Queen demands payment (Belle)

It was a bright sunny day, and the flower beds were a little too vivid. I suspected that they had been airbrushed for an appearance on a biscuit tin, or it was the 1960s. I gave a small girl riding a tiny tricycle a little push and she accidentally rode her front wheel into a flower bed. Almost immediately, the Queen rushed out of the French windows, wearing a green tweed skirt and with her hand outstretched. She was only appeased when I handed over a crisp £1 note for the ‘damage’ to the flowers.

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Lazy academics unworthy of titles (Rousse)

I waited patiently in my gown for my turn to cross the stage – but the ceremony ended without an invitation to mount the steps.

A member of Human Resources staff eventually told me that the Principal and Dean had blocked my award of emeritus professor because I was lazy.

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Risks of mistaking a deep coma for death (Rousse)

I had some explaining to do when JG and his wife BG flew in for a brief visit.

‘Isn’t you father dead?’ enquired JG, peering over at the wizened old man muttering incoherently in his chair.

‘We thought so’, I replied. ‘However, it would appear that he had been in a coma the past few months. It’s a good job that we didn’t bury him.’

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References essential for employment (Rousse)

Now that we had decided for certain to remodel the back of our house, TPR set to work emptying all the rooms of furniture. He soon discovered that this was too big a job for one person, so put a call out for help – on a public Facebook page!

Soon the place was swarming with strangers offering their services in exchange for the generous rate of pay.

‘Who are these people?’ I demanded to know, observing that many didn’t appear to be working at all, but lounging about the place laughing and flirting with one another.

‘Just some neighbours keen to help us’ he replied.

‘And did you seek references for the members of your new workforce? How do you know that these people are trustworthy’

‘Oh, I didn’t think of that…’ he confessed.

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Dangers of hitch-hiking in London (Rousse)

As soon as we settled into the back of the car, I realised our error. ‘I know this from a movie plot’, I thought. ‘The driver is monster. After giving us a lift to our named destination this evening, he will later attempt to kidnap us from our own homes’.

My fears were were confirmed when the driver leant over to the back seat and handed each of the three of us an envelope and biro. ‘Please write down your name and address, and I’ll send you a treat in the post’, he offered.

I scratched onto the paper ‘Mandy Rigg, 7 Larch Avenue, Islington’ in full view of my two companions. ‘Come on you two’, I ordered, ‘Pop your Islington addresses on your envelopes too’. At first TPR looked quizzical – who on earth was Mandy Rigg? –  but he soon understood my message, as did our companion. We handed back the envelopes and we were soon on our way.

‘Oh look, there’s a tube station!’ I shouted ‘Please drop us off here’.

‘Certainly’, said the driver.

Safely on the pavement, I expressed to TPR and our companion my relief at our lucky escape – only to find that the taller of the two people now standing next to me, grinning manically from ear to ear, was the driver. TPR was nowhere to be seen.

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Clubbing with David Mitchell (Rousse)

Having met David Mitchell at his posh private members’ club, I wanted to repay the favour.

Would taking him along to the premises of the Royal Society of Edinburgh suffice, I wondered?

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Riverdance outdoors! plays in Finland (Rousse)

I neatly parked the car in a Finnish municipal car park. From here we watched the setting of the stage for Riverdance outdoors!

I was very excited to see the performance itself, but instead TPR and I felt obliged to join our hosts JT and GW in their civic duty of clearing weeds from the path beside the river.

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Arty party ends in dreadful drowning (Rousse)

While we were out, my sister S invited an entire year group of art students to our Edinburgh flat. She had captured them on the promise of a workshop on the interpretation of lived experience of mental illness in creative outputs. In practice, they came to party.

Now they were bedding down in our spare bedroom and the study – but TPR and I were having none of this. We demanded that they leave immediately. And no, they could not use our en suite bathroom – not even the pathetic-looking girl in a tracksuit who was already floating in our bath.

As well as the mess created by an excess of students in such a small space, we discovered that their use of the bathroom had blocked our drains, so now the entire kitchen was flooded.

This was all too much for me. I had to get away, so I caught a train to Hexham (accidentally without paying), walked through the cobbled streets (looking out for KA, but she was nowhere to be seen), and headed to the beach. It was a beautiful day of blue skies and sunshine, and the view of the bay looked like a scene form the Caribbean.

The tide was in. Since I couldn’t get down to the shore, I clambered along the rocky foreshore instead.

Then disaster struck! I slipped on a rock and slid into the water. I found the bottom with my feet and managed to pull myself out again, but then slipped a second time and became fully immersed in deeper water. The good news was that I could float. However, my recent brush with COVID19 meant that I had no energy to swim, nor could I call out for help. This was the end. Everything went black. I would surely drown.

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Neon pink Queen in Gloucester (Rousse)

I was in Gloucester with the Queen, who was dressed in pink neon from head to toe.

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Murder at the Scottish Parliament and a ‘hot date’ (Rousse)

I promised TPR that I would join him in the sea, but first I needed to console CI. With further news of the murder at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood the previous night, we were shocked to learn that the victim was her sister.

Then it was time for me to visit the immense academic library. There at the photocopier I started up a conversation with a man who attempted to queue-jump.

‘Are you single?’ he asked me.

‘Yes’, I replied, covering up the engagement, wedding and eternity rings on my left hand, such was my eagerness for the excitement of a ‘hot date’.

Of course, this was a ridiculous thing to do. I lost my enthusiasm for any form of romantic encounter as soon as I saw my new ‘boyfriend’ at close quarters. His physique was a huge disappointment.

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