From melting her kettle to accidentally sending round-robin emails, Bridget Jones author Helen Fielding reveals how she’s a lot like the heroine she created

Eleanor Harding | Mail Online - June 2, 2014

Author Helen Fielding admitted that she suffered many of the same misfortunes as her creation Bridget Jones.

She created one of one of the most calamity-hit heroines of contemporary fiction.

Now Helen Fielding has revealed that she is more like Bridget Jones than she would care to admit, and is constantly getting herself into embarrassing scrapes.

Whether it’s melting her kettle, sending round-robin emails by mistake or accidentally stealing petrol, the author admitted her day-to-day life is not too dissimilar to that of her scatter-brained heroine.

Speaking at the Hay Festival in Wales yesterday, Fielding, 56, said ‘things seem to happen’ to her despite being a world-famous novelist.

She said: ‘I have always denied it but think actually maybe there are some things in common.’

She recounted one incident in which she received a call from her agent saying that a policeman had called and asked if she was the owner of a Peugeot 308.

‘It turns out that I had driven away from a petrol station without paying for the petrol,’ she said.

‘There was some criminal charge going on.’

In another, she accidentally left a kettle on a hob and came back to find it melting and giving off ‘acrid smoke’.

She said although she was ‘very disorganised’, she kept a file of the messes she had got herself into which could provide inspiration for her novels.

She said: ‘It started when I had my daughter, and I was having her via C-section. So I decided to do a birth announcement, saying what she was going to be called, when she was going to be born and so on.

‘So I prepared this email to send to everyone before I went into hospital. But then I accidentally pressed “send all”.

‘So then I had to then say, “sorry, I haven’t actually had the baby.” So then when I did have the baby I thought, “I can’t send another one.” It all got into a terrible mess.’

She also admitted that, like her heroine Bridget, who is always chopping and changing outfits, she worried what to wear for to speak for the event.

‘I worried a lot about whether it was OK to wear these boots,’ she said. ‘I was infected with the concept of effortless festival chic. This morning I was very confused about what to wear.’

Fielding, whose novel Bridget Jones’s Diary and the sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason were published in the 1990s, said she hoped the stories had helped single women feel more comfortable about themselves.

The books, which were both made into films starring Renée Zellweger and Colin Firth, tell the story of a single girl in her 30s and her quest for happiness in love, life and work.

She hit out at the idea that when a woman comes ‘of a certain age’ they were expected to ‘fade away and say, “never mind me”.’

‘The truth is, that we do not actually really change,’ she said. ‘That mentalness and that sense of hope and joy and the ability to be childish and  be silly and keep exploring life and keep having adventures and keep having sex and keep seeing what’s round the corner is part of being a person, a woman.’

She added: ‘Life is for living. We live longer, and especially women, we should carry on and give ourselves a new identity. Especially thirty-something women, don’t think of themselves as tragic barren spinsters now. They are not Miss Haversham.’

She also lamented the fact that societal expectations were so high for women to be perfect in every aspect of their lives.

She said: ‘The bar now is so high in terms of what we’re supposed to be like. In terms of what we’re supposed to look like, what we’re supposed to wear, what we’re supposed to be like as parents, and what we are supposed to have achieved professionally.’

‘I think it’s huge and it’s really sad. If Bridget has done anything to change that, and make people think it’s alright to muck up, it’s alright not to be perfect, it’s alright to be fat, it’s alright to sometimes say the wrong thing, as long as you’re kind and you can laugh along with your friends.’

She said that the problem was so ingrained that it was filtering down to children.

She added: ‘I’ve yet to meet a woman who does not obsess about her weight. There might be some, but I think we’ve looked at too many airbrushed pictures.

‘With the children aged seven saying “I’m fat,”, it’s really difficult.’

Fielding, from West Yorkshire, started her career as a newspaper journalist and Bridget Jones’s Diary began its life as an anonymous column in The Independent in 1995.

Her latest novel, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, tells the story of Bridget as an older woman who is widowed and decides to get on the dating scene again.

Fielding said she thought most people were meeting online now rather than in person, adding: ‘It’s no longer a sign of desperation.’