, I won’t acknowledge you.’

I said ‘you won’t see me in Tesco, I’m a Waitrose girl.’ But she didn’t so much as crack a smile.

Anyway I told her about my problems with work, children, absent husband and all too present boyfriend.  Had a little weep (she passed the tissues, very considerate).  Then she said

‘If you do what you’ve always done, then you’ll get what you’ve always got.  All change comes from within.’

I said ‘I see’ (I didn’t) ‘but what really upsets me is the way Julio gets more and more like Colin.  Am I doomed to always have boring inconsiderate men?’

She said ‘Wherever you go, there you are.  And now it’s time for us to end the session.’

I said ‘but that’s only 50 minutes.’

She said ‘yes.  It’s known as “the counselling hour.”’

 Wednesday July 12th

 08.30 Colin phoned last night and asked to come round today as he wants to ‘talk’’.  Remember the last time he ‘talked’, not sure I’m strong enough but have dressed to impress which always helps my confidence.

11.15 C. now has small gold earring as well as beard and leather jacket.  I said ‘you do know you look nothing like Marlon Brando?’  He said, ‘I hope not, he’s enormous.’  I meant the young leather-jacketed Marlon but I didn’t say anything, instead I said ‘has this got something to do with Linda?’  He said ‘she’s trying to jhoojzh me up, apparently I’m boring.’  I said ‘Well Colin, wherever you go, there you are.’  He put his head in his hands and said ‘Oh, you are so right, it is me.  I’m a complete waste of space.’

And then he left.  So much for ‘talking.’

Still, I hope he’s OK.

 Thursday July 13th

20.22 Somehow and for some reason things aren’t going well at work.  Perhaps it’s like Una says, they aren’t just a different generation, they’re a different species, and probably from another planet.

For instance, really thought I’d got the hang of those wretched meetings.  This morning Gavin stood up and said ‘Guys, Guys, we really need to get to grips with this one.’  I took the opportunity to check my lipstick in my little mirror (I could feel something was stuck to my top lip, it was a seed off my morning bagel) when Gavin yelled ‘Pam that means YOU!’  I said ‘but I’m not one of the guys,’ and they all started howling with laughter.

Apparently ‘Guys’ is the unisex way of saying ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ or more likely ‘Girls and Boys.’  How the flaming Nora was I supposed to know that?

 Saturday July 15th

 09.30 It’s no good, can’t stop worrying about Colin.  Tried phoning but Una said ‘he’s out, went out early.  I have to say Pam, he’s in a very strange mood.’

Oh dear, oh dear, what have I done?

16.30  Couldn’t face lunch.  Am far too full of self, one counselling session does not an expert make.  Should not have been throwing counselling jargon around like confetti and driving estranged husband to despair.  Am humbled.  Will be new person, I promise, just let Colin be OK.  Oh, phone’s ringing, maybe it’s him?  (Or the hospital.  Please don’t let it be the hospital).

16.45 Colin.  He said ‘I’ve bought a strimmer!’  I said ‘A what?’  He said ‘have you got cloth ears?  A strimmer!  For strimming!  It’s state of the art, it’s got…’  But I didn’t hear what it’s got because I hung up.

Mmm, hungry, will just have some lasagne and garlic bread.

 Monday July 17th

 11.30. Second session with counsellor. Told her I was very fed up because of work, where everyone is young and you can’t tell the boys from the girls because apparently we are all Guys now.  She said ‘and how do you feel about that Pam?’  I said ‘well how would you feel’ and she said ‘it’s not about me is it?’ So I said I felt like the only sensible person marooned in a sea of unisex idiots and she said maybe I should try to fit in a little more.

She gestured towards my smart tweed skirt suit and said ‘for instance, clothes signal your membership of a tribe, I bet no one else at work wears tweed. If you adapt your style they may find it easier to accept you.’  Swallowed my annoyance and shook my head No re unisexes wearing tweed, but said ‘I thought all change came from within?’ She glanced at the clock and said ‘we’ll discuss that next week.’

Wednesday July 19th

11.51 Have been mulling over the counsellor’s suggestion that I change my dress style for work.  Current uniform amongst the unisex Guys is jeans and a t-shirt with the inevitable scarf, although cotton now as a concession to the hot weather.  I’m not spending money on that sort of rubbish.

11.58 Had a rummage in Bridget’s room and found an old grey t-shirt, a bit baggy but that seems to be the way they do it.  Added my gardening trousers, denim with a comfy elasticated waist.  Was stumped about the scarf though, until I remembered the old thing I put round my head when I’ve got rollers in – almost never do that now Kevin uses extra strong hairspray that lasts all week.  Anyway, ironed it.  Looks OK, is grey and black paisley so very in keeping.

Footwear seems to be either boots or flip flops, have neither.

12.07 Ooh, I know, will wear old white tennis shoes.  Will wear new ensemble tomorrow, not filming so a good time to experiment.

Thursday July 20th

 11.30 Strangely quiet morning at work, everyone very subdued.

14.41 Small unisex group just assembled at my desk.  After some shuffling and throat clearing they shoved Tarquin to the front.  ‘Pam,’ he said, and I thought hello, here it comes, I’m about to be one of the Guys at last, ‘Pam, is everything alright?  Not feeling, you know, depressed or anything?’  I said no, I was fine.  One of the Sams pushed him out of the way and said ‘Pam, please, don’t change who you are.  It doesn’t work, goodness knows I should know that if anyone does, please, we rely on you to cheer up the place, know what I mean?’

Then they all melted away.

16.13 ‘I should know that if anyone does’?  There’s a story there for sure.

Saturday July 22nd

 09.26 Julio is back, turned up late last night with a suitcase full of dirty laundry.  Was about to put it in the machine this morning when I suddenly thought No, Pam, if you do what you’ve always done then you’ll get what you’ve always got.  So I called him into the utility room and showed him how to do laundry.  He just laughed and said ‘ah, you English ladies, always so independent.’

10.40 Right now he’s watching the Golf on TV while the washing sits in the machine.  I will not deal with it.  I will not.

10.48 Couldn’t bear it, popped his laundry in the dryer.  It’s very hard sometimes not to do what you’ve always done, and besides I need the machine myself.

 Monday July 24th

 10.48 Third counselling session, and probably my last.  She was sat with arms folded looking very grim.  I said ‘you were going to explain to me about change coming from within except when it doesn’t’  She said ‘never mind all that, you are suddenly single.’  I said ‘not really, we split up in January.’

She said ‘no no, I saw you on the television, you didn’t tell me what your work was, this is very awkward, you are not as I understand it a qualified counsellor or psycho-therapist and yet you swan about the place asking vulnerable people if they feel suicidal.  Have you any idea of the damage you could do?’  I said ‘but they love it!’ and she snorted.  I left.

Tuesday July 25th

Won’t bother with any more counselling.  Might need physio for Repetitive Strain Injury in autograph signing hand though.

 13.52 Told Julio about the counselling fiasco, he just said ‘come, we go out for lunch before I leave for airport.’  I think the man is either barmy or broke, because he took me to Macdonalds.  I barely got to taste a thing, I was so busy signing autographs.  Afterwards I said ‘Well I am never going there again,’ and he said ‘OK, next time we go Pizza Express.’

Friday July 28th

Have no idea what a tart wears.  White slingbacks? Lots of cleavage? Peroxide hair with dark roots showing?

 15.39 Asked the unisexes at work what they thought I should wear for a Tarts and Vicars – all were agreed it was Unacceptable to dress as a tart, and Boring to dress as a vicar.  They suggested revamp into a Sound of Music party, but it’s not my party so that isn’t an option and anyway are Nuns and Nazis really any better?  Bought some fishnet tights in the lunch hour and a sort of pink feathery thing for my hair.  Sex shops are interesting but not really for me.

19.16 Showed Julio my Tart costume, fine balance between amusing and dignified I thought, but he just said ‘very nice, what we have for the dinner?’ Asked him to show me his vicar outfit, rather expecting the full embroidered chasuble look but he said ‘Oh, I am not being vicar, is too disrespectful.’  I said ‘of course, we must respect each other’s religious views.  I suppose you think it’s wrong to make fun of a church dignitary.’  ‘Oh no,’ he said, ‘not disrespectful of the vicar, it is of me, the Julio, that there must be respect.’

Phoned Una and told her if Julio won’t be a vicar I can hardly be a tart.

Saturday July 29th

Have put fishnet stockings in the bin.  Too small anyway, unsightly bits of white flesh bulged through the holes in most unbecoming way.

 10.34 Una phoned in high dudgeon (strange word, dudgeon, no idea what it means but U. definitely in one) because nobody wants to dress as either tart or vicar, apart from the Vicar, who does that anyway, and Penny ditto.  So nobody is to dress as anything but themselves, including the Vicar.   I offered to phone B. and Daniel but she said ‘No, Geoffrey is doing it, I’ve given him the list, it’ll keep him out of my hair while I get on with the canapes.’

10.42 Mavis phoned, checking on what I was wearing tomorrow – clearly Geoffrey hasn’t reached the E’s yet as she was still thinking of fancy dress.  Luckily I was able to put her right, and she was able to tell me that Mark Darcy and this Daniel person are friends, were at Cambridge together apparently.  Seems he really is quite a catch.

Sunday July 30th

Fantasies about grandchildren going to Cambridge like their father Daniel 12. Fantasies about strangling Mark Darcy with his old school tie 15.

 12.26 Not the most successful of parties yesterday, for a start none of Una’s family bothered to attend so she wasn’t able to ‘show them how it was done’ (her phrase not mine).  Probably just as well since it was just like all her other parties.  Only Bridget cheered things up a bit since she ignored the message on her answering machine and dressed as a Tart anyway.  Boyfriend too busy to attend, was rather hoping to show him off.  Never mind.

B. looked terrific I must say, in her prime even if she is a little ‘buxom’ (Una’s word not mine), but then that Darcy person had to say something to Una along the lines of wasn’t it all a bit embarrassing for the rest of us? So poor B. had to squeeze into an old thing of Janine’s. She looked quite sweet actually, and Julio whispered in my ear ‘she becomes more like her bee-oo-tiful mother every day.’ Rather pleased with that.

Monday July 31st

Will never have another fantasy again. Never.  They are the devil’s work and lead you down the primrose path to hell. To think I fantasised about B. marrying Daniel Cleaver.  Would wash my mind out with soap if I could.

 09.10 Phoned Bridget at work to remind about returning her borrowed frock, but not at her desk.

09.33 Phoned Bridget again. Not at her desk. Perpetua sounded a little cagey to me.

10.12 Phoned again. Still not at desk.  Asked P. outright if something was going on, could tell she was stonewalling me.  So I said, ‘Listen, I am Bridget’s mother, I have a right to know, and what’s more I shared with you the secret of perfectly draped curtains so come on, level with me.’  After some um-ing and err-ing she finally told me Bridget has been two-timed by that Cleaver person.  She said ‘the thing is Mrs Jones everyone in the office knows he’s a total letch but somehow Bridget didn’t seem to notice.’  I said ‘Right, give me his direct line.’  Stunned silence.  I said ‘don’t make me ask you twice.’  She didn’t.

11.18 Exhausted, and knackered which is what we say in the office (is it swearing?  Not sure.)  Anyway have just given that Cleaver person a most satisfactory piece of my mind.  I told him he wasn’t good enough for my Bridget, and I told him she ought to be seeing a payrise and a promotion pretty damn soon or I’d know the reason why.  Suitably chastened response I must say.

11.20 Oh Lordy, supposing he tells Bridget what I did?  Suppose it gets all round the office and everyone laughs at her needing her mummy to sort things out.  Feel dreadful.

