Princes Harry and William at the ice pageant (Belle)

Travelling up the escalator to the sixth-floor office, I saw a gaping hole at the top and Mr L (my school history teacher) fell down. Fortunately, he swung himself back to safety like a gibbon. But I was fuming about the hazard and confronted my colleagues. My boss explained that someone I was at school with had damaged it playing “alcohol basketball”.

I stormed off to create a diversion. But when I arrived on the ground floor, there was a British-American ice pageant going on. I squeezed between two American women and sat in a red velvet seat. First, British and American ice athletes played badminton and ping pong and I feigned enthusiasm.

Then someone started playing a religious Christmas carol on a silver trumpet and I said, rather too loudly,  “Oh, God. They’re not going to shove Jesus down our throats now, are they?”  Immediately I realised how offensive something like this would be to the Americans so I muttered “….or any other religion” and hoped they’d forgive me.  Then two royal-prince lookalikes entered the ice and the Americans got excited. “Is that Harry? Is that William?” one of them asked me. “No, it’s someone playing them”, I said, pointing to the seats opposite. “The real Harry is over there”.  The Colonel sitting in front of me turned around and told me to shut up.

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Celebrity adultery and art work destruction (Belle)

My new corporate job involved working with a team that was scanning great works of art. The technology they were using destroyed the art works during the scanning process. When I told them it was perfectly possible to scan art and keep it safe, they became violent.

Later I organised an Excel spreadsheet training course. I had designed an exercise which involved analysing the specific dates on which celebrities had cheated on their spouses.

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Ae fond kiss and then we sever – with Graeme Souness (Rousse)

Graeme Souness took me aside and whispered that he felt that English soccer could do more to identify young local talent rather than look abroad to develop their teams. For example, he argued, there must be dozens of young men, with my surname, in the north of England, who were worthy of a position at Newcastle United.

Then, brushing away a reporter who was trying to shove a microphone in his face, Souness led me to a quiet corner of the room and planted a sweet kiss on my lips. Cool, I thought, I’ve scored!

When we turned around again to face everyone, Souness pushed his through the crowded room holding my hand. I concluded that we were now heading off for a romantic get-away.

I was sorely disappointed when Mrs Souness appeared out of nowhere to manage to the situation, and leave me single once again.

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Drag queens of the resistance movement (Belle)

On a night out in town, I was picked up by a posse of resistance fighting drag queens. We returned to their tower block headquarters near the Barbican. As we entered the lobby, a man carrying army supplies came running down the stairs. Tripping before he reached the bottom, he face-planted and lay still. He was obviously a deserter and I knew that, by not reporting him to the authorities, I was now on the wrong side of the law.

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An afternoon with Killing Eve star Sandra Oh (Rousse)

I met my book group pals in Edinburgh’s Dean Village. MH instructed us to follow the steep overgrown path down to the Water of Leith. I willingly obeyed, unaware that the path was, in fact, a tight tunnel. Half way along, when my claustrophobia kicked in, and with all the others lined up tightly behind me, it was impossible for me to turn back.

I was extremely relieved when the tunnel widened into a bright BBC canteen. MH then revealed her surprise. Each member of the book group was to be paired with a member of the cast of Killing Eve for a private interview.

I couldn’t believe my luck when Sandra Oh was announced as my partner. She was super-friendly (breaking all social distancing rules). I was delighted to spend the rest of the day chatting to her on an orange sofa.

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Errant husband proves sex diet builds muscles and attracts women (Rousse)

A sly grin spread across TPR’s face. Keen to learn the source of his amusement, I leant over the kitchen table and snatched the iPad from his hands. My heart sank when I saw the x-rated message on the screen. There was no denying it: my husband was having an affair with a woman called Theresa.

Now outed, TPR felt duty-bound to confess to all his misdemeanours. These stretched back over several years. While I had been chained to my computer in the study, I had no idea that he’d been visiting a string of women under the cover of ‘going for a bike ride/run’.

The secret of his success with the ladies, he claimed, was his ripped body and strict adherence to the ‘sex diet’.

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A happy heiress and Nottingham University fraud (Rousse)

My greatest delight in inheriting my maternal grandmother’s house was that I now owned a proper pantry. The battered and beautifully engraved silver napkin rings left in a kitchen drawer also fascinated me. Which of my ancestors was born (or possibly christened?) on 1st September 1939? I was even happier still when I calculated the number of people we could accommodate in own new house. Our post-lockdown/house-warming party would be the best ever. Then there was the massive garden to enjoy…

At the back of my mind, however, I still had to sort out my work. The move to England meant that I needed to find a new job. The University of Nottingham was my obvious new employer.

I wandered around campus looking for the careers service. En route I stopped inside the medical school to admire the old fashioned seating into which the name of each undergraduate was carved.

Next to me, a blonde woman struck up a conversation about university research policy, with frequent reference to an unfamiliar acronym. When I eventually confessed my ignorance of this term, I soon knew that I would never get a job at an English university. Pleading that ‘We don’t have that in Scotland’ made no difference whatsoever. This woman was the VP of Research and – in her eyes – I was a complete fraud.

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A peg-legged threesome (Rousse)

I got a lot out of my marriage, not least because my husband’s almost identical brother was part of the deal. We didn’t know his name, nor whether he was younger or older than TPR, but he was always there when we needed him. He was so much fun that Belle enjoyed filming his antics on her old fashioned video recorder.

One day someone asked me which of the two men was my husband. I confidently pointed at one of the brothers only to be told by the other that I was wrong.

Then my ‘true’ husband dropped his trousers to show me something else that I had never seen before: his fully detachable wooden leg.

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A foul-mouthed husband in a frilly shirt (Rousse)

It was Sunday and TPR was in a terrible mood. From my corner of the garden I could hear him swearing as he dug deeper and deeper into the hard ground to prepare a spot for repositioning the pond. From its depth of over 6 feet and its tight circumference, however, I feared that the purpose of this new hole was to bury the pond shell, rather than create a pretty garden feature.

My husband was further annoyed when four little girls rushed through a gate in our garden wall, then scampered across our lawn and disappeared behind a white door that led into a courtyard of New Town mews buildings. How could we have lived here for almost 30 years without the knowledge that our neighbours had a right of access over our property?

The following Friday I turned up very late for the regular lunchtime network meeting at our New Town club. Such was my delay that TPR was coming down the glass stairs on his way out when I arrived (by taxi, with a man who paid the fare, and expected something in return). When I called up to TPR, he openly criticised my ‘banshee shriek’. In return, I felt like making fun of his frilly white 1970s dress shirt, but then I thought better of it.

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Style on a 600 calories a day diet (Rousse)

My sister J now looked long, lean and extremely stylish. Her secret was to live on 600 calories a day. Unfortunately this also made her rather bad-tempered.

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