Mad about the boy, p.1
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       Mad About the Boy, p.1
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         Part #3 of Bridget Jones series by Helen Fielding
Mad About the Boy


  Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy

  Helen Fielding

  CONTENTS

  Cover

  About the Book

  About the Author

  Also by Helen Fielding

  Dedication

  Title Page

  Prologue

  Plenty of Fuckwits

  The Art of Concentration

  Dark Night of the Soul

  Part One: Born-Again Virgin

  2012 Diary

  A New Start – A New Me

  Social Media Virgin

  The Flabby Diaphragm

  Makeover!

  Smug Married Hell

  A Plan

  A Daniel in Shining Armour

  The Perfect Babysitter

  The Stronghold

  Aftermath

  Women Change Their Minds

  Crashing Wave

  How Not to Do Dating

  The Number One Key Dating Rule

  Continuing Dating Incompetence

  Escalating Dating Incompetence

  Intensive Dating Study

  Wallowing in It

  Christmas

  Part Two: Mad About the Boy

  2013 Diary

  Perfect Mother

  A Needle in a Twitterstack

  Do Not Tweet When Drunk

  Twunken Aftermath

  Screenwriter

  Let it Snow!

  Do Not Tweet About Date During Date

  Date With Toy Boy

  Joy Mixed With Sick

  Getting to Second Date

  Hard-Hats-Offing!

  The Barnacle’s Penis

  To Sleep With or Not to Sleep With?

  Second Date With Toy Boy

  Deflowered

  Back in the Present Moment

  Dark Night of the Soul

  Power Mother

  Nits in the Works

  Nit-Infestered Power Meeting

  Fire! Fire!

  The Trouble With Summer

  Direction!

  The Trouble With Outfits

  Heady Glamorous Times

  Talitha’s Party

  Part Three: Descent Into Chaos

  Horrible No-Good Very Bad Day

  Overstuffed Lives

  Mini-Break or Break-Up?

  Is it Snow or is it Blossom?

  Frantic

  Farting Sports Day

  The Deep Freeze

  That’s What Friends Are For

  The Yawning Void

  Just the Way They Are

  Let’s Face the Music and Tea-Dance

  Getting Online

  KBO

  The Summer Concert

  The Horror, The Horror

  Mid-Match Collision

  Rekindling

  Blimey

  Giving In

  Part Four: The Great Tree

  Summer of Fun

  Back to School

  The Mighty Jungle

  Parents’ Evening

  Fifty Shades of Old

  The Sound of Shells Cracking

  A Hero Will Rise

  ’Tis the Season

  The Carol Concert

  The Owl

  The Year’s Progress

  Outcome

  Acknowledgements

  Copyright

  ABOUT THE BOOK

  WHAT DO YOU DO when a girlfriend’s 60th birthday party is the same day as your boyfriend’s 30th?

  IS IT WRONG to lie about your age when online dating?

  IS IT MORALLY WRONG to have a blow-dry when one of your children has head lice?

  DOES THE DALAI LAMA actually tweet or is it his assistant?

  IS TECHNOLOGY now the fifth element? Or is that wood?

  IS SLEEPING WITH SOMEONE after 2 dates and 6 weeks of texting the same as getting married after 2 meetings and 6 months of letter writing in Jane Austen’s day?

  Pondering these, and other modern dilemmas, Bridget Jones stumbles through the challenges of single-motherhood, tweeting, texting and rediscovering her sexuality in what SOME people rudely and outdatedly call ‘middle age’.

  The long-awaited return of a much-loved character, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is timely, tender, touching, witty, wise and bloody hilarious.

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  HELEN FIELDING is the author of Bridget Jones’s Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, and was part of the screenwriting team on the films of the same name. Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is her fifth novel. She has two children and lives in London and sometimes Los Angeles.

  Also by Helen Fielding

  Cause Celeb

  Bridget Jones’s Diary

  Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

  Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination

  To Dash and Romy

  PROLOGUE

  Thursday 18 April 2013

  2.30 p.m. Talitha just called, talking in that urgent, ‘let’s-be-discreet-but-wildly-overdramatic’ voice she always has. ‘Darling, I just want to let you know that it’s my sixtieth on the 24th of May. I’m not SAYING it’s my sixtieth, obviously. And keep it quiet because I’m not asking everyone. I just wanted you to keep the date free.’

