by Laura Miller
|Location: wine bar. Mission:
Bridgets mates from the film of Bridget Joness Diary give Company readers
advice on life and love. Cigarettes smoked: 18. Alcohol consumed: Chardonnay (lots),
Tequila shots (many). Calories consumed: 1000s. Problems resolved: Er
Sally Phillips, 30 (from Channel 4s Smack the Pony) plays Shazzer. Shes stroppy and swears a lot. Her role is to give Bridget (played by Renée Zellweger) lots of crap advice
Shirley Henderson, 35 (from Wonderland and Topsy-Turvy) plays Jude. confident, hard-nosed with a high-powered job in the City. But when it comes to relationships shes a total flop.
James Callis, 29 (from BBC1s Sex, Chips & RocknRoll) plays Tom. Hes always in a flap - not because of Bridgets problems but because he broke a nail on the way round to hers.
My friend is always getting loads of attention from men when were out and I dont. How can I make men notice me without seeming desperate?
Shirley: I wouldnt actually force the issue. Id just be myself. If it was Jude, shed probably knock something over to let them know she was there.
Sally: Id be tempted to build myself a less attractive female friend out of a mop and old clothes as a decoy. Then Id stand closer to her than to my other, real, good-looking mate and by comparison, Id be the one who looked nicer. Id also decorate my decoy with lots of things men like - sci-fi club badges, copies of Playboy, PlayStations so theyd find her quite interesting but once they got up close theyd realise theyd prefer to sleep with me.
James: My advice would be to arrange a girls night out with your mates, but then the day before try to sabotage their looks. Like spreading butter on their pillows so they break out in spots, or spraying a horrid smell on their clothes so that no man will go near them. Alternatively go the other way - just try and appear really cool and aloof because men are always fascinated by the one person in the bar who isnt paying them the slightest bit of attention. And the other thing Id suggest is go on holiday, re-invent yourself and come back feeling a million dollars, and youll n ever feel insecure next to your mates again.
My boyfriend spends more time in the pub with his mates than he does with me - how can I get him to change without nagging?
Shirley: Start going out with your own friends more. Any night that hes going to be in, just tell him youve got something that you cant cancel. That should get him wanting to spend more time with you.
Sally: Go on holiday, reinvent yourself and come back feeling a million dollars! No seriously, Id say go out with your own friends more. Its always a big mistake to try and get men to change habits like this. Men dont like changing, do they James?
James: Um well if I was in the pub and my girlfriend rang to say she was having a fantastic time somewhere else and I should really join her, Id probably be out of that place like a shot - especially if she mentioned things like big screen TV for the football and chilled beers in the fridge.
Ive met someone I really like, but I dont want to seem too keen. How can I let him know Im interested?
Sally: Spend all night catching his eye and then coyly looking away. Dont actually say anything. Thatll keep him guessing.
James: Be honest. Say how you feel. If its right, then hell reciprocate. If hes playing a game - not returning calls, that sort of thing - then youre much better off out of there.
Sally: I think you have to be quite discerning about the level of honesty guys can take - you dont want to scare them off by telling them you want to have their baby after five minutes.
James: No, thats terrifying! On the very limited occasions a girl has chased after me, Ive found it slightly worrying.
Sally: Ideally, men should chase us. Its great when theyre completely smitten. But what actually happens is that I end up running after them going: I want you, I want you! That last bit was a joke, by the way.
So, how soon is too soon to have sex with him?
James: Hmm, I need to confer with the girls (goes off into whispered huddle)
Shirley: Surely, it should be when you feel comfortable with someone. You might want to wait a year, a week or it might not even enter your head that youre waiting at all.
Sally: Dont do it because you feel you have to, like if youve been seeing him for five weeks and youre thinking I really should now, because hes going to leave me if I dont.
James: I agree with Shirley and Sally!
My boyfriend is always on his mobile. When were out together, he constantly takes calls and checks his messages. What should I do?
James: Nip to the loo and send him some really nasty messages throughout the evening, blocking your own number or borrowing someone elses phone, so that he wont have a clue who theyre from. If they get more and more abusive as the night goes on, he may want to stop checking his messages altogether. Especially if you describe what hes wearing and send messages like: I know where you live.
Sally: Just snatch it out of his hands and drop it into his drink by mistake. Or insist on taking calls of your own outside the bar, then stand just where he can see you and alternately laugh and look suspicious so he thinks youve got someone else on the go.
James: Or you could just say, Do you know youre getting excess radiation and brain-cell depletion because of how much time you spend on the phone? Since we started going out youre getting a lot less interesting, and youre probably in need of a frontal lobotomy.
My friend and I both fancy the same man. Hes been flirting with both of us - should I steer clear and let her go for him?
