Boris Johnson Coronavirus date (Rousse)

Boris Johnson broke all the rules when he walked into the bar and plonked his bulky body down onto the seat right next to me.

‘I hope you’re still up for our date in Pitlochry tonight?’ he croaked through his fever.

‘No way!’ I cried, ‘Get away from us all – NOW!’

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Manchester venue sought, good acoustics essential (Rousse)

There was very little that could be salvaged from the manuscript after the reviewers savaged it, so I gave up on the job and instead responded to EH’s pleas for help.

Just pregnant with her third child, EH was dealing with two crises: (1) coping with the outrageous demands of a newly-appointed member of staff and (2) finding a venue with good acoustics for a one-day conference in Manchester.

I climbed into the open ‘boat car’ and drove down the M6 with EH and DG. However, I regretted my decision as soon as I realised that this trip would involve an overnight stay. How would I ever get back to Edinburgh in time to attend the following day’s poster presentations by my immediate colleagues?

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A failed rail journey to Northfield (Rousse)

The young woman and I left the Chil gig and walked to the small railway station.

Our journey home should have been straightforward, but we missed one train because we weren’t paying attention to the platform announcements, another because we didn’t realise that trains to Oxford and to Small Heath stopped at our destination, and a fourth because we couldn’t find platform M.

Then we stuck up a conversation with a young engineer who was lingering by the train commandeered by the BBC as a media centre. We were now completely distracted and unlikely ever to return to Northfield.

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Scottish Highland secret 1920s house and garden (Rousse)

The huge house in the Scottish Highlands was hidden under fifty years growth of vegetation. To anyone passing it was just an ancient ruin invaded by rampant weeds.

But I had a feeling that I had been here before. Wasn’t there a beautiful Chinese water garden here, brimming with waterlilies and rare fish? What about the house itself and all those interesting artefacts collected by its former owner?

When I pushed at a loose stone in the mossy wall, it crumbled to the ground. The next stone along also disintegrated with a small shove. Before long, I had cleared so much of the wall that I could see one of the ancient ponds, and it was teeming with koi carp.

Beyond the ponds I noticed a door that was built into an intact side of the old building. I negotiated my way across several linked pools to reach it. On the inside, everything in the house was in a good state of repair. From the layout of the rooms and their contents, I remembered that this was the home of a famous scientist, and that it had been open to the public in the 1970s.

Then, on a back stair, I came face to face with a woman in modest 1920s dress. This was the housekeeper, just one of several staff who still lived here in secret. I swore that I would never reveal anything about my visit, nor those who kept the supposedly abandoned house.

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John Cleese distraction (Rousse)

My latest excuse for my late manuscript was that John Cleese had booked into the George Hotel, Edinburgh to write his autobiography. How could I keep up my typing when he was in such close proximity?

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Sham marriage shocker (Rousse)

It was my wedding day, but ‘my’ groom and best man were not yet fully prepared.

‘I need a photo of you for my wallet’ I nagged my husband-to-be. All he could come up with was a black and white head and shoulders portrait from the 1970s, torn from an old-fashioned photo album.

He also failed to deliver when I tested him on my vital statistics.

‘If you don’t up your game, the authorities will see straight through this sham marriage’, I complained. ‘I can only help so long as the pair of you are also prepared to put in an effort’.

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Even friendly dolphins don’t pay the rent (Belle)

I was standing on the bay-side balcony with [former colleague] BP. In the bay I spotted a dolphin waving at me. Then I saw a black and white whale. Then I saw a humpback whale. I was thrilled at the sight, and pretended to still be when I later discovered that all my colleagues had been given cash, but I had been given the ‘whale experience’.  How was I going to pay my rent?

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