TPR made a huge effort with his appearance, first straightening and then dying, his grey hair into a glossy burgundy red bob. This was all in readiness for the arrival of a bunch of his former work colleagues at our flat.
They all piled into the study and sat on a mattress in front of a huge television. When I first saw the politicians on screen, I thought that TPR and his colleagues were watching a programme about politics. However, when they all started addressing one another directly, it was obvious that this was an important company conference call with the government in London.
A few days later I was in the English capital myself. I crossed the road beneath Big Ben on the way to a research council meeting beyond the Houses of Parliament. Since I had plenty of time (because I had no idea of the meeting venue), I stopped to admire the new floating art installations near Westminster Bridge that I knew from KJD’s online photography.
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Tagged Big Ben, bob, call, conference, government, hair, Houses of Parliament, London, politicians, TPR, Westminster Bridge
When we reached the dark and snowy outskirts of Edinburgh, the coach driver decided to turn back. Looking out of the window at lorries and cars strewn upside down at the side of the road, I understood his reasons.
This meant that we didn’t reach the pub for our rendez-vous with K&J. Instead the driver dropped us in a grand Georgian crescent in Balerno.
Here the residents were preparing for a garden party, carrying baskets of bread from their houses into the shared garden. A man wearing an Oxford college tie struck up a conversation with us, saying that he went to school in Bristol (but not the same one as TPR), then disappeared behind his garden gate. As he attempted to pull the gate shut behind him, a small dog escaped and leapt into my arms.
It was love at first sight. I had never seen a small woolly pooch dyed pink before, but this one was absolutely beautiful, and I could tell that he reciprocated my feelings.
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Tagged accident, Balerno, bread, Bristol, coach, dog, dye, Edinburgh, garden, gate, Georgian, love, Oxford, party, pink, snow, TPR
I was excited to be in the crowd at an important Champions League match in the Outer Hebrides.
The Liverpool team was about to come onto the pebbly pitch beneath the sea cave that served as a natural amphitheatre for all the top events in the islands.
The opposition’s goalie, dressed in his navy blue strip with a knee brace, took his place next to a big boulder just beneath me. I considered asking for his autograph, but decided against this. I was more interested in the older, hunkier players of the opposition.
TPR’s new girlfriend was called Henry.
‘Typical’, I thought, ‘From this fact alone I know exactly her age and social class. I can also guess her undergraduate programme at the University of Edinburgh, and predict with some accuracy her Edinburgh New Town address’.
Stuart Maconie was in my gang. Mark Radcliffe was not – because he did not reply to my texts to their Saturday morning radio programme.
On the spur of the moment we called in on R and SL. SL was particularly delighted to see us, mistakenly thinking that our friend in tow (KA) was our niece AF.
While I admired their modern purple kitchen, SL complained that her greatest problem since retirement was dealing with an excess of kale.
JS led us along the Yorkshire coast near Bridlington to a beautiful headland.
Beneath the proud cliffs on one side were yellow beaches of the finest sand. On the other was a channel of clear blue water through which the debris of generations of holiday makers – from lost beach balls to a brand new SLR camera – headed out to sea.
For months we had been gathering online to assess the health of academic research in the UK. At last we were meeting face-to-face to undertake the next tranche of work – dressed in horrible pastel-coloured pyjamas. The women looked particularly bad. Who had advised them that baby pink brushed cotton looked good on the middle-aged and overweight?
I joined the group rather late. This was because I thought that I had left my written assessment notes in Tesco. They were, in fact, in my red Peugeot 205.
My lateness meant that I didn’t have the chance to ensure that everyone used the updated version of the assessment form. I was rather annoyed when I realised that the instruction to use this new document had been completely ignored.
L and TF were avoiding me because we had not acknowledged that the young woman killed in the terrorist attack was their daughter K’s best friend.
Unwittingly, I was the star of a new reality television programme. A huge crowd of brash, rowdy women picked on me so mercilessly that the pitying viewers nominated me as a candidate in the general election. Not only did I win a seat in Westminster, but as soon as I left the show I was expected to move into 10 Downing Street as the new Prime Minister.
Of course, stuck in the house, I had no idea of any of this. My only thought was how to escape my tormentors. Would the small group of feminists welcome me?
I envied Paddington Bear when I saw him cross the lawn on his way home one evening. If only I were a couple of inches shorter. Then I would have easily fitted into the Paddington costume and found a much more comfortable career in television.