11.22 Oh hang on, he won’t admit to being taken down several pegs by someone’s mother.  He’ll keep it to himself for sure. And so much for Mark Darcy and his so-called friends.  No doubt they are all the same type of two-timing misogi… myssogn… women-haters.

11.23 Right.  Now to phone B. and cheer her up.

11.24. No answer.

11.26 No answer.

11.30 Going out for lunch, Julio most insistent.  Tells me B. is strong and besides she has my mobile number.

23.30  B. still not answering.  Worried.  Will call in tomorrow and check on her.

Tuesday August 1st

 14.46 Am exhausted.  Deserve Oscar.  Wakeful and worried all night, finally fell asleep as dawn broke only to be woken by the phone.  Bridget, wallowing in misery.  Well we’re not having that, and I told her so.  Men simply not worth it.  Told her that too.  Julio woke up at this, gave me furious look.  Don’t care, solidarity with wounded daughter far more important than engagement to boring wheeler-dealer.

15.00 Hmm. Always used to cheer B. up with chocolate bar, but this time I promised her a job in TV. Have gone a little too far perhaps?

15.05 No.  She wants to be on TV and on TV she shall be.  Time for thinking cap.

 Thursday August 3rd

 11.21 Asked Tarquin how to get a job in TV for Bridget, he laughed hysterically and then said ‘they’re like gold dust.  Tell her to start as a cleaner at your local radio station and work her way up.’

11.22 No time for that.

11.25 Asked Gavin to give B. a job.  He said ‘we’re pretty full to be honest Pam.  Still if she has your way with a camera I’m sure someone will want her.  Try Richard Finch, I’m told he’s a big fan of yours.’  Did not remind G. that B. was a disaster in front of the camera for Suddenly Single.

Friday August 4th

 Could imagine self and Bridget being co-presenters of light-hearted relationships show.  Have sworn off fantasies but this is not a fantasy as perfectly possible if she gets job in TV and learns to take my advice.

 19.38 Wore best suit for work and found a moment to track down Richard Finch.  No greige in his department.  Strange girl in rainbow-striped leggings and pink hat barred  my way.  Took deep breath and said who I was, suddenly she was all smiles and ushered me in to see horrid looking man with paint spattered shirt and bright green trousers (paint turned out to be a print when I, reluctantly, got a little closer).

He said ‘have you come to ask for a transfer because believe me my darling I’ll have you like a shot.’  He positively leered at me.  Fought down feminist urges, fluttered eyelashes and mentioned Bridget.  He said crossly ‘everyone’s got a daughter who wants to be in TV.  The thing is, what would you give me in return?’ And he leered again.

Fought down further feminist urge to whack him in his silly fat face and suggested doing him a special – realised too late that this could be taken for a double entendre but luckily he missed it.  Instead he slavered and said ‘tell you what, get me Lisa Leeson’s number.  Pretend you want her for Suddenly Single and I’ll give your little girl a try out.’

Do so hope that wasn’t a double entendre.

Saturday August 5th

 12.12 No idea how you get the number of someone who’s in the news.  Journalists do it all the time.  Maybe there’s a secret directory?

12.59 Phoned Mavis, she’s like a bloodhound when it comes to tracking down info, but she just said ‘Lisa Leeson?  Oh she’s just a silly girl who married the wrong man.  Now what’s this I hear about Bridget being back on the market?’

How does she know?  I haven’t told anyone. Oh, phone.

13.07 It was Colin.  B. (of course) told him about her broken heart and he ‘must have let it slip.’  Anyway he wants the car early tomorrow as he is taking his mother for a birthday lunch.  I had entirely forgotten about his mother’s birthday.  Astonished that he remembered actually, usually I remind him.

13.22 Phoned Colin back.  I said ‘have you told your mother about the Peterson woman?’  He said ‘I thought you told her.’ I said ‘I’ve got better things to do than your dirty work, she’s your mother, you tell her.  Have you even told her about our split?’  He said ‘I thought you told her.’  I said nothing. After a long silence he said ‘What shall we do?’  We!

Upshot is, he’s taking me instead of Linda and we’ll pretend none of the past seven months has happened.  No point in upsetting his mother on her birthday.

Monday August 7th

 10.39 Exhausted, so having a lie-in.  And deserve another Oscar for yesterday.  Wore the kind of flowery summer frock I know my mother-in-law likes and provided a bravura performance as myself pre-split, devoted if rather bored wife and definitely not TV star.  Luckily no one asked for my autograph although there was a sticky moment in the Ladies when another nose-powderer gave me a second look.  Then she said ‘sorry, but I think that’s an eyelash on your cheek.’

Drive both ways conducted in unfriendly silence, but as he dropped me off Colin said ‘well that was nice, just like old times.’

 Tuesday August 8th

18.22 Went into work specially so I could get Bridget a job in TV by tracking down Lisa Leeson.  Unisexes hopeless of course. One of them said sniffily ‘this isn’t the News of the World you know. We don’t do that sort of thing.’

Anyway went to see Richard Finch to admit defeat but in the corridor I thought No, my daughter is worth another try.  So instead I toldhim ‘the Lisa thing is in hand, a friend of a friend has a daughter who was at school with her, should get her number any day now. So, will you see Bridget? She has a very good degree and the camera loves her.’ (Fingers crossed behind back like a 12-year old lying about homework).  He said ‘Degree in what?’  For the life of my I couldn’t remember, so I said ‘Politics.’  He said, ‘tell her to pop in on Monday, no promises but I’ll have a look at her.’

Phoned Bridget to give her the good news and all she could say was ‘don’t mess with my head mum.  I’ll never get into TV and you know it.’  I said ‘just you be there on Monday’ and put the phone down.

Wednesday August 9th

 20.41 Phonecall from Jamie.  He said ‘listen Ma, tomorrow Parcelforce are bringing my big jumper, should be with you first thing.  There’s a massive hole in the elbow, can you fix it and get it back to the Post Office before close of play?’  I said ‘I’m so sorry Jamie, I’m filming all day.  Could you ask Rebecca?’  He said ‘Oh Becca doesn’t do mending. Ma, please, I need it for the weekend, we’re going to Oslo and you know it’s always cold there.’  I said ‘I’ll be at work all day, I can’t get out of it.’  He slammed the phone down without even saying goodbye.

Thirty-seven years old and still expects his mother to mend his clothes.

Thursday August 10th

 16.32 Useful discussion at work (Gavin at dentist so proper discussion suddenly possible), re. recovering from a breakup.  The theory is that the person who wanted the split actually recovers slowest, because they’d convinced themselves that all problems would disappear along with the unwanted partner.  Unwanted partner on the other hand, while absolutely floored at first, soon picks Self up, dusts Self off and gets on with new single life – must tell Bridget.

And somehow this segued into Tory party leadership election (possibly because change of leader is a bit like change of partner?).  All unisexes desperate for Labour to win power.  Have always voted Tory but not so sure these days.

20.58 So who is the one that wanted the split, me or Colin?  Blowed if I can remember, but both of us seem to be recovering.  I am engaged to Latin lover and he is juggling two girlfriends.

Saturday August 12th

 12.14 Not filming, thank heavens, so had coffee with Una and Audrey.  I said ‘Well girls, looks like we’re back with the Majors.’  They looked at me blankly.  I said ‘You know, John and Norma, the PM and wife?’  Una said ‘oh yes, but did you see in the local paper, the garden centre is closing down?  They’re going to build starter homes on it!’  Audrey said ‘Nigel says people have got to live somewhere.  Anyway maybe some cheap housing will make it easier to get a cleaner.’

I was going to say something about Tony Blair but I had a feeling they wouldn’t be interested.

12.17 Somehow I’ve broken out of my little provincial world of local gossip and endless preoccupation with husband and children.  I swim with bigger fish now!

12.18 Determined Bridget will get this TV job and join me in the big wide world.  Need to get up there and coach her, best wear my work clothes to show her how it’s done.  Will take some nice clothes for her as well.

12.19 Oh Hell!  Am meeting Julio for dinner.  Well he will just have to wait.

Sunday August 13th

 10.21 Grrr.  Bridget is hopeless.  Hopeless.  And ungrateful. Why do I bother? Jamie’s jumper is still sitting there, accusing me of neglect, B. ignores all my good advice, I do work in TV after all, and she doesn’t… I just… it’s not as if… I…

10.29 That’s better.  Nothing like a good cry to let it all out.  Will just phone Jamie and make my peace.

10.31 Oh.  James very distant.  Bought new jumper in Oslo, handmade, pure wool. Doesn’t want the old one back.

10.32 Suppose I’d better phone B. and wish her luck for tomorrow.

10.33 Honestly. Why. Do. I. BOTHER.

Monday August 14th

 22.09 Spent all day wondering how Bridget got on in her job interview, waiting for her to call.  Of course she didn’t.  I’ll be the last one to know I expect.

Also picked up the Guardian as Tarquin told me it’s The Place for media jobs, and clearly Bridget needs more help, since she hasn’t phoned which must mean it went badly. Very interesting and nothing like the dear old Daily Mail.

 Thursday August 17th

Am turning into intellectual.  Rather nice feeling.  Wish I’d stayed on at school instead of doing commercial course.

 19.12 Read The Guardian on the way to work.  Really most interesting, although too many long words.  In the morning meeting Gavin barked ‘any ideas people?’ and I said ‘What are we doing about Edinburgh?’  Stunned silence.  I said ‘come on, come on, the world and his wife will be there, statistically speaking some of them will split up while they’re there.  Suddenly Single at the Edinburgh Festival!’

Gavin said ‘nice one.  Get on it.’

Unisexes all perked up and are all trying to be picked to accompany me.  Never got to pick netball teams at school, was hardly ever even picked myself, but it must feel the same.  It’ll be Tarquin of course, but I might not tell them for a while.

 Saturday August 19th

Do intellectuals have difficult boyfriends?  Must see what the Guardian has to say about that.

 09.17 Demented phone call from Julio, very excited about the Bank Holiday (don’t they have them in Portugal?  Surely they must.)  I couldn’t follow it at all, something about Mavis and Brian and a special deal.  I said ‘are you going on holiday with Brian and Mavis?’  He said ‘no, is we all go, together, when you have the holiday for the banks, I see the cheap flights and I arrange the villa, Mavis she has not seen how bee-oo-tiful is Portugal, Una she has seen it, Audrey she has seen it, Pamela has seen it but she comes with me of course.’

I said ‘I’m sorry but I have to go to Edinburgh, it’s work.’

He hung up on me.

 Monday August 21st

 12.35 Suddenly hit me that we’ll need somewhere to stay in Edinburgh, so phoned Una, who I’m sure stayed there a while back, in a charming hotel.  Colin answered of course.  I said ‘calm down dear, it’s not Linda.  Or Penny.  It’s me and I want to speak to Una.’  He passed the phone across without a word.

12.42 Una’s hotel is full.  I asked for suggestions for somewhere to stay and the girl was so rude as to laugh at me.

12.45 Phoned the Tourist Board.  The girl said ‘I’m sorry, it’s the Festival.  Edinburgh is booked solid but I might be able to find you a wee something for next year if you’d like to pre-book.’

12.51 Phoned the office, told Tarquin he was coming with me and his first task was to find us some accommodation.

Tuesday August 22nd

 09.16 So.  Accommodation in Edinburgh sorted, i.e. task dumped on Tarquin.  Bridget still not answering phone (and Perpetua not a lot of help – can hardly ask her if B’s handed in her notice yet!)  So really all I have to do is organise wardrobe for Edinburgh.  But what to take?

10.42 Quick phone round of friends suggests Edinburgh in August is hot, cold, wet, dry and windy.  Will take selection of work clothes and trusty plastic mac (keeps out both wind and rain).

