IT was one of those moments when you stand transfixed, and wonder whether, at a cruelly young age, you might just be losing your mind.
It happened early last Saturday lunchtime, on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh.
I had been following the Queen's Baton procession, notebook, pen and tape recorder in sweaty hand, taking in the sunny atmosphere, talking to baton bearers. After a brief stopover at The Hub, the baton disappeared into the castle, finally re-emerging in the hands of Lorraine Kelly.
Loading article content
She made her way down the Mile for a minute, holding the baton aloft. Handing it over to the next bearer, she returned to the Hub for a brief, al fresco press conference, obliging a small gaggle of journalists to jog behind in pursuit.
Sixty seconds later, I made my way back down the street in search of the procession.
It was nowhere to be seen. The path it had taken was now occupied solely by pedestrians. I stood, utterly nonplussed. My only coherent thought was that the baton bearers, deciding for some reason against running in the sunshine, had flagged down a taxi and jumped in, intent on arriving at their destination in style.
They had to be found, urgently. The clock was ticking. Thus it was that a red-faced, out of condition reporter, alternating between a brisk walk and a curious sort of arthritic middle-aged jog every 50 yards, tried in vain to negotiate the dense crowds of tourists.
"Sorry," I said near the junction with Cockburn Street after bumping into an elderly female Japanese tourist. She had stopped to look at something - a cashmere display, a restaurant menu, the whisky shop window. My fault. If she happens to be reading this, sorry again.
On and on down the Mile, through the crowds, past busy junctions, looking for the baton, looking for baton bearers. Jeans and sturdy boots are not good running gear.
Part of me, the sensible part, said 'slow down'. But slowing down would have meant giving up, and ringing the paper and saying, "You're not going to believe this, but I've just misplaced the baton procession". There are some things your career would never recover from.
Finally, at the entrance to the Scottish Parliament, right at the bottom of the Mile, I asked a steward where the baton was. I had to ask him twice: the first time it came out as an asthmatic wheeze. "This way," he said. "Relax. You've got plenty of time."