Although I think I take a fairly relaxed, even laid-back, approach to my job - and my editors could elaborate on that point - I have, perhaps once or twice a year, a recurring work-anxiety dream. The details vary, but the broad shape is always the same.
Last night, I dreamt that I was late for a committee meeting because I had had to go to the toilet, which was several floors below. On entering the committee room, I saw with horror that the meeting had already opened. I walked across the room as briskly as the requirements of professionalism would allow, the clerk glaring at me to sit down. The convener was still labouring through his prepared preamble, which I knew I could get a copy of from the clerk later, so I guessed that I hadn't missed anything vital.
How wrong I was. I had clearly missed the convener telling the members that, as the microphones weren't working, they should simply shout, which they started to do as soon as I took my seat - before I had even taken the lid off my pen, for heaven's sake!
I began to scribble down as much of what they were shouting as possible, fretting that I would miss something and that it would be lost to history forever because there would be no recording to back me up. It was difficult to start with, because they were speaking very quickly and it was terribly hard not to let my writing become just a long string of useless loops, but it became impossible when they all started speaking at once, some loudly, some quietly, some clearly and some in an almost incomprehensible mutter. Who was this muttering person beside me, anyway? I didn't recognise him. Could he be a new member? Had I not noticed him come in at the last election? As a matter of fact, who was the convener? Who were the people sitting across from me? I didn't recognise any of these people at all.
And that's with only 129 members in the Parliament. Westminster has 659. How on earth do they cope?