5 December 2013

Being Bridget

Sometimes I feel like I could be in a movie. Namely Bridget Jones. The scenes where she's crossing the river all wrapped up is one I've done many a time (complete with soundtrack in head). The other day I found myself in Tesco buying a baguette, two Camembert, red wine and bulgar wheat, and then having to battle through self check-out and the commute home with odd shaped purchases. At rush hour. And then there was the (very green and embarrassing) time a few years ago I went to a new business meeting at a football club in an entirely inappropriate outfit. Very Bridget.

But other times I feel like I'm in a film because some of the things I do and the places I go are reminiscent of scenes I used to watch when growing up; always dreaming of living in glamorous London, darting around in heels and trying to be professional. Now I'm not getting weekly manicures or buying fresh flowers every day but I work in Soho (which every film set in London has to feature, its the law), I do actually wear (chunky) heels on a daily basis and my outfit choices for meetings has improved. And the irrevocable reminder of my age - 24, not old - is that these are things I should actually be doing - it's no longer the realm of movie land, this is my reality.

I think it's something to do with the time of year as well. The crisp air, big coats and scarves, lights being switched on (the less said about darkness at 4pm the better)...everything feels that little bit more magical. It's as if (now bear with me, I won't get too hopelessly romantic) the Hollywood fairy dust has come to town (which, of course, has neglected the hapless crowds of shoppers) and everything feels that little bit more festive.

So I do feel a lot like Bridget. I know I'm not at the 30s stage and I don't have to go to dinners with lots of smug marrieds, but I do spend time sloshing glasses of wine (or cocktails) around, wondering if my phone has mysteriously lost signal (and that'll explain lack of communication from people) and whether my bum does look big in those riding pants.

Last night, I joined The Guardian Book Club for an evening with Bridget Jones' creator, Helen Fielding. Bridget began life as an anonymous column in The Independent 17 years ago (!), allowing freelance journalist Helen to 'live a little' and give her heroine a life less perfect. Bridget's clumsy, she's ridiculous, she's sex-mad...and she's real. She hasn't got the perfect life with the perfect man, job and children - instead she spends most of her time consuming entire boxes of Milk Trays, smoking too many fags and thinking about shagging men she shouldn't.

Most women would agree that there's a little bit of Bridget in everyone, and that's fine. One woman in the audience said she'd done a Bridget and married her Daniel Cleaver (with a more fortuitous result), whilst a Japanese anchorwoman told Helen that Bridget normalised the whole 'worrying about being a little fat' (she wasn't). It is. The point of the matter, and trying to avoid the predictable saccharine conclusions and the infamous Mark Darcy utterance of 'I like you...just the way you are' (what a babe), is that Bridget is all things to all people. Love her, hate her, it doesn't matter but if it resonates with you, that's okay.

I still think of Bridget (yes, I know she's a fictional character) as a bit of a fairy godmother. A foul-mouthed, blue soup-making, mini-break lusting fairy godmother. She offered a very adolescent me a taste of London as a clueless singleton, and you know what, wine or vodka in hand and Chaka Khan booming from the speakers, I think she'd approve of this little protege.
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