Motorist caught driving backwards through Edinburgh city centre (Rousse)

TPR interpreted the ban on cars on Edinburgh’s Princes Street as applicable only to vehicles that travelled forwards. This gave him a clear conscience to put his black BMW into reverse and head west along Princes Street with his eyes firmly fixed on his rear view mirror.

The police eventually caught up with him on a country road on the outskirts of town. He was taken into custody to a room crammed with other miscreants.

Meanwhile I petted a friendly fallow deer while considering the purchase of a roomy turquoise patterned bathing costume ‘for the older lady’.

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Green checked shirts and Bible study (Rousse)

EH and I set up camp in a comfortable three-seater with another colleague for our all-School work trip to the US.

Occasionally our male colleagues – each dressed in a different take on the green checked shirt – would call by for a chat. Otherwise we entertained ourselves with our books.

I was shocked to see that EH’s preferred reading material was The Holy Bible.

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Cotton wool for a flautist (Rousse)

I had never seen a dining table so beautifully laid out. Two tables had been brought together in a T shape to accommodate about fifteen people in the oak panelled dining room. The table cloth was starched brilliant white to show off the antique blue and white porcelain. At each setting sat a lovely vase of fresh daffodils.

I came up with a plan for the flautist who needed to leave early.

‘Don’t worry’, I said. ‘I’ll pop you at the end of the table. If I leave a lump of cotton wool next to your setting, you’ll easily spot your place’.

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No toilet Tokyo (Rousse)

I knew that space was at a premium in Tokyo, but I had no idea of the impact of this on the population’s everyday habits until I visited the city myself.

My host family of three was very welcoming. On the first night we slept in the traditional way: four to a thin futon laid directly onto the sitting room floor.

The next evening my jet-lag caught up with me and I asked if I could be excused from the restaurant dinner and retire to bed early. My hosts happily agreed to my request, and set up a single futon for me in the sitting room.  That night they would sleep ‘western-style’ in their own bedrooms on the floor above.

I went upstairs to find the bathroom so that I could wash before bed. Here there were just two tiny bedrooms off a short corridor crammed with aquatic plants.

The little girl in her bedroom explained that the family couldn’t afford to rent a place with a bathroom. This was the reason for eating out every evening: to use the restaurant facilities immediately before bed.

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Show-off shopping (Rousse)

My new companion was a bit of a show-off. A little older than me, this slightly overweight man was keen to present himself as a wealthy individual with ready cash to spend. To demonstrate this, he identified a shop that sold luxury goods, and invited me to follow him through the door.

First he picked up a pair of highly decorated – and very expensive – silver and blue cowboy boots. I was shocked that he would even consider spending so much money on footwear, especially on a pair of boots that you would barely have the opportunity to wear.

He then replaced the boots on the shelf and next selected a large orange and blue patterned plate for serving olives and other antipasti. A tourist souvenir, it was the cheapest item on sale in the shop. ‘This’, he said, ‘I will buy’, and took it over to the cashier.

The first purchase made, my companion next enquired about firearms. The staff leapt to open a case filled to the brim with guns. For half an hour my companion examined the goods, picking them up, stroking them, checking their sights – then announced that he would not be making a purchase that day.

On leaving the shop, my show-off companion puffed out his chest and boasted that this was the best way to demonstrate your wealth to shopkeepers.

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Mistaken scholarly schadenfreude (Rousse)

‘I’m surprised that you would even wish to mention the REF given that your results were so poor’ said SY, with a hint of schadenfreude in her tone of voice.

This was a rather strange comment in the light of the excellent scores in the two units of assessment to which our school submitted.

It turned out that SY was referring to the wrong unit. We had nothing to do with UoA19 Politics and International Studies.

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A tryst with a Turk in Toronto (Rousse)

I’d grown very fond of my tiny Turkish room-mate over the course of the conference in Toronto – so much so that I was in the habit of bending down to kiss the top of his head whenever I passed him. I had also secretly started to plan our life together on our return to the UK.

I was very slow at packing on our day of departure, hesitating over the division of my belongings between hold and hand luggage. At the point of official check-out time, hotel staff swarmed into our room to chase us out. Amongst them was a manager who remembered my former office mate SM from a conference stay almost a decade earlier. I didn’t know where to start when she asked after him.

Later I failed to photograph a starling murmuration. This was due to a camera fault.

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Orange shopping with Jason Isaacs (Belle)

The move to Spain had been disappointing so far. I hadn’t expected the fruit market to resemble the Bromley Glades shopping centre this much. Jason, however, seemed to love it, joking around with the stall holders and juggling oranges into our shopping bag. Everyone was pleased to see him, just as they always were. I was just some tragic hanger-on.

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Trapped on a non-stop train to Heidelberg (Rousse)

I jumped on the train to accompany MM – for just a short while – on her long journey east across Europe. The plan was for me to accompany her as far the next stop, leave the carriage, cross platforms, then reverse this short trip. This would mean that I would be home in time to travel to a conference the next day with LM.

It was a pity that neither MM nor I had clocked that this service was non-stop all the way to Heidelberg.

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New Apple iPhone 13 in Sunshine yellow (Rousse)

Hot on the heels of ‘Alpine green’, Apple launched the ‘Sunshine yellow’ iPhone 13 mini.

My sister was one of the first proud owners of this beautiful new device.

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