Breaking bad in Edinburgh (Rousse)

I finally gave into Jesse Pinkman’s pleading, picked up the silver automatic Volvo at Picardy Place, and accepted the stolen mobile phone. We would cook with Badger in an empty house off Pilrig Street. For the time being it was easy to hide everything from TPR because he was away on a business trip.

When TPR eventually returned I handed over the £60,000 that he was owed from our previous partnership. He had no idea that I was continuing the illegal drug trade with the others in secret.

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A chandelier accident and a stolen tricycle (Belle)

This was turning into a great work day. Bruno Ganz was wandering around, wearing a dinner jacket. A colleague told me ‘management’ had  taken Bruno out to a casino for dinner and a chandelier had fallen off the ceiling near their table. They’d all laughed.

Later I was being driven around by S&S in their red car and our road was blocked by a red (adult sized) tricycle. I got out, moved it, and then returned to the bookshop to inform the owner. “Whose is that red tricycle outside?” I asked. A young woman put up her hand and I said “Well, it’s not there anymore.” I couldn’t bear the idea of shaking her hand. It was made out of Play-Doh.

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The great missing scones scandal (Rousse)

MSB was clearly disappointed that the promised scones were not in evidence at our wee tea party. I hadn’t the heart to tell her that this was due to her early arrival (and that TPR and I were still in bed 15 minutes before the appointed time. I had managed to take the red lid off the jar of self-raising flour in readiness for baking after our wee ‘snooze’, but was still in the  bedroom when the doorbell rang).

MSB was also somewhat shocked when I took the mugs of tea out into the street to pitch camp on Bonnington Road, opposite Broughton Primary School, and expected her to sit there on the pavement with me.

‘It’s sunny here’, I explained, ‘And from this distance we can appreciate the different murals on the school wall’. MSB showed no enthusiasm whatsoever for this plan.

When I returned to the house to top up our empty mugs I found a beautiful, brand new, six-foot long planter at the top of our steps. TPR explained that MSB and DB had brought it for us as a present when they first arrived.

Now I began to understand why MSB was so moody. A mug of tea on a cold Edinburgh pavement was hardly fair exchange for such a thoughtful gift.

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Belle’s non-cheap chips

My chip shop had quite a reputation. Many A-lister celebs would queue outside in their finest outfits to purchase “Chips My Way”. The experience included rude staff, no menu choices and high prices.  All my chips were fried in animal fat (“NO VEGETARIAN CHIPS AVAILABLE HERE” signs hung in the windows). The only items on the menu were “Chips My Way” and cartons of tomato juice.

I charged £38 per portion.

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Over body-confidence, laundry robbers, the Northumbrian pipes, and a man in white bow ties (Rousse)

Early one morning, before the shops opened, my sister S, my mother and I ran along the Ullapool esplanade. At the far end we stepped on the scales. My sister weighed in at 11 stone five, over two stone heavier than me.

Afterwards the three of us attended an end of term news session at the university.  I failed to recognise all the new staff who had been appointed during my time off sick. The majority were very overweight women, all of whom projected a misplaced pride in the unhealthy state of their bodies. One wore a lime green hooped hat that was so large that it covered her entire face, thus forcing those in the audience to look directly at her massive torso. Another danced on stage in a sparkling sequinned cocktail dress, mentioned something vague about her multimedia class, then stripped down to her enormous knickers.

I was ashamed to be associated with such performances, and felt sorry that my poor old mother had to experience them. To make up for this, afterwards I took her along to an open-air screening of an old comic film about robbers and their laundry hide-out. My mother actually paid little attention to the story, but instead enjoyed talking to the other cinema-goers, especially those with whom she shared a connection. She laughed happily with a black-lipsticked young woman over a small world story that was something to do with the Northumbrian pipes.

Meanwhile my sister J and I sat upstairs clocking the business men who visited the cinema as their first treat of the weekend before they headed home to spend the next two days in the countryside. I was particularly taken by a man in a white shirt and dozen white bow ties.

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A hall of residence for horses (Rousse)

I stabled the grey mare in my new hall of residence bedroom with a degree of reluctance. First I was dubious as to the ‘legality’ of keeping a horse on campus. I also harboured concerns over my skills as a horsewoman.

KP tried to reassure me. She planned to bring her own horse down from Driffield as soon as she was settled in, and was looking forward to leading our rides.

Then the call went out for a group curry outing. Two car-fulls of new students whooped out of the hall of residence drive, straight past the weeping parents (who were now heading home having dropped their children off for their first term at university).

A 13 year-old was at the wheel of the car that carried me.  Someone assured us that this girl was super-bright, hence her early admission as an undergraduate. I argued this did not guarantee well-developed driving skills. Nevertheless, we all arrived in one piece at the rather shabby curry house.

Amongst the other diners were several of my school friends, including one sporting a very late pregnancy. They all took great care to hug me on the right hand side only, conscious of my recent operation.

(Meanwhile I tried to remember exactly what I had been up to the night before with TPR, my parents, and KNX. Whatever the details, I knew that our frolics would not make polite dinner conversation.)

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Nicholas Parsons ruins rave (Belle)

We were invited to participate in – and comment on – the previews of “Rave” – an experiential musical.

I enjoyed arriving at the light industrial estate and feeling the bassline in my stomach. The music was good. Sadly, the rest of the production was a failure.  The casting of Nicholas Parsons as the DJ was eccentric to say the least. The dialogue was made up of badly rhyming couplets.  “Larry rhyming with Harry?” I heckled. “This is awful”. I took my long list of complaints to the producer ‘Gorgeous’ Keith Allen.   His play was a stinker.

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