A new home in Howe Street, Edinburgh (Rousse)

We bought 55b Howe Street, Edinburgh. It was a top floor flat offering amazing views of the breakers and puffins on the beach (far better than North Berwick), and a route so short to Glenogle Baths that many of the neighbours popped there and back in their dressing gowns.

My parents visited on the first day that we had access to our new home. Both healthy and slim, they managed the complicated black painted iron-work access to the top floor. I struggled a bit with my bike. In the end I took the advice of a another cyclist and abandoned it in the vast hallway next to a pharmacy/post office counter. I also agreed to help the cyclist save tax on a parcel that she was posting by signing a receipt to say that it would be sent to Oxford.

Despite the purchase of our new pad in town, we held on to our old basement flat down the road. It would have been folly to abandon the garden after all the efforts of the past three years. I could also now take great pleasure joining in with my ‘old’ neighbours whenever they said ‘I have another place the city centre’.

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Awaiting an assassin (Rousse)

It was only a matter of time before the assassin would reach me. I’d already seen her rubbing paraffin into the hands of an innocent victim at a bus shelter.

For the time being, I had no option but to behave ‘normally’. I therefore continued my preparations for the wedding. I chose a black embroidered dress from Phase Eight over black trousers (for modesty).

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Tiny-footed Cinderella (Rousse)

Our student neighbour S called in to ask if we could lend her a pair of shoes.

‘What size?’ I asked.

’11’, she replied.

‘How could a fully-grown 18 year-old have such tiny feet?’ I wondered.

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Beetroot pee (Rousse)

Before I served the soup, I forgot to warn our lunchtime guests of the effects of beetroot consumption. They were probably now staring down lavatory bowls, convinced that they had contracted a deadly disease.

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Owl attack at railway station (Rousse)

My companion decided to take the shortest route to the platform opposite, and stepped down onto the railway track. I considered this far too dangerous a move. I instead climbed the iron steps and walked over the bridge.

The savage owls at the other side took me completely by surprise. Their pecking was so ferocious that I had to pull out the beaks lodged into my skin.

The next day I came up in blue boils all over my body. I needed urgent medical help, but all GP surgeries were closed due to the pandemic lockdown.

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From cancer to charity shop purchases (Rousse)

At first the woman seated on the bus in front of me seemed to welcome a discussion about cancer. However, when it became obvious that she was riddled with the disease, it seemed safer to turn our attention to our shared interest in purchasing vintage stationery from charity shops.

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Beanie Feldstein in jacket mix-up at Helsinki airport (Rousse)

I met Beanie Feldstein at Helsinki airport en route for the States. After a little confusion over our jackets – I accidentally picked up her grey one thinking that it was mine (even though mine was purple) – we soon became firm friends, looking forward to filming together.

Many of my Finnish colleagues were also in the airport heading for the same flight. These included GW and IH, who gave me the most enthusiastic welcome. I hoped that the students had witnessed this, and now understood the level of my international standing.

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A flat in Cardiff (Rousse)

TPR found our new flat in Cardiff through the personal ads in a local paper. If I were still a student in the 1980s, I would have been terribly impressed with all the space, but the swirly patterned carpets and an array of broken appliances did not impress me in 2022.

Added to my disappointment at our new home, I was still half-heartedly stringing along JG-T, and worried about my mother-in-law’s visit. I hoped that the latter would be happy eating shop-bought food from the deli – and that TPR wouldn’t consider its purchase a waste of money.

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A hat trick of PhDs (Rousse)

Not to be outdone, two of my three flatmates from my undergraduate final year embarked on doctoral studies.

Soon all three of us would all hold a PhDs: mine in Computing, SL’s in education, and HW’s on obscure French philosophy.

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Indoor snow (Rousse)

TPR urged me not to force the bedroom door. A metre of snow was piled up behind it in the hall. This was an unfortunate result of climate change.

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