We shouldn’t have invited our posh friends round for drinks in our yard when pandemic restrictions were still in force. Ignoring all the rules, they decided to stay overnight inside our flat afterwards.
In the morning I found a bunch of them at the kitchen table with my university pal SL (who was eating a jam topped yoghourt). The couple who had slept in the study admitted to keeping the gas fire alight all night, as well as running the fan and storage heaters from the moment that they climbed into bed until they work in the morning. It was like a furnace in there.
My other concern was a growing collection of front halves of old Volvos littering our yard. I eventually spotted a man with a ginger moustache who was using a green long wheel base Land Rover to tow the half-Volvos to our house for dumping. I took a note of his car registration number and asked one of my former students to accompany me to the police station to report the crime.
The first police officer wanted nothing to do with our case. His excuse was that he was a member of the transport police and was only obliged to deal with crimes committed on trains.
Discouraged, we walked straight out of the police station. On the street we encountered LO, a university friend of mine that I had not set eyes upon for 35 years.
TPR finally confessed that he had been unfaithful to me for years, having slept with numerous women from the very start of his career. I was not entirely surprised, but it was a real shock that he was leaving me for Rebecca, his most recent conquest. Distraught, I sped west along Edinburgh’s Princes Street on my mother’s mobility scooter into the face of east-bound traffic.
Having survived my perilous journey, I abandoned the scooter in a side street and entered an art gallery shop. Here I picked up two Paisley silk lined cashmere scarves and bit into them. Because I tore the material, I now had buy them. This was not a cheap purchase at £140.
At the till, I told the cashier and the other queuing customers that I really had no choice as to how to spend the rest of my life. I would move to Canada and marry BD.
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Tagged Canada, Edinburgh, emigration, marry, mobility scooter, Paisley, Princes Street, Rebecca, road hog, scarf, silk, TPR, unfaithful
I travelled to London Heathrow by plane with no ID, no money, and no phone.
I did not go through arrivals after I disembarked the plane. Instead I crossed the tarmac to the Thames and followed the cobbled path along the river into town. My newly wed companion (for whom I had been bridesmaid) accompanied me part of the way. I’m not sure where I lost her, but she was no longer at my side when I reached the first tube station.
By now I had tired of walking, but how could I pay a tube fare? I asked the man at the counter what I should do, and he passed an illicit ticket to me through his window.
The first person that I saw underground was SW. She was on her way to work (still, despite her advanced years).
TPR scooped me up into his arms to carry me and run for our lives.
Eventually there was sufficient distance between us and the monster: an eight foot, heavily made up, bald, drag queen with red flashing eyes primed to laser your soul.
I’d grown so fat that I could only pull my turquoise shorts up as far as my thighs. It was extremely uncomfortable (as well as unsightly) to wander about dressed in this fashion. I needed to go clothes shopping – urgently.
I left my car in a multi-storey car park in Glasgow, then entered the attached shopping centre. The devastation of the pandemic was writ large on the boarded-up windows of many shops. Even H&M was closed.
Fortunately John Lewis was open. There I selected a pair of khaki green shorts in size 15. They fitted – just. I really did need to go on a diet.
I plastered SS into the wall so that only her blinking left eye was visible.
Next I would frame my living art creation. I planned to find a ready-made white frame at my mother’s house.
At the airport, my sister-in-law JLR carried the hoe, and her partner J the rake.
It wasn’t until we were just about to board the flight that it occurred to us that the size and shape of these items contravened all budget airline hand luggage rules.
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Tagged airline, bargain, flight, garden, hand luggage, hoe, rake, shape, sister-in-law, size, tool
My mother lived happily alone above a pharmacy in Stockton-on-Tees. Our only worry was that she was offering medical advice to her visitors. This was on account of her proximity to the drug dispensary. We told everyone to ignore her.
My colleague called in sick, so I offered to take his class. My instructions were first to collect his teaching materials from the print room. These comprised: a selection of peer-reviewed journal articles, each in a buff folder; a special device to read the articles – this looked like a cross between an old-fashioned typewriter and a mangle; several sets of pretty stones, such as gravel-sized shards of pink quartz; and a hand-written letter.
I took all this to a house where I found my sisters, my boy cousins, and the boys’ children. SA’s son J (aged about 10) couldn’t keep his hands off the stones. He was so annoying that I had to leave the room where everyone was enjoying my sisters’ home baking. Away from the rest of the family, I had peace to prepare to deliver my colleague’s class.
The most interesting artefact in the collection of items that I picked up from the print room was the letter. From this I learnt that my colleague was leaving our place of employment to become the director of a research centre at the University of Nowhere – just as soon as the pandemic was over.
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Tagged article, class, cousin, director, job, lecturer, letter, pandemic, print room, reader, sick, sister, stone, university
I was cast as a ‘Greek Chorus’ type flatmate in a reality show. I would make strange entrances and exits and comment on what the contestants were up to.
My most famous entrance was via a black shiny helicopter equipped with large speakers. I flew over Tower Bridge with the Beastie Boys blasting out “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”. When I landed I joined two of the flatmates to display our pets to fans who were on the other side of a full-length window. Flatmate One displayed our pet bat, I displayed Oscar the black cat.
Even as I showed the cat’s tummy to the public, I was aware of just how much I was scraping the barrel of life.