SHE tut-tutted, sighed softly, tut-tutted once more before rounding off with a sigh so loud and long that I feared she was about to meet her Maker. But this small, neatly dressed late middle-aged woman was about to unburden herself – and who am I to deny a lady?

“Anything wrong?” I inquired.

“That is!” she exclaimed, pointing to a small notice on the passenger shelter at the Pear Tree park-and-ride terminus. Adjusting my new varifocals I read that the city council was planning to introduce 24-hour charges later this month. No longer will parking be free from 6.30pm until dawn.

“They” – she meant the city fathers and mothers – “are a load of money grabbers. We get few concessions and free evening parking is one of the few. It’s disgusting!”

I asked if she regularly used the park and ride of an evening. She fell silent, pursing her trembling lips and shaking her head ever so slightly. I waited for a reply – it seemed ages to emerge.

“I don’t – but I might,” she said hesitantly, trying to retain dignity.

Out of nowhere a dapper chap of about the same age as our disgruntled woman piped up, identifying himself as her husband – and chauffeur. “You never drive; you haven’t for years and getting you out of the house once the damned soaps start is impossible,” he said.

Silence followed, broken only by a muffled snigger from a teenager who had removed her MP3 earpiece to listen.

YOU expect mysterious letters and messages from some sources, but not our ever-reliable British Telecom.

Well, that’s what I believed.

This week an undated letter arrived, signed by the sales and services managing director Libby Barr, sending me a PIN number which she said I had requested. But I hadn’t.

The number, which I was told should not be given to anyone else, was needed to set up the service – which, again, I hadn’t sought.

The following sentence was the final straw for this bale of confusion: ‘Don’t worry if it wasn’t you who asked for this PIN – no one else can access your secure services without it.’ I tried to speak to someone. All I got was a delay of 43 minutes during which I endured numerous recorded instructions from everywhere but Ms Barr’s empire. In the end I admitted defeat, none the wiser. Perhaps she’ll write again.

TUESDAY was freezing, as were the fingers of guitarist/song writer/busker Sylva Kay from Eynsham as she did her best to cheer up Cornmarket Street shoppers and visitors. Most appeared to keep their hands – and cash – in their pockets. But it didn’t stop our young artiste from serving up some delightful music. It brightened my day. Thank you, Sylva.