Sunset from a 5* hotel (Rousse)

We met in the private dining room of a 5 star hilltop hotel with fantastic views west over the bridges and river mouth. Yet I still couldn’t resist spoiling the happy atmosphere of the gathering by sneaking out to photograph the sunset. Granted the reds and pinks were phenomenal, but shouldn’t I be paying more attention to my friends, especially Andrew, newly widowed after the sad death of ED?

There wasn’t a suitable vantage point to photograph the sunset from the hotel car park so I wandered down the hill into the village. Here I encountered the same problem. I had put my friendships at risk for nothing.

When I resumed my seat at the dining table, my school friend KF pointed her camera straight at me. It was as if she wanted to capture a portrait to depict my disloyalty to the group.

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Limbless torsos in Speedos, a bare-breasted woman, children in litter disguise, and booklet giveaways in Morningside (Rousse)

I abandoned weeding a municipal planter on the southern outskirts of Edinburgh so that I could catch a 23 bus back into town and meet my mother on Colinton Road at 6:30pm, as previously agreed.

The bus was frustratingly slow. When at a standstill on Morningside Road, I admired the muscular torsos of limbless ex-servicemen dressed only in Speedos as they crossed the road to the swimming pool for their daily training session.

I disembarked at Holy Corner and, desperate for a cup of tea, tumbled into a new café opposite the bookshop. A group of men at the table by the door looked up at me greedily.

‘Phwoar!’ exclaimed one, his eyes fixed on my naked breasts.

I immediately tugged on my pink crocheted shawl to pull it tight over my top half, then scuttled back outside on to the street.

My mother wasn’t at our meeting place. Instead my sister S approached me with her niece G and G’s two little sisters.

All three children had the annoying habit of changing form. Today G was a tall pot of yoghourt, and the smaller girls a red and yellow plastic fuel can and an empty white cream carton. They liked to run into the road in their disguise. This was a dangerous sport when motorists took them for rubbish. Their other trick was to find imaginative hiding places. Before long we had lost sight of them as they scurried away to spend the rest of the afternoon in a litter bin.

Since my mother was nowhere to be seen, I walked up the road and called into the campus of Edinburgh Napier University. BR was delighted to see me there because he needed someone to take away a stack of surplus booklets. I was happy to pick up the poetry, but left the grammar texts on a counter in the school office.

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Name shame (Rousse)

Everyone seemed ashamed of their names.

‘W Dick’ apparently meant something very rude.

Meanwhile Norris, who I thought was gorgeous, apologised every time that he introduced himself to anybody new. Surely his ridiculous name was not his responsibility, but instead belonged to his parents?

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Ironing in secret (Rousse)

At J and BG’s house I noticed that the framed tea towels were all crinkly – so I took them off the walls and ironed them in secret. My hosts would never know.

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A meeting and a feast at the Institute of Information Scientists (Rousse)

Once super-organised, these days I regularly missed appointments. This was probably because I had stopping using an online calendar to record my forthcoming commitments. Instead, I had started writing them down on the pages of a paper diary.

So now here I was wandering the corridors of the Institute of Information Scientists at 3:20pm, hunting for a meeting that started twenty minutes earlier. Meanwhile my University friends were partying across town without me. JS had told everyone that I would be at the reunion soon, but I was beginning to doubt this.

Just as I decided that I would skip the meeting, the Institute’s fearsome secretary caught me in a dark corridor.

‘Oh there you are!’ she exclaimed. ‘We’re all waiting for you. Please hurry along.’

I followed her into the meeting room. Everyone beamed at me. Now that I was present, they would be permitted to tuck into the feast laid out on the table. I now knew that all hopes of making it to the reunion were dashed forever.

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Party choices (Rousse)

As our taxi pulled away from the kerb, I looked back at our house. Through the sitting room window I could see as far as the open kitchen door. In the foreground, our weekend guests JS, RR, JLR, JS, and J and GC were smartly attired in cocktail dresses and dinner jackets. They were all obviously enjoying one another’s company, Champagne glasses in hand. On show here for anyone passing the house to see were all the ingredients of a splendid party .

It seemed that TPR and I had made the wrong call, agreeing to spend a sedate evening with L and TF at P and SM’s house. However, I was relieved not to suffer JLR’s hangover the following day.

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When ‘going for a run’ means a different form of exercise (Rousse)

I was heart-broken when I discovered that whenever my husband left the house declaring  ‘I’m going for a run’, he was really off to spend the afternoon in one of two love-nests – either with SS or LP.

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A very spoiled dachshund (Rousse)

P and SM’s once immaculate house was now the domain of a very spoiled dachshund – and littered with the fluffy white innards of half-eaten soft toys.

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Kidnap on the Otley Road (Rousse)

It made sense to stay with O and R in Otley the night before my day in Leeds. I was happy to take the bus to my meeting, but they insisted that they drive me into the city centre. They would drop their daughter off at school en route.

We had just joined the dual carriageway when R, who was driving, forced O and the little girl out of the car, while screeching at me to stay in my seat. As soon as the others left the vehicle, he locked all the doors and accelerated hard.

I now understood that I would not be spending my day at a meeting in Leeds, but as a kidnap victim trapped in a car on the Otley Road.

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Parading with fire engines and sourcing reusable nappies from Natalie (Rousse)

Two of my duties as a new Edinburgh community councillor were (1) to join the public services parade from the New Town up to the mound (we followed the fire engines), and (2) to source reusable nappies from a woman called Natalie to give away to local residents.

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