Living a dream - but not a good one
I am sitting at a desk in a hall taking a three hour exam, with over an hour to go. I glance up at the clock and realise to my horror that I have misjudged the time and there are only 10 minutes left. Then I wake up in a cold sweat.
I always had intense anxiety dreams like that before exams, and I still have similar ones occasionally before important events in my life. Sometimes it involves being late, or saying the wrong thing, or wearing inappropriate (or no) clothes.
Last week I lived through a real-life version of one of those nightmares.
We flew out from Gatwick on Friday evening to stay with my son and his wife in Northern Ireland, to attend the funeral of her father. I was keen not to disrupt their time together nor to intrude on the arrangements that my son was making for the funeral, which was planned for 12noon on Saturday. We were due to arrive in Belfast International at 10.30pm - this is an hour's drive from their home.
The plane backed off the stand at Gatwick, then stopped. There was a technical fault, it seems. The onboard computer was showing that the plane was in the air while it was still on the ground. It needed to be reset. (It must have been running on Windows).
The plane was towed to a remote corner of the airport, the engineers arrived, kicked the system and tried to replicate the fault, but couldn't. Finally they just started up again and apparently everything was OK. (I had a computer like that once).
Eventually we took off two hours late and we arrived at 12.30am.
But our luggage didn't.
The phrase is 'dawning realisation' - that's what we experienced when we found we were the only people left in the baggage reclaim hall and the carousel had stopped.
As my husband wanted to take a suit we had decided to check in one case, and to put everything in it - clothes for the funeral and remaining days of our stay, shoes, toiletries and phone chargers. All was now missing.
It took nearly an hour for staff to arrive, then check that the case hadn't fallen off a trolley and to do the paperwork, so we finally got to bed at 2.30am. It would have been ironic if I had experienced another anxiety dream that night (no clothes at a funeral) but I didn't get much sleep at all.
So the next day we had a problem. We only had the clothes we had arrived in - trainers and combats - and we had just one hour to buy enough for at least two days, including shoes. No M&S, no Primark, so we headed for a major fashion outlet - Asda. I've not exactly got a standard figure so I wasn't holding out much hope of finding a suitable dress, but I did. Ian found a jacket, trousers, shirts and a tie. We both bought underwear and shoes, plus tops and trousers, and some basic toiletries.
Then back to change and on to a packed service of farewell to our friend Prof. Robert McBride, held in a beautiful location overlooking the sea. It did put our little problem into some sort of perspective.