Yay! Bridget Jones is back! Finally me and my fellow middle-class mediocrities can breathe a huge sigh of relief. I start to worry when we don’t have enough fictional characters around to legitimise a strictly circumscribed, unimaginative range of female flaws. But now it’s all sorted. All that stuff we worry about – when we’re not worrying about “proper” things, that is – well, we no longer have to worry about worrying about it (we still have to do the primary worrying, mind, but we’ve been let off from extending it into the meta-worries). So from now on, let’s not feel bad about feeling bad about wearing massive pants – let’s just dwell on the pants themselves! And as for not being thin – well, there’s nothing remotely odd about fixating on that. We all do it (unless, unlike Bridget Jones, we are actually fat. Should that be the case, then to all intents and purposes we don’t exist).
Personally, I don’t plan on reading the next instalment of Bridget’s diary (or blog or twitter timeline or whatever it now is). As long as Bridget’s stuff is “there” in our cultural consciousness, alerting us to the comedy value of female neuroses, that’s enough for me. I did read the first diary. As for the second, I only saw the film (and, in a spirit of sisterhood, have been dutifully sending push-up bras and Dairy Milk to Thai prisons ever since). This time around I just know there’ll be enough Bridget in the ether for me to absorb it all without even getting off my face on a vat of retro Chardonnay.
When Bridget’s first diary came out, I was in my early twenties. I drank and smoked a lot, obsessively made lists and felt pissed off about being single (frequently I did all these things at once, hence the lists are illegible, except for one which says “mayfair lights hubba bubba mushy peas”. Living the dream, you’ll agree). Bridget appealed to me not because she was a bumbling idiot in the same way I was, but because she was aspirational. I wanted a vague office-y job in a place surrounded by men who found my idiocy endearing. Plus I wanted the level of self-control which at least allowed one to monitor one’s excesses. Bridget’s chaos always struck me as remarkably organised – just the right level of fucking up. Not so much that you piss people off, but just enough to show people – men in particular – that you’re not threatening. Enough to amuse people and to make them like you. I constantly frustrated myself by accidentally going too far in my attempts to be a similarly loveable fuckwit. I was always that bit too fat or too drunk or too slaggy. It’s ridiculous, I know, but I actually thought being yourself meant being yourself, as opposed to being “Real Woman ™” (perhaps if Femail had been available online back then, I could have trained myself in knowing one’s place via the medium of “self-acceptance”).
I feel I’ve since outgrown Bridget, which is strange because a) she’s a decade older than me and b) I consider myself to be an exceptionally inept and immature person. I am a million miles off sorted yet for me comedy fucked-up-ness has lost its sparkle. I don’t find it reassuring any more. I can’t help feeling there’s a mean little edge to it, telling you this is the best you can ever be, except you’re still not even that good. You watch Renée Zellweger’s “massive” arse close in on the camera and say “that’d be me, that would”, but you know it wouldn’t. Your arse is still too big. Plus when you get upset or paranoid or lonely, it’s never quite as funny or charming. You’re encouraged to reduce yourself to the sum of your flaws because that’s what’s meant to make you humble and worthy of love. And yet it doesn’t. Without the gloss of fiction, boozed-up fuckwittedness merely makes you into a female version of Frank Spencer crossed with one of the Inbetweeners. Ladies, whatever the size of your pants, you’re worth more than this.