 Thursday August 24th

14.12 As soon as I got into work Tarquin exclaimed triumphantly ‘I’ve done it, I’ve found us a room!’


‘It’s OK Pam, we’ve agreed you can have the bed’


It turns out there are five of us going, all to share one room with a single bed in it.  Must pack dressing gown.

Friday August 25th

 15.21 Couldn’t stand the suspense any longer. Phoned Perpetua and asked her, tactfully, how Bridget seemed.  She said ‘glum’.  Clearly she has not got the job (why aren’t I surprised?)  Suggested to P. it might be a kindness to do something to cheer her up, since her mother won’t be around for the Bank Holiday.  P. said ‘I’ve got the very thing, leave it with me Pam.’

Saturday August 26th

 01.17 Whirlwind!  Non-stop!  Barely time to eat!  Have seen more performances in 24 hours than in 24 months.  No, 24 years.  Mostly weird stuff, don’t begin to understand it.  And everyone laughed at Jenny Éclair.  I don’t know why.  It wasn’t funny so much as true.  Maybe truth is funny?

Was just puzzling over this when Tarquin gave me a shove and whispered ‘look, there’s Alan Yentob, grab him for a Suddenly Single.’

So I did, although he clearly had no idea who I was and told me he was happily married.

Must remember to ask Tarquin who Yentob is.

 Monday August 28th

16.52 On our way home.  Rather nice to be in First Class on the train I think, although the others are all grumbling that it’s quicker to fly.  Also they seem exhausted and keep falling asleep.  One just said ‘where do you get your energy from Pam?’ and I said ‘oh well, I’ve given up Prosecco so I don’t get hangovers any more.  Maybe you should all try a healthier lifestyle.’

16.58 Now it seems no one is talking to me.  Ooh, text.

Una: That’s Bank Holiday done and dusted really need get Christmas sorted before we go to Egypt next week.  Your place or ours?

I don’t care where it is as long as she doesn’t make the gravy and I do.

16.59 Still, better find out what the children would like to do.

22.19 Home at last. Left messages for James and Bridget asking them to confirm their Christmas dates and suggesting gift ideas.  Texted Una: Let’s say my place.  Colin can go to Linda’s.  Or Penny’s.

 Wednesday August 30th

 14.44 According to Mavis I ‘missed a treat’ on their Portugal trip.  They only had to pay for their flights and the villa was ‘out of this world.’  I said ‘well I was working unfortunately, at the Edinbu…’ but she just talked right over me about swimming pools and orange trees.  I asked about Brian but she brushed that one aside – which means of course that the heat made him grumpy and he stayed indoors the whole time sleeping.

Julio came back with them, was waiting for me in bed when I got home from Edinburgh.  The heat seems to have had the opposite effect on him.  Still, I suppose I shouldn’t be ungrateful, it’s nice for a woman my age to be, you know, wanted, in that way.

Thursday August 31st

 10.19 Una and Geoffrey round for wine and cheese last night (Bridget calls this ‘so old’ but we enjoy it).  Una started prattling on about our Christmas plans (she’s got a pudding left from last year apparently) and suddenly stopped dead, looked at Julio and said ‘do you even do Christmas?’ as if she was a grand Victorian lady and he was some poor savage from the furthest reaches of the Empire.  Naturally he got very huffy and said ‘of course.  In Portugal we do properly.’ Una looked rather put out by that.  Geoffrey cleared his throat and said ‘er, what shall we do about Colin? Very odd to have Christmas without dear old Colin.’

Awkward silence.  I said crisply ‘Perhaps he can divide his time between Penny and Linda.’  Geoffrey said ‘no need to get huffy old girl,’ and I said ‘I am most certainly not huffy.’  Una said ‘well, time to be off I think, we don’t like to be too late to bed, we’re off to Egypt tomorrow.’

It was eight thirty.

Julio isn’t speaking to me.  Leaves tomorrow on the early flight.

 Sunday September 3rd

 17.39 Colin called round ostensibly to pick up car but really to check on the grass (verdict = ‘not too bad I suppose’) and mentioned casually that Bridget had a new job.  In TV.  No mention of how I arranged it for her of course.  Starts tomorrow.  Well fiddledeedee.

I wonder how long it will take her to thank me.  Or indeed tell me she’s got the job.

18.18 Mavis just phoned very excited because apparently that Darcy man has been talking about Bridget.  Called her ‘bizarre.’  I might go so far as ‘eccentric’ but my daughter is definitely not ‘bizarre’, although Mavis seems to think it’s a good thing – shows he is thinking about her apparently.  Told Mavis I wasn’t remotely interested in who or what that man is thinking about.  Did not tell her that I’m too cross with Bridget to care about her love life, or rather lack thereof.

Monday September 4th

 08.22 Charming letter in the post, personal invitation to Malcolm and Elaine Darcy’s Ruby Wedding.  Not pre-printed but handwritten.  In fountain pen.  Very stylish and believe it or not, includes Bridget.  Must phone and tell her before she double-books herself.

09.14 Nightmare.  B. wearing black to start new job.  Black.  I ask you, when I’ve clearly set a precedent that colourful is the way to go.  You don’t see Chelsea Clinton embarrassing her mother with her clothes do you?  So why must Bridget do it to me?

Thursday September 7th

 Could have new career as counsellor, seem to have the instinct for soothing people.

 18.32 We were filming in the street outside the office, trying to get some Suddenly Single vox pop and failing miserably because people just wanted my autograph, when who should I see lingering on the edge of the crowd but Julio.  He melted away but was waiting for me when I got home.  I braced myself for a row but he just said ‘you don’t forget the dinner tonight?’

21.15 Went for dinner at the Café de Paris when who should walk in but Colin, on his own.  Strode over to our table, facing up to Julio like some sort of fighting bull, red in face and snorting.

Julio the same of course.  Was tempted to let them slug it out but instead I said ‘sit down, the pair of you.’  They sat down.  I gave them a speech about how it’s a small town and we have to be civilised.  Colin said ‘but he’s stealing all my friends.’  Julio shrugged and said smugly ‘I am the likeable person.’ Colin said ‘you’re the one with the free villa in Portugal you mean.  All I’ve got is my lawn mower.’  I said ‘Colin, stop being silly, Julio, stop being smug.  This ends here, understood?’  They both nodded and I said, ‘right, so we are all friends now and don’t need to avoid each other at social do’s any more.’

Linda walked in just then.  We didn’t share a table, too soon for that.  Baby steps.

 Saturday September 9th

 08.30 on the train.  Filming for Suddenly Single at Heathrow, trying to catch anyone who split up while on holiday.  Wish I was on holiday instead of on this Suddenly Sodding Single treadmill.  But first must check on Bridget, as she isn’t answering phone, texts or emails.  No point in all this communication paraphernalia if nobody uses it surely.

As I was leaving Julio thrust a piece of paper into my hand and said ‘since you go to London maybe you like to collect this.  Another present from your Julio!’  Will go there first.  Still have high hopes of those earrings.  Have dropped enough hints Lord knows. Quite excited.

11.30 Well it’s a sewing machine. A SEWING MACHINE.  Have managed my entire adult life without owning such a thing, why would I want one now?  Does Julio think I’m going to mend his underpants?  Well he can think again.  And as for B., she is the most infuriating creature on this planet, and that includes all the men who are infuriating by definition.  Is it too much for a mother to ask her daughter to come to a party with her?  A party where she might meet her destiny?  Well, is it?

16.27 Have dropped the Darcys a line accepting their invite, and asking them if they could possibly invite Bridget separately as she is an independent career woman.  Gave them her address, phone number, mobile phone number and work email address.  Hopefully they will take the hint.

 Monday September 11th

 23.30 Can’t sleep. Over dinner (sweet little taverna down a back street, which I chose because it’s quiet) Julio suddenly said ‘we are not busy tomorrow I think my beloved?’  Ooh, I thought, a little outing.  Not London though.  Am tired of London (but not of life).  I asked him where, he looked, I thought, a little shifty and said ‘we go to the opening.’

I said ‘Opening of what?  A door?’ (Maybe could have new career as comedy writer!)

He said ‘No, it is the new branch of the Maison of Kevin.  He is wanting his famous customer to cut the ribbon.  You will enjoy this I think and soon perhaps Julio will arrange for more.  All the famous people are doing this.’

Am totally confused.  I am not a famous person.

Still, it’d be nice to make Kevin happy, he’s a sweet man.

Tuesday September 12th

 23.30 Can’t sleep (getting to be a habit).  Have performed my first opening of a hairdressers, nothing to it.  All those years as President of the W.I. were not ‘a waste of time’ (Colin’s phrase).

But when I found a quiet moment to congratulate Kevin personally he beamed and said ‘worth every penny Pam.  By this time next year I won’t be able to afford you.’

Turns out Julio suggested me, and Kevin paid him £100 for my services plus free hairdo’s so that he can tell the world he is my personal hairdresser.  We had a flaming row on the way home.  I said ‘I do not need you to, to, what’s the word… pimp for me!’  Julio said ‘What is this pimp? I am the agent. I will handle everything, Pamela just has to look nice and smile.  Already people are making the enquiries for you.’

We are not speaking.

Wednesday September 13th

 10.05 Asked Julio for my £100.  He gave me £75 and said he’d had ‘expenses.’ Also said ‘next time we charge double.’  I said ‘I shall need some new clothes.’ He kissed me and said ‘Of course.’

Maybe this will turn out to be fun.  Mind you the next ‘gig’ is opening a pet food store, there won’t be any perks from that.

10.07 Ooh hang on, could get a diamante collar for Audrey’s cockapoo!

Saturday September 16th

 17.12 Opened the pet food store.  Wore my new fascinator.  Well one of my new fascinators, there was a sale at Harvey Nicks.  I find hats a bit too Royal Wedding-ish but as I’m on the short side a fascinator gives me a little more stature.  And the people at the back can see me (quite a crowd, actually).

But Julio was far from pleased.  He said ‘you want the silly hats, then we open a hat shop, you get silly hats free.’

I said ‘it would have to be a silly hat shop then.’

We aren’t speaking.

 Sunday September 17th

 11.39 Still on no-speakers.  I put breakfast on the table silently.  Julio ate it silently.  I held out my hand silently.  He silently put £140 into it, not £200.  More expenses I suppose.

14.22 Julio has left for his business trip to Majorca.  He packed silently, came downstairs, kissed me on the cheek silently and climbed silently into the taxi.

Ooh, phone.

14.31 Colin. Wittering on about furniture yet again.  He doesn’t like the bed at Una’s, it’s either too hard or soft, I can’t remember which, so he wants to take the bed from the spare room.  And he keeps reminding me that his mother gave us the Georgian glass-fronted mahogany cabinet.  I said ‘it’s repro Colin, feel free to take it, together with the nesting coffee tables we bought with your huge inheritance when your grandmother died.  In fact why don’t you just take everything and I can start afresh with Julio.’

He hung up on me. I gave myself five minutes to calm down and then called back, but Una said ‘sorry Pam, he’s gone out with Penny.  He’s helping her find somewhere to live once her house is sold.’

So that’s why he wants the furniture.

 Tuesday September 19th

 16.02 Had coffee with Audrey this morning.  Gave her the diamante collar and matching lead.  Told her it was a ‘perk of the job’ and she said ‘I don’t suppose you can get a dozen pairs of fishnet stockings can you, they ladder like the very devil.’

I said no, and explained my new secondary career.

When I got home I texted Julio ‘I am opening Audrey’s Lifeboat Garden Fundraiser next week.  For free. There won’t be any expenses or any freebies.’

He hasn’t answered.

