It was the end of our holiday. I had almost finished packing the bike panniers in preparation for our journey home when a man rushed into our room, then grabbed and bundled me into the back of his car. He set off at top speed with no heed of obstacles on the road. It was obvious that his mission was to kill me, and he didn’t care if he also died in the process.
Somehow, I survived the ride so I was able to join TPR for the train journey back to Edinburgh. All seemed back to normal again until we stepped on to the platform at Waverley. TPR headed off on his own without passing me my cycling helmet. He reached the house before I did, and was reluctant to let me in.
I now understood that TPR was behind the attempt on my life, and I needed to make alternative accommodation arrangements to guarantee my safety. I could stay with my new neighbour AMcN. When she heard of TPR’s treatment of me, she clobbered him.
Sir Paul McCartney was the surprise special guest at the party. All the tiny guests (aged six or under) seemed to recognise the celebrity status of the visitor, and gathered closely around him. When invited to ask questions, however, none was bold enough to speak.
I wandered over to the group. I had a question: had Sir Paul really written ‘PS I love you’ for my aunt?
My colleague FC led me to a basement. Here she had assembled an art exhibition with all pieces displayed for sale. I selected a lurid night time scene in dark oils from the freezer and took it home as a birthday present for TPR.
ASDA had deserted the deep-sea themed shopping centre on the outskirts of town, as had the giant aquarium retailer. The enormous concrete sculptures of marine creatures now looked rather forlorn in the neglected flower beds.
Sainsbury’s moved to the site to capitalise on the low rent and a local population desperate to shop. The supermarket chain, however, failed to invest in staff, and there were always huge queues at the check-outs. All customers were on high alert for the possible opening of a second till. Whenever this happened there was a near riot as everyone jostled to reach it first.
On this visit to the shop with TPR, I lost a mother of pearl snail shell in the rush to reach the second till. Not long afterwards, however, a young man approached me with my prized possession. He also offered me a brown highly polished stone on a plinth. At first I rejected it, but when he pointed out that it was an award and my name was etched into the marble, I changed my mind.
At a table I discussed my award with the young man and Sir Mark Walport. Everyone around us was very impressed that we were able to converse freely in French.
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Tagged aquarium, ASDA, award, French, marble, Mark Walport, plinth, riot, Sainsbury's, shell, shop, supermarket, talk, TPR
My status in the household was rather ambiguous as the former au pair girl. Should I really be left in charge of the children three decades later?
That question was answered when I attempted to change the sodden nappy on a toddler. The nappy removed, he child melted into a tiny glob of clear gel. Then the gel transformed into a small bird. It immediately took fright and flew away.
How was I going to explain the missing child to the family?
It took a long time to cycle the single tracks roads across the wilderness to the immense quarry, but it was worth the effort. The excavation was enormous. I couldn’t wait to see it close up.
We dropped our bikes above the village, not bothering to lock them in this remote location, then picked up an off-white Land Rover for the remainder of our journey. My niece AF joined us.
While I was looking forward to examining the rock formations up-close, TPR implemented his secret plan. He put the Land Rover into reverse and drove it backwards along the main road out of town, endangering all the traffic that was travelling directly towards us in the ‘right’ direction. I begged TPR to stop and turn the vehicle round, but he refused to listen.
TPR’s final destination was a salt mine. He’d planned the trip as a special surprise for AF, who was suffering from eczema. The salt found here was said to offer magical healing properties. TPR urged AF to give it a try.
Unsure of TPR’s advice, AF picked up her phone to seek her father’s permission to test this unconventional skin treatment. She adopted a ludicrous baby voice for the call. (My sister had warned me of this habit. I just hoped that she didn’t do the same on work phone calls.)
Meanwhile I admonished TPR for taking us on this ridiculous and dangerous expedition, expressing my severe disappointment that we had failed to examine the rock of the quarry, i.e complete the real purpose of our trip.
With traffic at a standstill across all six lanes of the motorway, people had stepped out of their vehicles and an informal festival had started.
However, I desperately needed to make it to the airport and set off jogging around the M25 motorway asking for spare clothes as I went.
An old friend leaned out his car window and gave me a U2 t-shirt to wear. He thought this was hilarious because now I had to run to the airport while shouting “I really hate U2”
RB planned to celebrate her 100th birthday with a pool party in Haltwhistle, the UK’s outdoor swimming capital. Everyone would be there, including EA from Hexham, and DE of Rhyl.
On the day, I arrived wearing a long silky dress over my swimming costume. Then I presented the birthday girl with a box of chocolates that I found at the bottom of my suitcase, wrapped with the message ‘Love from Simon, Nicholas and Frank’.
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Tagged birthday, chocolate, costume, Frank, Haltwhistle, hundred, Nicholas, pool, Simon, swimming, swimsuitl
My new best friend the Duchess of Cambridge and I travelled by bus and train to Norwich. My companion blended in well: none of the other passengers spotted royalty in their midst.
When we diverted via Bristol, I offered to introduce Catherine to my other friend JK Rowling. It completely slipped my mind that she probably already had access to any British celebrity that she ever wanted to meet.
About to play their first gig after the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, Edinburgh covers band Chil had a complete sell-out on their hands. Hundreds queued to be let into the open air venue in the Edinburgh New Town. Many were much younger than hardcore Chil fans.
All seemed to be in place for a great evening, but there was a problem: Chil was a band member down.
For some reason, JH believed that I would be the best option for a replacement musician. I disagreed. TPR would be so much better. Unlike me, he had a beautiful singing voice and could play guitar.