Being a grown-up comes with a fear checklist: cancer? Death of someone you love? Clowns (once funny and now so inexcusably disturbing you can’t quite work out why anyone ever invented them)? Running-out-of-money/time/road/chances?
Tick, tick, tick, tick. So far, so normal. But then there are irrational fears. The ones that make no sense. Still scary though. Like…
Gas angst - Hands up, who has lit a match and, as it fizzed into life, ducked to avoid a Bruce Willis-film-sized fireball explosion caused by the gas that has been secretly leaking for ages (due to the fact that this time you actually did leave it on)?
Serpent stress - It was that article. Read many years ago but never forgotten. About the snake in the loo. The snake that slithered up the U-bend while a bottom was firmly in place. A malevolent, silent, biblically compromised serpent. Down there. While we are… up here. Vulnerable. Unaware. This is not some phallic, sexual wish-fulfilment situation. This appals us. Almost every time we go to the loo. Which is A LOT.
Zip-xiety - We all secretly know that one day we are going to zip up a dress or one of those back-zipped jumpsuits and be stuck there for ever, wriggling and weeping. Unable to exit with any dignity. We’ll call it Zipxit.
Escalator consternation - It is impossible to climb or descend an escalator without wondering at least once whether you will get sucked in and mangled.
Theatre terror - Maybe you don’t go to the theatre because you are too tired, too broke, too annoyed by the timings and the small ice-cream spoons. Or is it that every time you go, you are gripped with the terror as you sidle into your upper-circle seat that you are going to tumble screaming into the stalls below? If you are sitting in those stalls you cannot concentrate because you know that there is going to be a tumbler AT ANY MOMENT. So dramatic.
Tram trauma - Ever had that thought, while crossing a road, that if you whipped your head round the last thing you’d see would be a tram rattling towards you about to crush you and spread you all over the ground, even though you live in a city with no trams? Obviously, you would die – horribly – on impact. ‘Incredibly young-looking woman killed in freak tram accident,’ the papers would say.
Identity intimidation - Picture the scene. You have arrived in an exotic location for a holiday that you really, really deserve and can in no way afford. Within minutes you are arrested in a case of catastrophic identity confusion and thrown in a terrible jail and never released. ‘But it’s not me,’ you say on repeat until you die of dysentery.
Forest fear - You love a walk in the woods. So dark and mysterious and atmospheric. The trees are your friends. You must recycle more. But wait, are you lost? Have you seen that bush before? Are you about to emerge into a haunted clearing where you will be sacrificed by the forest demon and his foresty minions in a revolting ritual? Of course you are.
Poultry panic - So – after handling a raw bird – you usually turn on the tap with your elbow and pump the handwash with your chin, but one day you forget that and… Oh God… Did you touch them with your chickeny hands? Are you splattering chicken juice around the kitchen, infesting your house with potentially fatal salmonella? Your eyes develop imagined ultraviolet vision and all you can see are bright-blue spots of disease and filth squirted everywhere. There is no escape.
Meteor mania - As we type, there is surely a meteor careering through space about to puncture London. Is that Shepherd’s Bush Roundabout? No, it’s a huge fiery crater and all the cars are slipping inside.
Also… SINKHOLES - One minute your house, which is your pension, is there.