James: Well, theres obvious potential for a threesome!
Shirley: If hes flirting with both of you, you should both tell him to get lost - its obviously just a game to him. If it was James flirting with Sally and me, Id think he was just trying to boost his ego by trying to chat up two foxy chicks.
Sally: Its definitely not worth falling out with your friend over - friends should come first. Enjoy the fact that hes flirting with you and be completely open with your mate.
Ive been living with my boyfriend for three years. We both work hard, dont see each other much, and our sex life has gone off the boil - how can we spice it up?
Sally: Go on holiday, re-invent yourself
James: Say to him: Look, were only young and gorgeous once, weve got the rest of our lives to be old and grey and boring, so lets go and do something crazy, like join a salsa class, and put the sensuality back into our relationship. Theres no point making a stand on your own - like investing in sexy lingerie - and just expecting him to notice. You have to discuss things together and rediscover your intimacy.
Shirley: Its hard work, but you owe it to yourselves to try. If youve got stuck into a rut where youre taking each other for granted, Id probably try to arrange some proper nights out together where you can get to know each other again.
My boyfriend is still in touch with his ex, and keeps photos of her in his wallet. Im really jealous - what should I do?
Shirley: Its totally natural to be jealous, but she is part of his history. And you shouldnt be looking through his wallet, anyway!
James: Maybe he has no idea the pictures are in there. Maybe theyre just a souvenir of a good time he once shared; great for reminiscing about, but not threat to you. After you split up, hell probably carry photos of you around, too. Really.
Sally: The key is not to go psycho on him. Weve all got a past, and as you get older, people have more and more baggage.
James: As long as the photos dont keep changing to pictures of different women, or have things like thanks for last night, big boy scrawled on the back!
My boyfriend bought me some tarty underwear which he thinks is really sexy. Does he secretly want me to be a slut, or does he just have bad taste?
Shirley: This has never happened to me, but I think its funny!
James: Me, too! Girls spend all their time analysing whether their man really fancies them. If he buys you raunchy underwear, what more proof do you need? He obviously wants to see you in it. And that means loads of sex.
Sally: I was seeing someone once who used to loiter outside Ann Summers shops saying things like, Oooh, arent those crotchless knickers sexy, and Id have to patiently explain to him that, actually, they werent. I suppose if you dont find his gift sexy but youre prepared to indulge his fantasies then at least he owes you a return favour.
My friends think my boyfriends arrogant, but they just dont know him like I do. How can I resolve this without having to choose between them?
James: Get a video camera and tape your boyfriend telling a cute story about how he saved a kitten from drowning or something, then play it to your mates when hes not with you and tell them thats the real him - vulnerable but heroic.
Sally: This is precisely Judes dilemma in the film
Shirley: but Jude doesnt compromise - and why should she? She likes her friends and she likes him, so she sees them separately. She lets them moan about him and vice versa.
Sally: Youve got to stop feeding your friends negative stories about him, and only tell them positive stuff. Even if its just little things, like, he makes me tea in bed in the morning.
James: I thought you said, he makes me pee on him every morning!
Sally: Well, whatever works for you!
Ive been with my boyfriend for five hears, and he refuses to commit; he never mentions moving in together or getting married. Should I stick with him?
Shirley: I wouldnt force it. If hes not ready ,hes not ready. If things are fine the way they are, dont try and change it.
Sally: I was in this situation once with a guy Id been with for a couple of years. Hed just renewed the lease on his studio flat for another three years, so it was obvious he wasnt intending on leaving his bachelor pad. It was a good opportunity to talk about whether the relationship had a future. It transpired it didnt. So you can see that as a positive thing.
James: Five years is a long time, but everyones got their own personal plan for the future. Sometimes its right, sometimes its just not. You have to ask him where he sees it going. You should be able to tell in about five seconds by the look of panic on his face.
I met this guy recently - we hit it off brilliantly and slept together. I thought it could lead to a relationship but he never called - even though he said he would. Was I just a cheap one-night stand?
Sally: Yup. Its awful when this happens but theres not much you can do.
James: Sex is a crazy, intimate thing and people behave in different ways afterwards. Even though a guy can hint that sex is not all hes after, sometimes it is all hes after and he runs away or fobs you off afterwards. Thats his problem, not yours.
Shirley: Sounds like you were just a one-night stand, so youll have to accept it.
Sally: Learn from it. If the sex was good, then at least thats something positive. Otherwise, I think its a pretty safe rule not to sleep with someone on the first night. Phew! Did we do okay with our advice? Its quite tricky! Sometimes, though, I reckon people with a problem aren't that bothered about getting a solution, they just want someone to listen to them. Good friends are just like big walking ears, arent they?
Photos: Sean Cook
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