Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Who is Mrs Jones anyway?

So I'm of the generation that read Bridget Jones's Diary and felt that it was a defining literary moment (before we were told it was a defining literary moment). Me and my friends wrote one another Bridget-style emails (minus the obsessive weight records - none of us cared) and dreamed about Mr Darcy (the literary one and the Bridget Jones one) and we all got annoyed when the film came out because it 1. Featured an American actress in a quintessentially British role; 2. Crassly cast Colin Firth as Mark Darcy, thereby defeating the entire irony that the book's romantic trajectory was based on and 3. Was actually quite good, really (to use a Bridget-ism). So far, so obvious.
But now the third book is out and Darcy, y'know, dies, and it feels like Helen Fielding has forgotten why we all loved Bridget in the first place. Which was because, of course, she was absolutely nothing like us whilst being everything we liked about us but were told we should disapprove of - an over-drinking, under-exercising smoking singleton whose friends were more important than her family and whose career path was as confusing as her love life. So the Bridget of now, the Bridget we'd love to hate but secretly love, would obviously be a happily married yet surprisingly unhappy childless 40-something year old with a fondness for luxury weekends away to remind her of the good life she abandoned to marry her impossibly-21st-century saviour of a husband who insists on doing all the cooking and leaves her feeling like an average housewife who still can't get the hang of the exercise bike and opts for drinking a bottle of wine with friends instead of exercising, occasionally adopting a 'healthy lifestyle' out of guilt but giving up after the first bag of satsumas runs out. Life has turned out pretty well for this Mrs Jones but she finds no voice in the Sunday newspaper columns or on the radio or on the telly, where celebrity super-couples and their 15 children share the limelight with impossibly young singletons with their tongues out taking pictures of themselves as they get drunk (thank goodness there's no digital photographic evidence of our drinking days), all looking so made up and so 'alternative' yet more mass-marketed than ever. It's not that Mrs Jones is the smug married she thought she'd turn into, it's just that she's not sad about not being single any more either. She's found music and books and films that she likes and she doesn't feel the need to share these beyond her immediate friends, who she still counts as closer than family and occasionally goes out with, no selfies required.
Maybe this Mrs Jones doesn't have a media counterpart because she is boring. Or maybe she's just too nuanced to be reduced to the Dear Diary lists she once found so life-affirming. Either way, I'd like to resurrect Mrs Jones and find out what she thinks of this now that we have to live in. So watch this space.
Oh, and read my next post which is sort of a postscript to this one. I know, I'm contrary. So sue me.

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