Adopting a dog – or two (Rousse)

The latest row between DTJ and KJ was also their last.  DTJ took the children, and KJ his younger girlfriend. Neither wanted the dogs.

TPR would be furious, but the grey miniature poodle and tiny white bichon frise were coming home with me.

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A mountain ban (Rousse)

On holiday in the far north of Scotland, I joined a walking group. Each day the leader took us a different route across the moorland, up the mountains, and along the beaches. It was wonderful.

One morning we climbed a local mountain for its amazing views of the long coastline with  its chain of sandy-beached islands in the distance. Although I was the first to make it to the top after the leader, and was fortunate to catch a glimpse of the famous view, I didn’t linger long. Unfortunately I stumbled, and rolled half way down the hill.

There was no way that I was going to struggle all the way up there again, so I abandoned the walk and returned to our base in the nearby village. My plan was to call into the tourist information office to ask the staff to send a message to the walk leader that I was safe, and ask the location of the meeting point for the group’s afternoon activities.

A member of tourist information staff listened carefully to my requests, disappeared into a room at the back of the office, then returned with a plate of tomato sandwiches. She plonked the unwanted food on front of me, refusing to say whether or not she had contacted the leader, or to give any information about the afternoon meeting point.

She told me that I was effectively banned from participation in any further organised walks. This was on the basis of my track record of poor mountain craft. Today’s misdemeanour was added to another: setting out to conquer Suilven at 5:30pm on a drizzly day. I protested that I had never been anywhere near the base of Suilven, but she wasn’t listening.

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Elbow announce novel support act (Rousse)

Elbow invited me to be the support act on their next tour.

Rather than perform on stage with my face to the audience, however, I would use Elbow’s new animation technology.

Throughout the tour, I sang and danced behind a huge dark blue plastic screen. Meanwhile my outline was transformed into a multi-coloured animated figure for the audience to enjoy. Everyone there was also saved of the embarrassment of watching a pensioner making her last bid for stardom.

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An unwanted mushroom sofa (Rousse)

I was anxious that TPR had parked the car too close to the cliff edge, but he was actually well within the white lines, so we left it there.

As we walked back to the house, I spotted my Auntie M in the distance. Several small children followed her. When asked, she explained that she had taken in the children as part of a European English language programme. With a finely honed RP accent, little Erika told me that she was 9 years old, came from the Netherlands, and missed her parents.

We invited everyone back to our house for coffee. The children ran on ahead, let themselves through the front door, and found themselves seats in the sitting room with my mother.

When I came through the door I was appalled to find that nearly all the space in the sitting room was taken up by a vast mushroom-coloured sofa. My mother mouthed a one-word explanation for its sudden appearance: the name of my youngest sister.

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Music hall mice (Belle)

As I locked the gate to the allotment, I noticed that it was the 1880s outside. The cars had vanished, and there was an opium den across the street. A bicycle rickshaw was struggling up the hill and I saw three tiny mice wearing Beatrix Potter-style outfits, holding on to the roof straps. They were swinging and squealing happily. I cheered and clapped. It was the famous music hall mice that all of London had been talking about.

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David Jason – arms dealer (Rousse)

David Jason handed me a replica hand gun to ‘use as required’. He then disappeared down the street, and I awaited my fate.

This was supposedly a game, but it all felt very real. Organised by SPL on the Isle of Man, this interactive adventure in real time was a key component of her 60th birthday celebrations. Another was a disco. Here I enjoyed dancing with SPL’s sister R.

I skulked around the streets armed with my gun wondering if, or when, I would need to ‘fire’ it.

I later complained to one of the organisers that the rules of game were rather opaque. As I was speaking, I remembered my sense of being tracked through the streets of London on a recent work trip. When questioned, the organiser confirmed that the earlier efforts to follow my everyday movements had been part of the extensive game prep.

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A successful bedroom declutter (Rousse)

My sister S eagerly led me up the stairs.

A wonderful surprise greeted us when she pushed open her bedroom door. Behind it was a bright, airy space, completely free of clutter. The only furniture was the yellow formica table from the upstairs kitchen at our childhood home. This was covered with a blue tartan rug. My sister was rightly proud of all her efforts to clear her bedroom.

My only query was about the heating. Were seven wall-mounted gas fires absolutely necessary to keep the room warm?

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University investment priorities: teaching and learning, or research? (Rousse)

A huge group of educational development specialists, appointed to improve teaching practice at the University, swarmed through the campus. I considered this ‘investment’ a complete waste of money. If there was funding to spare, I felt that it should be directed to supporting research rather than excessive and unnecessary teacher training.

One of these ‘experts’ stopped me in the corridor to ask if I was coming to the latest teaching and learning seminar. I declined politely, using the excuse that I was retired. However, in reality I believed that there was nothing left to learn about engaging students after an academic career of 30+ years.

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Keeping clutter in container 78 (Rousse)

I kept my belongings in Container 78 at a storage facility in central London. While this was a convenient means of dealing with my clutter, accessing it was problematic.

Whenever I parked my red Peugeot 205 nearby (assuming that I could find a space), the cost was astronomical. This was especially the case whenever I was fined for leaving my car on a yellow line.

A further issue was that the storage company had a habit of shifting containers around the site. Sometimes it took hours to find number 78.

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Christian evangelists invade Florida (Rousse)

TPR and I came into ownership of a hotel in Florida. Whenever we visited, we stayed in a separate adjoining apartment with access to three private swimming pools.

One day as we crossed the hotel lobby on the way back to our quarters, a very tall pale young woman with lank dark hair, and dressed in an old fashioned cotton smock, approached me.

‘I’ve just landed in the US and I’m here to do my internship’, she announced. ‘Where should I put  my stuff?’

Until she explained that she and I had corresponded by email briefly about eight months earlier, I had no recollection of this woman. Then I remembered seeing a very bare CV on three slips of paper. However, I had certainly not made any offer of a position for her at the hotel. I told her that since we were returning to the UK in a couple of days, she was welcome to take a holiday in our apartment and make the most of our swimming pools.

Then the woman’s loud mouth Geordie father came into view – followed by her smiling Afro-Caribbean mother, and a succession of eight or nine small siblings. It was not long before the father started preaching his brand of Christianity to anyone who would listen, and I deeply regretted my offer of accommodation. This woman had not come to work for the hotel, but to spread the Lord’s word through the foghorn mouthpiece of her father.

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