  I panicked. ‘That would be great!’ I gushed unconvincingly.

  ‘Bridget. You absolutely can’t not come.’

  ‘Well, the thing is . . .’

  ‘What?’

  ‘It’s Roxster’s thirtieth birthday that night.’

  Silence at the end of the phone.

  ‘I mean, we probably won’t still be together by then, but, if we are, it would be . . .’ I tailed off.

  ‘I’ve just put “no children” on the invites.’

  ‘He’ll be thirty by then!’ I said indignantly.

  ‘I’m just teasing, darling. Of course you must bring your toy boy. I’ll get a bouncy castle! Back on air. Mustrunloveyoubye!’

  Tried to turn on telly to see if Talitha had indeed, as so often, been calling me live on air during a film clip. Jabbed confusedly at buttons like a monkey with a mobile phone. Why does turning on a TV these days require three remotes with ninety buttons? Why? Suspect designed by thirteen-year-old technogeeks, competing with each other from sordid bedrooms, leaving everyone else thinking they’re the only person in the world who doesn’t understand what the buttons are for, thus wreaking psychological damage on a massive, global scale.

  Threw remotes petulantly onto sofa, at which TV randomly burst into life, showing Talitha looking immaculate, one leg sexily crossed over the other, interviewing the dark-haired Liverpool footballer who has the anger-management/biting problem. He looked as if he wanted to bite Talitha, though for rather different reasons than on the pitch.

  Right. No need for panic – will simply assess pros and cons of Roxster/Talitha party issue in calm and mature manner:

  PROS OF TAKING ROXSTER TO PARTY

  *It would be terrible not to go to Talitha’s. She has been my friend since our

  Sit Up Britain

  days, when she was an impossibly glamorous newsreader and I was an impossibly incompetent reporter.

  *It would be quite funny to take Roxster, and also smug-making, because the thirtieth/sixtieth birthday thing would stop all that patronizing pitying-of-single-women-‘of-a-certain-age’ thing, like they’re terminally stuck with their singleness, whereas single men of that age are snapped up before they’ve had time to draw up the divorce papers. And Roxster is so gorgeous and peach-like, thereby somehow denying reality of ageing process on self.

  CONS OF TAKING ROXSTER TO PARTY

  *Roxster is his own man, and would doubtless take exception to being treated as some sort of comedy, or anti-ageing device.

  *Crucially, it might put Roxster off me, to be surrounded by
old people at sixtieth birthday party, and make some sort of completely unnecessary point about how old I am though of course am MUCH younger than Talitha. And frankly, I refuse to believe how old I actually am. As Oscar Wilde says, thirty-five is the perfect age for a woman, so much so that many women have decided to adopt it for the rest of their lives.

  *Roxster is probably having his own party with young people squeezed onto his balcony, barbecuing and listening to 70s disco music with ironic ‘retro’ amusement, and is thinking at this moment how to avoid asking me to the party in case his friends find out he is going out with a woman literally old enough to be his mother. Actually, possibly, technically, with the advancement of puberty due to hormones in milk these days – grandmother. Oh God. Why did mind think such a thought?

  3.10 p.m. Gaaah! Have got to pick up Mabel in twenty minutes and have not got rice cakes ready. Gaah. Telephone.

  ‘I have Brian Katzenberg for you.’

  My new agent! Actual agent. But I would be BEYOND late for Mabel if I stopped and talked.

  ‘Can I call Brian back later?’ I trilled, trying to smear pretend-butter onto the rice cakes, stick them together and put them in a Ziploc with one hand.

  ‘It’s about your spec script.’

  ‘Just . . . in . . . a meeting!’ How could I be in a meeting, and yet talking on the phone saying I’m in a meeting? People’s assistants are meant to say they’re in a meeting, not the person themself, who is supposed to be unable to say anything because they’re in the meeting.

  Set off on school run, feeling, now, desperate to call back and find out what the call was about. Brian has so far sent it to two production companies, both of whom have turned it down. But now maybe a fish has bitten at the fish hook?

