Belle seduced by saucepan seller (Belle)

The sparks flew between me and the man selling saucepans in Deptford Market.  He offered to let me drink my polystyrene cup of tea in the passenger seat of his car and we sat in the dark in tense silence.  Eventually, I made a joke about sitting in his pop-up restaurant and, with the ice broken, we jumped into the back seat of his car and indulged in some heavy petting.

Later when I read an article exposing the man as an inveterate seducer of shoppers, I hardly minded.  Even if it wasn’t special between us, it had been thoroughly enjoyable.

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This singles holiday was a hideous experience.  I seemed to be the only person not willing to take part in an ‘armpit beauty pageant’ during which everyone had to present their armpit to the audience while giving a rousing speech.

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Camper van claustrophobia (Rousse)

We were all supposed to travel in the white camper van. There were seats for around ten people all squashed together on the upper deck. The driver had a little more space to himself below.

I was the first to climb up to the passenger level. I was also the first to disembark again. I explained to JM why I wasn’t staying: claustrophobia.

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The hottest tickets in town (Rousse)

My former classmate, and erstwhile rock god, HJ battled his way past his excited fans to shake TPR’s hand and give me a massive hug. At 6’3″ he’d grown somewhat since I last saw him on the campus of the University of Birmingham in 1986.

He handed over two tickets for his concert that evening: one in seat 10, and the other seat 17. The former was only a stub, but HJ was confident that we’d get past the bouncers and be well looked after as his guests.

Meanwhile my old flatmates HW and SB were also keen to get to the hottest show in town. I promised to do my best to help them to get along to the concert with us.

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House purchase buyer beware (Rousse)

TPR and I were very pleased with our recent house purchase. Conveniently located not far from our old flat, the size of its reception rooms was its best feature.

Something that was unclear to me, however, was the status of the formal drawing room and dining room, neither of which we had seen before completion. I asked the seller if he could show me round.

He first took me through to the drawing room, stopping for a short while in the small ‘gap’ room that linked it with the morning room. The drawing room itself was beautifully decorated in red and gold, and crammed with antiques. A treasure trove of fine art hung from its walls. I couldn’t believe that this was all mine – and that the dining room next door was just as grand.

My only questions now related to the haughty woman perched on the sofa in the drawing room. She appeared to be surrounded by immediate family members. The seller confessed that this was his ex-wife. He’d forgotten mention that the terms of the house sale included provision for the buyer to maintain this woman in the manner to which she was accustomed for as long as she wished to remain in the house.

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An afternoon in Rousse’s wardrobe

WB rooted around in my wardrobe until she found a suitable green dress. The choice of footwear, however, was a great disappointment to her. Flat black leather pumps were simply not her style.

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Poor student performance (Rousse)

P was about to give the students their feedback on their exam performance. Their work was dreadful. Only a couple had managed to complete the paper successfully.

P’s concern was that perhaps the paper had been too difficult, and now he wondered whether he should lower the pass grade in order to pull another few through. I argued that this would be fraudulent. However, I agreed to canvas the views of our more senior teaching colleagues to elicit their opinion.

S agreed with me. Standards must be maintained, and the students should all be obliged to resit the exam.

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Proper fox hunting attire (Rousse)

My cousin B was extremely gracious when we turned up at her farm house in Somerset as uninvited guests.

My sister J, one of her friends, TPR and I all wanted to go hunting. If anyone could find a mount for each of us, it was B. Four horses were soon saddled and ready to take us to the meet.

I also asked if B could kit me out with some appropriate clothing. The priority was jodhpurs: I certainly couldn’t ride in my khaki shorts or running tights. I suggested that perhaps B could find me some clothes that belonged to Cousin S. I was sure that she wouldn’t miss them, and in any case they would no longer fit her given that she was pregnant. B found a black pair of jodhpurs in the linen basket. Unfortunately they were rather too big for me, especially in the legs, but since I had no alternative outfit, this was what I would wear.

By the time we reached the other mounts on the village green I had changed my mind about participating in a hunt: I suddenly remembered that I was terrified of jumping.

Instead I opted to walk blindfold through Worcestershire, chatting to the men that I met along the way.

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