The pretend polyglot (Belle)

I met a man at a party who claimed he spoke ‘many languages’. When I asked for an example, he said “Modern Hieroglyphics”.

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Hotel cutlery ‘extras’ (Rousse)

‘Are you insured?’ asked the hotel manager.

TPR looked up from his plate of parma ham and Hollandaise sauce. Why did she need to know this?

‘It’s just that we noticed on the CCTV from last night’s dinner service that you use your knife and fork with a great deal of force. This probably explains that damage to our crockery over the duration of your stay with us.’

It sounded like an ‘extra’ was about to be added to our hotel bill.

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Hotel house Womble greets guests (Rousse)

As the two-foot tall house Womble wandered the hotel corridors, he hailed every guest with a handshake and the cheery greeting: ‘Remember you’re a Womble!’

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Mother and daughter Cosmopolitan cover girls (Rousse)

Hidden in the pile of ancient copies of Cosmopolitan were three issues of particular interest. My mother – aged about 35 – featured as the magazine’s cover girl on two of them, and my sister S on the third. They both looked fabulous, but I had some questions:

  1. How had this come about?
  2. Why had I never known about this?
  3. What kind of magic went into the makeovers to transform my nearest and dearest into beauty queens?

My third question was answered by a photographer: clever lighting and camera angles.

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SWAT team descends on market in terrorist hunt (Rousse)

I could easily take the safe route home past the university, alongside the privileged students. So why did I periodically abandon all caution to walk through the rough market, squeezing my way along the narrow streets in a crush of the poor and marginalised?

Not so that I could be gunned down by a SWAT team hunting down terrorists, as turned out to be the case on this occasion.

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A swing, a helicopter, and a sauna (Rousse)

Even I was doubting the sense of my latest charity shop purchase: a plastic orange children’s swing set, just about the right size for a Barbie doll. The others at AH-S and CH-S’s vast house looked at me with pity when I showed it to them. CH-S offered a way out of the conversation by suggesting that we explore the garden.

First we walked past a large, yellow AA branded building with a helicopter parked outside. ‘We keep this on stand-by in case I get lost’ explained CH-S.

Then, as we walked to the main accommodation building, I noticed smoke coming up through the lawn. ‘Don’t worry’ said our hostess, ‘That’s just our underground sauna’.

Afterwards I looked after EH’s baby while she attended a work meeting in room C44 on campus.

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Drugs and Richard Dunbar (Rousse)

A small red-headed man walked into my bed and breakfast room and pushed aside all the work that I had laid out on the desk. Who was he? How dare he? Thank goodness I had already ditched the drugs sewn into the seam of the duvet cover.

On the breast of his white, neatly-pressed, short-sleeved shirt, I noticed that the man was sporting a small metal badge that displayed the name Richard.

‘Are you Richard Dunbar?’ I asked.

‘No’, he answered ‘But I do enjoy hearing his financial reports on Radio 4 Today.’

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David Bowie imposter financial scam (Rousse)

I couldn’t believe my luck when David Bowie befriended me on holiday. We sat at a picnic table in the sunshine to leaf through his sketchbook while discussing his musical influences. He was so caring that he even arranged for the secure storage of my bank and credit cards with his fortune in the personal safe in his hotel suite.

On my last day, I knew that I would miss my booked train at 12:30 if I lingered too long in Bowie’s company. However, I wanted to enjoy every possible last minute with my famous companion, so I rang TPR to tell him that I would return home later. In any case, I needed to retrieve my cards from the safe.

When I asked Bowie’s PA to fetch my belongings, he laughed in my face. My cards had been sold onto criminals who, in all probability, had already emptied every account.

How had I not realised that my ‘Bowie’ was a fake? How had I forgotten that David Bowie died in January 2016? How would I get home?

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Silver body graffiti (Rousse)

I soon worked out that TPR had been up to no good on New Year’s Eve – thanks to the messages in silver body ink that his new lover had penned across his impressive torso.

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Wonders of the Walkman (Rousse)

I reminded myself of the wonders of the Walkman when I borrowed a white one to relive the excitement of my first encounter with personal audio technology in the early 1980s – notably the weight of the device and the hiss of C90 tapes.

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