 Thursday September 21st

19.51 Tidying up yesterday I came across the envelope that the Darcy’s Ruby Wedding invitation was posted in – ‘Mr and Mrs C. Jones.’  I didn’t notice that.  Oh dear.  Have already told Julio about it.  What to do, what to do.

20.17 Phoned Colin and told him about the invite. He said ‘I’m not going, you know how I hate that sort of thing and besides my monkey suit doesn’t fit me.’  I said ‘oh yes it does I had the trousers let out last year.  And you have to go, they need to see that Bridget comes from a decent family with civilised values.’  He said ‘Are you trying to marry Bridget off to Mark Darcy?  I thought you couldn’t stand the man?’  I said ‘never you mind about that, I will air your dinner suit and you can pick it up the day before.’

Saturday September 23rd

 22.38 Opened a greengrocer’s shop this afternoon.  Came away with a fruit basket and a sack of Maris Piper potatoes (very handy, they’ll keep till Christmas).  I now have a little standard speech that takes about 5 minutes, touches lightly on my career and ends with a joke (definite possibility of new career as stand-up comedian. Could be the new Victoria Wood, I mean she’s ordinary enough, how hard can it be?)

Where was I.  Oh yes.  Quite a long drive back, Julio very thoughtful.  Then he suddenly said ‘what about the dinner?’  I said ‘oh I’m too tired to cook, let’s eat out somewhere.  Somewhere quiet though, I’ve had enough of the great unwashed for one day.’  He said ‘no, the dinner speaking.  You eat nice dinner, you meet the interesting people, you make little talk, always they enjoy because there has been much wine.  Dinner is free and of course we are paid very much money.’

Now that’s food for thought.

Sunday September 24th

 2.45 Opened Audrey’s Lifeboat Fundraiser.  Tested out my embryonic after-dinner speech on them (scribbled a few notes this morning).  I thought it went down rather well but afterwards Una scurried across and hissed ‘really Pam, could you keep quiet about your la-di-dah new career, it just makes the rest of us feel like a bunch of old frumps.’

As if that wasn’t bad enough Colin had another go at Julio, who was just minding his own business chatting to Roderick and Gerald about Portuguese food.  As soon as Una flounced off he hissed in my other ear ‘can you stop your so-called boyfriend from stealing my mates?’  I said ‘why don’t you go over there and tell him yourself.’

So he did, or at least I thought he did, but when I worked my way surreptitiously round the garden to eavesdrop I just heard him say crossly ‘there’s nothing to beat good old British roast beef and two veg,’ to which Julio said ‘oh the beefsteak, I like very much,’ and Roderick said snottily ‘we’re thinking of going vegan actually. Meat is murder you know.’

I sidled back to the buffet and consoled myself with a cream tea.

 Tuesday September 26th

 11.17 Penny phoned.  Really that woman is quite brazen.  She asked me if I could persuade Colin to take her on one of ‘your boyfriend’s freebies in Portugal.’  I told her it was unlikely given that Colin still can’t behave in a civilised fashion towards J. She said in that case she’d go on her own, and could I arrange it?

14.39 I did mention it to Julio over lunch but he didn’t think it would be possible.

14.40 Oh, maybe Penny is thinking of moving out there?  Housing is much cheaper, and her pension would stretch further.  Must explain to Julio she is a woman in difficulties.

15.08 Julio has arranged a trip for Penny after all. He is the very soul of kindness.

 Thursday September 28th

11.17 Filming Suddenly Single Estate Agents.  Have got this down to a fine art I think.

Yesterday evening dutifully watched Bridget’s live broadcast.  Completely unprofessional and hysterically funny.  Maybe she’s invented a new format!  More likely she’ll be sacked though. After all my hard work getting her the job in the first place. There’s nothing for it, she’ll have to marry that Mark Darcy and make the best of it.

Must make sure she wears something decent to the Do.

 Sunday October 1st

 Glad I’ve given up weighing.  Dread to think how many calories were in last night’s dinner.  Elastic waist today I think!

 14.38 Had a smashing time, I must admit, at the Darcy’s do.  The house (huge, expensive) was beautifully decorated.  Reminded me of the Speed Dating event we went to for Suddenly Single research – Tarquin told me that over-the-top stuff like that is ‘ironic’, which apparently means ‘I can enjoy it while pretending to sneer at it.’  So Mark Darcy clearly understands modern trends.

Poor Una didn’t get it at all. Called it ‘showy’.  I parroted this back to her with an ironic lift of an eyebrow and caught Mark D. eavesdropping – I gave him a little smile, to show I understood him, and from his expression he clearly knew that I did.

Bridget for once was very nicely dressed despite being in black (borrowed frock I’ll wager) and Julio was as good as gold, charming Mark’s Aunt and promising her a trip to Portugal to see his villa. I won’t mention Colin, who stuck to B. like a limpet until I prised them apart so she could flirt with Mark.  Colin wasn’t at all impressive, but I made a point of mentioning to Elaine Darcy that he was shy, and devoted to his daughter.

My gift to the Darcys was a video recording of Suddenly Single’s best bits.  I want them to know that Bridget’s family is every bit as high-powered and glamorous as theirs.

So I’ve set things up such that B. can have that Darcy man should she want him, I made Colin look endearing, and gave Julio another chance to show off his villa.  Really without me I do not know how this family would manage.

 Tuesday October 3rd

19.37 Strange gig, opened organic butchers down pedestrianised backstreet (i.e. an alleyway).  Came away with £40 and a string of sausages.  Was able to practice my speech (short version) on the crowd (6 old ladies and the shop owner).

21.19 Over dinner (sausages, mash and red onion gravy) I said to Julio ‘this isn’t going well. Can’t we get some after-dinner bookings?’ He sighed and gave the universal sign for helplessness (i.e. spread his hands in front of him and shrugged his shoulders.)  He has used up all my autographed photos by sending them out to try and get bookings, but no one is interested.  Feel like my career has stalled.

01.42 Just woke up with brilliant idea.  Will give talk at W.I.  They all know me and will enjoy it.  Then all will go home and tell their husbands to book me for their work Christmas dinners, AGM dinners, Awards dinners etc. etc. Once have done a few, word-of-mouth will lead to more and more and more.  Am genius.

Wednesday October 4th

 08.41 phoned Mavis, currently W.I. vice-chair.  She reminded me that all W.I. speakers are booked months ahead and taken from list of approved speakers.

08.53 How could I have forgotten that?  Must be getting old.

10.12 Ugh, as I was heading for the bathroom a text came in (Una with coffee morning invite) which is why phone was on top of cistern.  And just as I stood up it chirruped again so I picked it up, which is why I dropped it in the lavatory – before flushing!!!  Wrapped hand in toilet tissue and fished it out, and rinsed it under the hot tap. Dried it with a nice fluffy towel (strong urge to put talcum powder on it, but resisted). It should be OK.

10.17 Is carelessness another sign of old age along with forgetfulness?

Thursday October 5th

23.01 Manic day filming. Gavin’s latest idea is that we should catch people in the evenings, after work, when they are free to confront their real lives.  Started outside Oxford Circus tube station in the rush hour.  Didn’t expect any interest but it’s amazing how many people will stop, even though they are desperate to get home, once they see a camera crew and a woman with a microphone.

Then cruised a few bars and filmed quite a lot of drunken ramblings about ‘that bitch’ and ‘that bastard.’  Finally got home in time for News at Ten and a milky drink.

Ooh, have just noticed the message light flashing on the answering machine.

23.15 Bridget, got a scoop interview.  Well done that girl!  Too late to phone her back now though.

Friday October 6th.

22.44 Gavin made us work in the evening again, catch people starting the weekend and looking for love he said.  Quite interesting actually, we went to a supermarket and tracked people buying lonely-only food – ready-meal for one, small sizes of cereal, that sort of thing.

Phoned Bridget on the way home. Could hardly hear a word, sounded like she was underwater or something.  I said ‘where are you?’ and she said crossly ‘at home of course, I’m answering the phone aren’t I?’  Anyway I told her the interview was marvellous and if she can make a success of her career she won’t have to marry that Mark Darcy. Not sure she heard me, reception was terrible.

22.47 Oh, maybe the phone got wet inside when I dropped it in the lavatory?


 Sunday October 8th

 11.34 Feel absolutely lost without the mobile phone.  Keep going to check but it’s now quite dead.  Can’t text anyone and am worried that incoming texts are piling up and I can’t see them.

Julio says he will buy me a new phone but not just yet as money is a bit tight.

11.36 Could buy my own phone of course.  Wonder how much they cost?  There’s that shop in the High Street, could go in there tomorrow.

 Monday October 9th

 13.48 Have been mobile phone shopping.  Have not bought phone. Shocked at the cost of the things.  Had no idea that James spent so much on his mother at Christmas.  She is not spending that much on herself that’s for sure.

Julio depressed, says he feels providing for me is his job.  ‘I am the man I think’ he said, as he fossicked in his leather man bag looking for his nail scissors.

Anyway suddenly he had a brilliant money-making idea.  I am to have my own website.  All the celebrities do apparently, and it will make a big show of my after-dinner speaking and get me lots of bookings.  But getting a website done properly is expensive apparently.

15.18 Have popped back into town and put £1000 into Julio’s bank account.  It is my website after all, I can’t expect him to pay for it.

 Thursday October 12th

 12.45 I knew I was missing texts.  Well calls actually.  Tarquin has been trying to reach me all week. (Reminded him I do have both landline and email). But no harm done as he was able to rebook the interview I should have done on Tuesday, which is not a working day for me anyway.

And when I told him that the mobile phone wasn’t working because it was ‘a bit damp’ (code for ‘soaked in urine and scrubbed in hot water to remove urine’) he said ‘oh I know, tell me about it, it’s like, always happening? I had mine by the sink?  It fell in while I was washing up?’

I said ‘those aren’t questions for goodness sake Tarquin’ and his face fell.  He said ‘I must be doing it wrong.  That’s the trouble with getting older, you don’t understand young people’s stuff?’

He must be all of 26.

Friday October 13th

 09.32 Have taken the day off work.  I do not like Friday 13th and I don’t care if it is just a superstition I am spending the day under the duvet reading. I have Vogue, the Big Issue and a Barbara Cartland.  Variety is the spice of life!

09.37 Ooh, phone.

09.48 Ow ow ow, stubbed toe racing to the phone.  Think it’s broken.  Feels like it’s broken.  Will just rest it for a bit, under duvet.  Am not moving again till one minute past midnight.

Anyway was Tarquin, making do with landline to tell me to unscrew back of mobile phone and put it in a box of rice for 24 hours.  Will hobble downstairs and try that.

09.51 Oh, cooked rice or uncooked I wonder?  Will start with uncooked and see if that works.

 Sunday October 15th

Hurrah, phone has resurrected itself.  Felt like kissing it.  But didn’t.

23.01 Have been round to Una’s for a Pride and Prejudice party.  She promised me no men, code for No Annoying Estranged Husbands, so I settled Julio down with a sandwich and his golf video and hurried round, only to find both Linda and Penny, the Annoying Estranged Husband’s Bits of Fluff, were there.  OK, they’re not men, but even so, she might have considered my feelings.

Sat on the settee (do not like the new Dralon upholstery but refrained from saying anything) with Una on one side and Audrey on the other.  Penny on the pouffe and Linda crossed-legged on the floor the other side pretending to be young (took her a long time to get up though).

Anyway soon forgot all about them as was transported to another more beautiful world.  What a handsome couple they are. If only Bridget…

No, don’t go there.

We had sherry and weird sweetmeats that Una brought back from Egypt.  Very sickly. Linda and Penny left as soon as it finished thank goodness but the three of us sat round talking until Geoffrey staggered back in from his boys night out.