  Fought overwhelming urge to ring Brian back claiming ‘meeting’ had come to an abrupt end, but decided far more important to be on time for Mabel: and that’s the sort of caring, prioritizing mother I am.

  4.30 p.m. School run was even more chaos than usual: like Where’s Wally? picture of millions of lollipop ladies, babies in prams, white-van men having standoffs with over-educated SUV mums, a man cycling with a double bass strapped to his back, and earth mothers on bicycles with tin boxes full of children in the front. Entire road was gridlocked. Suddenly, a frantic woman came running along yelling, ‘Go back, go BACK! Come ON! Nobody is HELPING HERE!’

  Realizing there had been a terrible accident, I, and everyone else, started rearing their cars crazily onto pavement and into gardens to make way for Emergency Services. Once road was clear, peered gingerly ahead for the ambulance/bloodbath. But there was not an ambulance, just a very fancy woman, flouncing into a black Porsche, then roaring furiously along the newly cleared road, a smug be-uniformed small child next to her in the front seat.

  By the time I got to the Infants Branch, Mabel was the only child left on the steps, apart from the last straggler, Thelonius, who was about to leave with his mum.

  Mabel looked at me with her huge solemn eyes.

  ‘Come on, Old Pal,’ she said kindly.

  ‘We wondered where you’d got to!’ said Thelonius’s mum. ‘Did you forget again?’

  ‘No,’ I said. ‘The road was completely gridlocked.’

  ‘Mummy’th fifty-one!’ Mabel suddenly burst out. ‘Mummy’th fifty-one. She says she’th thirty-five but she’th really fifty-one.’

  ‘Shhh. Hahaha!’ I responded to Thelonius’s mother’s stare. ‘Better run off and get Billy!’

  Managed to get Mabel, still yelling ‘Mummy’th fifty-one!’, into the car, leaning over in the traditional body-wrenching movement, which gets increasingly awkward with age, fastening the seat belt by waddling my hand in the mess between the seat back and booster seat.

  Arrived at Billy’s Junior Branch to see Perfect Nicolette, the Class Mother (perfect house, perfect husband, perfect children: only slight imperfection being name, presumably chosen by parents before invention of popular smoking substitute), surrounded by a gaggle of Junior Branch mothers. Perfect Nicorette was perfectly dressed and perfectly blow-dried with a perfectly gigantic handbag. Sidled up, panting, to see if I could get the scoop on the latest Area of Concern, just as Nicolette flicked her hair crossly, nearly taking my eye out with the corner of the giant bag.

  ‘I asked him why Atticus is still in the football Ds – I mean, Atticus has been coming home, literally, in tears – and Mr Wallaker just said, “Because he’s rubbish. Anything else?”’

  Glanced over at the Area of Concern/new sports teacher: fit, tall, slightly younger than me, crop-haired, rather like Daniel Craig in appearance. He was staring broodingly at a group of unruly boys, then suddenly blew a whistle and bellowed, ‘Oi! You lot. In the cloakroom now or I’ll Caution you.’

  ‘You see?’ Nicolette continued, as the boys formed themselves into a shambolic line, attempting to jog back into school, shouting, ‘One, sir! Two, sir!’ like startled bushmen recruited to form a Spring Uprising, while Mr Wallaker blew his whistle ludicrously in time.

  ‘He is hot, though,’ said Farzia. Farzia is my favourite school mum, always having her priorities in place.

  ‘Hot, but married,’ snapped Nicolette. ‘And with children, though you wouldn’t guess it.’

  ‘I thought he was a friend of the headmaster,’ ventured another mum.

  ‘Exactly. Is he even trained?’ said Nicolette.

  ‘Mummy.’ Looked round to see Billy, in his little blazer, dark hair tousled, shirt hanging out of his trousers. ‘I didn’t get picked for chess.’ Those same eyes, those same dark eyes, stabbed with pain.

  ‘It doesn’t matter about being picked or winning,’ I said, giving Billy a furtive hug. ‘It’s who you are that counts.’

  ‘Of course it matters.’ Gaah! It was Mr Wallaker. ‘He has to practise. He has to earn it.’ As he turned away, distinctly heard him mutter, ‘The sense of entitlement amongst the mothers in this school defies belief.’

