An iPhone and an accident on the way to the Isle of Skye (Rousse)

I blame DP of Strathclyde University for the debacle over my iPhone. Under her watchful eye, I plugged it in to charge for ten minutes in the café of the Forth Road Bridge service station. Then we we set off to find the others at the car park and board the coach to the Isle of Skye.

It was then that I remembered my precious phone, now probably in the hands of an opportunistic criminal.

My generous sister-in-law S volunteered to drive to the service station to look for it, despite her terrible driving skills and poor sense of direction. We watched her leave the car park in her tiny jeep at top speed, come off the road at the first roundabout and land headfirst in a bush. Although unscathed, she wouldn’t be driving any further that day.

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London to Oxford and Oxford to Edinburgh by train (Rousse)

It really was too much to ask my 81 year-old mother to walk all the way from London to Edinburgh, so I suggested that we cut a few miles off the route by taking the train to Oxford.

In the fine university city we admired the old colleges and stopped in the doorway of a tea room to speak to the proprietor. She offered us a table at the back, but we explained that we couldn’t linger.

As we hunted down the blue cycle path signs that would point us north again, my mother confessed that she really couldn’t face any more walking. She confirmed that she still had her senior railcard in her handbag and I agreed to her plan to catch another train for the rest of the journey home. Even if it cost a fortune and we had a long wait for the next train, this would be preferable to a long, slow trudge back to Scotland with an unwilling geriatric.

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A runner and a red, 60-litre, flip-top kitchen bin (Rousse)

Hundreds of faster runners passed me as I headed south along the cycle path. I wished that I could run faster.

Perhaps my times would improve if I abandoned carrying the soil-filled, red, 60-litre, flip-top kitchen bin?

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Fake finance guru fools all on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme (Rousse)

We were all horrified when my niece BM announced at the breakfast table that she was about to be interviewed by a financial journalist on Radio 4’s Today programme. What on earth did she know about big business?

It was true that she didn’t have an ounce of relevant knowledge. However, BM was an actor who had spent the past couple of years working in high-end fashion manufacturing. Listening into conversations at work, she had picked up the vocabulary of the business owners.

She made a very credible interviewee, analysing the current industrial landscape, assessing the contribution of ‘her’ business to economic recovery, and predicting vast profits in post-pandemic times. Nobody would ever have known that she was faking it.

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Award of a silver BA Executive Club card (Rousse)

I was delighted that the corporate purchase of a last-minute return flight to Argentina awarded me a silver British Airways Executive Club card.

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Cash-collecting criminal caught on CCTV (Rousse)

I added to my fortune whenever I paid a visit to the cash dispenser just outside Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel. Here each morning on my way to work, I pretended to make a transaction. In reality, I was picking up wads of used bank notes, then stuffing them into my satchel.

I had no idea who was supplying the cash. I would have continued to collect it until TPR pointed out that my dodgy dealings were probably being recorded on CCTV, and that I would soon be arrested.

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Book group bloke ban (Rousse)

I’d had enough of TPR’s ‘book’ group buddies. Each Monday night he invited more and more men to the house, offering them a seat at our dinner table along with a plentiful supply of beer.

I eventually cracked the day that EH’s husband J turned up. TPR plonked a plate of sausage, egg and mashed potato in front of him then left me to deal with the fall-out of his ‘But I’m a vegetarian’ complaint.

When TPR led his crowd of friends into the back garden to admire our new shed, I took my revenge: by locking them all in the tunnel under our lawn. The house now clear of blokes, I hoped that EH would play Carcassonne with me.

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Marilyn Monroe’s foreknowledge of death (Rousse)

Someone asked me if we should tell the young Marilyn Monroe that she would die in her mid-thirties.

I responded that she probably knew this already from checking her Wikipedia entry.

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Book group blunder (Rousse)

Our book group meeting was packed out with non-members including N & SY, and a red haired former student of mine whose name I could not remember.

The venue for the night was a turreted Victorian lodge house next to the sea. I was impressed that colourful plants grew outside the door, even though we were in the depths of winter. The house was not so handsome on the inside. I suffered claustrophobia in the tiny room where we left our coats. I wasn’t sure whether it was the enclosed space that set me off, or the dense pink-flowered wallpaper that simply made me feel ill.

MH committed a terrible faux pas in the upstairs room designated for discussion of the book. She brought in a plate of pastries and handed them round for everyone to eat. She had not understood that these treats were meant for the family of the house, and not for us.

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Barefoot travel crisis (Rousse)

After taxi dropped me off at the airport, I found a quiet spot by the entrance where I could sort out my belongings. I had my cashmere Tweed jacket (even though it was summer), my passport, and my purse. But where were my shoes? I knew that I would not be granted access to the plane barefoot.

I had two options: to buy a pair of shoes in one of the airport shops (expensive) or beg a pair from a stranger (no cost, if I was lucky). I targetted the National Library of Scotland for my begging, and walked into a large open plan office that housed cataloguers. Although the workers offered sympathy for my plight, none was willing to give their footwear to me.

In the end, on the road I found a pair of white leather Jesus sandals that just fitted me. These would have to do.

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