Sunday 26 November

8st 13. (Princess Diana Diet VG) Cigarettes 44 - but need to get money's worth before Budget. Alcohol units 4 (ditto). Calories eaten 3,845. Calories left in stomach 0 (VG). No of correct lottery numbers 4 (but on different lines).

Oh no. Christmas horror has started already. My mum rang at 7.45 this morning.

"Oh hello, darling," she said, brightly. "I was just ringing to see what you wanted for Christmas."

"Christmas? Wha...?"

"Would you like a surprise, darling?"

"No!" I bellowed, horrified out of sleeplessness. "Sorry, I mean..."

"I wondered if you'd like a set of wheels for your suitcase."

"Mum, please. It's quarter to eight. It's Sunday. I haven't got a suitcase."

"Why don't I get you a little suitcase with wheels attached - you know, like air hostesses have."

"But I've already got a bag."

"Oh darling, you can't go around with that tatty green canvas thing. You look like some sort of Mary Poppins person who's fallen on hard times. Just a little compact case - with a pull-out handle. It's amazing how much you can get in. Do you want it in navy on red or red on navy?"

"But I don't want an air hostess bag...

"Well, Julie Enderby's got one! She says she never uses anything else."

"Who's Julie Enderby?"

"You know Julie, darling! Mavis Enderby's daughter. Julie! The one who's got a super-dooper job at Arthur Andersen."


"Always takes it on her trips."

"But I don't want a little bag with wheels on," I whispered weakly.

"I'll tell you what. Why don't Andrew, Daddy and I all club together and get you a proper new big suitcase and a set of wheels?"

I held the phone away from my ear, bewildered as to where the missionary luggage-Christmas-gift-zeal had sprung from. When I put the phone back she was saying: "In actual fact you can get them with a compartment with bottles for your bubble bath and things. The other thing I thought of was a shopping trolley."

"Is there anything you'd like for Christmas?" I said, desperately, wondering if it was too early for a little drinky.

"No, no," she said airily. "I've got everything I need. Now, darling," she suddenly hissed, "you will be coming to Geoffrey and Una's New Year's Day turkey curry buffet this year, won't you?"

"Ah. Actually I..." I panicked wildly. What could I pretend to be doing? "...think I might have to work on New Year's Day."

"Well, that doesn't matter. You can come up after work. Oh, did I mention? Malcolm and Elaine Darcy are coming and bringing Mark with them. Do you remember Mark, darling? He's one of these top-notch businessmen. Single. It doesn't start till eight."

"Mum. I've told you. I don't need to be fixed up with..."

"Now come along, darling. Una and Geoffrey have been holding the New Year buffet since you were a baby. Of course you're going to come."

Monday 27 November

9st 4 (hmmm, that's funny). Cigarettes 33 (thereby making considerable saving before tomorrow) alcohol units 2 (excellent).

Ugh. Had no sooner got home from work than I got my brother's girlfriend on the phone.

"We've had this really great idea - we thought you'd like a muff."

"What?" I said, panicking.

"A muff. You know - furry, like in Dr Zhivago."

"Er, but I don't usually, you know, as a rule, wear, er, muffs."

"Or a yoghurt maker," she said huffily, "but we thought a muff. You like unusual clothes."

I think she might have been thinking of when I turned up at the Alconburys' wearing bunny ears and a tail under the misapprehension that it was a tarts and vicars party, but still. Why - just because it is the anniversary of the birth of our Lord the Baby Jesus does my entire family think they can start analysing my life and ferreting out the most bizarre things they can think of, such as muffs and yoghurt makers, which are absent from it and trying to force them in as if in a moral crusade: instead of just giving me something simple they know I'll like which is easily obtainable from the off-licence round the corner. Oh God, I can't believe I'm going to spend Christmas Eve - again - sleeping in a single bed in my parents' house. It is so humiliating at my age. Mum and Dad have decided on a hideous getting back together day for the sake of the children (ie me and my 38-year-old brother) but then there is going to be some indescribable post-Xmas lunch when the whole family is supposed to sit down with Dad and Julio in a ghastly American post-nuclear-family-style scenario. Would that I had a boyfriend and could be daintily removed to Gstaad and given nylons and diamonds.

11.45. Just got off to sleep as had decided on early night, and the phone rang. Grabbed at it thinking it must be Daniel. Or maybe Gav. But it was Mum.

"Oh hello, darling. Just suddenly thought. Did I tell you Malcolm and Elaine's son Mark is going to be at the Alconburys' on New Year's Day? You remember them, don't you darling? They came to stay when we lived in Buckingham and you and Mark played in the paddling pool. He's done ever so well for himself. Not married."

She might as well come out and say: "You will shag Mark at the party, won't you darling. He's frightfully rich."

"Mum I don't know if I'll..."

"Now don't start that darling - of course you're going to come," she hissed. "You can use your new suitcase. And your muff."