Actor Bill Paterson is Mr Diamond selling tea at the Gorilla Arboretum (Rousse)

RR almost smashed into two cars in the car park of the Gorilla Arboretum. He simply did not see the brown Ford Escort Mk 4 as he reversed into what he thought was a free parking space. On his second attempt to park, he was within millimetres of scraping a long line of paintwork off a metallic blue saloon car.

I was so relieved to be able to open the car door. Similarly RR, JS and TPR were grateful for the end of my involuntary back seat driver screaming at every turn of the steering wheel.

For an autumn day, it was rather warm, and I was completely overdressed. So at the entrance to the park I stripped down as far as I could – to my long-sleeved white thermal vest, white jeans, and cowboy boots. I carried the rest of my clothes over my back in a black bin liner. Had I not dressed in such a hurry that morning, I would have taken more care to select weather-appropriate clothing for a walk in a gorilla arboretum.

We started our visit in the arboretum shop. It was stocked with the most beautiful household goods. I was particularly taken by some blue place mats. Amongst the displays a man was seated next to a pile of tea chests. He announced to customers that he was ‘Mr Diamond’ and would be delighted to offer each passer-by a sample of his wares.

‘That’s not Mr Diamond’, I said to JS in a very loud stage whisper. ‘That’s Bill Paterson, the famous Scottish actor’.

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House clearance ‘burglary’ (Rousse)

I stood outside our building and watched several members of an Indian family empty the ground floor flat. When yet another a young man came out of the front door – this one carrying a neat pile of brown bed linen – it dawned on me that this could be a very sophisticated burglary, executed in plain sight.

I called for TPR. He ran up the steps from the basement flat, made a charge for the first ‘burglar’ that he saw, and wrestled him to the ground. Both men scuffled on the pavement for a few minutes, TPR shouting accusations, and the other pleading his innocence.

It was later confirmed that N and S really had commissioned this Indian family to complete a house clearance on their behalf.

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Marriage and goat’s milk mayhem (Rousse)

I was shocked when I learnt that JC had moved back in with her parents after her marriage to GC came to a sudden end. This was nothing, however, to my dismay and desperation when TPR calmly announced that his move south ‘for work’ was not temporary, and that he wanted a divorce.

While I had been looking forward to a long and happy retirement with the love of my life, TPR had been reading a (supposedly) scientific text book about women and marriage. From this he had come to the conclusion he’d been ‘sold a dud’. He wanted to free himself of me to enjoy everything that had been missing from his life over the past four decades.

I took refuge in an academic library that was offering shelter to students during the coronavirus crisis. I found a free desk in a far corner of the reading room, hoping for some peace and quiet. Instead I found – under a bed sheet – two very young presenters of the Today programme giving a demonstration of an outside broadcast to students on campus. I caused a minor disruption when I tipped a carton of goat’s milk all over the floor next to the recording equipment.

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German child expert rescues newborn from drunken babysitter (Rousse)

Not long after the S family moved house to the other side of town, J returned to babysit for the new neighbours. She looked after their newborn baby every afternoon so that they could attend cricket matches.

Given that our building overlooked the sports ground and offered fantastic views of the cricketing action from all floors, it seemed rather strange that our neighbours would abandon their child to a near-stranger in this way.

When we saw J wandering the corridors wine glass in hand, we began to worry for the safety of our neighbour’s child. Eventually J admitted that she could not cope with the stress of this baby-sitting job.

The time had come when an expert in childcare was required. Our neighbours asked around for someone who knew exactly what to do with babies, preferably in both English and German.

‘Leave it to me’, I said, ‘I’ll call the WB ambulance’.

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Locating lost shoes (Rousse)

All I needed was a pair of shoes. I could find singles scattered all over the place, but no individual shoe matched another.

Eventually my style-obsessed neighbour confessed that he had raided my wardrobe for footwear. Odd shoes of mine were now placed carefully around his garden. Here they served as ‘unique’ plant holders.

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Brian the Irish architect (Rousse)

I knew that TPR had tired of me completely, so I was keen to line up a replacement for my husband as soon as possible. My work colleague Brian the Irish architect seemed a good candidate. Like TPR he was tall and lean (albeit not so muscular).

Brian was delighted and surprised to learn that I was interested in him. He jumped at the opportunity of a road test. I invited him to follow me around bookcases as I added to my collection of second hand reading material.

I rewarded Brian’s patience with a snog in the park.

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Naked office party animals dance til dawn (Rousse)

Belle and I were both wrecked after the work party – she from alcohol consumption, I from lack of sleep.

It was the receptionist who discovered us still attempting to dance in the office the following morning. She was a little worse for wear herself, but at least she had gone home to bed for a few hours. We had just kept on partying.

Even now, Belle was still obviously drunk. Thankfully I was now dressed, although my make-do outfit was very bizarre. I’d found an abandoned fawn shirt dress on a hanger that just about covered me. I reckoned that anything was better than appearing naked when the rest of our colleagues turned up for the start of the working day.

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Abusive parental role play (Rousse)

This was not my best idea for a bonding exercise: find a partner; allocate the roles of mother and daughter; perform role play on the basis that the parent hates the child.

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The Stanford murderer (Rousse)

Stanford University research engineer JA was all over the news. He was a murderer!

It would not be long before journalists would be knocking at my door, demanding to know whether or not I had spotted his evil streak when supervising his PhD a decade earlier.

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Katy Perry flies Edinburgh to Des Moines, Iowa with unintentional stowaway (Rousse)

I’d been ‘working at home’ from the National Library of Scotland when I received an offer to meet Katy Perry. I felt that I could spare the time to do so, so followed the instruction to travel to the meeting venue: Edinburgh airport. There I by-passed all the usual checks to cross the tarmac and climb the steps to the star’s private jet. Once on board, I received a very warm welcome from the star. Our first conversation was about her sound system, and the costs of hauling it all around the world.

I understood that Perry was performing in Edinburgh that night, so was surprised when the aircraft engines started up. When an air steward appeared to offer us drinks as part of the standard flight service, I knew that we would soon be waving goodbye to Edinburgh.

‘What’s the flight destination?’ I asked the steward.

‘I don’t know’, she replied, ‘But I can check’.

Katy Perry herself told me that we were on our way to the venue of her next performance: not Edinburgh, but Des Moines, Iowa.

The steward returned and – sure enough – confirmed that our next stop was Des Moines. I confessed that I didn’t have my passport on me. ‘No problem’, she responded. ‘All we need to do is pass the contents of your handbag to the British Embassy on arrival, and hand over your laptop at the airport. Then you will buy a ticket for the first flight back to the UK.’

I was hoping that the millionaire star would offer to pay for my return flight. She did not.

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