Babysitting for the reality TV set (Belle)

There was no avoiding the UK’s favourite TV programme. It featured a slightly chaotic young family, struggling financially but “making ends meet with love”. Everyone seemed to love them until they got pregnant with their third baby. For the first time, dissenting voices suggested they should “only have children they could afford” and newspaper reports said that fame had gone to their heads.

I decided to intervene and took the baby to the seaside to take the pressure off the family.  It was only then that I discovered the baby had a red hairy back and was half fox.

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A diamond-encrusted pendant, a party in Perthshire, the Petra Project, philosophy and feminism (Rousse)

We were shattered on the last leg of our train journey home from our holiday. By the time we reached Perth we were almost asleep in our seats.

Once back in Edinburgh TPR headed straight home to unpack and I stopped off at the Stockbridge jeweller to pick up my diamond-encrusted pendant. I spent some time to chatting to the man behind the counter about his philosophy of life. He was a bright man, but had eschewed higher education and full-time employment to enjoy life while he could.

LC and KT also had part-time jobs in the shop. LC was excited about her forthcoming 40th birthday party in Perthshire, and suggested that I could stay with SC and TM over the weekend of the celebrations. I wondered if she might invite them along too. She also let slip that she had had a tummy tuck while I had been away.

My last act before I left the shop was to show KT and LC my scar. I hadn’t checked it myself for some time and was a little concerned to see that it was turning black with a purple bruise beneath it.

I started the walk home with a man who was confused over his address. What it Royal Terrace, Royal Crescent, or Regent Crescent? Happily I soon shook him off at Royal Circus, where I found JS.

JS and I stopped off at the house in Fettes Row which hosted the Petra Project. Here were displayed artefacts of early twentieth century feminism, including details of a publicity campaign from the 1920s aimed at boys. Its main message was that boyhood need not necessarily focus on playing with guns, climbing trees and torturing insects, but could also encompass other pursuits such as reading and embroidery. We became so absorbed in the exhibits that I accidentally left my bag of jewels downstairs unguarded for over half an hour. Luckily it was still there when I returned to the ground floor to retrieve it.

Then I remembered TPR – at home, unpacking everything from our holiday. It was now 9:30pm and he would be furious that I still hadn’t returned to help him.

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Bare legs and no knickers in a spanking new library (Rousse)

The reason for baring my legs under a short winter dress, I explained, was that I had mislaid my tights. My companions were unaware, however, that I was also wandering around knickerless.

I knew the location of my underwear – somewhere inside the spanking new main library at the University of Birmingham – so I set off to the Edgbaston campus to retrieve my pants.

I discovered that the amazing new multipurpose facility included a branch of House of Fraser on the third floor. Here OX and his wife, known to be enthusiastically pursuing IVF treatment, were choosing nursery furniture and a coloured bathroom suite.

I also struck up a conversation with a group of students in the library lobby. They gasped in disbelief when I explained the use of three part issue slips for book loans that was still in operation when I was an undergraduate in the 1980s.

In the event I didn’t manage to find any of my clothes in the vast building, so I threw caution to the wind and ran home along the busy roads completely naked.

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Tech company takes on cheese market (Belle)

I was working for a trendy tech company which was attempting to diversify its portfolio. The staff memo (“We are now a cheese company too!”) took quite a few of us by surprise.  The initiative struck me as poor business. We had signed with a ‘cheese agent’ who was taking 40% of our cheese revenues. The cheese tasted no better than standard cheddar spread. Plus, our tech competitors were openly laughing about us in the press.

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Lindisfarne tribute band fail (Rousse)

Although JS had put in all the work for the university reunion, I was the mistress of ceremonies for the day. This meant that the guests were under the impression that I was responsible for the shambolic arrangements. These included:

  • tiny name badges that nobody could read;
  • a Lindisfarne tribute band with a lead singer who could not remember the lyrics;
  • no tea or coffee provided after lunch;
  • peculiar two-seater toilets in the ladies’ room;
  • gatecrashers GC and JC – the former set up a disco in competition with the tribute band, and the latter insisted on taking to the stage to show off three long dresses.

I did my best to give the impression that none of this mattered, but really I was terribly embarrassed.

The single highlight of the day for me was a big hug at the bar with marathon runner RR. He looked (and felt) very fit under his short-sleeved maroon batik shirt.

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Reuniting teddy bears at the White House (Rousse)

My efforts were paying off: after hours of wading my way through mountains of junk, at the White House (Hartburn) I managed to group families of teddy bears that had been separated for years. In most cases they comprised threesomes, but occasionally there were more members. For example, there were four big orange teddies from circa 1973.

Afterwards I asked my father if I could pour myself a glass of pink drink to share with Granny H. It looked like he would say yes, but my mother butted in to make it clear that alcohol was not on offer at lunchtime.

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Retired librarians to the rescue (Belle)

I was woken up, kidnapped and forced to go to a pub by a crazy ex-boyfriend. Fortunately, I recognised the town.  I escaped and ran up the hill to the cathedral. In the courtyard an odd spectacle was taking place. People in medieval suits of armour were performing a mystery play. The audience was made up entirely of former colleagues and retired, high profile librarians.  I was safe!

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