Having conquered the fear of public speaking and – to some degree – the fear of spiders, one remains above all others: the fear of details. The details are the things that trip me up and leave me wide-eyed at night, tossing and turning as I imagine gaps in my Google Calendar where I know something should be but I cannot remember what.
For the last fortnight or so, I have woken most mornings with the feeling of some kind of small but heavy beast on my chest, resting a rock solid finger tip right on my windpipe. As my synapses jump to action, and my eyes begin to open, this beast leans in to me. I feel its stale breath mingling with mine. It’s wiry head brushes against my cheek, as it puts its lips to my ears. It inhales, then croaks.
“Who will give out the name badges at the TeachMeet?”
I look sideways in panic.
“When will you charge the walkie-talkies when you are on the Poetry Retreat?”
It pokes its spindly finger deeper into my windpipe.
“And you haven’t confirmed the coach booking.”
Its work done, the beast clambers off and I lie there, my beard in my teeth, spent and breathing heavily. I clutch for my iPhone, check the Google Calendar and check the Guardian immediately to be sure that London is not in the grip of a terrorist attack or that we are not involved in nuclear war.
This feeling is never a refreshing way to start the day.