I have had this nightmare more times than I care to remember. This is how it starts: I am about to give a lecture. I stand up in front of a packed lecture theatre. And then it all starts to unravel...
Last week the nightmare came true: 120 undergraduates sit in serried ranks above me. Eyes fixed, expectant. I open my powerpoint presentation...
Oh. Holy. Jesus. Instead of 25 images by women artists 1870-1900, each slide contained nothing but a cryptic message: a ransom note for my kidnapped pictures. The price for their safe return? 'A decompressor is required to view this image'.
Gah! But I don't speak computer! A decompressor? Is that even a thing?
Now I am faced with a dilemma: attempt to maintain the flimsy veil of infallibility? Or reveal my abject incompetence and focus on damage limitation? What would Shami Chakrabarti do?*
After a couple of
But here's the weird bit: all this time my brain is going, 'Why am I not panicking? I should be panicking. This is an extremely panic-inducing situation. But I'm not panicking! Why?'
Why? Well because actually, it really wasn't that bad and no one had died, I suppose. I told the students to talk amongst themselves, jumped on Google Images and managed to find not all but most of the images I needed - or at least something close enough - and started 13 minutes late.
That's it. Fin.
I know: quel anticlimax?
And the moral of this story? Maybe that the nightmare scenario isn't necessarily that bad after all. And also: maybe I should stop letting the fear of the nightmare scenario stop me doing all that stuff that seems impossible, but in reality is no biggie. At ALL.
So come on people - get out there and live your nightmares!
The actress Ellen Terry photographed by Julia Margaret Cameron - one of the images I DID manage to find in time. She took this in 1864. Astonishing.
*Shami Chakrabarti is my definition of the clever, confident, principled modern woman. Am I right, Mrs H?