Found Julio fast asleep in front of the TV, woke him up to go to bed.  I don’t think he even cleaned his teeth.

23.28 Will just do mine despite being ridiculously tired.

23.33 Oh, that Mr Darcy, his mother should have smacked his bottom for him. But suddenly it makes perfect sense, the reason that Mark Darcy is so unpleasant is clearly genetic.  Must tell Una in the morning.

Monday October 16th

08.19 Phoned Una early doors with brilliant genetic insight into nature of Darcy family. Una has pointed out that Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice is a fictional character whereas Mark Darcy is only too horribly real.  What was I thinking of?  (I blame the sherry). Unless, of course, somehow a name can create a personality?

So if I’d called Bridget, oh, I don’t know, Emerald, or Tamara, then she wouldn’t be so awkward but instead would glide about effortlessly saying ‘Ya’ and ‘Sooper’ all the time. Mind you she would still be a Jones, maybe that’s the problem?

Wonder if I can get a Suddenly Single out of that?

Or an after-dinner joke?

Or put it on the website when I get one?

 Wednesday October 18th

 14.44 Awkward phone call with Colin this morning.  He asked after Bridget (I said ‘she talks to you more than me’.)  He asked after James (I said ‘he never talks to either of us’.)  He asked after me, and then I smelled a rat.  So I said ‘what do you really want Colin?

After a bit more harrumphing and muttering we got to it – Penny wanted him to ask me to remind Julio about their trip to Portugal.  I said ‘I’ll see what I can do.’

Raised it with J. over lunch.  He put his head in his hands and groaned.  I said ‘whatever is the matter?  I thought you wanted everyone to see Portugal?’  He said ‘is not the Portugal, but is too many peoples, all want the free villa, the free holiday.’

Honestly, what a fuss.  I told him to stop giving away freebies and make a nominal charge to cover his costs.  His face lit up with relief.

He’s in the study now phoning everyone and arranging dates.

 Friday October 20th

16.45 Very excited, James and Rebecca are staying here tonight.  Don’t have to cook for them as Colin is taking them round to Roderick and Gerald’s, which is just as well as I do not have time for all that veggie nonsense on a work night.

Even breakfast tomorrow is just a banana, herb tea and meditation.  They’re heading to the east coast for a week’s holiday, J. is surfing while she attends a Spiritual Awareness course.  I do wonder if they are entirely suited to each other.

18.12 Puzzling text from James, ‘pls make up bed in B’s room. Explain later.’

22.56 Well, strange evening I must say.  Was a bit worried about James meeting Julio for the first time, since he has told me on more than one occasion that Colin is ‘one big wuss’ so goodness knows what he’d make of J. and his little man bag and his gold chain and his aftershave. But he just smiled and whispered to me ‘you sure know how to pick ‘em mum.’  Then they toddled off to bed, James in his old room and Rebecca in Bridget’s.  Apparently ‘celibacy is the new black and besides Becca needs her space.’

 Sunday October 22nd

09.33 Julio has rushed back home to Portugal to get everything ready for his string of visitors.  Tried to persuade me to go with him but I had a strong suspicion he was looking for a free cleaning lady so I pleaded work commitments.  So here I am footloose and fancy free.  Wonder what Una is doing today.

09.38 On childcare duties apparently while the parents go shopping for wallpaper and paint.  She said ‘Pam you don’t know how lucky you are.  Have you any idea how demanding children are these days?’

Realise I’ve mostly stopped thinking about grandchildren in a specific way.  Probably subconscious mind is protecting me from thoughts of supercilious little Darcys all sneering at me in that way he has.

Poor Bridget, but what can I do, but she must marry somebody.  Single life unbearable, friends always busy with something and no one to talk to.

09.41 Oh who cares, will just find the chocs and watch video of Four Weddings.

 Wednesday October 25th

 13.19 Lonely week without Julio, friends all busy with grandkids as it’s half term.  Christmas plans still a bit vague so yesterday made 4 puddings (if James or Bridget don’t come home I will give them one small one each for their Christmas dinner, plus one big one for here and one for spare).  Also made huge cake.  Just one, am not feeding brandy into 4 cakes, if they want cake they will have to come home.

Defrosted freezer, so now there’s plenty of room for Christmas goodies.  Mince pies for instance freeze nicely uncooked in the tin, then they just need to be egg-washed and baked on the day.

If Bridget marries that Darcy I suppose it will be Christmas at their fancy place, hopefully not in London but round here somewhere with large garden and enormous tree in hall at foot of impressive oak staircase.  But I will make the gravy.

Thursday October 26th

 11.12 Mentioned to Tarquin that celibacy is the new In Thing, wondering how that might affect Suddenly Single, but he just shook his head and said ‘wouldn’t that be lovely.’  Then blushed to the roots of his hair.  So I took him for a coffee and got him to tell me all about it.  Apparently the boyfriend is very demanding and T. is afraid to ever say No in case he (the boyfriend) leaves him (Tarquin).

15.50 Realised we were late for filming – twin brothers who were both Suddenly Single the same week.  They sighed and said ‘we’re dreading Christmas, but at least we’ve got each other.  Imagine being alone…’ and they did a little synchronised shudder.  Afterwards Tarquin said ‘I’ve seen so much misery on Suddenly Single I just can’t face being alone.’

Oh dear, I thought we were just having a bit of TV fun!

Friday October 27th

 19.19 Gavin’s new thing is a 3 p.m. week ending meeting, to ‘wrap up the week and put it to bed.’  Unisexes not keen, although one said ‘at least we get to stop work at 3 and go home as soon as he’s finished.’  So the group dynamic is to keep it short and there was a certain amount of surreptitious getting ready to go home, but I couldn’t help myself, I had to say ‘so what are we doing for Christmas?  And before you guys say anything, I flatly refuse to ask anyone who is alone at Christmas if they are suicidal.’

They all sighed and unpacked their stuff, took off woolly hats, pulled out water bottles etc. Heated but irrelevant discussion promptly broke out – no one apparently is looking forward to Christmas because you have to go home and be with your annoying family.

19.22 And that, I suppose, is what James and Bridget think of me.

Saturday October 28th

09.17 Terrible night.  Dreamt it was Christmas and the children came home but I was the turkey, trussed on an enormous plate while they danced round the table brandishing huge knives and yelling and whooping.  James was saying ‘leg or breast’ over and over and Bridget replied ‘I don’t care as long as I don’t have to have it with gravy.’

11.28 Will phone James and Bridget and demand to be told whether they dread coming home for Christmas.  Have chosen my time carefully, not too early when they are still asleep and not too late when they could be out merrymaking.

11.30. James = answering machine.  Bridget = no answer.

 Sunday October 29th

11.17 No response from children to my Christmas message (‘are you coming home? I need to know how many mince pies to make, but I wouldn’t want you to dread it.’)

11.45 Colin just came round for the car.  He said ‘I expect to be in my own home for Christmas.’  I said ‘I expect you also expect turkey and all the trimmings?’ He said ‘I expect you’ll cook, won’t you?’  I said ‘I expect so.’

11.37 For two pins I would serve them all with a defrosted ready meal.  That would serve them right, ungrateful so-and-sos.

 Wednesday November 1st

08.59 Always do Christmas cards on November 1st, it’s a tradition, so will sit down with coffee, list and large collection of boxes of charity cards.  Have bought fancy new gold and silver felt tip pens for signing.  A touch of festive class methinks.

09.03 Oh woe!  How to sign them?  Always put ‘Pam, Colin and children’ for my side and ‘Colin, Pam and children’ for his lot.  But now there is no Pam and Colin or Colin and Pam for that matter.  Plus children are ungrateful pair who constantly disappoint.

09.04 ‘Pam and Julio’ I suppose, even though most of my friends and family don’t even know about Julio yet.

09.12 Phoned Colin and asked ‘what are you doing about Christmas cards this year?’  He said ‘aren’t you doing them?’  I said ‘I’m doing my cards but you will have to do yours.’  Long silence, then he said ‘I suppose you’d better let me have the list.  And the address book.’

End of story, I will do them and sign mine from me and his from him – it is the season of goodwill after all and anyway once he has that address book I will never see it again.  And he will make multiple photocopies of a short note explaining that we are having a trial separation. No mention of Julio/Penny/Linda.

 Thursday November 2nd

10.19 So here I am dressed as Mrs Claus including ridiculous over-sized red hat with white pompom that dangles over nose, sitting under enormous Christmas tree.  We are filming in Selfridges, where they like to get started early.

Have to interview a series of people who were Suddenly Single last Christmas but who have since bounced back and are planning the best Christmas ever for this year.  Everyone agrees with me we can’t broadcast sadness over the festive season and Gavin insists we get it in the can now so we can close the office for a week.

And so say all of us!

15.55 Phew, dunnit.  Quite nice talking to happy people for a change. And Tarquin just said to me ‘you look great in that hat Pam? not everyone could carry it off? Innit.’

Have kept hat to wear while the turkey is being carved, despite having no idea which man – Geoffrey, Colin, Julio – will do the honours this year.

16.03 I know, will ask James to carve the turkey.

16.04 Rats, James is a vegetarian (or is it vegan), will have to ask him to carve a nut roast. Will have to sit Becca (‘meat is murder Mrs Jones’) at the other end of the table.  (Will not tell her about the beef suet in the Christmas puds).

 Sunday November 5th

 14.44 Can’t believe it’s Guy Fawkes already.  Am helping Una with her Bonfire Night party, promised to be there for three.

Not keen, if I’m honest.  It was different when the children were small, we used to have a bonfire and cook potatoes and apples in foil.  Everyone had a sparkler and of course Colin could never do anything with the rockets and Catherine wheels.

Have made sausage rolls, and some hummus with celery and carrot sticks.  (Very fond of hummus now, thanks to Tarquin.  Wonder if Una even knows what it is!)  Ooh, phone.

14.50 Julio, gabbling.  Something about problems, and the website, and the cost of things.  Had to get rid of him, am late already.

22.17 Oh those grandchildren are adorable, I can’t think why Una finds them difficult.  The little one took a real shine to me, I took her to the lavatory and she said  ‘I already gotted a Nanna U so you can be my Nanna Pee.’  Bless!

Monday November 6th

 08.17 Busy day ahead.  Must go to bank and move money across to Julio, to cover cost of website which is what I think he was saying yesterday.  Then off to Oxford Street for Christmas shopping.  List gets longer every year and cannot be completed in one trip.  Need main presents for all the important people and tree presents for everyone who will be there on the day, plus spares for the unexpected guests who always seem to turn up.  Then there’s Una’s grandchildren who we’ll see when we go there on Boxing Day (spending Christmas Day with their other grandparents apparently).

 16.45 Well, very pleased with that, have taken advantage of delivery service and presents will arrive tomorrow.  Colin always vetoed this on grounds of cost but am working woman now.

16.46 Botheration.  Forgot wrapping paper. And matching gift tags. And special curly ribbon.

16.47 Oh hell’s teeth, I’ve gone and done all Colin’s Christmas shopping list too!

 Wednesday November 8th

 11.47 Yesterday was a complete nightmare.  Firstly, phoned Colin and explained I’d accidentally done all his Christmas gift shopping, including, I might add, something for him to give me (always did this, and always faked surprise on opening it while he faked knowing what it was).  He said ‘thanks very much.’  I said ‘you’ll need to settle up with me.’  He said ‘can it wait, this Portugal trip of Penny’s has cost an arm and a leg.’  So like a fool I said yes, and only later checking the bank account did I discover it’s looking a bit thin.

 This was after I’d been out and ordered a free range turkey (big one, because I don’t know about numbers and anyway the leftovers freeze perfectly) and a large ham just in case.  Also called in at local swanky stationers and stocked up on wrapping paper etc.

