October means it’s basically Halloween, so I wanted to talk about irrational fears.
Back in 2011, I asked those of you who were following my attempts to write 12 Books in 12 Months to tell me what you were afraid of so that I could write a series of stories capitalising on your pain. There were some very legitimate concerns in there and I got some cracking stories out of it – thanks, everyone.
But what about those fears that are a bit less well founded?
Writerly types are supposed to have overactive imaginations, which surely means we are all quivering wrecks come the end of October as we bring to life our deepest darkest fears. But is it just us? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.
Here are my top three random fears.
1. Arg, Spiders
Since the nights started drawing in, I have seen two larger-than-average spiders in my bathroom. But because the floor in there is a dark colour, I didn’t see either of them until I was using the facilities and they did a sudden scuttle, making me jump / do a little ‘erp!’
You can’t escape when you’re wee-ing.
Now, every time I go into the loo I examine the floor before entry, because in my mind the lino has become A SEA OF SPIDERS.
2. Having to make small talk
I work in a building with about 300 other people, and that means that in the morning I often have to engage in small talk. ‘How was your weekend,’ ‘up to much today,’ ‘how about that weather we’ve been having?’ – the usual chit chat that is part of being a friendly human. I am not, as it turns out, the friendliest human.
Sometimes, maybe 30% of the time and after a strong coffee, I can get into the small talk zone. A lot of the time, I genuinely draw a total blank. Still other times, I’ve been known to panic in response, and start talking about writing projects that are NOT READY for human consumption.
NB, telling people about half a writing idea before you’ve worked it through is a brilliant way to lose all confidence in that idea as you see the other person’s brow furrow in bafflement.
3. Stinky on the windowsill
OK, so this dates back quite a lot of years to when I still lived with my mum and dad, but I think about it a lot. Understanding it relies on you having seen the 90s cartoon TV series of The Moomins at an impressionable age.
In The Moomins there is a character called Stinky. He is an arsehole. Really, just a mean and spiteful guy. When I was younger, presumably after watching the cartoon, I had a vivid dream he was sitting on the windowsill outside my room. After this, I quite often thought there was a malignant presence lurking there – presumably to play practical jokes on me? That was his main MO.
Anyway, my general feeling of unease was compounded by once being brave enough to open the curtains to check there was nothing there, and seeing a furry wee bod crouched there in the dark with demon eyes glinting at me!
It turned out to be my sister’s cat, not a fictional troll beastie. Gave me a scare though.