Marcus Brigstocke takes to the stage with mother and daughter duo (Rousse)

Marcus Brigstocke settled his mother and (possibly) his brother into seats in the front row, then took to the podium.

‘Gosh, he’s getting on a bit’, I thought, catching sight of his balding pate and observing his wider-than-last-time waistline.

After a brief introduction Brigstocke patrolled the audience in search of a volunteer. He stopped at the end of the row where I was sitting with my mother. The woman to the right of me coiled back in fear. I, however, was happy to be chosen. Brigstocke could tell. My mother dutifully followed me.

A fourth person joined us on stage. He and my mother were to be the stars of the show. Their first act required them to wear post-its on their foreheads. Meanwhile I sat at the back of the stage and ate chocolate.

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The ugly pumpkin-headed baby (Rousse)

HR trotted down the steps with her boyfriend and their pumpkin-headed baby. Meanwhile HR’s Australian ex-boyfriend was lying on a sofa in our back room, complaining that he was lonely. We had to keep these people apart.

I ran outside and suggested that we go for walk – perhaps not to the Botanic Gardens because this was where HR and her boyfriend worked. However, they insisted on coming into the house.

I took the baby, doing my best to make sure that his pumpkin head stayed upright on his shoulders. How ever did they produce such an ugly monster? Perhaps he would be a useful distraction when HR and her ex-boyfriend came face to face?

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Naked housework, phone swapping, and Doctor Who accessories (Rousse)

Naked, I tidied up my London flat. I moved slices of white bread from the first floor sitting room windowsill to the kitchen where they belonged.

When I returned downstairs a fat woman brandishing a gun confronted me in the hall. I feared for my life. However, she said that she was there to protect me. Her assistant followed dragging a rail of dressing gowns. The woman explained that I was putting myself at risk wandering around undressed with the curtains open and that I should take something to cover me up from the rail.

After she left I walked over to the conference venue. I intended to call in to find out what time the event started then return to my flat to change into my pink suit. However it looked like there wouldn’t be time to do this so I took my seat and listened to JS as she introduced the first session. I sat next to a long slim woman whose face was clagged with foundation, and tummy sparkled with metallic grey make-up.

Meanwhile I worried about my own paper. Although I had the full text typed out in front of me, it was months since I had engaged in this work. I should have made some slides to force myself to revisit the stats, and so that I would have some visual aids to engage my audience. I wondered if there would be time to pop back to my room and put a deck together, but nobody had a copy of the conference programme to check the timings.

The rest of the delegates all seemed pretty unhappy. They booed JS until she stepped down to set up her presentation at the other end of the room. This meant that we all had to change our seating. I attempted to position myself next to the breakfast bar, but abandoned this plan because (a) the man already sitting there stank and (b) I was in the way of other delegates.

When I eventually found a spot to sit I noticed that my mobile phone had changed shape from a long oblong to a small folder-over device. Those around me admired my ‘new’ phone as the latest (very expensive) Apple model. However, I wanted my own phone back. It was eventually traced to a man who claimed that I had agreed an exchange with him. I immediately persuaded him to swap everything back.

By complete coincidence medical librarian GR appeared while I was negotiating with the phone swapper. GR looked in good health except that he was wearing a permanent solid plastic neck brace. He was a Doctor Who fan so I concluded that this was likely an accessory rather than a medical device.

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Three services for late academic (Rousse)

My colleague BEX was dead.

Instead of a single funeral, three services were due to take place in honour of his memory. One was in an Anglican church, another in a Catholic cathedral, and the third was the private family burial.

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Return of the student bride (Rousse)

From a pretty ordinary hotel room TPR and I were upgraded to a massive suite. The room included a huge Georgian sideboard and a bed that was positioned in the open air on the balcony giving great views of the waves crashing below.

Two vicious black cats were permanent residents of the room. They tried to sink their fangs into my hand one afternoon when I was kneeling on the floor. Fortunately I managed to brush them away. Then I saw that there was an additional to the cat family: a fluffy white kitten sitting in a sunbeam.

Although I thought that I had locked our bedroom door, some other guests (who by this time were good friends) wandered in to ask how we planned to spend the day. We agreed to head to the big beach together.

In the meantime the surf was up and crashing over our balcony. Our bed was dragged into the sea, as were some computer game consoles that I accidentally kicked over. This was the second set that I had lost, but I didn’t think that it would matter because everyone seemed to wealthy here.

Then I saw someone that I hadn’t seen in years: the student bride from my final year at University. She told me that she now worked at Birmingham City University in an educational development role, then showed me some videos of her work. This reminded me that I had some classes to prepare for the start of the new academic year.

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Rumours of garden corpse in case of missing wife (Rousse)

Each day I offered my new daughter a cup of tea the moment that she came home from school. Every time she ignored me. Similarly her father (my new husband) also wanted little to do with me.

Could this be something to do with the body? I heard that it was buried somewhere in the garden, but very few people knew exactly where. Indeed there was a concerted campaign to ensure that it was never recovered. Some people denied outright that it even existed.

One thing for certain was that I had absolutely nothing to do with the missing first wife.

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PhD write-up distractions: National Trust for Scotland properties (Rousse)

When I returned to work after my summer holiday I discovered that two of my PhD students had each become heavily involved in National Trust for Scotland properties, each of which was supposedly associated with their doctoral studies.

How would they find time to write up their theses if they were now obliged to attend on site every day?

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