An audience with James Herriot (Rousse)

When I heard the exciting news that the guest speaker was James Herriot (or, more precisely, James Alfred Wight) I altered my plans so that I could stay a bit longer at Sighthill and meet the famous veterinary surgeon turned author. I was keen to relate to him all our personal connections.

I managed to speak to Mr Herriot before the talk. I explained who I was to him and his “minder” son. He kindly acknowledged my chatter.

The talk itself did not go as well as expected. Mr Herriot’s voice was so weak that it just didn’t carry to the audience – probably because he’d been dead for almost twenty years.

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Library and information science at Birmingham Polytechnic (Rousse)

I met HW and her daughter I (who now also wished to be known as H) at a swimming pool public library. There we had a long conversation about Birmingham Polytechnic, my former colleagues, and the benefit of part-time undergraduate study for library and information science qualifications.

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A sister’s fame in the Anglican community (Rousse)

I always thought that I was well networked, but now I wondered whether it was just a common family trait. All the new people that I met in London instantly recognised me as “the sister of J”.

Most astonishing of all was my sister’s standing in the Church of England: every bishop knew her name.

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Sleeping with Claire Skinner (Rousse)

Claire Skinner was fast becoming my best friend. Throughout the whole time I spent with her she behaved as if we had known one another for years. We lay side by side in a big double bed at night, chatting like a couple of teenage sisters until we eventually drifted off to sleep.

I joked that I could now boast that I had slept with a famous actor. Claire very generously agreed that this was hilarious.

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A pirate themed wedding (Rousse)

The pirate themed wedding was a great success, although the groom confessed to me in private that he regretted missing the opportunity to show off his magic tricks. My parents enjoyed themselves immensely – even my poor father who was nursing a broken hand. I was particularly grateful that I had worn flat shoes for the dancing.

With my own nuptials in the not too distant future a couple of wedding guests made enquiries about our plans. I explained that TPR was keeping the arrangements for the celebrations secret from me. All I knew was that the venue was in the Borders.

When they moved on to TPR to question him directly, he gave very guarded responses. I did learn, however, that CC was our wedding planner, and that she knew everything.

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Unkind husband forces wife to travel on car roof (Rousse)

Although TPR and I now lived apart, we continued to take holidays together.

However, there was still something seriously wrong with our relationship.

Each evening we travelled into town for supper. While TPR sat inside the car to drive, he forced me to travel on the roof. This was extremely uncomfortable, and often dangerous. I was terrified when TPR ignored red lights at junctions, and whenever he broke the speed limit on the motorway I was convinced that I would soon fall to my death in the path of another vehicle.

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Mysterious light and an untrustworthy Mexican (Rousse)

Just inland there was a dark forest. I walked along the track alone, listening out for evidence of other forms of life. I knew that it was unlikely that I was the only person there in the black. I didn’t want to frighten anyone else, or for anyone else to frighten me.

Then I saw the shaft of mysterious light. It came down through the trees in a long, straight beam, its intensity changing from moment to moment. It was so beautiful that I resolved to return later to photograph it.

Then I came a cross a man with a rickety bike laden with paniers. I questioned his request for me to push him along: wasn’t he fit enough to propel himself? He explained that he had hired the bike from an untrustworthy Mexican. It was about to fall apart and he couldn’t risk turning the pedals himself.

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