So I am at a music festival, staying in a chintzy Victorian b&b, preparing to play the clarinet in a concert. I have not played the clarinet in a while (btw, in real life *never*), but this doesn't appear to worry me too much. The big problem is that my clarinet has vanished. I can't find it anywhere and hesitate between needing my friends' help and not wanting to confess that the darn thing is missing. And my friends aren't inclined to listen, being too busy singing to each other. Then the clarinet turns up in the laundry basket. I am now bothered by the possibility that on stage it will smell of dirty washing. At last I examine the instrument and try to remember how to finger the notes, but...and we are about to walk on stage to give the concert and... time to wake up, gasping with relief.
I popped something about this onto Facebook. So many people started writing back with their own versions of it that I thought we should go public. There's even a Far Side cartoon version, 'The Elephant's Dream', in which the creature sits at a piano on a stage thinking 'What am I doing here? I'm a flautist!' Why do we suffer performance-anxiety dreams? Does anyone ever have a happy performance dream? Is performing so tied up with terror that the two things can't be separated in our unconscious selves?