When presents arrived I was astonished to see how much I’d bought.  5 leather manicure cases! 7 boxes of crackers! 10 silk scarves! 12 pairs of men’s socks!  Plus a proper present for everyone including the Thomson boy and everyone at work.  Must have been in grip of Christmas mania, only possible explanation.

 And, finally, bought a microwave oven.  Have always resisted these, as Una says ‘you don’t know what it’s up to do you?’ but honestly these days I hardly get time to cook. Wonder if I should send it back?

11.52 It’s going nowhere.  I need it.

 Thursday November 9th

 20.12 Atrocious day at work.  Trailed right across London to some place I’ve never heard of to interview Suddenly Singles in a Care Home. The idea being that the elderly residents form little friendships and then (of course) one of them dies. It’s the saddest most depressing thing I’ve done in my entire life.

Which is crazy because they were quite cheerful about it.  One old duck even said to me ‘at our age love it’s a case of Easy Come, Easy Go.’

But it’s made me think, I could be there one day, really I need to be having more fun now while I can, not eating crisps alone watching EastEnders and wondering what boyfriend is up to in Portugal.

Friday November 10th

 18.34 Gavin even more obnoxious than usual today, pacing up and down and ranting incoherently at us in the meeting.  I whispered to Tarquin ‘what’s going on?’ and he whispered back ‘it’s the nose candy, he’s started the weekend a bit too early?’

No idea what that means, but more importantly, as we were shuffling out of the room T. pulled me to one side and said ‘look, this is confidential but I feel I owe to you to tell you, I’m moving on?  Got myself a new job with the other side? It’s what I’ve always wanted?’

He’ll be at the BBC by Christmas apparently, and I’ll have to break in some newbie know-it-all to my way of doing things.

18.40 No.  No.  Not going to happen.  I am going to leave like Tarquin and do something different.  I’ve got nothing left to prove, it’s time for a new challenge.  In Portugal.  That’s it, I’m going to Portugal for a brand new start with Julio.

Saturday November 11th

 12.15 Mavis’s Armistice Day Coffee n Cake Morning.  Numbers a bit thin this year so just the cosy 4 of us, me, Mavis, Audrey and Una.  Mavis said ‘I know it’s a fundraiser but I really didn’t think it appropriate to ask Penny and Linda.’  Una said ‘yes, I learnt that lesson at the Pride and Prejudice evening.  Audrey said ‘we have to stick together don’t we. Like Musketeers but four of us and girls not blokes.’

Ah my lovely friends, how hard it will be to leave you and move to Portugal!

Sunday November 12th

 12.41 Colin is here, banging about in the loft getting all the Christmas decorations and lights down.  I asked if he wanted to share them out between us and he gave me a look of complete horror. So they’re staying here.  And we’re having a family Christmas and he promises to be polite to Julio.

Linda is spending Christmas in New Zealand, but I suppose, if things are to be fair, I should include Penny.

12.49 Do not want to include Penny.

12.50 Feel I must include Penny.  She is a lonely widow after all. Will phone Colin.

12.59 Relief.  Penny is going to Scotland where she has family.  (And now I know why Colin insists on coming here.  Nowhere else to go.)

15.22 Sorting through the pile of boxes after C. left, brushing off cobwebs and fly specks, I came across the one labelled ‘home-made decs.’  All the little glittery things the children made at playgroup and school.  Bridget’s card ‘i  love you mummi and daddd.’ Oh dear, oh dear.

16.00 Dripped a tear onto Bridget’s card.  The ink ran.  Mopped it up with a tissue.

16.02 Cannot go to Portugal.  Just cannot.  Even without grandchildren and Colin, I have to be here for the family. And my friends.  My lovely lovely friends.  Traditional Christmas.  Easter bunny.  Paddling pool in the August sun. Blackberrying.  Bonfire Night. It all depends on me.

Monday November 13th

Sleepless night.  Not like me at all.

 07.15 So here’s the plan.  Am leaving work, nothing left to prove, going out on a high.  And I want to be here, quietly and calmly, the centre of the family, the one they turn to, the one who makes everything alright for them.  Poor Colin looks ten years older since Penny and Linda got their claws into him, so I will have to do something about that too.

07.22 Not sure how Julio fits into this plan.  He’s not exactly a family man.

07.23 I’ll think of something, I always do.

 Wednesday November 15th

 17.22 Usual trip to Maison Kevin, horribly expensive – shampoo and set is free since I opened the new branch for him but roots needed doing and he suggested ‘Christmas highlights’.  Am now rather luminously blonder than I was before.

Some sort of Christmas market in the High Street, stalls groaning with all sorts of bright and glittery Christmas cheer.  Totally fell in love with Christmas jumper with snowman on the front so bought it.  Then thought it would look odd if I was the only one with a jumper so I bought 8 more in different sizes and designs, something for everyone surely.  Colin can have the reindeer and Bridget will make a sweet little Elf.

The Christmas photos will be a lot of fun this year!

 17.30 Hope I haven’t spent too much!

 Saturday November 18th

 23.17 OMG (which is what we say now, for some reason).  OMG what an amazing day.  It was Kevin’s idea apparently to arrange for me, me, little me, little Pam Jones the housewife turned celebrity, to turn on the Christmas lights in the High Street.  How many years have I stood in the crowd holding my breath hoping the Mayor or Mayoress wouldn’t make a hash of it?  And I never for once thought that I’d get to do it one day. Me!

I really don’t think I’ve been this happy since they put Bridget into my arms after that appalling 12-hour labour.  Not only did I get to throw the switch (oohs and aahs of delight from the assembled crowd as the lights came on) but I had to sign loads of autographs and preside at the dinner afterwards for all the local bigwigs, with the Mayor on one side of me and the Mayoress on the other.

The organisers kindly said that I wasn’t to trouble about a speech (no trouble actually, but I didn’t say anything).  It was all perfectly delightful and I was even able to explain to the Mayoress how to use baking powder to get the marks off her kitchen worktops.

Am marvellous Renaissance woman!

 Monday November 20th

23.12 Horrible day.  Wish was dead.  Flurry of emails from Gavin first thing, wanting me to work more days, adding a Finally Fixed to Suddenly Single for people who find someone.  Emailed back I was leaving the job, said I needed more space.

Then postman brought bank statement.  Am broke. Very broke.  Very very broke. Overdrawn even. Never mind space, need the money.  Emailed Gavin to say changed my mind, instant response, sorry, new girl starts next week.

Then put dishwasher on, loud bang, smoke, dishwasher dead.  Phoned Colin.  Said he didn’t feel the white goods were his responsibility.

Sunk into despair then suddenly remembered other credit card.  Clever little old me, kept something in reserve despite Christmas spend up (and when I think of all the fuss Colin used to make about domestic finances. Ridiculous.) New dishwasher comes tomorrow.

23.15 Of course will have to pay it all back after Christmas.  Will be living off toast and sausages with no heating. Will get death wish come true if we have a cold snap.

 Tuesday November 21st

 08.30 Was deeply asleep when phoned beeped at five thirty this morning.  Text from Julio ‘beloved come to me, flight is booked, leave now.’  Texted back ‘can’t leave now, am asleep.’  Then he phoned, gabbling, he loved me, I must be with him, flight to Lisbon is booked. Ridiculous man, I have too much Xmas prep to do here.

08.37 Still, I do need a serious talk with J., and face to face is always best.  A few days in the sun, sort things out, then come home invigorated to face the stress of Xmas.  Will start packing.

08.38 Lisbon?  But he always flies to Faro.  Must be a mistake.  Oh, will find out at the airport, ticket is waiting for me apparently.

08.39 Oh rats, am starting a migraine.  Will take tablet and soldier on.

19.01 Have boarded at last.  Chaos at Heathrow, nothing new there, but nearly didn’t make it thanks to intense stupidity of Bridget.  For some reason she couldn’t get it into her head that I needed to borrow a little money to see me through this unplanned trip. I mean, how often have I bailed her out?  More times than I care to think, that’s how often.  And when I’m dead and she reads this – Bridget, well-known people with a migraine will often wear sunglasses, the light hurts their eyes and they don’t want to be recognised.  OK?

 Wednesday November 22nd

 15.51 Well, Lisbon is a charming city I must say.  Hilly, but full of interesting buildings, and the river, while nothing like our dear old Thames, is beautiful in its own way.  I can’t think why Julio hasn’t brought me here before.  I also can’t think where he is.  No sign of him at the airport, and no answer on his mobile, so I did the only sensible thing and found myself a cheap hotel (luckily migraine tablet had worked by the time we landed so I was thinking straight).  Lovely lunch in a little taverna, and I shall go back there this evening to dine and listen to some fado. Such a civilised country.

Ah, mobile is ringing, must be Julio at last.

16.03 Colin.  Shouting – hysterical I’d say, and very abusive about poor Julio who after all has just given him and Penny a free holiday.  And then something incoherent about money, pensions, the mortgage.  Got his knickers in a twist as usual, he knows full well the pensions are ring-fenced and we paid off the mortgage when he retired.  The sooner I can explain my plans to Julio and get back home to sort things out the better.

 Friday November 24th

 09.17 Am at Portuguese police station (beautiful tiles in the cells) explaining my relationship with Julio.  Police are all very friendly and helpful and understanding – whatever is going on with J. can surely be sorted out when they track him down.

Only downside is Mark Darcy, of all the people in the known universe, has turned up and keeps trying to take charge.  Heaven protect us from lawyers is all I can say.

He too is convinced that Julio has borrowed money against the house and that I must have signed something.  I told him in no uncertain terms that I would jolly well know if I had jolly well signed something so there.

Honestly men, why they don’t back down and let women run the world properly I do not know.

23.17 When Mark said ‘I am only doing this for Bridget’ my heart lifted a little, so I relented and once I was finished with the police I took him to ‘my’ taverna for a meal and some music.  I think he appreciated that, at least he insisted on paying.  Maybe we could be friends, one day.

Saturday November 25th

 11.27 Last day in Lisbon.  Police unable to track Julio and sort out the misunderstanding about the time shares and the mortgage etc, but I’m going home tomorrow.  The family clearly need me, I phoned Colin to reassure him and he was still rambling and incoherent and told me Bridget was ‘in a terrible state.’  So terrible that she isn’t answering the phone to her mother.  Neither is James, but I left a message ‘whatever you hear about me from your father and sister darling it isn’t true.’

Mark can be excellent company when he isn’t striding about the room and shouting.  I will show B. how to train him out of that sort of behaviour.

Sunday November 26th

 22.45 Ridiculous day. Met at airport by Colin and Bridget, both hysterical and unable to understand that I had to oblige the British police by going through it all for them.  A mere formality.

And both also quite unable to understand the simple words ‘they cannot take the house because I did not sign anything.’  Gave up in the end and left them leaning on each other with tragic faces while I popped into the interview room to make a statement.

And then to be locked out of my own house!  How could Colin allow that to happen?  Typical of him to meekly stand by while some bailiff/thug changes the locks, and all because of a stupid misunderstanding.

In bed at Una’s.  Her spare room mattress is a disgrace.

 Tuesday November 28th

19.12 Back at last in my own dear home.  Bailiffs have left a terrible mess and taken everything of value (but luckily jewellery was with me in Portugal).  Colin sank to his knees moaning ‘my computer! my TV!’  I said ‘do get up and help me put this room to rights.’  To be fair, he did just that and we both worked like dogs all day.  Over lunch he brightened up and said ‘well they didn’t get the lawnmower.’  I said ‘No, and the old black and white TV is still in the loft.’

So I am just making a quick cottage pie for us both – luckily I’ve still got the microwave.

