Bridget Jones Diary was first published 20 years ago. Can you believe it was that long ago? For 20 years the loveable, slightly podgy singleton has been a faithful companion and sign of hope for single women everywhere – myself included.
Bridget became a life long friend the moment my eyes devoured the first chapter of Fielding’s legendary novel. Despite being only 17 at the time, the way Bridget obsessed over every calorie, cig and alcohol unit, it felt like Fielding was narrating my own mind.
I returned to Bridget Jones many times during in twenties. My favourite Shazza line ‘fill her up got dam it’ has seen many a friend get over an emotional fuckwit. Whilst The Edge of Reason, accompanied me backpacking around Thailand, where male fuckwittage was plentiful but thankfully drug smuggling was not. But the funny thing is, I’ve never had Bridget in my life, whilst both she and I have been in our thirties. Until the other night, that is. Let me explain…
A Week Without a Mobile Phone
Last week was not a great week for many reasons. I scarped my new car, lost days of productivity on the hangover from hell and to top it all off I broke my phone. Balance was clearly called for.
Like many, I’m guilty of spending way too much time on my phone. I love to visualise myself being more present but more often than not I succumb to the FOMO of Facebook, Instagram and Tinder. So, upon sending my phone away for repair I set myself a challenge to see what life would be like without a mobile for one whole week.
Back to Bridget
Anyway getting back to Bridget and how she came back into my life, now aged 33. The other night was the first night in many, many years that I went to bed totally alone. And by that I mean without my phone and the worldwide web at my finger tips. At this point I remembered that I once used to read, and as luck would have it (I’m currently dog sitting at my sister’s house), Bridget Jones Diary was on the spare room night stand.
Rereading Bridget Jones Diary, many thoughts sprung to mind. How did she manage to keep up such an active social life with only a house phone and answering machine to organise social gatherings? Is Tinder the modern day version of instant messenger, thereby allowing people who are bored at work to flirt outrageous with attractive scoundrels? And super impressively how on earth did she manage to successfully get around London without the help of Google maps?
Then, not even ten pages in, I was struck by this snippet bellowed by Sharon,
“We women are only vulnerable because we are a pioneer generation daring to refuse to compromise in love and relying on our own economic power. In twenty years’ time men won’t even dare start with fuckwittage because we will just laugh in their faces,”
Yet here we are, twenty years on. What made me chuckle is whilst technology and therefore daily life has changed massively, so many of Bridget’s trials and tribulations seem to be the same as those facing single women in their thirties today. Proven in my case at least, by the similarities between my life and Bridget’s when the technology we’ve come to reply on so heavily is taken away.
Rachael Butler’s Phone Free Diary.
Day 1: Monday.
12 noon. I’ve been without my phone for three hours. Most of which time has been spent stressing, not over how I was going to communicate with potential clients without a phone, no that would be too sensible. Instead a good hour of my morning was taken up Facebook stalking the guy I’m dating from Tinder, in manner of MI5 or Homeland agent. All to track him down and communicate with him by Facebook messenger to let him know that I’m still on for this weekends date but do not have access to WhatsApp, our usual method of communication. Hmm, wonder if I now look desperate. Plus now he can see my entire Facebook profile, including the embarrassing drunken photos, of which there are many. Clearly not the best start to the week.
8pm. Hours without phone 11, (feels like 111), alcohol units, 2 (v.g considering).
Found a solution, of sorts to short term communication blip. I can Facetime on the iPad so still manage to have my usual Monday night chats with my sisters.
10pm. I’m actually considering going to sleep because I don’t have access to Tinder, then discovered Bridget Jones Diary – hallelujah.
Day 2: Tuesday.
7am. Fuck fuck fuck. Just realised I do not have access to the photos on my phone, and I have a client at 9am where I need the notes we scribed on the whiteboard in our last Executive Coaching session. This lead to an hour of frantic scrambling trying to see if my iCloud, One Drive or Google Drive had backed up my photos. Given I’m still yet to decide which cloud storage provider to go with for, my cloud backup is a bit like my romantic life. Non existent.
10.10am. Fuck fuck fuck. After I somehow managed to scramble through what turned out to be a positive coaching session I’m now running very late for the train, because guess what, my phone is my watch. So here I am tottering at considerable speed through Doncaster town centre to make the 10.25am train to Peterborough.
1pm. Arrive in Norwich for next Executive Coaching session. Go to check my calendar for the address. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck the office address is saved in my phone. OK I tell myself, don’t panic just Google the address on the iPad. But my clients website is down – fucketey fuck fuck fuck. Do I have the address written down of where I am going? Of course not. Do I have a phone to call the receptionist and ask her of course not? Oh my god I really, really miss Google maps.
4pm. Hurrah boy has messaged me back. All is right in life again. Although now he doesn’t know if he can make the weekend and I’m left wondering should I get back on Tinder? Agghhhh maybe this is male or female fuckwittage?
8pm. Hours without phone 40 (feels like 400). Alcohol units 3 (excellent considering), calories 3,500 (loss of phone is entirely to blame).
What a day. Am relaxing on the sofa with a much needed vino and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s when I hear a sound. It stops for a while then starts again. WTF. Then I remember I asked my mate to ring me on the house phone to arrange meeting up later this week. Impressively in the space of a 20-minute phone conversation we agreed everything that usually takes 30 WhatsApp messages to arrange. What time we’re meeting, where we’re going, what we’re wearing and what we might drink. She then asks if I think we’ll meet any hot single men out. Of course not silly, they’ll all be at home on Tinder shamelessly flirting due to the informality of messaging medium.
Day 3. Wednesday.
6.45am. Fucketey fuck fuck fuck. I’ve slept in because my phone is also my alarm clock. Luckily my sister has a radio alarm by the bed so the chirpy tones of Chris Evans eventually lift me out of my slumber just in time to walk the dog and scoff down some breakfast before I’m out to an 8am client meeting. Although ended up still being late, as went to the wrong location because I didn’t have the calendar invite to check on my phone. Oh dear.
10.15am. I’m in the gym Body Attacking. Given I can feel the fat already congealing in my thighs from last nights calorie intake this class was urgently called for. Thank god I don’t have my phone to input the data into My Fitness Pal. Hmmmm hang on a minute, if the calories don’t go into the My Fitness Pal app, is it possible that they don’t actually exist?
9pm. Hours without phone 60 (surprisingly feels like 6), alcohol units 3 (v.g), calories eaten 1,800, calories burnt 550 (excellent)
All in all today turned out to be an excellent day. The mobile phone shakes have gone – this happened a lot on days 1 and 2 where I’d constantly search for it like it was still there and then feel sick when the realisation hit that it has indeed gone. Meaning that I’ve enjoyed a lovely walk with the dog this afternoon and a phone free dinner with friends. I’m not even missing Tinder that much. As for the boy… still not sure what to do about that. Let’s see what the next few days have in store and what a night out in Donny is like without a mobile phone.