IT’S enough to deflate even the stoutest ego. Stood up by two ladies in less than a month.

Seventy-five minutes waiting at the appointed spot in the Clarendon Centre was too much. The last person to keep me waiting so long was my former GP. Even the centre staff began to cast strange glances.

However, I didn’t waste these abandoned minutes. Observation is the name of the game and there’s always lots to see in Oxford. Like the tall man, elegantly dressed in black. Already well over six feet tall, his six-inch plus high-heeled boots allowed him to tower over mere mortals.

Two women, both carrying more avoir du pois than is healthy, mouths watering, shovelling sweets into large bags at the confectionery stall.

The small boy whose wide, brown eyes begged me to persuade his grandma to let him loose on the aforementioned goodies. (I tried, but she was a tough, unrelenting calorie-free cookie.) The 40-ish woman who asked me to encourage her husband to buy a trendy blazer and black-and-white floral Bermuda shorts displayed in the window behind me. There was a chilly note of disapproval when I declined.

“I thought you’d help, seeing you’re wearing that ridiculous Bertie Wooster jacket,” she said.

The cheek of it!

FELLOW Yorkshire exile Terry, whom I’ve known since before Maggie Thatcher strode the land, approached, giving a Tyke’s nod of recognition. I responded with the same.

“How was your bank holiday?” he asked, adding quickly: “I bet it wasn’t so good as it used to be.”

He was harping back to when this holiday was more commonly titled Whitsuntide, when children wore new Sunday clothes and churches paraded their Sunday school pupils the following day singing around the town or village, before returning for a picnic tea, and later heading to the sports field for games.

“It was second only to Christmas,” he said gloomily. I had to agree.

PS. I was not ‘stood up’. My friend works for the not-so-fortunate and an emergency held her up for the entire day. She had tried to make contact, but as my mobile phone occupied its usual spot – switched off and in the car’s glove compartment – her efforts were fruitless.

“Serves you right,” said unsympathetic grandson George, nine.

“Don’t rub it in,” I replied, while knowing he was right.

ON a sad note, three words dominate the book of condolence being compiled in the Town Hall for Val Smith, city councillor and wife of Oxford East MP Andrew Smith. Her funeral was on Tuesday morning. The words are ‘caring’, ‘special’ and ‘lovely’.

Simple words, but I couldn’t have summed it up better to describe this selfless lady.