Sunday, June 20, 1999

`There was a touching card from Harold Pinter, and Julie Burchill had sent me next year's diary (ho ho)'

What the hell have I done? By January 2000, my obituaries will be yesterday's tramp wrapping and the public weeping will be all but over. I've been calling the editor a lot, explaining that I'm having second thoughts. `Of course, of course, excellent,' he says. `Write it all down.'

If I persist, he explains how a friend has told him only this morning that being made to cry by me every Sunday may be saving his marriage.

How? I ask. `Well, they've started having sex again,' he says. I ask him if he's seriously suggesting I should top myself so his friends can cry themselves into bed. `Yes, yes,' he says, `yes' and then, suddenly, he gets very firm and reminds me that I've signed a contract and I can't back out now - not now there's a book deal.

The documentary crew love all this. They say my face looks great when I'm losing an argument. They're filming me for a week. It's a promo tie-in with the book. On Tuesday morning, they chanced upon the perfect Water Cooler Moment. They like to film me opening my post. There was a touching card from Harold Pinter, an immaculate little black coffin from Nick Cave and Julie Burchill had sent me next year's diary (ho ho). Then some handwriting that I recognised. Bridget. A small parcel. And, inside, a pregnancy test stick with the diagnostic end snapped off.

Now Bridget hasn't spoken to me since I revealed here how I ruined our friendship with deceit, booze and horribly misjudged (but rather good) mercy fuck. She has, however, let it filter through to me that she thinks I'm being a jerk. So was she really telling me that as a result of our one chonk she is now pregnant? Or was she playing with me, trying to give me a motive to live, and thus to renege on my newly revived promise to the world - and to you, my readers. The scheming, fat-armed cow, I think you'll agree.

I phoned to let her have it. Ansamachine. I ranted incoherently to the chip. The phone went as soon as I hung up.

Not Bridget but my life-insurance company. They seem to have a problem with paying me any of my money up front, even though I can guarantee the exact date and manner of my death. Tossers.

All morning, the documentary boys filmed me pacing about - unsettled by Bridget's stick. Idiot sunlight was smashing itself all over my loft. I had a hangover worse than Gulf War syndrome.

Then my Blue Monday remix doorbell went off like an earful of cattleprods. Christ, I thought, I don't want to see her. And I didn't want her to see me or, more particularly, the all-too-visible evidence of other women.

I might as well tell you that a wailing torrent of grief bangers rolls through this place day and night, turning my groin into a blur and my pillows into a Dianarama of blubbed kohl. In fact, most women I know have stopped wearing knickers just in case.

So imagine you have all that going through your head as you tentatively open the door to find not your possibly pregnant ex-best friend, but that tick Johnny Depp greeting you insouciantly with a `Hey Rich. Can I hang with you for the day? I'm playing you in a movie?' I told him to sling his hook and piss up a rope.

The crew missed that. The tape had run out. Johnny was too busy pissing up his rope to come back and redo it. So they started blaming me. They demanded more action shots. I said I'd already staged a scene in which a distraught phone call to my mother ends with me beating up the sound recordist (I mustered the violence by imagining he was Nick Broomfield). And at that point Bridget really did turn up.

She looked alive. And angry. Oh God, wait there I said, I'm just, er ... she waited. I pleaded with the crew not to film her. I couldn't give a toss about me but I didn't want Bridget invaded by crappy camerawork and botched in the edit. No way, they said, this stuff could make a water- cooler day. She rang again. I had to make a deal. Hidden cameras. After all, they said, the film wouldn't go out till after I was too dead to bollock; they slipped me a two-gram sherbert to seal it.

When you see the programme, I expect there will be quite a good shot through a crack in the kitchen door where I cry as Bridget tells me that she really is pregnant and is going to have the baby.

I heard a muted cheer from the kitchen being stifled with a saucepan. I crushed the lapel mike they'd hidden in my Nehru collar and whispered through tears that I would change my mind. I would live for the child. And her. Perhaps we should get married? I nearly said I loved her. She softened deliciously but said nothing. Then she nodded very slightly, turned and ran out.

I phoned the editor. `I'm not doing it! I'm going to be a father.' `Richard,' he said, `have you thought this through?' He assured me that the child would learn more from my writing than he ever could from me as a living person.

What's more, he said, The Observer has a bond of trust with its readers, who are now relying on me to commit suicide and would rightly be appalled if I said I was going to live after all. And I began to see that morally, and in every other conceivable way, the editor was actually right.


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