21.17 After dinner Colin fell asleep on the couch so I’ve put him in the spare room.

Wednesday November 29th

 14.23 Colin’s just left.  Long talk this morning, mostly about money.  Apparently we have very little left and he feels honour bound to repay everyone for everything.  I said ‘don’t be ridiculous, no one had to do business with Julio, no one forced them, it was their choice, and anyway when he turns up he’ll put it all right, you’ll see.’  He muttered ‘we must owe that Darcy fellow something for his help’ and I said ‘don’t you worry about that, Bridget will sort that one out.’

Honestly, people.  One small financial crisis and suddenly it’s the end of the world and I’m supposed to sort it out.  As if.

Friday December 1st

 72.1 kilos. 72.1! How depressing is that? Entire day turned out blacker than the blackest black.

 20.43 Always weigh self on December 1st ahead of Christmas indulgence.  Knowledge is Power they say.  But in this case it is more like Knowledge is Misery.  No wonder clothes are tight, been telling myself it was shrinkage.  Huh.  Been lying to self all along.

So toddled off to Maison Kevin for a consoling shampoo and set (missed Wednesday appointment due to Colin-and-bailiff-related crisis).

Except, except… Kevin not his usual cheerful self.  Thought perhaps it was Christmas-related stress, since everyone wants their hair done on the 23rd or 24th.  I said sympathetically ‘is it Christmas-related stress Kevin?’  He went scarlet, absolutely scarlet, and said ‘no it isn’t, it’s that boyfriend of yours, he’s fleeced me for some non-existent villa and now I can’t afford the rent on my new branch.’

Gave him an extra large tip.

On the way home, walking down the High Street, Penny saw me and dashed across the road, was nearly run over by a bus.  I guess she hates me too.

Saturday December 2nd

 08.37 Credit card bill arrived.  Bill is horrendous.  Checked bank account.  Account is empty. Woe. Oh, phone.

08.40 Colin.  He said ‘Una isn’t talking to me but Geoffrey says I’ll have to start paying rent since your fancy man has cleaned them out of their savings.’

Upshot is, he’ll move back in here and save money – two can live as cheaply as one.

08.42 Everyone hates me. It cannot go on.  It’s no good, I’ll have to visit everyone concerned, apologise for whatever it is that Julio is supposed to have done, and promise to pay them back if he doesn’t do so himself.

21.13 What a day, what a day.  Have made my peace with Una, Audrey and Mavis.  Mavis even said ‘we never thought it was your fault Pam, he’s probably relieved you of a few pounds too.’  Denied it, and then remembered the website money.  Grovelled before Penny and Linda, but had the satisfaction of telling them Colin and I were back together.  Not strictly true, but there you go.

Left the Darcys till last as was dreading it on account of spoiling Bridget’s last chance of marrying anyone.  But they were completely OK, to my astonishment.  Had not actually got round to transferring any money, and apparently Mark’s aunt hasn’t got any money and was just fantasising about buying a villa.  They even seemed to think B. was ‘rather fun’ and ‘quite a girl.’

Odd people, if you ask me.

Sunday December 3rd

 12.22 Colin just arrived with small suitcase and what looks like entire contents of shed in boot of car.  Handed me the suitcase and said it was ‘laundry’.  Handed it back to him and said it was ‘not my problem.’  Never managed to train Julio to use the washing machine but will try again with Colin.

14.06 Am in study using internet to look up money saving tips.  Once the turkey is all gone we shall live off lentils and rice, and once visitors are gone we shall turn the heating off.  Can always light the fire in the lounge, can burn our way through Colin’s wood stash.

C. is in the lounge watching golf in black and white. Feels like nothing has changed.

Except me.  I’ve changed.  Must try not to forget that.

 Tuesday December 5th

 09.15  Colin is in the spare room.  I can hear him rummaging about.  He is unearthing my Christmas shopping, that I packed away so carefully in the wardrobe. And the chest of drawers.  And the tallboy.

09.45 Colin is on the phone. He is trying to persuade shops to take back all my shopping.  At least he isn’t in the kitchen pacing up and down and ranting about how much I spent.

10.45 Colin is in a sulk. After an hour he achieved precisely nothing, unless you count a huge phone bill.  So he had another little rant, and then announced that we will be selling everything at the car boot sale.

 Thursday December 7th

10.26 Lovely phone call from Tarquin.  Apparently they are all missing me and feeling badly that I left without so much as a farewell card.  Suggested I came to the Christmas party, but the very thought made me sick to my stomach.  So I opted out, and just wished them all a very merry Christmas.

10.42 T. called back.  Said the general consensus is that I was right avoid the fake jollity of a party with Gavin and the new girl.  New girl is rubbish he says but is sleeping with G. so what can you do?  Anyway new plan is to gate crash Vibrant TV’s Christmas lunch party and give Bridget a bit of a surprise.  I said no thanks.

Am just not in the mood for jollity.  I can hear Colin on the landline phoning the butcher, cancelling the ham order and insisting on a smaller turkey.

10.58 C. has just announced that we will be hand delivering all local Christmas cards.  The walk will do us good.  I said ‘the walk will just make us hungry and wear out shoe leather.’ He said ‘you should have thought of that before you gave everything we own to your fancy man.’

I can’t take much more of this.  I need to get back to work and make my own money, instead of being dependant on tyrannical husband.  And I need to get our stuff back from the bailiff.

11.13 Phoned Tarquin.  Agreed to go to Vibrant TV party – will make it clear I am available for work, bringing the unique Pam Jones style to whatever little project they have in mind.

11.15 Phoned solicitor, made an appointment to talk about the stuff.  Without Colin who only creates confusion. It seems that old Mr Dewhurst has retired and I will see a female solicitor.  Excellent!

 Saturday December 9th

 07.30 Woken by phone, Una in one of her flaps.  Insists I find out what exactly Bridget wants for Christmas before Argos opens at 9.

07.35 Actually could phone B, need an excuse so I can slip in a mention of the Vibrant TV Xmas party.  Have realised I can’t turn up and surprise her, as she is likely to burst into tears, just like that time we gave her a Monopoly set for Christmas when she had asked for a puppy.  I need her to fake happiness, and tell everyone what a wonderful role model I am.

 Monday December 11th

 Refuse to write down ridiculous figure shown by scales.  Will take scales to car boot sale. Serve them jolly well right.

 14.15 Solicitor’s appointment this morning.  Nice young girl brought me coffee and said ‘now, what can we do for you?’  I said I was here to see the solicitor.  She said she was the solicitor.  A little huffy I thought, so I quickly explained it was just that she looked so young (about 12).

She then started talking about amicable settlements being the most desirable, with which of course I totally agree.  But then she said something about there being no dependant children, and I said Huh, she should meet my daughter.  And she said No, no, it was just that I probably wouldn’t be able to keep the house as there weren’t any children in the case.

At this point I felt entirely lost and said very loudly and clearly that I just wanted to get my possessions back from the bailiff and she blushed scarlet and said she was sorry, she understood it to be a case of divorce, pressure of celebrity lifestyle leading to irretrievable breakdown etc etc.

While I admit I was very tempted to pursue divorce idea, I pressed on with the bailiff conversation, to which she said that things were winding down towards Christmas, but we’d get it sorted by the end of January at the latest.

I told her, Listen, we have a small kitchen table and two chairs. One bed. Black and white TV.  I need my stuff back before the family come for Christmas.

She sighed and said Leave it with me.

Thursday December 14th

08.37 I cannot get used to having all this time on my hands now that I no longer have a job to go to.  Hardly seems worth getting out of bed.

08.38 Oooh, have just remembered the old freezer in the garage is full of fruit including marmalade oranges.  And Colin has dumped a load of windfall apples in the kitchen.

20.55 Most satisfying day.  Made 15lbs of marmalade, 10lbs of jam, 7lbs of chutney and an unspecified amount of pickle (had run out of 1lb jars so put the excess in plastic tubs.)

Have hidden it all in utility room cupboard otherwise it’ll end up at the car boot sale.  Colin won’t go in there now, as Julio’s tiles are still sitting on the work top, which upsets him.

Saturday December 16th

 07.55 Colin has just announced we should have left for the car boot half an hour ago.  Car was loaded last night so will put on fur lined boots and parka and head off.  Will also put on fake smile and pretend to customers we are selling off surplus, not disposing of entire family Christmas.

15.49 Colin sold everything.  Everything. Including Julio’s tiles.  I kept trying to smuggle bits back into the car but he thwarted me every single time.  He even sold the folding table we used to spread out our wares.  And the air freshener that’s been hanging from the rear view mirror for at least six months.  Surely my heart will break.

16.02 Colin has showed me huge pile of cash on the kitchen table.  He wants to rush off tomorrow and settle up with everyone.

 Sunday December 17th

 06.15 Guilty conscience woke me up and is nagging at me.  The thing is, yesterday when we arrived at the car boot I was recognised by one of the old ladies I see at the hairdresser, who seemed shocked that a well-known TV person should be at a car boot.  I was hugely embarrassed so I mumbled something vague along the lines of ‘we all do what we can’ and she promptly bought one of my Christmas jumpers for £2.50.

After that we got very busy, which was a bit odd.  It was like the whole car boot came to us, even the other stallholders were crowding round.  People practically throwing money at us.

Was too busy to think about it at the time, but thinking back and mulling over a few strange remarks, the penny has finally dropped.  She thought I was raising money for charity and put the word out.  That’s why we sold everything.

Shall I tell Colin?

06.35 Have just woken Colin up and told him we will keep the money until we know for sure that Julio isn’t coming back and that the villas in Portugal won’t materialise.  Said we’d look pretty foolish if we settled with everyone and it turned out to be a false alarm.  Told him to hide the cash in a suitcase in the loft.

That way, when J. does turn up I can give it all to a good cause and not have to feel guilty.

Tuesday December 19th

 06.15 Vibrant TV Xmas party today!  Must sort out hair and makeup, shave legs, iron clothes, shine shoes etc.  Really should have got up earlier.  A woman’s work is never done!

Only hope Bridget remembers to turn up, and remembers to be pleased to see me, and remembers to talk me up to her boss.  What’s the chances of that happening?  Zero.

09.12 I know, will just phone B. and tell her about her father’s ban on presents and remind her that I’m coming to the party.

Wednesday December 20th

10.19 Dreadful day yesterday.  Dreadful humiliation. Can hardly bear to think of it.  Turned up at Bridget’s work’s Xmas do in best bib and tucker (lime green suit with black tights and black roll neck, fun Xmas tree earrings just to lighten the mood a bit) and worked the room like politicians do, gliding from one little group to another saying ‘Hi, and how are you?’ with big beaming smile.

Nothing. Nada. Niente. Sweet Fanny Adams. Bridget didn’t even notice me, she was far too busy flirting with a youth with severe acne, young enough to be her son, almost.

And then there was the person who said ‘didn’t you used to be on Watchdog?’  I said ‘no, Suddenly Single’ and he said ‘oh you poor love, have you tried speed dating?’

It is exactly one month since I stopped working in TV.  One month and I am totally forgotten.

What, excuse my French, was the bloody point?

 Thursday December 21st

 09.15 Am still in bed. No point in getting up with no job to go to.  Would normally be knee deep in Christmas prep by now but Christmas it seems is cancelled, courtesy of Colin. Will just go back to sleep for a bit.

 09.59 Must stop lying around feeling sorry for self.  I know, will phone Bridget and ask her to come home early and keep me company.

10.02 No joy there.  Am going back to bed.

12.43 Can hear mobile ringing somewhere, better go and answer it I suppose.

13.26 It was Julio.  Raving about how much he loves me.  I said ‘where is all the money my friends gave you?’  He said something about expenses.  I said ‘well they want it all back.’  He said he would come at Christmas and explain it to everyone.  I said ‘we aren’t doing Christmas, Colin has cancelled it, and by the way he has moved back in.’

