From Turkey to Teesside by taxi (Rousse)

Although my paper had been refereed and accepted, by the time that I registered at the Turkish conference it had disappeared from the programme. I hung around the venue all morning looking for someone to tell me if I was meant to give a presentation and – if so – where. When it became clear that I would not be needed I decided to cut my losses and head home. I didn’t have far go because this year’s Turkish conference was held in Glasgow.

I left at the same time as two tall, slim, short-haired dark female employees of the Scottish Government. They were known as as the ‘Russian twins’ on the grounds that (a) they looked alike and (b) one was Romanian and the other Bulgarian.

As we headed up Buchanan Street en route to the station my new companions invited me to join them on a couple of shopping errands. I agreed to accompany them, so long as the itinerary included a browse around Lakeland Plastics.

I asked my new friends why they had abandoned the conference. They confided that this was a perk of every job in the Scottish civil service. So long as you made an appearance at the start of any event at which you were registered, you were entitled to bunk off for the rest of the day. My contribution to the conversation was that I hoped one day to win free medical treatment in a foreign country as a reward for my frequent work trips abroad.

When we reached Queen Street station we found alternative transport back home. There CM offered us space in a black cab that he had chartered to carry props for his latest advertising campaign. A lift was ours – so long as we didn’t mind being squeezing in beside dog agility equipment. CM’s assistant added that we also had to agree not to ‘card swipe’ any expenses, i.e. make an illegitimate expenses claim. As if I would do such a thing! I explained to her how I don’t even wait on a single yellow lines.

The trip home was quick and easy – even though we ended up in Stockton-on-Tees. To make the drop off easy I suggested that the taxi stop at Elmwood, equidistant from the White House, Hartburn Village, and RL’s house.

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