An unprofessional conference chair (Rousse)

The keynote speaker – Professor EG from Berlin – was so excited to see me that she stretched out her hand and brushed my arm. I recoiled in horror. How could she be unaware that we were still social distancing in the UK?

On the hour, every hour, one set of tweeded academics traded places with another as delegates made their way in and out of classrooms that served as conference halls. I considered missing the last session of the afternoon, but decided that I should put in an appearance. I plonked myself in a seat next to my old running chum EJ and waited for the chair to introduce the speaker. Then I checked the duration of the session and thought it a good idea to pop to the ladies before the start.

When I returned I could tell that I was in trouble. I had completely forgotten that this was the session that I was meant to be chairing. Everyone else was waiting for me to call the room to order and introduce the first speaker.

An officious German woman was particularly peeved at my lack of professionalism. I was just grateful that she had worked out all the timings so that I could concentrate on reading the bios of the speakers that I now (suddenly) found myself required to introduce.

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Scotland’s top pandemic super-spreader takes to capital city’s streets (Rousse)

SL was a COVID19 super-spreader. She reached out to hug everyone that we met as we wandered the quiet lockdown streets of Edinburgh.

Over the course of our walk, SL told me that the acclaimed artist MO was working with RL on an exhibit at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC). I was delighted to boast of my connection to MO. I astonished SL by telling here that MO and I were friends in France in the early 1980s when working as au pairs in Paris.

‘You could tell her that you’ve seen my patchwork quilt’ I said. ‘She’ll definitely remember that’.

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Through the bedroom window – with dead pigeons (Rousse)

I was already distraught when I opened the bedroom shutters to find three live pigeons trapped between the wood and the window.

I was beyond consolation when I saw through the glass that the back garden was completely overgrown.

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Adrian Chiles still sensitive over divorce from Jane Garvey (Rousse)

When interviewing Adrian Chiles, I thought it only polite to admit that I used to know his ex-wife Jane Garvey. His face crumpled at the mention of her name.

Who would have guessed that the jolly television presenter would still be carrying regret over his decade-old divorce?

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A useless passport (Rousse)

I opened the cover of my passport to find that all the significant pages had been ripped out. I wouldn’t be going anywhere soon – not even to Europe.

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From swimming with killer whales to selling Christmas tat on eBay (Rousse)

My sister S was very busy.

First she changed into her red bathing costume and jumped into the sea for a swim. I was grateful that the school of killer whales did not pay her any attention.

Next she was selling shoddy wooden Christmas ornaments on eBay from her bedroom in our childhood home.

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Kiell Smith-Bynoe is the star of Ghosts (Rousse)

When I turned round I found Kiell Smith-Bynoe standing behind me.

‘Oh, hello’, I said, “I recognise you as an actor from Ghosts‘.

‘Not quite’, he corrected me, ‘I think that you mean the star of Ghosts.’

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Suicidal coach survival (Rousse)

TPR and I were disappointed that two other passengers had bagged the best seats next to the coach driver. Sulkily, we sat down in the second row behind them.

Twenty minutes later the driver veered off the road, rumbled the vehicle across a field of sheep, and smashed head-first into a wall. We were left unscathed by his suicide. The passengers next to him were not.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson lies about fish (Rousse)

Boris Johnston stuck his hand into the drawer of random cutlery and pulled out a flat four inch fish-shaped piece of steel.

‘Excellent, a Tudor fish knife!’ he declared.

He was, of course, wrong. The metal might  have been fashioned into the form of a fish, but the work had been almost certainly done by a machine in twenty-first century China. Added to this, the fish was only decorative, with no practical function.

This was just another of the Prime Minister’s lies.

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A Hebridean Princess (Rousse)

A famous dramatist was staying at the guest house on the Isle of Lewis and – it was rumoured – he was about to cast the lead role for his latest play: a princess with long golden hair.

Around my neck I strung the pearl necklace that I retrieved from the back of the sofa, then a ran a comb through my tresses, and waited for the call.

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