The language. Appalling. Reduced me to tears.  I hung up and was sobbing in the utility room when suddenly warm arms came round me.  Colin.  I leaned on his chest (bit of an effort to bypass his belly mind you) and wept.  Neither of us spoke.  He gave me his hanky and I blew my nose.

Very sweet of him, all things considered.

Friday December 22nd

 14.19 Was having another little lie in this morning when I heard a noise on the driveway so peeped out of the window.  A large scruffy white van was just backing on.  Two obese men jumped out and started pulling things out of the back.

I suddenly recognised a little side table that I like to have a pot plant on in the bay window.  It was the bailiffs returning all our stuff!  We have a home again!

Geoffrey’s come round to help Colin with the heavier bits.  I’m on the settee in the lounge watching proper i.e. colour TV while they take the beds upstairs.  I was just getting in the way apparently.

Saturday December 23rd

 07.28 Am frantically making mince pies and stuffing.  Following yesterday’s triumphant return of our furniture and possessions, Colin has relented. Christmas, albeit a little smaller than usual, is going ahead.  Said he couldn’t bear to upset Bridget.  I will give everyone a hamper (well, cardboard box) of my homemade jams, chutneys and marmalades. All organic so Madam Becca won’t be able to complain. Will give Bridget the Slow Cooker for One I bought when I was working, I still have the box, it’ll look like new, and if she does marry that Darcy she can pass it on to one of her hopeless single friends.

Una and Geoffrey are coming for Christmas dinner as usual, and Una is bringing most of the food.  I of course will make the gravy.  And the brandy butter.  I refuse to put her horrid brandy custard, even lumpier and nastier than her gravy, onto my wonderful homemade Christmas pudding.

Oh I am so happy.  My dear old lovely life is back.

Sunday December 24th

 11.36 Am busy clearing out the box room.  Colin has been in there less than 3 weeks and it looks like a chronic hoarder has been piling up mess for half a century.  I don’t know how he does it.  Have just found my favourite paisley scarf underneath a 3 year old copy of Lawnmower Monthly even though I wore it in Portugal just a few weeks ago.

Point is, Jamie texted this morning and reminded me Becca needs her own room.  Said he would sleep in the car if we couldn’t manage two rooms for them.  As if I would let the neighbours see that!  Thought briefly of making a nest for Colin in the shed but no, it’s December, he’ll have to move back into my room, pro tem.

11.36 (p.m.) The house is silent. Everyone is asleep. I thought I could hear snow softly falling but it was just the wind.  Still, the magic of Christmas is upon us.

When Colin climbed into bed he said ‘this is so much better than Una’s’, pecked me on the cheek, rolled over and fell asleep.

Monday December 25th

 06.30 Am in the kitchen having a quiet coffee before the hordes arrive.  In a minute will wake Colin up so he can go for his mother and then it’ll be all peeling sprouts and opening presents.  I would make bacon sandwiches to keep them going while the dinner cooks but I can’t face the look on Rebecca’s face. Also the way she flings all the windows open when that delicious bacon smell hits her silly vegan nose.

06.31 No. No. No.  It’s Christmas.  Goodwill to all men and Rebecca.  Besides I don’t want Una to turn up and sense a bad atmosphere in the family. I will make porridge, the proper Scottish way with water.  And maybe a dash of whisky.

12.00 Everyone’s here, Bridget looks a fright so I sent her to change, but never mind.  Presents!

16.17 Well.  What a To Do.  What a Christmas.  Have retreated upstairs to take a quiet moment.  Downstairs everyone is talking non-stop about what happened.

Just as we were about to serve, and just as I was firmly but fairly explaining to Una about the gravy, suddenly Julio was in the lounge.  Rather drunk I’m afraid.  I could see from Una’s face that she was about to start haranguing him about her money so I whisked him upstairs.

I was just cleaning him up a bit (have never seen him so dishevelled) when Bridget called me down to deal with a Una/gravy problem.  Storm in a teacup of course, and what did I find but Mark Darcy striding about my lounge like a turkey cock (possibly also a bit drunk from the look of him) with Bridget gazing up at him adoringly and not one, not two, but three uniformed policemen lurking in my garden.

Was just about to give them what for when Colin chose that moment to notice that I’d been walking round all day with my top on inside out!  Why did nobody say anything? So embarrassing.

Anyway Julio left with the police, hopefully to explain everything and return the money, and we settled down to the liveliest Christmas dinner we’ve had in many a year.  The last time we had so much noise was when James was at that annoying age where he thought it was funny to encourage Bridget to make sprout/fart jokes, and we all talked very loudly in the hopes of drowning her out.

No fart jokes this time though, as Madam Bridget swanned off with M’Lord Mark Darcy without so much as a thought for the washing up (delegated to Colin and Geoffrey in the end).

We’ll all sleep well tonight I’ll wager!

Tuesday December 26th

06.23 Didn’t sleep a wink.  Every time I nodded off I started to dream about that Mark and what he’s doing to my Bridget which woke me up, only to be haunted by images of Julio drunk and raving.

Half-way through the night Colin said suddenly ‘if you can’t sleep can you make us some tea?’ When I got back with it he was snoring.

And now I have to get through a day at Una’s. She’ll be doing beef.  I’ll take yesterday’s gravy round in a Tupperware.

23.17 am entirely… can’t seem to… just one small sherry… soooo tired…. Sleeeeeep….

Wednesday December 27th

 07.49 Well – I feel halfway human after a good night’s sleep.  James and Becca seem to have left, at least their car is gone.  Strange. Still, that means we can have a cooked breakfast, plenty of leftover bacon to use up before we go into poverty mode.

08.23 Well! When he smelled the bacon cooking Colin came into the kitchen like a moth to the flame.  So far so normal.  But then he hugged me, kissed me, I mean properly kissed me, and said ‘whatever else they say about you Pam there’s no doubt you’re a class act.’  I demanded an explanation for this odd behaviour.  He said ‘yesterday when Una was in tears because her grandchildren were hysterical because Becca told them that they were eating a dear little moo cow and Geoffrey told Becca off and James told him to put a sock in it and James and Becca flounced off home, when all that was happening you were the only one to stay calm and smiling. I don’t know how you did it but you saved the day.’

Didn’t tell him I don’t know either, as I can’t remember a thing about it.  Probably I was asleep on my feet and smiling on autopilot.

11.17 Well. Well well. Weirdest phone call just now.  Woman called Wendy who had apparently called in at Una’s for a Christmas sherry and witnessed the kerfuffle.  And apparently, seeing how well I coped, asked me if I would consider being the agony aunt for the local paper of which she is the new editor, and APPARENTLY I agreed!

Will only have to answer one letter a week, and she’s paying!

Thursday December 28th

 10.01 Am going to clear out the study. Colin never uses it and I’ll need work space if I’m going to be a journalist.  I mean, there’s a gap in the market since poor Marjorie Proops has just died, Claire Rayner isn’t getting any younger and who else is there?

Wendy has dropped off a big box of letters and a list of topics she thinks are acceptable in a family newspaper.  It’s as if all my years of acquiring wisdom have suddenly become worthwhile, not to mention the money which I shall use to appease Colin.  Or maybe I’ll just keep it for myself.

Friday December 29th

 14.57 Just when you think life can’t get any odder, it does. Nigel Coles rang.  He was out when I made my apologies re Julio, villas etc and Audrey has only just told him.  He said not to worry about J’s debt as they still have the car.  What car? I enquired. I know nothing about any car (and neither did Audrey).  Turns out Julio has invested all of his ill gotten gains in a classic car, worth thousands, and was storing it under a tarpaulin in Nigel’s 4-car garage.  Under some pressure from the police Julio has filled out the forms to give Nigel ownership of the car.

When it’s sold, it will realise enough to cover everyone’s losses.

We are saved!

Monday January 1st

 11.18 Having a quiet New Year’s Day.  Tomorrow I will start my new role as agony aunt for the local paper dispensing caring advice to the sad, lonely and suffering, but today I will do nothing and cultivate an air of calm.  Ooh, phone!

11.44 Tarquin, ‘just wanting to say Happy New Year?’  I said ‘Happy New Year to you to.  How are things?’  He said brightly  ‘oh, great? Radio is like, so interesting?  Radio is, you know, where it’s at?  And the East Midlands is such a vibrant area?’

I thought Radio?  East Midlands?  That’s not the glam job at the BBC he was boasting about.  And then after a long pause he said ‘Pam?  How would you like to get involved? I could do with some of your sparkle on my team, innit?’

I said ‘Tarquin, how would you like a regular agony aunt feature…’





Monday December 25th

06.30 Am in the kitchen having a quiet coffee before the hordes arrive.  In a minute will wake Colin up so he can go for his mother and then it’ll be all peeling sprouts and opening presents.  I would make bacon sandwiches to keep them going while the dinner cooks but I can’t face the look on Rebecca’s face. Also the way she flings all the windows open when that delicious bacon smell hits her silly vegan nose.

06.31 No. No. No.  It’s Christmas.  Goodwill to all men and Rebecca.  Besides I don’t want Una to turn up and sense a bad atmosphere in the family. I will make porridge, the proper Scottish way with water.  And maybe a dash of whisky.

12.00 Everyone’s here, Bridget looks a fright so I sent her to change, but never mind.  Presents!

16.17 Well.  What a To Do.  What a Christmas.  Have retreated upstairs to take a quiet moment.  Downstairs everyone is talking non-stop about what happened.

Just as we were about to serve, and just as I was firmly but fairly explaining to Una about the gravy, suddenly Julio was in the lounge.  Rather drunk I’m afraid.  I could see from Una’s face that she was about to start haranguing him about her money so I whisked him upstairs.

I was just cleaning him up a bit (have never seen him so dishevelled) when Bridget called me down to deal with a Una/gravy problem.  Storm in a teacup of course, and what did I find but Mark Darcy striding about my lounge like a turkey cock (possibly also a bit drunk from the look of him) with Bridget gazing up at him adoringly and not one, not two, but three uniformed policemen lurking in my garden.

Was just about to give them what for when Colin chose that moment to notice that I’d been walking round all day with my top on inside out!  Why did nobody say anything? So embarrassing.

Anyway Julio left with the police, hopefully to explain everything and return the money, and we settled down to the liveliest Christmas dinner we’ve had in many a year.  The last time we had so much noise was when James was at that annoying age where he thought it was funny to encourage Bridget to make sprout/fart jokes, and we all talked very loudly in the hopes of drowning her out.

No fart jokes this time though, as Madam Bridget swanned off with M’Lord Mark Darcy without so much as a thought for the washing up (delegated to Colin and Geoffrey in the end).

We’ll all sleep well tonight I’ll wager!

Sunday December 24th

11.36 Am busy clearing out the box room.  Colin has been in there less than 3 weeks and it looks like a chronic hoarder has been piling up mess for half a century.  I don’t know how he does it.  Have just found my favourite paisley scarf underneath a 3 year old copy of Lawnmower Monthly even though I wore it in Portugal just a few weeks ago.

Point is, Jamie texted this morning and reminded me Becca needs her own room.  Said he would sleep in the car if we couldn’t manage two rooms for them.  As if I would let the neighbours see that!  Thought briefly of making a nest for Colin in the shed but no, it’s December, he’ll have to move back into my room, pro tem.

11.36 (p.m.) The house is silent. Everyone is asleep. I thought I could hear snow softly falling but it was just the wind.  Still, the magic of Christmas is upon us.

When Colin climbed into bed he said ‘this is so much better than Una’s’, pecked me on the cheek, rolled over and fell asleep.