  ‘Practise?’ I said brightly. ‘Why, I’d never have thought of that! You must be terribly clever, Mr Wallaker. I mean, sir.’

  He looked at me with his cold blue eyes.

  ‘What has this got to do with the Sports Department?’ I continued sweetly.

  ‘I teach the chess class.’

  ‘But how lovely! Do you use the whistle?’

  Mr Wallaker looked disconcerted for a moment, then said, ‘Eros! Get out of that flower bed. Now!’

  ‘Mummy,’ said Billy, tugging on my hand, ‘the ones that got picked get two days off school to go to the chess tournament.’

  ‘I’ll practise with you.’

  ‘But Mummy, you’re rubbish at chess.’

  ‘No, I’m not! I’m really good at chess. I beat you!’

  ‘You didn’t.’

  ‘I did!’

  ‘You didn’t!’

  ‘Well, I was letting you win because you’re a child,’ I burst out. ‘And anyway, it isn’t fair because you have chess classes.’

  ‘Perhaps you could join the chess classes, Mrs Darcy?’ Oh GOD. What was Mr Wallaker doing still listening? ‘There is an age limit of seven, but if we stretch that to mental age I’m sure you’ll be fine. Did Billy tell you his other news?’

  ‘Oh!’ said Billy, brightening. ‘I’ve got nits!’

  ‘Nits!’ I stared at him aghast, hand reaching instinctively to my hair.

  ‘Yes, nits. They’ve all got them.’ Mr Wallaker looked down, a slight flicker of amusement in his eyes. ‘I realize this will cause a National Emergency amongst the north London Mumserati and their coiffeurs but you simply need to nit-comb them. And yourself, of course.’

  Oh God. Billy had been scratching his head recently but I’d sort of blanked it as one thing too many to take on. Could feel my head starting to crawl as my mind cartwheeled. If Billy’s got nits, then probably Mabel’s got nits, and I’ve got nits, which means that . . . Roxster has got nits.

  ‘Everything all right?’

  ‘Yes, no, super!’ I said.
Everything’s fine, jolly good, bye then, Mr Wallaker.’

  Walked away, holding Billy’s and Mabel’s hands, to hear a ping on my mobile. Hurriedly put on my glasses to read the text. It was from Roxster.

 

  Gaaah! Cannot have Roxster coming over when we have to nit-comb everyone and wash all the pillowcases. Surely it is not normal to be thinking of an excuse to cancel your toy boy because the entire household has got nits? Why do I keep getting myself into such a mess?

  5 p.m. We burst back into our terrace house, with the usual jumble of backpacks, crumpled paintings, squashed bananas, plus a large bag of nit-combing products from the chemist, and clattered past the ground-floor ‘lounge/office’ (increasingly redundant apart from the sofa bed and empty John Lewis boxes) and down the stairs into the warm messy basement/kitchen/sitting room where we spend all our time. I settled Billy to do his homework and Mabel to play with her ‘Hellvanians’ (Sylvanian bunnies) while I put on the spag bog. But now am in total fug about what to text Roxster about tonight, and whether I should tell him about the nits.

  5.15 p.m. Maybe not.

  5.30 p.m. Oh God. Had just texted when Mabel suddenly sprang up and started singing Billy’s least favourite song at him, ‘Forgeddabouder money money money!’ Then the phone rang.

  Lunged at it, just as Billy jumped up, yelling, ‘Mabel, stop singing Jessie J!’ and a receptionist’s voice purred, ‘I have Brian Katzenberg for you.’

  ‘Um, could I possibly call Brian back in—’

  ‘Berbling, berbling!’ sang Mabel, chasing Billy round the table.

  ‘I have Brian on now.’

  ‘Nooo! Can you just—’

  ‘Mabel!’ wailed Billy. ‘Stop iiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.’

  ‘Shhh! I’m on the PHONE!’

  ‘Heyyyyyy!’ Brian’s brisk cheery voice. ‘So! Great news! Greenlight Productions want to take out an option on your script.’

  ‘What?’ I said, heart leaping. ‘Does that mean they’re going to make it into a film?’

  Brian laughed heartily. ‘It’s the movie business! They’re just going to give you a small amount of money to develop it, and—’

 
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