The venue for my talk was a vast lecture hall that held hundreds, and it was packed. From my spot on stage I recognised many faces from from the information world in the audience. Amongst them were groups of students who passed from row to row like shoals of fish swimming through the shallows.
JR, of the University of Birmingham’s library service, was meant to introduce me. Dressed in yellow and brown, she looked like an overgrown Brownie. Before me, however, SW was meant to have a few words. This was taking an age, and the longer I stood there, the more nervous I became, despite my recent media training.
Then my sister J appeared next to me on stage and started talking, unaware that she was breaking protocol. This was very embarrassing and I was so relieved when the man in charge announced that there would now be a procession from the stage into the audience.
It was only when we had stepped down from the stage that I realised that I was not meant to follow everyone else. I turned to retrace my steps. This was going to be very difficult. The way back to the stage now took the form of an elaborate carved rock-face. I really did not have the strength or the dexterity to scale it, and was not happy at the prospect of ‘helpful’ people pushing me upwards from behind.