Last full day of prep for the fair on Saturday.
My stress levels are through the roof and I have that spacey, out-of-body feeling which presages a panic attack.
Quite why I get like this is a mystery.... it's only a fair for dog's sake, and over the past 25 years I must have done hundreds. Perhaps it's bound up with a fear of failure.... turning up with my wares and selling nothing on the day. Perhaps it's that thing of wanting to be seen to do good work and fear of people thinking I'm rubbish.
Either way, I've been having one of my tranche of recurring dreams which doesn't take a psychologist to analyse.
My stress-related dreams always involve 'out of control' situations. I'm desperately trying to get somewhere, or find someone (losing Small Dog is a standard one) or tell someone something really, REALLY important but I'm constantly thwarted.
The past few nights I've been in some of my worst nightmares..... exam hell. Night before last I was sitting the oral part of my French Higher, and the examiner, my French teacher, Mr McNab was talking to me in Serbo-Croat or some similar Slavic language. Panicking, I tried to respond in conversational French but everything spirals out of control and I'm sealed into a language lab cubicle and left to die of suffocation.
Then last night I was sitting O Grade Mathematics, my most despised subject at school, after Chemistry. Back in the day, in Scotland, our equivalent of today's GCSE's were called ' O' Grades, and as well as Maths, there was a separate Arithmetic exam. I wasn't much good at either of them, but I could sort of understand the need for arithmetic.
Up to a point.
That point was reached when faced with problems like....
Train A leaves the station at 6:00 p.m. traveling west at 80 miles per hour, stopping twice at stations en route for 6.5 minutes and 12.8 minutes . On a parallel track ,Train B leaves the station 3 hours later travelling west at 100 miles per hour . At what time will the second train catch up with the first ?
If it takes 3 men 4 hours to dig a hole 2 metres long by 3 metres wide by 1 1/2 metres deep, how long would it take 5 men to dig a hole twice as big with shovels half the size?
No matter how long I look at problems like those, my brain refuses to help and does the equivalent of sitting with its back to me, arms folded, leaving me to wail "WTF!"
Maths was a foreign country and I always had the wrong map and no compass. The only thing I could make a reasonable fist of was geometry. Armed with the relevant formulae I could just about work out the volume of a sphere or the circumference of a circle. But the likes of trigonometry, quadratic equations and calculus may well have been in Klingon for all the sense they made to me.
My stress dreams closely mirror my actual experiences in Maths exams. Sitting in a crowded hall, desks equally spaced. I would always try to get a seat on the perimeter of the room but as would inevitably end up right in the middle, usually flanked by the acknowledged geniuses of the year, grinning smugly and flexing their mathematical muscles.
Watching the clock on the wall at the front of the hall, loudly ticking down the seconds till my doom. The invigilator saying (in creepy slo-mo) "You may now turn over your papers and begin". The rustle of dozens of papers, closely followed by the collective sound of pens moving smoothly across paper.
My hands so sweaty and clammy that I can hardly keep hold of my pen. Taking a deep breath and turning my paper over....
In my dreams it all goes downhill from there on.
Sometimes my pen doesn't work. Even in a dream I know it's not going to end there.
Sometimes I'm pressing so hard on it I rip right through the paper and continue carving down into the desk.
Sometimes all the words and symbols come alive and start forming scary shapes on the page.
Sometimes I feel that something's going to burst out of my chest, like what happened to John Hurt in Alien, but instead I throw up all over the desk and it's full of disgusting, slimy, writhing creatures who then try to get back into my mouth and everyone's screaming......
Honestly, some people will do ANYTHING to get out of sitting a maths exam.
It's at that point, if I'm lucky, that I'll wake up, sit bolt upright, eyes wide, gasping for breath, sweat running down my face, heart hammering in my chest.
Forget namby pamby dreams where all your clothes fall off in the middle of John Lewis, or you're being chased through a swamp of treacle by some unnamed dreadful amalgam of all your worst fears. I'd face the bastard zombie child of Freddie Kruger and Michael Myers (genetically engineered and zombified OBVIOUSLY) anytime rather than relive my worst maths exam nightmares.
So, as well as all the actual day to day stress involved in preparing for a fair, I have the additional joy of wondering what exam-related horrors my tormented brain has in store for me during the night.
Just three more sleeps........ *sigh*