Entertaining a former fitness model – in a dirty blue and white spotted bikini (Rousse)

JS came to visit us at the new house that we were sharing with TPR’s parents. It was a rather small semi on a housing estate, but all the rooms were perfectly proportioned and we believed that there was possibly enough space in my my parents-in-law’s bedroom to think of adding an en suite shower. I also took some pride in showing JS a recent copy of the Sunday Times Style magazine in which a house just like ours was now a weekly feature.

My parents-in-law offered to take us all out to dinner that evening. Since I had nothing to wear (other than a dirty blue and white spotty bikini) I left JS on the pavement outside the restaurant with my parents-in-law on the other side of the glass window, and set off for the shops.

My shopping expedition was a failure because I forgot to take any money or credit cards with me. However, while I was out, I saw old stills and video of JS modelling for a fitness class. These images on the advertising hoardings came from the era when JS lived in a cool Canadian tower block, and was a regular at its private gym.

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A secretive cold rice pudding home-coming (Rousse)

EH and I returned together from the book group meeting in West Lothian. We hailed a taxi to take us Steventon, then caught a number 11 bus that was en route to Tranent via Edinburgh city centre.

Back at home I ate a whole tin of rice pudding cold, along with a secret glass of left-over white wine.

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Killer whales but no camera on powerboat trip to the islands (Rousse)

I boarded the ferry dressed only in a thin sheet, having been forced to leave all my belongings – including my clothes and glasses – with our hosts at the the shoreline.

The ride across the inlet was short and speedy – and by powerboat so much more exciting than the usual Calmac ferry. A school of killer whales accompanied the vessel, much to my pleasure and that of my mother and two sisters.

Our destination, however, was a great disappointment. The house was partially demolished, it looked like we would be sharing with strangers, and the only entertainment appeared to be some shabby old board games (but even these looked hopeless since the contents of their boxes were incomplete).

When we ventured further to explore the countryside by car I was further annoyed because I could not appreciate it without my glasses, nor could I photograph the snowy mountain peaks because both my camera and iPhone had been confiscated at the start of our journey.

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Life in a back-brace (Rousse)

For years we had been shouting at our nephew to get down from the trees, cliffs, bridges, statues, monuments and other structures that he climbed.

This time he fell and met his comeuppance. As a consequence he was obliged to live in a back-brace for months.

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Drinking to dull job demands (Rousse)

Usually incredibly cool and unruffled, DM was behaving very strangely. She’d clearly been knocking back the drink, and now called on EH to speak to her ‘outside’.

The rest of us concluded that her demanding job had finally got to her.

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Why Belle woke up tired

I had invented deep-fried cauliflower cheese balls. I couldn’t wait to eat them for lunch, but it had been a massive mistake wrapping them in a sheepskin rug to take them into the office.


Walking through a leafy square, I thought I spotted a pile of £10 notes. As I got closer, eager to pick them up, I realised they were actually playing cards. I had to pretend to be tidying them up and “helping” the homeless people to whom they belonged.


A blonde tourist with a wheeled suitcase approached me asking for help in finding his hotel. Instead, I mocked him for being Austrian and then was rude to SON, a former boss who happened to be walking past.


My new tattoo was a tale of two halves. The bracelet element was pretty – pink and flowery. But CF picked up a red pen and started to proofread and correct my new “work” hand tattoo. It was meant to celebrate books and publishing, but was full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.


I sat next to Blake Lively on a plane. She had a brand-new baby. We got on very well, until I made the mistake of serving her a chopped-up baked potato without first removing the “carcinogenic black spots” on the skin.

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Fish, filo pastry, and a secret kiss (Rousse)

TPR burst into tears when I asked why he was serving fish in filo pastry for breakfast.

He wouldn’t be pleased to hear that I had very much enjoyed a brief Christmas kiss with RB. However, unless this leaked out as office gossip, he would never need to know.

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