24 hours away from once again taking to the road and driving to Bulgaria – first stop Dusseldorf, then Stuttgart then all points east, as heat and cicadas and distances increase.
In the soon to be deserted house, the dust is settling after they hacked away the plaster from walls still damp from the long undetected silent leak. That was yesterday. The heavy dinosaur drying machines have been taken away. No longer will their indefatigable roar behind closed doors fray nerves and accelerate the electricity meter.
Upstairs the spare bedroom has filled with bags and crates – all to be squeezed into our car once darkness falls – in the hope that our flit will be unobtrusive.
And so the anxiety dreams begin.
It is the interval and I leave Annie in the theatre bar. I have three minutes to stow my bicycle somewhere safe and get back in time for the second act. Picking up the bike from the pavement outside the theatre I wobble across two lanes of traffic and ride up the wrong side of a busy shopping street. The theatre is further and further away. Then I see an estate agents with other bikes parked outside. I spot that they are not locked. This must be a good place to leave my bike. Should I ask permission? Probably, but I have no time. The audience will be filing back to their seats by now and Annie will be wondering where the hell I am. I start back up the pavement. It leads to some stairs. I climb them and my route leads me through an open door. No-one in the flat appears to notice as I pass through living room and kitchen. It must be an established right of way. I go through the back door and climb some more stairs. Suddenly I am in an enormous classroom. There are at least a hundred kids sitting behind desks and I am taking form period. I hover over a tape machine that doesn’t work. I start walking round talking to individuals but when I look up, I find that all the kids are gone. It’s time for me to find my next class. But I have to pick up coat, scarf, books, tape recorder – I drop a towel and stoop to clutch at it with my two spare fingers. Then still struggling with all this stuff in my arms, I am in the busy school corridor looking for my class. I find them sitting crammed onto two tables in the crowded refectory. Surely I don’t have to teach them here. My head of Department is sitting with them with her deputy. Is this an observation? But fat Wendy turns to me. What are you doing here, sir? You haven’t got us now. You’ve got the other lot. Of course! I nod to my head of department, not daring to ask her where I’m supposed to be. Out in the corridor again, I look into classrooms. Lessons have started. Where is my class? The corridor turns into a shopping mall then street. Shops turn to houses and I realise I need to turn back. I’m now in a car with Annie, still looking for this class. What sort of impression am I giving the school? A teacher who doesn’t know who he’s supposed to be teaching; a teacher who cannot locate his class – that teacher must be woefully underprepared.
I wake and struggle downstairs. I switch on the radio. Something about tourists being turned back from Lundy Island by rough seas. I switch on the TV – yet another Labour MP caught out over his expenses. I switch on the computer. It’s set itself to the wrong date and time again and I get a red message from Norton that my subscription has ended and I am defenceless against virus attacks. Ay Caramba!
I try to ring Dad in Verona, but he has gone out with his key. Vlad – who rhymes with Dad – is in Kurdish Iraq – racing back to the Turkish border before his visa expires – so he can pick up another visa for Iran.
I must lighten up.