Medieval tapestries in Cambridge (Rousse)

I came across KS in Cambridge, keen to see the medieval tapestries that I had catalogued. I showed her into the exhibition.

I didn’t dare ask why she wasn’t at home caring for her demented husband.

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Hollywood hands (Rousse)

JS and I met out old university friend JG on a grassy bank. Dressed in a huge 1980s style fawn jacket over jeans, there was something rather strange about his demeanour.

We learnt that he had suffered a stroke that had disabled the left side of his body. This explained much – including the static, plastic-looking ‘Hollywood hand’ hanging from the cuff of his left sleeve.

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Saturday night discos at Edinburgh airport (Rousse)

The posh man to the left of me asked if we would be going to the Saturday night disco at Edinburgh airport. He assured me that the music would be to our tastes – but then I realised that I already had a commitment that night so couldn’t join him there.

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A boat trip to Greenock (Rousse)

I couldn’t reach SD’s house in Stirling in time for our book group meeting so made a separate arrangement to meet LM in Greenock.

While I streamed the gathering in SD’s garden to my phone, I negotiated the ticket barrier and fierce railway station staff to catch a train west.

This ‘train’ was, in fact, a small boat. It carried a mix of passengers, including school children and a couple of people on stretchers, across the choppy sea to an island in the distance.

LM was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps meeting at book group in Stirling would have been an easier option for us both?

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A pocked-marked, cabbage-eating, intruder with a deadly disease (Rousse)

The pock-marked intruder was chewing on a cabbage leaf from my vegetable patch. There was no indication of how he had scaled the high wall, and I was certain that he had not come through the house, so it was a complete mystery as to how he had managed to gain entry to my garden.

As I asked the stranger about the purpose of his ‘visit’, I saw that the small spiral notebook in his left hand was opened on a page where three different spellings of ‘Haydon Bridge’ had been tested. I wondered if – rather than a former student or work colleague – this man might be a genealogical researcher.

I was right. He was pretty certain that we were connected to family D. When I told him emphatically that we were not, his face dropped. He has been hoping that we would be the final piece in the jigsaw to explain his deadly inherited disease.

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A cottage in Lanarkshire (Rousse)

TPR bought us a second home in Lanarkshire – without making a single viewing. The details in the printed sales brochure was enough to convince him that this was an excellent investment.

On arrival at the cottage for the first time, we discovered the reason that it had been on the market for so long: traffic thundering along the M74 just a couple of hundred yards from the overgrown garden.

Hiding my anger at my husband’s foolish purchase, I started to investigate the building itself. Behind the first door, I found a small room filled with colourful fairground equipment, including gleaming carousel horses. Beyond this was a huge well-equipped workshop with every tool you’d ever need for household DIY. This pleased me, but not enough to forgive my idiot spendthrift husband.

I left TPR in the garden while I took a wander round the village. It took ages for me to find my way back again because I got lost on the golf course.

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Divorce, remarriage, and step-children (Rousse)

TPR was divorcing me. I needed a new husband fast. LA, now known as ‘George’ and a recently-appointed colleague, was the best candidate.

I wondered (a) whether AN would approve when she found out that I had not revealed my connection to LA when we interviewed him for the job, and (b) how I would cope with all my new step-children.

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Belle goes swimming (Rousse)

Belle and I stood at the cliff edge, watching the swimmers battle in the rough waves that crashed into the jagged rocks below.

‘I’m going to do it’ she shouted suddenly, throwing her body forward.

She fell through the air in slow motion, as if buffeted by the wind. I watched in both horror and hope, praying that a gentler landing on the water would save her life.

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Dead mackerel and a dead marriage (Rousse)

On the Sunday, we found dead mackerel strewn across the shoreline outside the hotel. I had hoped that we would spend the day together, but – as usual – TPR had other plans: to watch his friends play volleyball on the beach.

I stomped off to find a place to lounge in my dressing gown, all by myself, miserable for the rest of the day.

That evening TPR couldn’t understand why I would not play happy families in front of his parents.

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Security advice for North Texas airport (Rousse)

I reached the F family’s house first on foot. My frail, elderly father followed by taxi. There we extracted PMF from the chaos of the house rebuild. He’d already missed one flight home to Edinburgh (cost £100), but had just managed to book himself on to the same one as us that evening (additional £300).

As we were going through the security check at the airport, a member of staff leaned over to me to whisper in my ear. ‘Let me give you a tip’ she said. ‘When you next pass through North Texas airport, remember to take your glasses off to place on the security belt’.

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