I was in the habit of commuting by train to the headquarters of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in London. There I worked in the basement on an unending series of grant applications.
From time to time I would take a break and climb to the top floor of the building. There I would frighten myself by peering down the immense stairwell, imagining the bloody outcome should I fall and crash into the white tiles below.
One day I received an email from someone who signed off with the pseudonym ‘Jo Jo’. I actually knew the identity of the person behind the message that accused me of randomly pestering others for favours, expecting them to be granted on account of my ingratiating ‘shiny, happy, person’ act. Behind the poison pen was Penelope Wrightman of Aberystwyth University. I decided to take a walk outside to reflect on these insults, and the way in which I would respond to them.
In the distance I heard the sounds of a protest. Several men broke away from the march along the main road to accost individuals in the park where I was considering my email options. The man who ran towards me wore green and orange shorts and T shirt, and was shouting slogans from the 1984/5 miners’ strike. I feared for my safety and ran away.
Then a beautiful young woman approached me and asked whether I was from Ayr. I had a feeling that Jo Jo had sent her to spy on me. I responded by telling her that she was a very rude young lady who should not insult her elders with such impudent questions. When she burst into tears I apologised for my loss of temper – but it was too late.
I now realised that I had lost my grip on reality, regularly removing myself from my family each day to write pointless documents. I would phone TPR and tell him that I was coming home for good.
It took some time for me to dial the house number. First of all I tried to do so on a defunct Nokia mobile before I remembered that I owned an iPhone. Happily, within minutes of making my call TPR, my mother, and my not-so-little sister arrived in the Volvo to transport me home.