Dead mackerel and a dead marriage (Rousse)

On the Sunday, we found dead mackerel strewn across the shoreline outside the hotel. I had hoped that we would spend the day together, but – as usual – TPR had other plans: to watch his friends play volleyball on the beach.

I stomped off to find a place to lounge in my dressing gown, all by myself, miserable for the rest of the day.

That evening TPR couldn’t understand why I would not play happy families in front of his parents.

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Security advice for North Texas airport (Rousse)

I reached the F family’s house first on foot. My frail, elderly father followed by taxi. There we extracted PMF from the chaos of the house rebuild. He’d already missed one flight home to Edinburgh (cost £100), but had just managed to book himself on to the same one as us that evening (additional £300).

As we were going through the security check at the airport, a member of staff leaned over to me to whisper in my ear. ‘Let me give you a tip’ she said. ‘When you next pass through North Texas airport, remember to take your glasses off to place on the security belt’.

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Salman Rushdie goes back into hiding (Rousse)

Salman Rushdie was in hiding again, this time in our basement flat in Edinburgh.

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A mortgage and husband-free Fringe performer (Rousse)

When I spotted academic J at the bus stop, I took the opportunity of checking the rumours that she had left her husband and moved into a flat of her own. She confirmed this, adding that she was almost free of her mortgage (just £68 to go), that she had a new boyfriend called Richard, and that the pair of them were performing at the Edinburgh Fringe.

I was very tempted to deface a poster for their show that was affixed to a telephone box just along the road. I resisted, but only because I was still in sight of the proud performer.

After I saw J onto her bus, I witnessed an argument between a thug and a pale, bent-over man called Richard. Could this small, albino afflicted by kyphosis be J’s lover? Indeed it was.

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Metal fence decapitation (Rousse)

The yellow tandem flew through the air, threw off its passengers, and landed at the other side of the metal fence. TPR’s body fell to one side – and his head to the other, cleanly decapitated by the fence-wire.

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Finals fear (Rousse)

Two years later than expected – due to treatment for breast cancer – I was due to take my finals. However, I had not read the set texts, did not know the exam time or venue, the paper format was a mystery to me, and I had no idea of the material to revise.

Someone suggested that I ask a PhD student to help me. Everyone else thought this a stupid idea.

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Rousse is leading lady

I played the lead role in a new movie about a female swindler. It would have helped had the director provided a script for my part. I just made up my lines as I went along.

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Bi-plane on the Meadows, Edinburgh (Rousse)

MW told me that she had a vehicle that would get across Edinburgh at top speed: a bi-plane. I jumped aboard for a terrifying low-level flight between the cherry trees on Jawbone Walk.

On landing at the foot of Middle Meadow Walk, MW introduced me first to her grandparents, then to her father John. The latter requested that I call him ‘Daddy’ – just like everybody else.

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Ian Rankin lends a hand to highland housewarming party (Rousse)

Ian Rankin was amongst the guests invited by JS to view her new highland holiday home. In the vast sitting room he showed me a collection of cheap, mass produced porcelain deer figurines. He explained that these ornaments were very popular with the tourists who rent this type of cottage.

Next I sat on the sofa between two academics, the pair evidently from the University of Edinburgh. They rudely talked over me, making no effort at all to bring me into the conversation, even though I was just as qualified as they were to give an opinion on the red mohair cardigan under discussion. Indeed, since the woman wearing it was the same size and colouring as me, I was an ideal person to answer the key question: should a redhead wear red?

Feeling unwelcome, I sloped home to return to my work.

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Stirling to Edinburgh train services slashed (Rousse)

I met ECM at Waverley station. From there we caught the train to a destination that ECM had been desperate to visit for decades.

Unfortunately Stirling was a great disappointment, so after a quick look at the dowdy main street, we turned around and returned to the railway station to catch the next train back to Edinburgh.

‘That will be £2700, and the next train is in 32 hours’ said the woman at the other side of the counter when we came to pay for our return tickets.

We had heard on the news all about inflation and limited rail services due to train strikes, but this was unbelievable. We could at least challenge the cost and ask if there was a cheaper way to travel to Scotland’s capital city.

The counter assistant rifled through a file of old orange card tickets and pulled out two.

‘This one is an unused ticket that somebody returned to us. That will do for one of you. This other one is a child’s ticket, but I’ll just rub out the word ‘pupil’ pencilled on the back, and that should do as your second one. You can have them free of charge.’

Now all we had to do was find a decent hotel to use as our waiting room until the arrival of the next train south.

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