By litherlandb, Dec 7 2014 01:30PM
It is a well known fact that for panic to take full effect it has to occur momentarily after you have been lulled into a false sense of security. It was like that for me on that day at the Millennium Dome.
I had taken my group to two zones and by dint of careful management had emerged from each of them intact. Basic rules were followed:
1. ‘Synchronise watches!’
2. ‘Go everywhere with a partner!’
3. ‘Keep within this zone. Do not leave. Do not pass go. Do not etc.’
4. ‘Meet again here in exactly 20 minutes. Do not be late.’
5. ‘I shall be here – right here.’
6. ‘Now go and may God go with you!’
It is amazing how easy it is for a group of children to simply vanish into a crowd. Within seconds they are simply absorbed, drawn into the mass of bodies, gone. It’s like some science fiction film. You feel a surge of panic but you walk round, trying to look interested in the exhibits. You can barely see for the sweat dripping in your eyes. You don’t see one single child during the entire twenty minutes. Then you return to the meeting place….
…and you wait. Then, in a process which mirrors the manner in which the children vanished, the first pair emerges from the crowd as if from a mist. They appear in front of you as if by magic. You don’t even see them coming. Then another pair appear and another and another. Then one single child emerges slowly. One child is missing.
It soon emerges that the one who has drifted away is my own son, Chris. Part of me is anxious but another part is strangely relieved. It could have been so much worse – it could have been someone else’s child. Then he too materialises before us and we move on.
We have time for one more zone before we head for the relative security of the show, the highlight of the afternoon. We’ll meet the rest of the party. We’ll be able to sit down and rest. I may even close my eyes, breathe deeply, use my yoga training.
It was at this moment that a false sense of security overcame me. I should have known better; the worst was yet to come.