A tidy break-in (Rousse)

While I wheeled the abandoned black bicycle along the path, SC expressed her concern that she would not find a hairdresser open in St Andrews on a Sunday. She was wrong. A couple of hours later her silver locks were chopped and gleaming. She looked great.

I left SC and headed for London to for a day’s work with ED. I wasn’t really keeping track of time and missed the last train back to Scotland. I therefore needed somewhere to stay for the night. Since BC and her family were away for the weekend I decided to head for Sussex.

I broke into the house, pottered around a bit (it was much bigger than I imagined), tidied up the toys in the boys’ bedroom, and made the beds. BC would be so delighted to see the room when she returned – or so I thought. It wasn’t until much later that I considered how freaked out I would be to discover that a near stranger had been rifling through the family’s belongings uninvited, even with kind intentions.

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Race to rescue earthquake victim in northern Russia (Rousse)

When the earthquake struck in the Russian far north TPR was standing directly on the fault line above a seam of white marble. He fell several thousand feet into the enormous crevice. I was sure that I would never see him again.

In the event, TPR survived the fall. We knew this from the 200+ texts that he sent us from below the earth’s surface.

Now it would be a race against time to find and rescue him. He would not survive long underground on his meagre fat reserves.

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A birthday weekend of scent, satin, a speech, kisses and sick (Rousse)

Our flat was packed with visitors for the weekend of my birthday, many of whom had travelled a long distances to be with me. AW and JS had come all the way from Farnham, Surry – together, on friendly terms.

I admired AW’s slim figure and beautiful gold satin Chinese gown, and chatted with JS about a special scent that alcoholics use to neutralise the smell of drink on their bodies in the daytime.

Meanwhile in the kitchen someone who had been enjoying himself just a little too much threw up next to the tumble dryer. JS took over the job of peeling potatoes from TPR, who then set about cleaning up the vomit.

Then BD rushed into the flat, grabbed me by the waist, kissed me on the lips, and handed over a birthday present. This was also a garment made of Chinese satin, although more of a shift dress than a gown. I could not wait to try it on.

A more pressing priority now, however, was the sitting room rug. I could see that someone had already split some light beer on it, but my main concern was red wine. TPR and I set to to lift it.

Also at the back of my mind was the fear that my father might decide to give a speech at my party later that evening.

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A Canadian in the UK (Rousse)

My extremely tall, dark, handsome Canadian cousin was living in the UK with his Italian girlfriend and her two children.

One day I had a go at being as tall as my cousin. I discovered all the inconveniences that extra height brings to everyday life.

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Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell and the strange shoe switch (Rousse)

TPR and I were staying temporarily in a small rented apartment along with DTJ and her toddler son JJ, who slept in a curtained off area at the far end of the sitting room.

On a day when I should have been packing for a long trip (and putting away the Christmas tree and other decorations that we had brought with us from another rental apartment) I took a wander outside before breakfast. I had only walked a few paces when I saw Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell (dressed in a pale blue suit) sail past me on her bicycle. I attempted a weak wave, unsure as to whether or not she would remember me. She waved back in recognition.

A few minutes later Dame Jocelyn, minus bike, joined me on my morning exercise. I explained that I usually went as far as the mountain pass, but today I would turn round when we reached the village.

Mid-way through the walk we hit snow so, because I had Dame Jocelyn with me, I hailed a taxi for the stretch across the high ground. The taxi ride was uneventful until it came to paying our fare of £2.60 plus tip. I expected the driver to return my shoes to me at this point (he’d taken them off me when I had climbed inside his vehicle), but the ‘pair’ that was passed back to me comprised two left feet. It was as though my shoes had been betwitched.

I asked Dame Jocelyn if this was scientifically possible, but she was unable to provide an explanation for the strange shoe switch.

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Just another divorce day casualty (Rousse)

TPR spent Christmas in the far north of the Shetland Islands, miles away from me and the rest of the family. The evidence was there a parish magazine: a photograph of TPR seated next to a vicar at Christmas dinner in a remote village hall.

TPR used the contents of the magazine as proof that divorce was inevitable. Normally he would not tolerate the company of a man of the cloth. This picture revealed the lengths to which he would go to to shun me. Now I should prepare myself to admit to all our friends and family that our marriage was over.

I was devastated. We would be the topic of much gossip for months to come. In addition, I would probably now be obliged to make my holiday arrangements with BNX. She was in the same position as me having recently been abandoned by DPX.

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Distracted by next season’s fashion must-haves and Harry Potter in French (Rousse)

At the height of summer I was living in North Berwick and working in Edinburgh, desperate to finish the data analysis and write-up of my second PhD. On the days that I couldn’t cadge a lift along the by-pass with my mother, the commuting was costing me a fortune in train fares.

However, I found it difficult to concentrate on my work. I was far more interested in sorting out my summer wardrobe and reading Harry Potter novels in French.

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