Last minute wedding preparations (Rousse)

E was heavily involved in the wedding preparations, organising everything from her tiny flat. She even grew her red hair long for the occasion – or was that a ginger wig she wore with her green gown? When I called round to see how she was getting on she offered me the bath that she had run for me. I declined because it was just as easy for me to get ready at my own house two minutes away.

Amongst the other guests was OC-I, who arrived in Morningside by bicycle. I suggested the Canny Man as a suitable meeting venue for him and R.

My own contribution to the preparations was to help out with the children, including toddler TPR.

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Narrow boat holiday negotiations (Rousse)

RG-J was far more excited about her family’s narrow boat holiday than her husband. I couldn’t quite understand her enthusiasm for travelling by canal, especially when she tried – and failed – to demonstrate how to steer a narrow boat around a 90 degree angle.

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Gordon Brown on a train (Rousse)

Gordon Brown was my travelling companion on the new fast train service to London. In real life he was much younger and trendier than the ex-Prime Minister I knew from old news reports on the television.

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Snogging a smoker (Rousse)

TPR thought that he was dreaming when KT climbed into bed with us and leant over to kiss him. I nudged him in the ribs and told him to stop. He’d regret it in the morning. He told me later in the bathroom (where we were trying to find some privacy ourselves) that snogging a smoker was not a pleasant experience.

The next day we set off along the Rue de Rivoli to meet VJ at a new friend’s house. The street was so crowded that I lost TPR almost as soon as we left. Once again I was extremely annoyed that he refused to carry his mobile phone on him at all times.

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Sating a stationery obsession (Rousse)

In the summer we would walk over the hills to the beach on the other side. We could even take bikes, so long as we were prepared to carry them part of the way. For the time being while it was still winter, however, we would head in the other direction and visit the industrial relics of the region.

The machinery at the factory was dated 1984, although the technology on which it was based was much older. It produced A5 sized metal letters. If you looked carefully on the ground, you could find ancient examples littered around the site. I set to work looking for the letters of my name.

Inside the factory there were drawers and drawers of stationery. I helped myself to piles of notebooks and post-its. IA questioned my greed for all things paper: was this really necessary? I explained that I was obliged to make the most of this opportunity now that we could no longer harvest stationery supplies on an annual basis at the (now defunct) Online conference.

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Radiation transforms terrier into reptile (Rousse)

Over the summer I used Branxton as my base, and popped into Berwick High School periodically to use the facilities there for completing my project. The house was still full of interesting artefacts associated with my maternal ancestors, including trophies that marked the astonishing achievements of my grandfather.

F was there too. My cousins had granted her permission to bring her pets to stay so she had her small black terrier cross with her. I petted it for a couple of minutes, then it turned into a long yellow lizard.

BB explained the transformation as a consequence of stepping into a pool of radiation. TPR volunteered to take a quick trip back in time to see when the dog had suffered such exposure (even though F insisted that she didn’t mind that she was now the owner of a reptile rather than a pooch).

Afterwards we all took a trip on my cousin’s bus. He drove the number 1 along the west coast of the isles of Lewis and Harris. The local passengers were particularly excited that we ‘strangers’ were using the service.

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Eggs and exercise (Rousse)

I greedily worked my way through a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs prepared for me by TPR. He took me by surprise when he told me that next we were going on a long run. Shouldn’t we have saved the feast until after our exercise?

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